Thanks, flower!
Friday June 30th 2023, 9:30 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit

Got to the next color change on my project, went looking for what should go there, found it–and…I hadn’t scoured that yarn that day I did all those others. I hanked it, but cleaning the mill oils off was supposed to be the next step. It is now dutifully sitting in hot soapy water. Any dye that’s going to crock, do it now.

Just when it was starting to feel like hey, this is beginning to come out right after all, I have to sit and wait.

So let me distract us with my first-ever homegrown sunflower. Variety: Creme Brûlée.

Oh and? If I ever again decide to do a big intarsia project with doubled yarns, take me aside and just y’know quietly scream AREYOUOUTOFYOURMIND in my ear? And yet, and yet. Not all of them are doubled, and it is so going to be worth it.

Sudden thunderbolt as I type: this thing needs a sunflower! That’s why I bought that orange! Of course it does!

Play ball!
Thursday June 29th 2023, 9:09 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

(This was Tuesday’s post that somehow never made it out of draft stage.)

If the third one opened yet, then the opening was facing the density of leaves and I missed it–but it may yet, we’ll see. (Update: it’s taller and bigger but not opened yet.) Monday offered us the second philodendron flower.

Also Monday: a mockingbird grabbed a cherry, flew halfway to where I was sitting on the other side of the window, and kept taking a hard stab at it as if cracking open the pit inside and then leaning its head way back to swallow bits of soft cherry.

(Pro tip, bird: you don’t have to work at it that hard.)

Each time its beak came back up, the cherry came up along with it, arced in the air, and then bounced on the ground. Stab, arc, bounce, stab, arc, bounce.

Today it had clearly learned that it had a new game: it wasn’t eating this time, it was trying to get this red thing to do the superball dance with it again.

But this one was either past its prime or deflated by having already been a meal.

I said bounce! pounced the mocker.

Rollll… (dud)


Okay kinda sorta that time but not really; oomph from the bird, none from the fruit.

I found a lot more cherries on the tree that had been picked and pecked and pickled by the process of having been investigated but not taken.

That’s okay, there are plenty more, and that was just too fun to watch.

Start-up enthusiasts
Wednesday June 28th 2023, 9:40 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,Life

He was running late, but at least that would get him past rush hour for the long commute home.

Friends of ours moved far enough away that they were able to buy a house, one with enough land to plant a goodly number of fruit trees, is the plan, after they clear out the neglected overgrowth.

They are really excited about it but didn’t know where to start.

He works nearby, and today was an in-office day and that was perfect: she’d been hoping for one of my apricot seedlings for awhile and it was waiting for her.

He picked my brain while we picked cherries together. You want the squirrels not to devour everything? Plant sour cherries, tart apples, and see the Indian Free peach there? The downside is it needs a pollinator. The good side is that not only are the peaches great, not only is it resistant to leaf curl disease, but the peaches are sour during the growing–right till the very last when at ripening they turn sweet and the squirrels take awhile to catch on that the rejects are the good ones now.

Also: that row of bushes? That’s California coffeeberry, and the tiny fruits are supposedly edible but bland (never tried it) but a big food source for the birds that like to nest in it where they’re protected from the hawks. The Bewick’s wrens take cover in there, and since they are mostly extinct now except in the Bay Area, I’m pretty protective of them.

And then we talked hawks: mine, and their red-tailed family they love to watch. Cool!

Clearly it’s been a good move for them and their young kids, even if I miss them.

I told him Morgan Hill is a hike for them, but if they want to sample the best stone fruit varieties before planting, Andy’s Orchard is absolutely the place to go.

They will be there.

Go anti-viral
Monday June 26th 2023, 9:25 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Do me a favor. Please, please. If you can, and you haven’t yet, go get a Shingrix vaccination. The old shingles shot is so much less effective, and the Shingrix one so much more so and with so few complications, that the old one has been taken off the market.

The old one is what my friend had had, and she is back in the hospital today.

I’d never heard of shingles in the brain.

(Late update: they now say en route to, not in the brain. Yay.)

