But the question is, did they get matching ones
Friday March 31st 2023, 9:05 pm
Filed under: Family

Amazon boxes for all three of us today.

Michelle opened one after dinner while we were sitting chatting.

I’ve mentioned how when the pandemic hit, her sister had a baby and a two year old and a suddenly frantically busy job and Michelle decided, I can work from home anywhere, and volunteered to be backup child care. She drove north and spent most of the first two years there.

The trouble with Amazon boxes is that unless you address them to, say, HappyBirthdayAuntie or some such there’s no way to know it’s from someone else if your orders overlap.

She opened it (not knowing it wasn’t time to yet), fully expecting…

Her face. Dumbfounded. She showed it to me. My turn. (Thinking, You didn’t–did you??) I went, Is that…!?

It was. She is now the proud owner of pj’s of colorful unicorns dancing sprightly across a bright pink background. (This would be a novel application of color for her before we even talk about the graphics.)

Me: “Lillian picked it out.” I was so sure. And so proud.

Michelle grinned back: “Just as likely Mathias.”

Because at three and five, bright happy unicorns are everything one could ever hope for.

(Update: an old friend of hers in New Zealand confessed it was her.)

Take off their coats and stay awhile
Thursday March 30th 2023, 9:07 pm
Filed under: Garden

After much smashing of fingers I have finally figured out how to crack a recalcitrant apricot kernel: lay an arm of the nutcracker on a thick oven mitt and press down on the other one with a careful placement of the hands–ie so that it doesn’t come crashing down on your fingertips curled between. Let the mitt take that force.

So if anyone wants to try growing Anya apricot seeds this year and wants not to have to crack them open (or if you don’t care either way for that matter), tell me quick and I’ll save some out for you before I send a bunch out. These are the last I have and with the rains during blossoming, there may not be many or any for next year.

This one or that one
Wednesday March 29th 2023, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Caramel pecan-topped brownies, dairy free, for the one who didn’t think she wanted anything highly caloric while I was baking tortes for the dinner last night so having butter in them was fine. But the whiffs of baking chocolate…and so today was round two. It was only fair.

Meantime, I have a problem. I’ve fallen for a cooktop from a company that makes commercial kitchens and the lifetime-warranted cookware to go with, multiple patents, etc etc etc and apparently they only recently branched out into the residential kitchen market. It all sounds so good.

But there are no reviews to be found. Only their own descriptions of how excellent and award-winning their customer service is. Given how completely Thermidor messed us over and left us with a half-useless expensive cooktop that should have been repaired under the warranty but was refused, this matters a lot–assuming Hestan lives up to their words.

Which they would have to if no one outside the restaurant business has heard of them and they’re trying to break into a new market. Customer satisfaction is a great, and greatly undertested marketing maneuver. Make a good product, stand behind it, get good publicity. It doesn’t have to be hard.

I’m hoping that’s a point they want to make and not just wishful thinking on my part.

I’m open and eager for all opinions on the subject. Tell me what you think.

A day in the life
Tuesday March 28th 2023, 9:33 pm
Filed under: Life

The rain let up for awhile. CVS messaged that the prescription was ready. (Run!) Got it. Got the quotes on the awning, both for the four panels if they can be matched (hah! That was two storms ago!) and all fourteen. Got the next hat started and the ends run in on the old one. Baked chocolate tortes for a church dinner tonight.

But the biggest thing I got done today was hauling Rubbermaid tubs full of older stash out of the closet in that tight corner over there, going through them a bit to remind myself what I had (oh THERE’S the cone of wild silk harvested after the worms morphed and hatched that even vegans would be willing to wear! Gorgeous inchiostro color, too!) in order to see if the heavy leftover pieces I thought had been hidden back there for 30 years were actually still there.

They were. I’d thought there was one. There were three.

The contractor asked for the measurements and sounds like they can do the support thing on the cooktop, had I picked one out yet?

We have enough.

And so it looks like we may well end up with the Corian counters awhile yet so that we don’t have to do everything all at once.

