If you squint
Tuesday February 28th 2023, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit

But isn’t that like the chick hatching out of the egg? he asked me yesterday.

I dunno but I did it anyway, but no, I think it’s fine.

The one in the lower foreground? Half an initial leaf was caught on one side of the skin of the kernel, which hadn’t quite broken open all the way down as the seed had expanded, and half was caught tight wrapped into the opposite side, and it had stayed like that for two days. It needed to get up out of that inadvertent shade into the sunlight so it could grow.

So I got my smallest sewing needle and pierced that brown covering open, taking a tiny speck of greened kernel with it while setting it free. Oops.

Within an hour you could see that tiny hint of a plant recovering, and today it’s playing catch up to its week-old sibling.

And the one in the middle. The one that had sprouted into gale-force winds, noped out and turned brown and stopped growing? I called its bluff. It was still alive. And now (click to embiggen) it’s grown leaves and is coming around, too.  To life!

Three up, five to go from that batch.

Meantime, knitting happened. Bison/silk 50/50, bought from Ron and Theresa at thebuffalowoolco.com before they found themselves no longer a yarn dyeing company but a bison sock company.

Their best are the bison/silk ones.



They’re crowing about it for now
Monday February 27th 2023, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

It’s cold. It’s rainy. My photos are refusing to load, making the post I’d written kind of pointless.

But I got to knit some bison silk yarn and the rain is desperately needed and so was that weeks-long break between storms. More’s coming, and that’s even better.

Remember the fake dead crow? (I was not expecting to see that it’s seven years old already!) I need to find where I put it, or else replace it. There’s a new pair courting loudly out there these past few days trying to tell the hawks they own the place.

I do not want crows teaching their future young that my fruit trees are where to go to eat. And they won’t–once I find that thing and set it out for a week or so. Crows hold funerals for their fallen and then beat it the heck out of there and stay away from whatever made a crow die.

Worked for six years without even putting it out there since before the pandemic.

Why I stuck a stick in the ground a few years ago
Sunday February 26th 2023, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Food

$10 on bare-root-season clearance, as I remember.

It got pushed behind and forgotten: the bag with two pounds of frozen pitted sour English Morello cherries from our tree that I’d had thawing in the fridge.

It would be criminal to let those just sit there too long. No I didn’t have a pie crust, no I didn’t want to make a pie crust.

Make a crisp? he offered.

There’s too much of it; all those juices would turn it into soggy oatmeal. But the thought clarified what was at stake here. These deserve the right textures.

I did, I wanted that pie enough. And I knew an hour’s worth of picking and pitting had already gone into brightening up the anticipated rainy winter grays, and that’s what we had and will have over the next ten days and these were ready right now.

I made that crust.

Worth every minute.

Go play springtime for me, willya?
Saturday February 25th 2023, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Garden

Here’s the apricot that sprouted Monday despite the cold.

Tuesday, there was this second one that was about to uncurl and stretch upwards.

I had the tray out in the sunlight, but also during that ferocious windstorm. The new growth filled out a little more but stopped growing upwards. No green. The next day it started turning brown. But, but, I didn’t want it to! I haven’t entirely given up on it yet. Cue Star Trek’s McCoy: “He’s dead, Jim.”

Prove it, buddy.

I’ll give it a few more days.

Meantime, when I brought the tray inside a little over three hours ago this third one had the tiniest wispiest colorless fragment of what might have been nothing at all, really; I wasn’t sure there was any there there.

And now there is, and it’s even got some green to it.

Maybe I’ll cut up the coir tray and keep that one inside under the skylight for its first full day of coming up.

Friday February 24th 2023, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Scene: yesterday. Him: migraine, with lab work due. So me: driver.

Stuck in traffic. Even the helicopter overhead wasn’t going anywhere.

I pointed out all the people on the pedestrian bridge over the freeway and said, The paparazzi. He remarked on the big camera on a tripod and I said, I bet that’s a news photographer.

It was a relief to find out afterwards that the entire freeway had been shut down for hours not because of an accident but because PG&E said they just had no other way to safely access the power lines that a tree had fallen through in the storm, taking out most of that city in the process.

