27 months
Saturday July 13th 2019, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

FaceTime.

Again!

We sang ABCDEFG again.

A delighted, Again! (I noted that he no longer sternly pouts No No No at the inclusion of TUV.)

He was loving this. Again!

Umpteen more rounds.

Then Wheels On The Bus. Shaun the plush Sheep went round and round, up and down, and moved on back.

Again! He giggled at how fast Shaun wiggled his ears at the up and then plunged out of sight from the camera so fast on the down.

Again!

As many rounds as you want, honey, for as long as you want during this brief time in your life in which you do. That’s what grandparents are for.



It’ll wrap around someone just a bit smaller
Friday July 12th 2019, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

Every knitter needs a UFO stash.

No, seriously.

So: about three, four years ago? While visiting with a cousin of mine, she clearly had something on her mind but couldn’t quite say it. She almost–but no.

We were about to leave for the airport. She knew this was her last chance and she could only ask such a thing in person, if even then, where she could see my reaction and back off fast and apologize.

I could see those wheels turning and grinned. Out with it!

There was suddenly an even more tortured look in her face mixed with such fervent wishing.

Knowing who she was and how much I adored her I added, Of course I’ll knit it, before she’d even answered.

Which is exactly what she was hoping for while knowing it was too much to ever ask so she wasn’t going to. But she was about to move to England and she didn’t have anything really against all the cold rain she anticipated there….

A scarf and a hat? Sure! Color? Purple? What kind of purple?

Oh I like all purples!

(Well, that doesn’t exactly nail it down…)

So I found some purple yarn, and it was Malabrigo, which I love, so, I bought it.

And it was Arroyo, which I quickly found I didn’t love when I was going to have to do a whole long wrap around your neck it’s cold here and it might not be warm enough and then I’d have to do a hat, too, and then worry the same things about it. I wasn’t the least bit sure that that hand-dyed aspect was her thing. Solid was a safer bet. So I found a thicker, worsted-weight very soft plain-purple yarn with some cashmere added to the wool that I wouldn’t have known about nor found had it not been for her request and she got a lovely set that she adores.

And a bunch of other people got nice things made out of that yarn before it was discontinued.

I still had the beginnings of that Arroyo.

Many times I thought about ripping it out so I could use the needles for something else but that would have meant my hours spent making something perfectly nice but not yet useful were worth less than a $7 pair of cheap ones. So, lacking some better immediate use for that yarn, it stayed.

Until today.

I picked up a few dresses I’d bought for the baby to get an idea on pattern sizing, which answered my question as to whether I needed to continue the lace part further: no.

I went down two needle sizes and started ribbing, because babies grow and ribbing stretches. I decreased for the armhole edges, then eventually at the neck, on up to the shoulders, and there you go: the front of one baby sweater, about six months size. Easiest fastest start to a project ever.



Let there be purple!
Wednesday July 10th 2019, 7:45 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Hear ye, hear ye: be it known, that at 5:44 pm Pacific the two alternating strands were cast asunder from yonder baby afghan and the US 7s put aside with the knitting pronounced Finished, on this the day of my sister’s having finished her 58th year on this beautiful planet Earth, blessed be its wool.

The afghan shall hereafter be known by her name in her honor. (Well, for today, anyway, I’ll let the kids do whatever they want with it. Let me just go run in those 32 skein ends first.)

Happy Birthday, Anne!



Blessed were the five year olds
Saturday July 06th 2019, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden,Life

We lost the earlier pomegranates to, as far as I could tell, the serious windstorm we had in the spring, so it was nice to see some new ones starting out.

And then I found this big one hiding.

Looks like something straight out of New Orleans, doesn’t it?

But the story of the day is that Michelle stopped by and, wanting an ingredient she can no longer buy at the much-missed Milk Pail, asked if I’d like to go to the little boutique grocer in the other direction with her?

Sure! Haven’t been in there in ages!

But then I found myself needing to do just one thing before we left, and then another, and oh that, too, while she waited patiently. It’s not like we were going to be gone a long time, she could have pushed me. But instead, it was a happy, No hurry.

We compared notes afterwards and turns out that as I dithered, both of us began quietly wondering if we would run into someone. There was something of a sense of anticipation.