Which is just as well: we need to refinish the cabinets and I’d want the new granite to match what they’ll look like then, not just now. (Just a little redder and a little darker, I’m thinking.)

Okay, tomorrow. I’m ready for you, too.

Nature vs nurture
Monday March 27th 2023, 9:37 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

Stop me if you’ve heard this one–but it looks like we’ll be having an atmospheric river pouring down on us Tuesday and Wednesday and a ton of snow in the mountains and there’s a strong wind advisory so everybody should just stay home.

(Hey, it was either talk about the weather or grouse about the clerk at CVS who told me to go wait for the pharmacist to fill my husband’s Rx, and after 35 minutes, my hat was finished, I was regretting not bringing the next ball of yarn–because there’s no way they’d make me wait that long for something the doctor had called in four days ago, right?–when I finally asked them what the status was.

That’s when she told me they had no record of receiving that from the doctor. Even though we got confirmation of it. Even though it’s a regularly scheduled med. And even though she knew I was sitting there that whole time waiting for it, and while I was, someone else was waiting sitting behind me in the vaccination area, not wearing a mask and coughing like crazy. I pulled a fabric divider between us.

But at least I got that hat done, other than running in the ends because I was too annoyed.)

So. Yeah. Coming home from that, there was a new big chunk of tree already fallen, cleared just off the roadway but that had been attached to the tree the day before. I guess it was either break off above the overpass or down on the commuter train that was disturbing its roots.

There is more of it playing road vulture (picture Snoopy hanging over the top of the tree with his death stare, trying to look fierce.)

It looks like at least one of us will have to go out tomorrow.

Heathered purple
Sunday March 26th 2023, 9:58 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

We were just a moment early at church so I pulled out my little carry-around project to add a row or two, and thought at it, If I knew who you were supposed to be for I could have gotten you finished five days ago and been halfway on to whatever comes next. Oh well.

Dottie was sitting next to me. Her preferred usual spot is usually a row or two behind, but somehow not today.

She watched my hands for a bit and as the start of the meeting got pushed out a few minutes more asked me a little about it. I told her I like to always have a simple little something on hand that I don’t even have to look at, just knit by feel while my attention is on something else. My fidget spinner.

And then she said the magic words, though she had no idea: “Such a pretty color!”

And that is how the body of that hat later magically transformed from a few rows to 40, one or two away from the decreasing at the top. Bwaahahaa.

So glad we went there first (no they didn’t have it)
Saturday March 25th 2023, 2:51 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Lupus

There was some unusual ingredient to be hunted down and we decided to make a mother-daughter quest of it. We found ourselves at a large grocery that had underground parking–always a nice thing for the sun impaired.

She headed up the stairs that wound around the glass elevator and I followed.

Changing altitude and direction at the same time are not my damaged brain’s strong point, not to mention with a wall moving up and down on the left, and as two people came out of the garage behind us I scrunched up to the side and told them not to wait for me.

The man did a slight nod and hurried on past.

The older African-American woman looked at me with my cane and chuckled like an old friend and, holding onto the railing on the other side to make sure she didn’t fall either, accepted the invitation, too. She moved back to the right in front of me in case someone around the corner started coming down.

I found myself figuring out how to catch her as we continued up the steep steps–not that I thought I’d have to nor that I would be much good at it.

So. We did our bit of shopping and headed for checkout. I do not do self-checkouts. I do not enable the doing away with what was once a decent middle-class job and I certainly have no problem with paying a few cents more on my groceries to take better care of their workers.

And there was our stair climber with her impeccable manicure and lovely braids.

Something, I have no way to know what, had happened.

I caught her wiping away quickly at an eye and the expression on her face and knew I had to do something as I was putting my wallet away and my purse was sitting there in front of me unzipped. To somehow be the friend I would be if we knew each other, while wishing we did. (Not that one… Oh that’s perfect.)

Have a fish! I said to her as I put a bright cheerful pink finger puppet that some knitter in Peru had made with white stripes knitted into its slightly wavy fins and tail into her hand. Tiny stitches on that one, lots of detail. Quite pretty.