Nature happens. Nature, we can deal with.

Alright, then, very good, carry on. (Is that our car behind that truck way back there no I don’t think so I think those trucks were both behind us come on why am I looking at this.)

And that is why
Thursday February 23rd 2023, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life

(In real life, those lilacs at the top are as bright as a spring morning.)

I have mentioned the woman who sold me two beautiful gerdans in November–whose shop then disappeared from Etsy and there was no way to send her a message to make sure she was okay. Of all the people in Ukraine that I’d interacted with and had tried to do my part to help support, she was the one I was most worried about.

I had bought the second one because I loved it, but also to keep the conversation going. And suddenly all I was getting was Etsy’s notification that this shop was no longer listed.

I googled the name of it in case it might appear on some other platform. No luck. I only had her first name. It hit hard, to a degree that surprised me–and yet didn’t at all.

I have grieved that lost connection. I have wanted to know that she was as alright as possible.

Two days ago, the thought struck me: yes Etsy wouldn’t let me send a message to her shop–but what about responding to months-old previous messages? Were they still there? And if so, why hadn’t I thought of this before?

I felt a combination of, I have to at least try, and a sudden and unreasonable hope.

They were still there! She got it! She answered!

It meant the world to her that it meant so much to me to finally find her again, that it matters how she and her family are doing. The world. It cares. About them.

She told me the way to find and follow her now. Oh my goodness, there was a year old picture of her showing off her latest design and saying how proud she was of it, that she thought it was her prettiest ever–and it was sitting in a box across the room from me as I read that because I had also thought it was the prettiest ever, I had not found anything quite like it from anyone else and it’s what got me to ever pay attention to anything about her in the first place.

But also on her page was a video of a large apartment building collapsed by missiles with fire raging across the bottom, with her cri de couer: “There are people under there!”

And here I suddenly showed up telling her how hard I’d tried to find her and that I’d been praying fervently for her safety and so grateful to find her again. Unspoken was the word, alive.

That is when I realized why I not only have been buying but wearing these hand-beaded pictorial necklaces from Ukraine: each one connects me to the person who made it.

But also, I feel as if in some small and thoroughly irrational way I am somehow helping to protect that person from the terrors and the harm by keeping them right there close to my heart throughout my quiet, peaceful day.

But I really really want to
Wednesday February 22nd 2023, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life,Lupus

Maps says three hours each way. Stitches West moved to Sacramento, I haven’t been in four years thanks to the pandemic (and to having had Covid during the 2020 one–Early Adopter status, it’s a Silicon Valley thing) and I badly want to see old friends I never get to see anywhere else. Even Mel and Kris are going to be there, and they’d thought they were done with making that drive from Oregon, but no, they’re coming.

So we talked about it. I told him, you know how utterly crashed I was coming home when it was twenty minutes away, I don’t know how I’d do three hours at the wheel afterwards much less driving that twice in a day. That’s also the weekend Michelle’s supposed to move.

But: I want to see my friends. (Thinking, I could even go and almost not buy any yarn because the first day is always such an intense overload and there wouldn’t be a second day.)

He totally grokked how important that was to me. But also to our daughter.

“Let’s think about that.”

Even if there were public transportation, it would involve some time spent out in the sun and I absolutely cannot take that risk at all.

Loud out there
Tuesday February 21st 2023, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Life

Wind advisory, gusts up to 50 mph, the weather site said. 80, said another, though to me that sounds too much to claim.

I did have an argument with the air a moment there over whether or not I was going to close my front door, though.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to stop the gate from crashing relentlessly; it needs to be rehung and won’t latch tight anymore. I put something to block it and that went flying. Oops.

There was a piece of roof on the ground, I told him.

He scrunched his face, trying to picture how a sprayed-on foam roof could do any such thing.

That’s the headline part, I quickly clarified, the story part is that it was a chunk of the roof over the shed that the redwood needles broke that we were going to get rid of anyway. But you still don’t expect it to lift upward and past our yard. I retrieved it.

The roof over the awning is basically the same clear corrugated plastic material, 30 years newer.

