The week after
Sunday April 30th 2023, 9:51 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life,Mango tree

Before we left for Seattle ten days ago, the pomegranate tree still had some leaves in the bright light reddish gold of early spring.

Now they’re all a lush dark green and the first flower buds have appeared. I love how they mimic cacao pods at this stage.

The Anya apricot that germinated right before we left has started to sprout side branches.

Re the older woman who coughed at church last week: I didn’t see her.

But clearly one of the young men who’d been at the front had seen the whole thing because he wears a mask while breaking the bread for the Sacrament and had forgotten his today and knew just whom to ask. That there would be a ziplock in my purse with a bunch of new ones, readily offered.

I had actually taken it out while unpacking everything from the trip and yesterday thought, that needs to go back in there, and went and got it.

I was so proud of him. He was looking out for everybody, whether they noticed it or not.

It was my old friend Eli, who took care of my mango tree against the cold weather while we traveled when it and he were younger. Whichever college gets him next year will be very fortunate to have him.

The salesman with the deep voice
Saturday April 29th 2023, 8:35 pm
Filed under: Life

On the ROOF?! He was stunned.


Not under the house? Is it a slab?

It’s a slab. It goes up and out. The guy had thought putting the motor that far away would help make it quieter for my hearing impairment but what it did instead was make the noise reverberate through the metal all the way down and it’s much louder.

He shook his head in disbelief. That’s the worst, he said. He couldn’t believe a contractor had done that.

He showed me the motor to a ventilation fan, how it was in this gray metal box. Just to be sure I was right. And then he apologized at how much it was going to cost us to replace the fan alone in that case. We’d already looked at and priced the cooktops.

This was at the place where I bought my Speed Queen washer and dryer, an independent company with a hundred-plus year history with the surrounding community to uphold–they know their stuff and their reputation to uphold and they’re good.

He could not have expected my reaction to the number he gave with apologies: profound relief, mixed with a whole lot of gratified self-satisfaction: I knew it. I knew it.

Then I gave him the number a contractor had given me for replacing the cooktop and fan, and the fact that he was close to ten thousand dollars cheaper. That is not a typo.

He was speechless again. And then–he didn’t want to badmouth the guy–but some contractors, you know, they think if you own a house you’re rich so they can quote anything, he told me.

So. The Hestan? It’s gorgeous and the lights on the knobs are great, but, he pointed out, those brass pieces on the burners? They won’t look like that. At all.

Okay, just saved me from that high end one.

The Bosch? He told me what he did and didn’t like about that one, my choice.

I explained about losing my balance in a car accident years ago and that I fall a lot–so I’d prefer the knobs be between me and the burners. I told him how with the current cooktop set so far forward, I’d set my sweater on fire. Twice.

His face! Man, I think that guy’s going to remember today’s customer.

So now Richard has to decide if he agrees with what and why the guy got me wanting the one I do now.

I am to call the guy’s installer to come look and measure first.

We are finally making some real progress and that portable one-burner Cuisinart we bought, woefully slow when you’re used to gas but immensely helpful in letting us take our time, will hopefully disappear off the countertop very soon.

Friday April 28th 2023, 8:59 pm
Filed under: Knit

I got the tracking number today.

Mulberry silk is slippery on the needles–that’s a given. Laceweight with silk in tiny stitches requires close attention. That’s a given. See yesterday’s post.

But there is definitely motivation now to get that project done and out of the way.

Silk/vicuna 90/10 yarn, 500g, was on sale at $115/free ship at the time. Never mind that it’s in laceweight. That gorgeous shiny blonde effect! (Which color, it turns out, is now sold out unless you buy the 100g cones at $28.76+ship. Which is still 1800 meters.)

I plan for some of it to end up plied with the cone of bison/silk that’s been sitting waiting for…that, as it turns out. Ron at had a Halloween offer a few years ago of $25 for a mystery grab bag when they were about to send their yarn dyeing business off to Stunning String and that’s what he sent me: an entire cone of a single ply of their Sexy line. Wow.

Except bison doesn’t shrink and vicuna seems to a lot. Unless that was the merino in the 98/2 from Colourmart. There may be some interesting effects here.