Instantly her expression changed to one of disbelief and delight and she marveled at the handwork in the little thing.

Happy Birthday! I told her as we grabbed our bag of that’s-not-what-we-came-for-but-it’s-fun-stuff and headed back towards that staircase and the next store. Which had the ingredient.

Simple and sweet
Friday March 24th 2023, 9:48 pm
Filed under: Life

It was a beautiful sunny day. Hey, I remember those!

Piuma wanderings
Thursday March 23rd 2023, 5:25 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

It was one of those times when a yarn leaped onto the needles of itself. Probably because I’d made Nanci a cowl out of that peach cashmere and she’d so exclaimed over it that I made a second one. That’s probably why I bought more of it, for that matter. I have some memory of thinking I was going to overdye some, till I decided it seemed too fragile to risk having the strands felt together.

(This is as close to Piuma as they have now. That price makes me feel like I really got a bargain. Anyway.)

The second cowl sat there quietly waiting to find its person, and as the pandemic came on and our  interactions with friends died off and felt far away it became utterly forgotten.

Last year someone mentioned on Ravelry–and I rarely read the threads on Ravelry, it’s like trying to catch up on every conversation with every knitter everywhere–that she’d made her daughter a sweater out of this glorious braided Piuma cashmere from Colourmart and had wanted ever since to make herself one to match. She had some of the peach, which she loved, but that mill end was long since sold out.

How much did she need? I went looking. I did! I had a cone and now I knew why, and dye lot would never be an issue from them. I mailed it to her. She insisted on paying me. I’d gotten it on sale. I told her, how about paying it forward instead by buying something from someone in Ukraine? With Etsy waiving fees there, it all goes to them. She really liked that idea, and did, and made a point of telling me what she’d ordered so as to share that happy anticipation and sense of reaching out to good people far away who were going through so much.

And I thought, I haven’t met you, but I feel like we would be instant old friends if we ever did.

Awhile later I found two more cones, offered them in case it would help–very much so, thanks!–and I let her pay me back that time.

Months later, I found out she still hadn’t started her sweater. (I totally get that there’s this fear of losing at yarn chicken that can get a project shoved to the end of the queue.) I only know because I went looking for that conversation again to see if she had her sweater yet, because, put away in the wrong spot, I’d found one more cone of that lusciously soft Piuma. I’d had no idea I’d bought that much of it, because it was never my color. It had always been planned to be for other people, so, hey, it was for her.

So that was around Thanksgiving.

Late February, I was rearranging yarns and finished projects, going through seeing what hats and cowls were in the stash ready to go, which ones needed ends woven in–when I discovered, smushed between other things inside a ziplock, that long-forgotten twin to Nanci’s.

It could be backup to the backup to the backup, but what it would be would be the matching-yarn cowl to get that sweater off the ground because I knew how much she wanted to have it. Sometimes you just need a nudge to get started.

Not that it’s any of my business whether she ever does or not. I just enable.

I wrote her a note telling her happy birthday–I was sure she was having one some time this year–and that no, she could not pay me back this time. This was from me, it had been waiting all this time to go where it had been meant to go and now I finally knew. If by chance she lost at yarn chicken on her sweater, I was entirely fine with her unraveling this for it.

I mailed it off.

I didn’t hear back, which was unusual, because in our earlier emails back and forth she’d always been quick to respond.

Then I did, I got a note saying she was out of town helping her mom move into her (likely final) address (my heart instantly went out to them both), and her husband had told her a package had come for her from me and that it felt like yarn and she was pretty excited about that and he was going to fly shortly to come help with her mom and bring it for her to open then. She couldn’t wait to find out what it was.

And then I didn’t hear back.

And I didn’t hear back.

And I thought, well that’s fine. I got the satisfaction of sending it off and knowing she would love it and that it went to the right place and that she’s happy, that’s certainly all I needed.