Heart-shaped cherries
Sunday June 25th 2023, 9:54 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Yeah I should certainly know it by now and I’m sure I do but cellphones make it too easy to just look up someone’s number without thinking about it.

So I typed her name in the search bar and hit the familiar old string of digits.

Now, there are two old friends I wanted to offer cherries off my tree to, and I figured we’d do one tonight and the next in the next day or two as it works out for them and I had decided to call this one first because it’s been the longest since I’d seen her.

The other friend answered that call, to my unspoken astonishment.

I looked back down at my phone: at some point in the past I had thought of the one and typed out the number for the other and I have no idea how long it’s been like that. Huh.

Turns out friend #2 was very much in need of a visit: she is having heart surgery as fast as they can get her meds to the right levels for it. Tomorrow would be good. She had not known she was a heart patient.

We visited while she munched on cherries–“Mmm, those are good!” But not for too long; we didn’t want to wear her out. I had no doubt her husband could use the human time, too, because caretaking and worrying is hard stuff.

Their cat sniffed at and then tried a tentative, ginger step into my upturned wool felt hat on the floor, testing to see if it qualified as a box, and we laughed as she decided that it was actually just too small to curl up in and walked away.

But she had to come back later to try again just to be sure. It was just the right depth and slightly oval and she really wanted to own that new nest. But she was not a small cat. She was our comic relief.

We shared a heartfelt prayer and the sweetest feeling wrapped around us all. So much love.

“Divine intervention,” said Richard when I marveled over that misplaced phone number, and pronounced it again out of sheer gratitude: “Divine intervention.”

And then I unwind
Saturday June 24th 2023, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Knit

Swifts are great, but a well-handwound ball of yarn is its own art form.

Drilling rights
Friday June 23rd 2023, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Garden

I looked to see if there were more yesterday and did not see any.

Today the philodendron flower that had made me want to crack bad jokes about my photo being over exposed wrapped itself demurely back up–and two new buds showed up right behind it. It will be interesting to see if we can get two blooming at once.

Anyone want to try one?

The thought occurs that I could harvest them and freeze them till I find someone braver than I. (Runs to go see if it’s in my “The Fruit Hunters” book of rare delectables. Nope.)

Years ago we put two vivid blue five gallon water containers outside for earthquake emergencies, and since those are not the most beautiful thing to put in your landscaping and you’d want them out of direct sun anyway, we hid them under the leaves of what we affectionately call the man-eating plant growing out of a cut-out in our back patio and under the awning.

I tried to move them out of the way for the camera this time. The first, no problem. The second?

I couldn’t budge it. The plant had grown a leg of trunk right over it and rendered it absolutely immobile. I quite expect it has found a way inside it. Desert plants find their water and make it their own, and this one once drilled a small root right into the house. Got rid of that one and sealed up the hole pronto.

To be continued.

Grieving quietly in the garden
Thursday June 22nd 2023, 9:35 pm
Filed under: Garden,History,Life

Can you hear me, Major Tom

…For here am I sitting in my tin can

Far below the world

Planet earth is blue, and there’s nothing I can do…

–With a prayer for the families of the men lost in the Titan. And all those at sea in the Mediterranean.

Somehow, today my philodendron decided to bloom. This is not something it did the first twenty or maybe even thirty years we lived here.

It sent up a bud a week or two ago (see the shriveled yellowing stalk above and just to the left in the second picture) but that one never opened up. This one did, and its spadix (the peeled banana part) leaned out around noon, following the sun, straightening back up again after its rays moved on past.

The site in that link says the fruit is toxic but that the flower part actually does taste rather like a banana.

Cue the Hey Mikey! Life cereal commercial of my youth: I’m not going to try it, YOU try it! Where’s a Mikey when you need one.

And then I planted some seeds. I hadn’t been planning to, but the phrase, To life! just kept demanding it of me. To life. Know the loss, feel the grief, but honor their memory by never stop looking forward.




Flooded with thoughts
Wednesday June 21st 2023, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life

I grew up in a house and neighborhood with wood siding in an area dominated by brick homes reminiscent of the colonial era–after all, George Washington himself made use of the blacksmith shop a half mile away. Tradition.