We were almost done in there when there was this sudden three-way exclamation of surprise and recognition and arm-throwing-hugging and joy, pure joy.

Ginny, retired now, is a master teacher and all four of my kids were extremely fortunate to have her. Me, too, for that matter. For just one example, I learned from my oldest the visual rule of three in a composition. She mentioned it to me as an oh everybody knows that as she pointed out its elements in her drawing.

Now, I’m the daughter of an art dealer, I spent several summers of my childhood museum-hopping across the country with my family, and I had somewhat intuited it but had never had it explicitly spelled out in my life. The moment was a revelation to me.

Ginny taught my five-year-old who taught it to me: the eye is pleased with images it can divide into threes subconsciously. This is why a photo that is split straight in half looks off, somehow. Why two-button polo shirts always feel wrong. You need an odd number. Starting with three.

Which is why I tried to fix the pomegranate photos above because hey, Ginny’s probably going to see those, but the program burped. Never mind.

She wanted to catch up on each of the kids, and me, and I wanted to on her and her twins-plus-twins grandkids. I told Michelle the story of going to the fifth grade teacher’s funeral and afterward, a tall man who was carrying an easel with a flower arrangement to help put it away started approaching us and Ginny gave me a heads-up that we needed to get out of the guy’s way.

I said, Ginny. That’s my son.

The shock and exclamation of delight and at 6’9″ he wasn’t a kindergartner anymore, wow!

Michelle grinned.

Turns out Ginny recently lost one of the great friends of her life, and we grieved with her. I wish now I had asked her a whole bunch of questions about her friend and I certainly should have, but I was trying not to take up all of her time in the middle of a narrow aisle in a store when she surely had other things to do.

I think of all the children, and all their parents, to whom she has made all the difference in the world. The classroom where, when a child needed to calm down, they got sent to the little curtained off enclosure she’d made where they raised butterflies, where a Monarch they had helped sustain from its earliest stages could land on their shoulders and another on their outstretched hands when they just needed a moment alone like that.

I wonder how many adults out there now are looking back on those days and planting milkweed. To befriend life back. She taught us so well.



They took a long time to fill
Friday July 05th 2019, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Knit two afghan rows, make myself put it down and do something else for twenty minutes for my hands’ sake, repeat. That’s been the pattern for lo these many days.

Which is how I quit knitting and saw the note on Facebook from my friend Michelle in San Diego. We met when her fussy toddler was made happy by a finger puppet at Lisa Souza’s booth at Stitches years ago.

I went straight to the USGS site. From 8:16 to 8:50 pm tonight, there were four earthquakes where yesterday’s was in southern California: 5.0, 7.1, 5.5, 4.9. Felt from Mexico to San Francisco to Sacramento. (We didn’t.) Yow. That last one happened in between when she posted and when I signed in a few minutes later.

Remember when they took out the concrete floor to the shed to get at the roots after the neighbors cut down the redwood tree a few months ago? We had two water containers, 35 and 50 gallons, that they had to empty so they could move them out of the way. We’ve been putting off refilling them because we don’t have a new floor to that yet–we were waiting till the neighbors are done with their addition to their house before throwing more contractors’ trucks in this block. We didn’t want to have to empty them again to move them again to have to fill them again. One does not waste water here.

Dude. Four earthquakes in a half hour and the biggest one in twenty years: you know that’s increasing pressure elsewhere in the system.

We did what we should have done from the beginning and, flashlights in hand, washed off the very dirty tops of the lids and refilled those tanks, relieved when we could finally put that second one back on. Done.

The idea of having the storage for a water emergency but with no water in it after such a strong warning was unfathomable. Yes you don’t waste water, but we are so much more than the worth of 85 gallons.

We will rest a little easier tonight knowing that’s done.

Okay, so, back at last to the afghan. I’ve got time for one more row.

(Edit, there was another 5.5 at 9:18. That’s a strong aftershock.)



Independence
Thursday July 04th 2019, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Politics

I was ignoring the booms. He was busy, too.

It took at least a half hour of background sound before he said what I was thinking and together we headed outside. Because it is the Fourth, and because it is what we always do, and so we watched.

You can see the highest of the fireworks over the Bay from behind the neighbors’ trees. No crowds, no cars.