And all I can do is mentally apologize to the neighbors for all the racket it’s making as the wind tries to tear it free, too. It’s sealed down tight enough that it’s been rainproof. I did not know the edges could lift apart like that. I don’t think they’re supposed to.

This is like my east coast childhood when we hunkered down as a hurricane passed through, including a memorable sleepover at Wendy’s where lightning and a tree knocked a house off its foundation around the corner. We even had the power failures–just not here yet. (Suddenly taking note of where the nearest flashlight is. Or–wait–was.) Hey, Look, Ma, Real Weather! (TM)

But what it all means is that there’s a storm coming and it’s going to rain again and this is hugely good and maybe we’ll get Trinity reservoir, still stuck at 32%, to move up a bit after all. And hey, thanks for the free partial demolition up there re the shed.

The kicker is that tomorrow morning early is the semi-annual city pickup day for local residents to get rid of Stuff. Which they will sort, donate, recycle, and at the last, trash.

Except you really wouldn’t want to put it out there right now.

There was supposed to be a bag full of Goodwillable clothing going out but you know the guy across the street isn’t going to want to peel it off his antenna.

(Walks off humming “letting my freak flag fly“…)

Planted Feb. 6
Monday February 20th 2023, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Garden

Oh no I forgot! I dashed for the back door, hoping it hadn’t gotten too cold yet for the night. I try to find that balance between warmth inside and the sun that keeps the kernels from molding during their long wait.

And then found myself exclaiming softly in surprise, YAY!!!

There was no sign of sprouting this morning. All of this came up while I was busy doing other things: just nature, going about its day, too, bringing life into life. You offer potential and hopes to dirt and sun and the glory comes to itself, as old as the planet, as new as the day.

The Anya apricot offspring grow so wildly differently but clearly this is going to be one of the tall vigorous ones.

I’ve got a couple of friends here waiting for one. It took exactly two weeks from planting. My first batch in 2020 took three months and had two survivors, mine and Ruth and Lise’s; I’ve learned a bit these past three years.

This is just the most happy-making thing! Go. Plant a seed. Tomato, apricot kernel, butternut squash, anything, don’t worry about the other seeds in the packet, just get one going. It’s worth it.

Well maybe not brussels sprouts so much. But you know what I mean.

Nutting to see, move along
Sunday February 19th 2023, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

I wasn’t walking anywhere today if I didn’t have to. That foot needs to be looked at.

So. I have the assignment at church again of keeping the mother’s nursing lounge stocked with chocolate. One new mom, on finding out I was the one doing that, requested that the chocolate almonds continue, so now there are always some of those and if nuts are the thing then toffee pistachios go in there, too.

We arrived this morning with me thinking how much I wished Jen would just somehow appear and take the bag from me and take care of it. She’s the one who asked me post pandemic to start doing that again–there would be no having to explain to her what this was about. (We do not want little kids overhearing and figuring out how to raid the stuff.)

The door to the chapel opened, and out stepped–Jen herself. Sometimes miracles come in the most improbable packages. All taken care of.

After church, I spotted a young mom nearby and asked her if she could go retrieve the bag and chocolates for me so I wouldn’t have to walk across that long room and back.


And then I waited. And waited. I figured she ran into a friend in there and they were having a conversation and that was fine by me, no hurry.

And maybe she was.

But she looked a little abashed at swallowing that last little bit as she walked back towards me. My grin got the better of me and then I was laughing. Have some more! It’s what it’s for, to be enjoyed! Plus, a quick snarf of good chocolate in a quiet room when your little kids have no idea, can’t pester you for any and won’t ruin their lunches–that sounds pretty perfect to me. I was very glad she got to enjoy some. Call it a commission.

She handed me the cotton bag and still had an ‘I can’t believe I did that’ look on her face so I tried again to make sure she knew that it was all totally fine by me. Any time. And thank you so much for the help with my foot!

That bag is clearly going to be our future private in-joke forevermore.

It was a surprise gift from a vyshyvanka seller in Ukraine.

One way to get a project done
Saturday February 18th 2023, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Knitting a Gift,Life,Mango tree

With all the microclimates around here, no matter what the weather sites say, after a really cold night you wait for the frost on the awning roof to start dripping down before you uncover the mango tree in the morning. That, and, somehow I just didn’t want to go out there this morning. But it had to be done. Be careful.