Raw vicuna fiber wholesales at up to $400/lb. I’ve seen the yarn in stores kept under lock and key at $200 an ounce.

So when this comes I’m either going to adore it when it’s all knitted up or I’m going to adore it the whole way through and I don’t quite know which yet. Even that 2% yarn was enough to show me that this was something the likes of which I had never encountered before–and I am quite looking forward to finding out what 10% vicuna is like. I am really glad I snagged the lighter color so I’ll be able to see what I’m doing, plus I just plain think it’s pretty.

Now I know why I’d been itching to make a wedding ring shawl. For who, I have no idea, but out of what, I do now.

Don’t mind me folks I’m just enabling here.

Vicuna and silk, you guys!

Stitchbusters anonymous
Thursday April 27th 2023, 9:30 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

Come craft together, they said, whatever your project type. It’ll be fun!

It was, too.

But (bifocals notwithstanding) I knit with my glasses off to see up close but I left them on so I could lipread and found out that tiny stitches and slippery silk and having to count and not being able to entirely see what I’m doing while I’m paying attention to someone else…

meant I went home and slowly carefully painstakingly stitch by snaggy stitch ripped out every single thing I’d done there because there was just no rescuing being off by that much that far down and across–and boy did that yarn want to run.

But we had a good time. Next time I’ll bring something brainless and wool on size 7s.

In person time
Wednesday April 26th 2023, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Lupus

In January, a very kind friend offered to drive us to the airport when we needed it.

Yesterday, her husband asked around if anyone could take them to the airport.

At rush hour. Across the Bay.

I’d hurt my back in the last hour at Sam’s before flying home Monday but knowing how much they would need that ride I said yes–along with a few quiet prayers that I’d be able to manage it. And if not, then that someone else would step forward.

I didn’t hear back yesterday and didn’t hear back today and that’s unusual from them so I sent off a hey do you still need this.

Huh. Nothing. Well, I guess they didn’t, then, and went about my day and didn’t fill the car nor take out stuff like reusable grocery bags to make more room because sun exposure time vs it wasn’t needed anyway.

Five pm I picked up my cell and Missed Call had appeared on it in the last hour.

Turns out they had answered; the email had vanished. Oh. It’s been wonky, that’s why I sent it again from my other addy. They’d called my cell, not knowing that the landline is the one I can hear ring.

Maps said 50 min to an hour 50 to get there that time of day and they needed to arrive by 6:30 at the very latest and they were halfway across town and it was 5:00.

I immediately called back, asked if they still needed a ride, said give me two minutes to get out the door, turned off the preheating oven, scribbled a note to Richard who was in a meeting before vanishing on him (he’d known I’d offered), and made a dash for it. Whatever was in the car was in the car and we would make do.

They knew it was a terrible airport to try to get to but it was the only one with a direct flight after work in order to get in at a reasonable hour. They were going to see their only grandchild. She was turning one and she had just learned to walk.

Oh how cool! Such a fun age.

We had a great time catching up on life. It felt an immense privilege to spend that time together. I could even hear Eric in the back seat most of the time, and that’s highly unusual for me. Man, that felt great.

The traffic was as good as it could have been at that hour.

They thanked me, I thanked them, and we pulled up in front of the terminal at 6:29. At 6:30 their bags were out of the car. At 7:25 I sent them a message that not only was the traffic so good the other way that I was already home, I’d filled the car on the way. They told me they’d had enough time to buy dinner, and had just boarded.

After two and a half hours on the road the only time my back had twinged the whole way was the brief moment when I tried to reach the FastTrak toll pass velcroed to the bottom of the window to reset it to 3 so we could use the carpool lane. No dice. I’m too short to reach the quite reasonable spot where the tall guy set it up. No matter.

I can only chalk it up as a small favor from G_d because on my own, I was not at all sure I could manage that trip I’d committed myself to. But I did it.

I expected pain and it didn’t happen.

What I got instead was joy.

Calling a spade a spade
Tuesday April 25th 2023, 9:48 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden

We’re told it was warm while we were gone.

The plants definitely took notice. (English Morello sour cherry with the top yet to bloom, sour cherry close-up, Stella sweet cherry.)