So there’s been this odd interest that I wouldn’t have guessed I had at seeing what a brick house looks like if you could see how it’s built.

A war is not how I wanted to do that.

I sent a private note of admiration for her talent and of support.

In response, she sent me pictures: shredded drywall, pock marks in the bricks behind where that drywall had fallen from, a tennis ball blasted across the room, broken things, crumbled things, but overall, the walls were intact. Or enough so, anyway, and she vows to rebuild. This is her home. In Kherson.

Her mother’s, though, was closer to the dam that the invaders had blown up and it is ruined. But she’s alive. And they will come back from this.

This is the woman who created my cherry tree gerdan, the most intricate one I have. It took me a year to decide to spend that much–but I could just hear my art dealer father exclaiming over the skill and talent that went into it and how much of my own family’s history it reflects. All those summer trips to pick-your-own farms, all those hours and hours of jarring and jamming.

My own Stella cherry looks just like this right now.

I am so glad I got it.

She’s working on a new design right now as a way of coping (bead on with confidence through all crises, paraphrased the knitter to herself, nodding her head) and I am checking her shop every day because I want to see what it will be and because, having seen what she personally is facing, it feels even more imperative to help. There is the World Central Kitchen–and there are individuals. I can’t do everything, but I can do some things.

Getting to wear her artwork is just the cherry on top.

Tuesday June 20th 2023, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Life

So I was heading out to go get that Brie for that cherry cheese sandwich…

…And the car wouldn’t open up.

Michelle knew where the fob batteries were, Richard handed me the mini screwdriver set, go for it.

The second tip from the right was the one.

Turns out that that screwdriver magnetized the screws, so when I went to put them back in they danced like the proverbial angels on the head of a pin and then managed to hold straight out from the tip–if, if, if I could hold my hands steady enough while trying to twist the screwdriver.

Several attempts.

How about-?

And that is how I found out you can hold the screwdriver in the right hand and twist not the screw but the fob itself with your left while the magnetization holds the screw just steady enough. Give the fob a twirl. Again. Again. Again.

It worked!

So tell me why the fob with its brand new battery still doesn’t unlock the car as you approach the driver’s door, I groaned as I started to walk back towards the house thinking I had just installed a dud.

Unwilling to concede quite yet, I pressed the unlock button even though it hadn’t worked for over ten years.

Popped that lock right open, to my complete astonishment.

I don’t get it, but I’ll take it.

Just picked
Monday June 19th 2023, 9:04 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

They’re good, but the ones still on the tree will probably show me I should have held off a day or two more to let them get a little darker and sweeter.

Except that this recipe is demanding I go buy a bit of Brie right now so I can roast cherries in balsamic and then use them on toasted cheese sandwiches to make them, as the pleading promise of childhood offers the beseeched, pretty, please, with cherries on top.

Indeed they are in those photos.

I described it to Richard and he’s all in.

I asked Michelle if there were any nondairy Brie substitutes out there and she made a face and said yes but they’re vile.

Well alright then.

He and I will just have to try it out with the real thing. I am totally ready for it. (Other than, y’know, not actually having the cheese yet.)

Her way
Sunday June 18th 2023, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

They’re doing something of an experiment: it’s that time of year when the coming-up medical residents find themselves assigned to random new hospitals and towns, the universities are letting out for the semester, Silicon Valley layoffs suddenly erupted in waves again, vacations, people move in, people move out.

So they decided to have the two wards that meet in our building do so together rather than sequentially. Just for June and July and let’s see how it goes.

Generally, the Mormon Church keeps congregations small enough to be personal in the hopes of nobody feeling lost or ignored in the crowd.

And so suddenly there are a lot more small kids running around, more background chatter, and some working out of who does what when responsibilities overlap.

The Zoom that I use for captions got switched off after the first meeting because the other ward didn’t know of anyone who needed it. Oops. One of ours, halfway through the second meeting, suddenly realized I’d put my phone away and dashed over to the relevant laptop to set it up again. Thanks, Davi!