The top frost layer still had a bit of crispy crunchy glittery to it and I could feel the last ice crystals breaking as I pulled it off the lower layer.

Which was dry and felt cool rather than cold. Those old incandescent Christmas lights underneath are still doing their job.

But the top layer was heavy with liquid in whatever form, and I was putting my whole body into dragging it away from the mango to where it could dry out.

Which is why (and I know better, I’ve done this before) I was at the wrong angle with arms and legs opposite the direction I was leaning in when my foot caught a dip in the ground.

As I told Richard, my instant thought was Don’tfalldon’tfalldon’tfall as I tried to right myself in time.

And then you fell, he said, reasonably.

My back bounced off that vertical piece of the raised bed. But it wasn’t my head!

Ice. Immediately.

He was right, and I did, and I was a lot better off for it.


After dinner I said, I don’t see how I could have broken it.

Is the pain more localized now? he asked.

I wiggled my foot a bit. Actually, no, more diffuse, which makes more sense anyway because it was a twist not a smack.

Broken bones localize.

Yeah. Um, yay.

I found my old ankle brace but it’s still tough getting around. Elevate. Which means the UFO 1×1-stitch-switching intarsia hat that is a joy to give but a pain to make is now almost done. Yay!

Looks like four more nights of frost warnings coming up and then hopefully we’ll be done with that till, I dunno, maybe Thanksgiving?

So good
Friday February 17th 2023, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Knit

Four Colourmart cones got wound up on the Kromski niddy-noddy for scouring today and it felt like quite the accomplishment. That green cashmere won’t be marinating in the stash very long.

The replacement box came 24 hours after the factory sent it out into the world and it arrived in perfect condition.

Dandelion had made a set number of these sets and then had had to come back and recreate just the one just for us and I don’t know how they did it, but they did it.

And let me tell you. It is so very very good. We managed to pace ourselves and save some for the next day or two, but it was hard.

From left to right: figs stuffed with spiced ganache and covered in chocolate. Truffles. Chocolate drag’ee peanuts. Coconut chocolate crisps. And yes, the peanut version of nutella came with its own little metal spoons for two. So perfect.

Thank you, L. and A.! And thank you, Dandelion!

The before picture
Thursday February 16th 2023, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Knit

The good part about mill ends is what you can get for the price. The bad part about mill ends is that you then have to make a decision: do you scour the coating out before or after you knit it? Wind off, use the hottest soapy water you can stand, hang to dry, wind it back up–it’s a lot less work to just sit down with the cone and go. But there’s a lot less pleasure in cashmere when it feels like dried hair mousse as it runs through your hands.

Or when you’re knitting in public and explaining that no, it really is going to feel like what it is when I’m done.

If you pre-wash, you pre-shrink. You also get rid of the graying effect and get to see what the actual color underneath is.

Which is why when I knit the second half of this cone it is definitely going to be pre-washed. This one so much deserved to be. What a difference.

The cowl is drying now, soft, enticing, a truer blue, and just so perfect. As it was going to be all along.

(Translation: Hey! You guys! This IS nice stuff! In real life–now!)


New kids in the blocks
Wednesday February 15th 2023, 9:39 pm
Filed under: Garden

Promises, promises….

If anyone else wants to try their hand at sprouting some seeds from some super-good super-rare Anya apricot kernels this year, I have a few still hibernating in the fridge to share.

Apricot roots are finicky and commercially they’re typically grafted onto peach rootstock, but I don’t yet know how nor have I tried; so far, it’s survive or die and some have grown really well. Some, not so much.

I’m waiting for my baby trees to show me how they did after the three weeks we had of steady rain and I’m really hoping to pick my first apricots this year (and the critters will NOT chocolate box them!) But we’ll see.