One yearling apricot seedling lost a limb in the heat but has new growth on the others; the other seedlings are doing fine.

And now the best picture of all. Even if it cuts off the matching little back of the head curl on Grampa.

Mathias was so excited about his new gloves that came with his gardening set that he wouldn’t take them off even for Legos. In the morning he’d tackled a tall mound of mud with a spade way too big for him and it had frustrated him, not to mention got him tumbled down that contractor-created hill a couple times; in the evening he opened his birthday present and there it was, beautiful and green, ready for digging in and just his size.


Speaking in unicorn
Monday April 24th 2023, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

We were celebrating three generations of birthdays together.

One way not to run out of yarn to work on is to bring lace weight.

I bought this at Stitches West 2019 from (this is as close as I can find to their bright and shiny 80/20 merino/silk lace weight in the Isabella colorway) Western Sky Knits in Montana.

I did a not quite the usual hat on the way to Seattle; out of sheer boredom, a few rows into the stockinette I found myself doodling k1, p9, then k3, p7, k5, p5, k7, p3, k9, p1 as I went round the rows. Then half a dozen or so plain stockinette again–and then I reversed the triangles, p1 then 3 then 5 then 7 then 9, and finished it plain from there.

I found myself laughing in surprise mid-flight: I had just knit Charlie Brown’s shirt.

Anyway, right before the trip I’d grabbed that Western Sky stuff that had been waiting so long and wound it up so it would be ready to go.

At one point there was a “whaddya you gonna do” shrug from Lillian’s mommy that her daughter adored unicorns. As three year olds do.

How could I knit anything else after that?

I was a few inches along when Mathias, busy with Legos with Grampa, looked over at my hands and said in wonderment, “That’s PRETTY, Grammy!”

I suddenly realized all he’d ever seen me do was practical hats. Travel knitting. I’ve made so many. They’ve gone to so many. And that white cashmere/silk afghan that I’d splurged on to make him as a baby that was now proudly on their couch–so soft, it’s nice, but it was white.

All these colors!

It is now officially child approved.

And by an older child: there was a sullen teenager in the airport waiting two hours for today’s flight, as did we, trying not to let on who his parents were. As teens do. I had my phone out and was reading the news (Fox fired Tucker Carlson today?!) so my hands would only have to knit for the length of the flight.

Once we were boarded, though, it was all rainbow knitting all the time.

Yonder teen passed us as he came on.

He saw what was in my hands. He stopped.

He looked at my knitting. He looked at me.

I looked back beaming my best grandmotherly-wisdom-love in his direction.

He went on his way with a noticeably lighter step.

I don’t know his details on why I suddenly felt considered an ally, whether the unexpected project simply gave us a moment to see each other and see good in each other and that was enough. Or if there was more to it for him.

All I know is, I’m so glad my hands were speaking in colors.

Growing it forward
Tuesday April 18th 2023, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life,LYS

How many years ago was it? Someone I only knew a little back when Purlescence was still open posted on FB about having all these extra tomato seedlings and it seemed terrible to throw them away but the whole packet’s worth was way more than she was going to put into the ground. Please. Somebody. Take!

She does not live close by but her office was kinda sorta halfway between us, so when I expressed some interest she dropped them off after work.

At the time I wondered why she would go to so much effort for such little things; years later, I totally get it.  They’re yours, you’ve nurtured these, you know what they could give to someone, how could you not try.

It had been easily twenty years since I’d grown a tomato plant. I had no idea where the path of the sun relative to my yard was or where what was shaded when.

I watched some of hers grow and was inordinately proud that they did. I watched some get killed off by my inexperience; I never did get a Black Krim that year. But somehow, eventually I actually got to pick a tomato off my own vine that I had raised that had all started with her generosity and enthusiasm.

I was hooked, and even last year when every drop of water was being accounted for I grew a tomato plant. One single one. Bought at Costco at the last minute when I just couldn’t stand not having one.

Burpee’s and Park’s send out their catalogs in the thick of the January gray and cold (and, this year, rain.) Not before. They know their audience.