You know all this weather we’ve been having? You’ve seen the pictures of the 600+ inches of snow covering everything up in the mountains near Tahoe–burying the ski lifts!–and how impassable everything’s been?

Turns out her husband had not made that flight. Nor the next nor the next nor (repeat repeat repeat.) He was snowed in, without power or water or heat for some of that and no way out but with neighbors who needed help so he did. For three weeks. How he managed through all that I do not know, and I am in awe.

Finally, finally, he got out and to where she was and handed her her long-anticipated package.

I’m picturing that moment of all those weeks of anticipation, of hard physical and emotional work for the both of them, unable to be there for each other in person through it all, all the worry, all the goodwill towards those around them that kept them going: finally getting to be back together.

And opening my silly little package as something they’d both been looking forward to.

And finding it wasn’t just yarn. It was the time of a stranger, just a little, but offered freely as they had offered their own.

And that is why I hadn’t found that cowl earlier: this was when they needed the experience of it.

While I marvel at the project that would have looked good on several people along the way but refused to be so much as thought of until the right one at the right time. At the Love that answered his and her love.

As far as I know (with a nod towards Stitches West) I’ve never met her nor she me, but oh we have. We have. As best as we know how.

Peeling away the layers
Wednesday March 22nd 2023, 9:32 pm
Filed under: Life

While a purple hat in Mecha got quietly worked on in the other room for the most part: Joel came and spent a fair amount of time measuring everything we might ask him about later. His boss knows we’d like to redo the whole kitchen even if we don’t plan to right now, so I’m sure there was incentive to make that a possibility as long as he was there.

He admired our cabinets, saying, They don’t make them like that anymore.

Yes, they were custom made–but in the early 90s, when the state was requiring certain finishes on the wood for the environment’s sake, rescinded after they found out those don’t hold up. The skylight bleached it out; they need to be refinished.

Refinished, definitely, and we can do that, he told me. He was glad I knew how good what I had was.

(It’s everything else that has to go. The Bosch dishwasher. It can stay too.)

The big but independent appliance place I bought my Speed Queen washer/dryer from got back to me with questions about inches and placement re replacing the stove set-up, and it looks like we have clearance enough, if barely, to not have to knock out part of the wall behind the stove, so now Joel knows his guys are not the only ones I’m talking to and that’s always a good thing.

So we are one day and several steps closer.

Joel had so carefully not been eyeing my blueberry/orange juice/almond flour/maple sugar muffins while he was working, but you should have seen the look on his face at the end when I offered him some.

They’re still getting the pricing on those roof panels.

Yeah, I said, yesterday’s bomb cyclone definitely did not improve them.

He chuckled.

There’s another atmospheric river on the way next week.

Groundhog day
Tuesday March 21st 2023, 9:17 pm
Filed under: Life

Today’s rain forecast was at .63″ last night. We’ve had (update) 3.35″ in the last 24 hours and last week’s wind storm all over again. The patio roof panels did a song (more a shout) and dance again. Joel is coming tomorrow again, this time to give us a quote on the kitchen thing and whether or not this will have to be the time on the countertops or whether we can save that expense for later.

We’re supposed to have another storm in a week. Mild, though, the forecast says. Again.

(I will say that big pot thrown across the yard is the one that I had taken all the soil out of to replace it and replant, so at least it was empty.)

Update: officially, we had a bomb cyclone today. We don’t do those here. But we did.

Out of range
Monday March 20th 2023, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I went to go make sure we were seeing this the same way.

That stove is 29 years old. Do you want me to call a repairman on that switch?

He did a little wince/laugh like, why would we ever… No.

So: it came as a set up, the stove and the vent set up behind and not above it, with the switch to the fan built into the stove. Suddenly today we were stuck with a gas stove with no working vent, which is not safe, and Thermidor has long since ditched any stove with that switch.

Maybe I wasn’t the only one whose sweaters caught on fire (twice!) from those burners being set so far forward.

Only one burner was fully functional at this point anyway. Good riddance.