I had a great title for this post but I don’t remember what it was
Tuesday February 14th 2023, 8:35 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

(The top straightened out after blocking. I was running low on yarn and stopped there and never did take a finished picture of the beach, the shorebird tracks across it at the sides, the steps going up the hillside, the opening in the base of the redwood trunk to the right big enough to read a book to the child in, the raptor above. This was for a California baby with multinational grandparents. I was trying to make the design with as few yarnover holes as possible for the baby to tug hard at and I only had this 50/50 cashmere/cotton yarn in the one color.)

So. The second box.

The held mail had been delivered in one of those big white Post Office bins, like they do–and it was full of leaves and clearly had been outdoors for some time. Not sure how that happened given that I had opened the front door to the mailman seconds after he’d put it down, and there are no tree leaves left around here anyway.

I was exclaiming over the quilt and the incredible and unexpected generosity of my old high school friend Susan (thank you so so much!!) and almost forgot it in my excitement–but at last, oh, right! it was time to open the second surprise box.

The printed gift note said thank you for the blanket for Alice.

I took it to Richard going, Do we know someone with a baby named Alice? An adult? Did I get someone else’s package? We compared notes. No, her baby’s Emma. No, that’s…

Finally I happened to turn the note over to the back and wait, there was more.

They’d announced their baby girl’s arrival when she hadn’t had a name yet, and then since we weren’t in the range of close friends we never did hear and that was okay. It was from Michelle’s close friend from high school, the one I’d made the California afghan for.

Inside their thank-you gift was the once-a-year special that Dandelion Chocolate does in February, with three boxes inside for parts 1, 2, and 3 of celebrating a particular origin cacao, which this year happens to be a particular favorite of mine. Sent from the factory in San Francisco.

Now for some back story: when Michelle was working in San Diego, L. was single and living in San Francisco and every time our daughter flew into town, they met up at this nearby new shop that had just the best chocolate ever.

That is how we heard of Dandelion. So when I found a book by them, I bought it for her for Christmas. Amazon then went, People who bought this also looked at… And that is how we ended up giving a melanger to ourselves for Christmas and started making our own.

Which will never live up to Dandelion’s but we did learn a lot about cacao varieties. We’ve gone up there for fun and special occasions ever since. Favorite place, wonderful people, happy memories, the best pastries, and it was a total delight when the NY Times put them in their top 10 chocolate makers in the country.

I didn’t see the big hole in the side while opening it. I did quickly see the ones in two of the three inner boxes; I started to lift them out and open them and hastily put them back in and that’s when I saw the side of the shipping box.

Rodents had not only gone after that sweet food at the post office, but the proliferation of shredded wrapper paper after they’d gotten inside meant THEY WERE STARTING A NEST IN MY CHOCOLATE. This expensive, exquisite chocolate that the givers had spent a small fortune on.

What do I DO with this?

Tie it up in a plastic bag, he offered helpfully.

Okay. Did that. (Like they couldn’t chew through that? Who are we kidding?)

It seemed inadequate and even that word is itself inadequate, and a few minutes later I came up with the brilliant idea that baby mice (in case there were any) couldn’t jump high enough to get out of the bathtub, so I put the bag in that. (If baby rats can, don’t tell me.) I did not want more critters chewing through the plastic trash and recycle bins outside–and they can if they want to enough. But most of all, I did want to be able to take more pictures if the post office required proof. And there clearly weren’t any adult critters running around this thing now.

So now I knew why the mailman was in such a hurry not to talk to me–there wasn’t much he could do about it anyway.

With a late-to-the-party thought a little later, Richard casually opined, It could have fleas in there.

AAAAAAAGHHHHHH!!!! I ran to wash my hands just because it was something I could do.

I sent Dandelion a note explaining the situation and that I did not want to tell the people who had done this very very nice thing for me–but they needed to talk to the post office. And could I possibly get a replacement?

Because much though I love their work I, I, I just can’t…!

I got a very nice note back today about trying to make it right.

And then I sent them this picture and they went oh my that is exactly how you described it.

I had already checked–the Esmerelda’s Special is sold out.

They are scheming with the team to figure out how to make a whole new set just for us.

They are amazing. Absolutely amazing.

So now we get to be surprised all over again and find out what they come up with. But whatever it is, it’ll be good.

And now they know why I offered to drive up there to have it not go through that post office again.