So. I had a few extra seedlings on standby after transplanting: nobody needs more than one zucchini plant (uhhh…) Okay, nobody needs three. I wanted to make sure I had replacements in case the snails devoured anything.

And yet… (Day 1, day 2, day 3…)

They were all fine…

I messaged my next door neighbor. I had one seedling each of Sungold tomato, butternut squash, and a zucchini leftover, and I’d planted all I was going to need for us; did she want them?

She’d love!

She had all kinds of questions. Could you grow them indoors? Do they need direct sun?

You can always try; they might get pretty big. Six hours, as far as I know, in order to produce. (Tomato: Oh yeah? Just watch me!) I told her of my crazy Sungold that kept going for three and a half years.

I knew how much she was going to enjoy watching those grow from tiny to productive, and walked away mentally thanking Janice all those years ago for starting this. It’s all her fault. I’m so glad.

Oh, and, I told her that squash vines can go on for 10-12 feet but I’d deliberately chosen varieties that grow small and straight up.

Bared roots
Monday April 17th 2023, 9:51 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

Still in the process of opening up, but I loved how the morning fog softened everything.

This was my one Costco-impulse-buy tree, labeled as a Stella ultradwarf cherry that would top out at about eight feet. It doesn’t think so. But at the time, I was helped by a young employee who read the tag on mine as he lifted it into the cart, and in listening to my enthusiasm looked over at the others and decided he was going to buy one too and plant it for his mother. A small cherry tree, she could pick her own, he mused–she would love that.

I don’t know who or where they are now, but I think of them both often when I look at mine and remember that there’s a kid out there who loves his mom and a mom who raised a thoughtful kid. I hope they’re getting lots of cherries, and by now he probably is married and has kids of his own old enough to think about trying to climb it to reach some for Grandma.

Sunday April 16th 2023, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Friends,Life,Lupus

I know there will certainly be days to come when I will wish that my bad day was the kind of a bad day like this one was.

That said.

We were about to leave for church when, walking down the hall, I caught a glimpse of shiny–wait, what? Turned and looked and it was sunshine from the skylight bouncing off the water on the floor. Water?!

The toilet was Niagara-ing impressively.

I waded in and turned the water off to it, we put a whole lot of towels on it and down the hallway, threw a bunch in the washing machine, managed not to soak our Sunday best in the process, washed our hands and headed out.

Or were going to–but someone had parked across our driveway, you know, one of those I’m just running over there for a few minutes things, and he was soon out of the way–after sitting in his truck and being on his phone awhile first.

Got to church, sat down–and the woman behind me started coughing. A lot. Right into the back of my neck. She was not wearing a mask but I had just stocked my purse with a bag of new ones so no problem, and offered her one to match mine.

This is someone I’ve known for 36 years and I did not expect the reaction: she stood up in the middle of the meeting livid, stared me down angrily, and walked out.

I was like, what just happened here?!

I’d had no idea she was a MAGA. I was trying to help her out (and everybody around her) with what she’d clearly forgotten rather than embarrassing her by moving away from her myself, which would only help myself.

I apologized to her husband after the meeting for upsetting her.

We got home from church, started in on the towel laundering, and the dryer was only halfway working. It would do it, but it took two and three rounds through and in fact the last load of towels is still running at 8:00 pm as I type even though I did what I could to make sure the vent was clear. (Ed. to add, third round didn’t do it. I gave up and hung them to dry the rest of the way.)

The grandkids FaceTimed and that helped save the day.

But I knew I had to say something to that woman or this would come between us forever and life’s way too short for that.

I apologized in an email. I had given offense and I’d had no intention, but I had and I was sorry.

(Type, edit, pray for her, edit, go away for a few minutes to look at it with fresh eyes, repeat, pray so I’d say it right. Edit some more.)

But it felt important to keep at least some medical context so I said, my autoimmunity has been mildly flaring and it took me straight back to 14 years ago when I’d been starting to flare and someone had sat down behind me in church with “just a cold” that turned out to be bronchitis. My lupus and Crohn’s went nuts and I lost my colon and six months later after I still didn’t stop bleeding they did major surgery again.