I’ve mentioned before (probably often enough to get really boring about it, sorry) that the original contractor goofed and put a 36″ stove below a 30.4″ inch wide cabinet gap above it. Which has helped ruin the finish on the wood. You could never sell the house like that and we don’t want to look at it either, a 30″ cooktop has to go in.

But the cutout for it is still 36″. So the countertops have to go.

So. I need a contractor, like, now. I have no idea if the guy who didn’t get back to me yet with an estimate on the patio roof after the storm is available for that, but I just shot a query his way.

I guess that electric skillet we inherited four or five years ago will finally get put to use. And I will finally soon not have to look at the Corian color anymore that my husband liked so much because he does not have an artist’s sense of color when seeing it against the cabinets and at the time I didn’t think I cared enough to object. Corian wasn’t supposed to chip? It did. I can out-klutz anything.

Man, I can’t wait to see it go. Out! (But we’ll see what the contractors say has to be done.)

And here’s where you paws in the measure
Sunday March 19th 2023, 8:59 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Our neighbors invited us to listen to a piano recital of their daughter and some of her fellow students: a kind of a practice run before their official performances so that playing for an audience wouldn’t be such a novelty on the big day.

We were thrilled.

It took me straight back to my days at the Maryland State Piano Competitions at Peabody Institute in Baltimore: these kids were the best of the best on that baby grand. An hour of straight-up concert. So good.

One of the moms had to show up late. Which led to the moment afterwards where I turned to the young woman behind me and told her with a big smile, Thank you for laughing!

She laughed again.

She’d been at the keys when someone’s mom had had to come late to join us. What we didn’t know is that the family’s large dog had been put in a bedroom to keep him away from the guests, and here was a stranger coming up to the door: his family must be notified! It was his job! WOOF!!!

And then for good measure as eyes suddenly went big and fingers hovered above the keys in freeze frame, an encore of WoofwoofWOOF!!

You know what? It was perfect. If any of those kids get nervous on the bigger stage later, they can just picture that big friendly dog making sure from the other room that they were all okay.

Springing up
Saturday March 18th 2023, 9:33 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden

You wait and wait and wait and then it all starts at once.

The fig tree sprouted not only leaves but six breba figs on its first day awake today: they are the spring fruit that precede the main August crop. I got one last year. Whether it’s the tree getting older or all the rain, it just delights me beyond reason that we won’t have to wait so long to taste a ripe fig again.

And then another Anya apricot went from this morning’s will it or won’t it sprout to–look at that! That makes three good ones and one dying out of 16 planted, but they’re not done yet. (Picture of three week old one, 3.5″ tall/4″ across as gauge swatch.)

The one whose first leaves snagged in the kernel coating got some of its relentlessly tiny true leaves blown off in the windstorm a few days ago before I snatched it inside, too late. That did it. It’s toast. So to see this new one coming up so green and so fast was a relief; I have local friends hoping for a seedling but I have to make sure they’ll grow first and at half a day old these leaves are as big as that other one’s ever were. Yay!

And hey, Afton? We finally finally started that batch of chocolate. Esmeraldas from Ecuador. Dandelion definitely does it better than I do but hey. Basically, I woke up grumpy after a long insomniac night and then figured out the best way to make it better to everybody.

Homemade chocolate is where bad tempering is okay just the same.

We went low tech
Friday March 17th 2023, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Friends

Could group one make theirs all fall? Could group two make theirs not fall? The race was on!

And so the ward party began. The cups cascaded down three times but were back up by the time time was up. The dominoes fell where and if they felt like it but had to be told what to do.

And then a To Tell The Truth game, with my hubby as a contestant. Who had made the first ever mobile phone call and from where to where?

And the answer was the guy who’d worked at Stanford Research International from the time it was new. The place where the mouse was invented before Xerox or Apple ever heard of it, where DARPA net started its evolution into the internet. Basically, the roots of Silicon Valley grew where and when Don was there and he later wrote SRI’s history.

And the young tech workers learned something new from the old while a good time was had by all.