It also means there’s a whole slew of young parents who don’t know a thing about handknit finger puppets bought in bulk from Peru.

There was a wiggleworm of a toddler sitting behind us who was determined for awhile there not to sit still nor quietly today despite her daddy’s best efforts. He was single-parenting it and had several older kids, too.

She was adorable. She was a handful.

Once she was actually doing what he said, so that we wouldn’t be rewarding and reinforcing unwanted behavior, Richard, who could hear them, nodded to me: Now.

And so a vivid pink puppy dog with black eyes and nose got passed over the pew to her profound delight and her father’s relief.

She was clearly three, just old enough to be among the kids invited to come sing a song to their daddies for Father’s Day. She stood at the very front up there, pink puppy jammed hard onto not one but two fingers and clearly barking energetically along with her singing as far as she was concerned.

The song ended, the Primary chorister motioned to the children to exit stages left and right and back to their parents and they dutifully started filing down the (four? maybe five) rather shallow steps to either side.

Not her. That was boring and slow and she was not going to do that. She gleefully leaped over the edge of the pulpit fast before any adults could see what she was up to and jumped to the floor, puppy held proud and high in triumph.

We lost it. It’s a shame that that was just out of reach of the Zoom camera, I’d want to show that video at her wedding some day. You GO, girl!

Saturday morning
Saturday June 17th 2023, 9:21 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

One of the things we wanted to do before Michelle leaves was to stop by our old favorite haunt together, Timothy Adams Chocolates.

But the Sorry We’re Closed sign was up. We stood in front of the door, surprised and disappointed, while inside, Timothy saw us, threw the door open, flipped the sign over and welcomed us warmly in.

We were in luck: they were both there. Hugs all around.

And of course we bought chocolate, both liquid (I highly recommend the Madagascar Valrhona 64%) and not. Loved their new looks.

Adams is the designer behind it all, so I asked him if this one particular one over here with the colors and lines: was that inspired by Piet Mondrian? (asked the art dealer’s daughter, giving the name a French accent because that’s my second language. Dutch, not so much. While talking to someone whose last name is Holland.) Frank Lloyd Wright?

He laughed. And then he showed me the secret.

Just like everybody’s grandmother, he had a collection of favorite artistic–wait for it–buttons. In a jar. He shook them out. Gold and shiny, roses here, abstract there, he hunted, turning them over to see the tops, till he found it.

My Piet Mondrian wannabe, the raised lines of metal, there you go.

They’d already rung us up and I hadn’t seen it in time so I’m just going to have to go back to get my Grandma Mondrian button chocolate the next time. (Edited: Wait. They actually do call it the buttons collection? I had no idea. It’s the dark cream caramel one.)

We will be back.

Friday June 16th 2023, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

After much attempting to sketch and graph yesterday (again), today I dove in. I’m on the second color and it feels great. (Let’s see, two more rows of this, four of that, then double the number of…) I won’t be entirely sure of myself till I see the whole thing done, but I decided I’m willing to accept whatever imperfection I may find as I go along. Begin the pattern!

What I’m hoping is that what it is and who it’s for will be so instantly recognizable that I don’t dare show it till it’s done and received.

I still haven’t got that top part charted at precisely the angle I want because knit stitches just don’t stack up that way at that count. It shouldn’t matter in the end, though. A triangle is a triangle. And if it’s too tall, then…

…That’s the angle a small child would see it, looking way up from way down below.

Pure silliness
Thursday June 15th 2023, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Knit

It was $12.32 for my 100g/650m and curiosity got to me.

Here, feel this, as I held it out to him after it arrived this afternoon. So soft. And look how shiny it is.

He smiled a Yes Dear and dutifully ran a hand over it for me.

I gave it the fragility test: see how easily a piece breaks off.

It didn’t, and I had to quit trying.

Not that any of that justified buying it, and I’m going to be considering awhile before actually diving into it. Maybe. It and I are still negotiating.

A viscose yarn that sold out before mine made it here from France: it is 100% dandelion. I knew I’d regret it if I never tried it.