I touched briefly on the lung damage and cardiac inflammation. I just can’t do germs with a system that thinks I am one. And so I watch my exposure carefully, I said. I just wanted to explain–but I gave offense and in no way meant to and I apologize.

Prayed again and sent it off.

Sometimes you just have to tell someone how it is. Especially when you don’t want to be a was.

And to establish boundaries.

Plucky little guys
Saturday April 15th 2023, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Garden

One of the optimistically labeled maybes in yesterday’s post, where the apricot kernel had opened and the halves turned green and then one of them at last started to fade so I really thought it was a no–sent up a beautiful green leafy shoot today and a root out the bottom of the 4″ pot. I so was not expecting that little bit of delight. Cool!

And then I was walking down the sidewalk downtown and sometimes you see these little holes in the concrete. I’ve seen scrub jays breaking nuts open against a favored spot on my patio–and then they come back later and enlarge the opening and it seems like they’re trying to stash food in there. Or maybe just make the squirrels think they are to keep them away from the good stuff.

That hole is about the width of a large cherry blossom. Those two sprigs look like Nandina, which is a shame because they poison the native birds. Still. Quite the little spot they’ve got all to themselves there.

Looks like the jays are working on a second hole. Someone be ready to quick drop in a tomato seed. Or how about The Squash Vine That Ate Downtown. The South gets their kudzu, we get our butternut. It’s only fair.

Now I just have to knit 98,454 more stitches
Friday April 14th 2023, 8:47 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Knitting a Gift

Huh. Where had I put that other pot? But I wasn’t really paying attention to that distraction, so, whatever.

Which is why it wasn’t till this morning that I discovered the Anya apricot pot knocked clear upside down, where it had to have been for two nights and a day by then. That was the newest, fastest growing, most promising seedling, too, I lamented at myself while scooping everything back together newly out of range of raccoons–or the garden hose as I’d reached towards the amaryllises under the awning; I probably did it myself. That’s what I get for having the thing up on something (to thwart rabbits) but not up enough.

It actually looked quite good: curved but not broken. Bright green and ready for some sun time again. I debated whether it needed to be kept shaded while it readjusted–but didn’t, and that may have been a mistake.

Tonight? It might make it but when the leaf edges shrivel like that, experience says that one’s a goner. If it were older, but it’s not.

I’ve got a few seeds left and it looks like I’m going to need them. I have friends hoping for their own Anya seedlings and I’m down to two clear successes out of sixteen by this point and two maybes.

Knit stuff: I did a fair bit of swatching, washing the swatches, hairdryering, measuring, deciding, and lots of wanting to just get on with it.

The combination of variegated blues in merino over here would be a ton of fun and I had it all planned out.

But then I swatched that 64/36 cashmere/cotton. There was just nothing like that softness. Exquisite. The bit of cotton meant the shrinkage was about 10%, all vertical. And given who it’s to be for? It totally wins. Yeah, more (and more and more) plain practical white again, but happy anticipation can make up for a lot.

That is seriously nice stuff.

Over here blue, over here white…
Thursday April 13th 2023, 9:23 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

The major reason I’d been looking for for motivation’s sake. The yarn–I think. Half wound. The plan of the pattern: half baked.

But it’s coming together bit by bit and the anticipation has set in. And that’s half the fun.

A little decorum
Wednesday April 12th 2023, 8:57 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

It has been in the news that a far-right Federalist Society judge was asked to speak at Stanford and was shouted down by the crowd. Many, including me, are disappointed in those students and think they could have handled it better.

So it was interesting to read these two comments in the NY Times, with #1 providing context I’ve seen nowhere else and #2 being exactly what I think they should have done. (Hey! The Mighty Moo! WJ was built next to one of the last dairy farms in Montgomery County, Maryland, sold ice cream to the kids during lunch break, but later became the new headquarters of Marriott International while the cow mascot lived on. The resident alumna can brag all day about what a great high school it is.)

Quote 1: “I’m a Stanford law student and feel it’s important to share some missing context here. Judge Duncan did not enter the room with the intention to give a lecture. He taunted people. He recorded a video as he walked in of the people in the room, his phone inches from students’ faces, seemingly to force a reaction to escalate the situation. When students engaged peacefully, such as by asking him pointed questions, he mocked them. (Two examples: one student prefaced a question by sharing that it was a personal question to her, as a survivor of sexual assault, to which Judge Duncan told her “nice story”, and moved on. Another student asked about another one of his decisions that also impacted minority rights and, rather than respond to the question, Judge Duncan told them to read his judicial opinion and moved on.) He called students “appalling idiots”, among other names. Meanwhile, trucks paid for by some unidentified groups have been circulating around campus with students’ names and alleged quotes from the event printed on the side. These trucks were even driven outside the homes of parents of four separate students. Not to mention the threats they’ve been getting. Many many students engaged much more civilly with Judge Duncan than he engaged with them. And yet they’re the ones being targeted.”

(Me: Yeah, I’d like to hear a lot more reporting on that aspect, if it was as described here. I believe doxxing is illegal in California and threatening certainly is.)

Quote 2: “In 1969 I was a student at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Maryland. Members of the American Nazi Party were allowed to visit the school and present their point of view that the Holocaust had not happened. The event was held after school in the cafeteria, and expectations for students who chose to attend were made absolutely clear to us by the principal. We were to be respectful at all times; we were not to interrupt the speakers; anything we had to say could be said in the Q & A afterwards. Those of us who attended prepared ourselves extremely well and did as we had been directed. During the presentation we took notes, sat on our hands, kept our mouths shut, and did not interrupt the speakers in any way. Then afterwards in the Q & A we absolutely shredded them. When they left, they knew they had been soundly trounced by a bunch of high school history geeks. It was a very valuable experience to me, and a lesson that ideas, no matter how vile, should be argued, defended, and defeated in public.”

Now: just imagine if those Stanford students had kept their silence and instead simply recorded what Duncan did and how he treated them and had waited for the Q&A afterward to speak up. Who then would be being excoriated nationwide?

He wouldn’t have been able to twist a thing.

A lot of life in a few hours
Tuesday April 11th 2023, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

It was vaguely reminiscent of our five hour round trip to Antioch two years ago to get him his first Covid shot: it was driver’s license renewal time and there was no point in not doing the Real ID thing–why pay the fees and the DMV time and the bother twice.

We gathered the documents, submitted them online, set the alarm and drove to where and when he could get an appointment–across the Bay a few minutes after that office opened.

Their website didn’t let us schedule both so I came along for the carpool lanes and in hopes they might do mine anyway. They didn’t. I’m next week. But at least at a much closer office.

When we got home It was hard to fathom that we’d done so much in the day and it wasn’t even ten a.m. yet. Wasn’t it lunch time by now?

I waited for people.

I carried the KitchenAid to someone’s car.

I carried my late MIL’s toaster oven to another person’s car.

Not only were she and I moms of the same age, we drove the same car and looked like each other surprisingly much. It was great fun. I noted that there were wooden spoons and a spatula tucked inside her daughter’s new toaster oven because every first apartment needs those.

That delighted her no end.

The contractor having brought up the choice, I did research on fiberglass vs polycarbonate roof panels and brought my results to Richard and let’s get this done.

His reaction was, That’s nice–but what I really really want done is the taxes.

The taxes! That’s what I was going to do today…!

Yeah, when they made some announcement awhile back about declaring California a disaster zone for the floods and said that that meant the tax deadline was helpfully being put off for months for us, my reaction was to groan, Noooo. Don’t tell me that! I don’t need any help procrastinating them, I just don’t! I deliberately did not Google to see if that was a counties-specific or a state thing. Pretty sure it was state, don’t want to know.

And I could tell you all about the fun *that* was this evening, but I’m sure you all did yours and that’s enough of it to have to deal with for the year.

They. Are. Done.

And for the first time ever, the IRS let me file electronically after accepting my name. Maiden one, but that’s huge!

And that’s a whole ‘nother blog post about Bush, the Patriot Act, the Social Security office suddenly seeing half the wives in America now that states making the legal changes were no longer good enough, the IRS never getting the memo and claiming discrepancies and that I was never me–unless my returns came by mail. And then somehow I was. Go figure.

Till today.

Next year maybe they’ll even let me use my actual legal last name!