There was a bright red and green one that suddenly seemed for all the world like a line of Christmas lights–being shattered. The promise of the Christ Child, of compassion and love eternal offered freely to all: America’s leader wants no part of that.

We are shattered at those concentration camps where children are being held. Where the workers will be fired if they comfort and hold a child, where they are instead following orders to deny them adequate food, water, changes of clothes or diapers, warmth, sleep, everything.

Where the teenage prisoners love and tend to the small children who were before this strangers to them, and yet not one of our own people has found it within themselves to yell, with or without cameras running, Then go ahead and fire me! I dare you to tell me I can’t hug this crying baby! What is WRONG with you?!

But they don’t. For what? A paycheck? Thirty pieces of silver is a hard, hard currency.

And so those seeking asylum and comfort from us take those smaller children into their own arms while they are still children themselves and they shame us by their grace.

All they ask is that we honor our own asylum laws, as have they, and offer them a fair hearing.

And their parents back.



The little stinker
Tuesday July 02nd 2019, 7:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Wildlife

There was a problem with the washing machine at her place so of course we said, sure, c’mon over here.

Her schedule was tight enough that she got a late start at it but it had to be done.

And so it was nearly 11:30 last night when she was reaching down to pick up her hamper of now-clean clothes to take home as I was reaching to open the front door for her when I suddenly shrieked, DON’T OPEN THAT DOOR!!!!

Followed immediately after, it must be admitted, with my inwardly admiring how the colors of the fur kind of melted into each other–it looked marvelously soft. Definitely spinnable. I can see why my brother reached down to pet his roommate’s cat one night years ago, just as he heard his apartment door automatically locking behind him right in the moment he realized that the animal at his feet was not, in fact, a cat.

Having come down the walkway and crossed the doorstep in my moment of !!!, the skunk now went through the open gate just to the side and sniffed at the recycling bin. Then in the direction of the few leftover tomato plants that got plunked in the dirt over there a few months ago because I didn’t know where else to put the extras.

Hey dude. You already ate those. And you pooped on our sidewalk afterwards. At least put it in the garden yourself.

Right. So, no go, and what was that blast of sound? Not caring for that. It turned around and bounced with a jaunty little walk back down the way it had come, a wobble to its step that kind of looked like how a two year old runs. It was absolutely adorable.

One could not tell in the night if it had ducked into the azaleas at the end there or gone under the cars or–? There was just no way to know.

Her: A skunk?! The way you yelled I thought it was a black widow spider!

Me: (gobsmacked.) Would you rather it was a skunk?!

Her: Yes!

Me: (Thinking, but, but, you can’t stomp on a skunk…!)

Her: Because, black widows!

Her: Oh man, what if it gets my clean clothes.

We invited her to crash here for the night, but no could do, starting with contacts solution back at her place. We spent a couple of minutes debating who was the brave one (too soon, too soon) and finally (still too soon, but it was late) Richard proclaimed, I’LL be brave! and grabbed a flashlight to match the one in my hands and we opened the door and basically created late-night hell for the neighbors. We’re HERE (shuffle shuffle shuffle loudly) little skunk, go AWAY! (Shuffle shuffle shuffle) We’re HERE, little skunk, go go go!

Me: Should I look under the cars for it?

Them, in unison: NO!!

She got in her car. Only then did I flash the light and nope, it wasn’t under our car, anyway. She managed to pull out without backing over anything.

Two feet and a pane of glass. I haven’t been that close to a skunk since our honeymoon.



They did it!
Monday July 01st 2019, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Garden,Life

A great big pot of applesauce with a very small blond boy standing over it, grin big and hand wide as if about to do an exuberant splashdown into that tasty goop: it’s not my kid so I’m not putting his face here, but it was a great photo and it made my day.

I passed Ellen’s recommendation on to the mom of the Victorio Strainer¬†so she doesn’t have to cut the seeds out next time, and then promptly ordered one myself so we could both use it when the Fujis come on. My mom used to have something like that all my growing up, only big, metal, and heavy, ¬†essential to her for getting tomatoes to the right texture for chili sauce; my tomatoes have started turning color (bird netting was applied today) and I was feeling nostalgic. Mom, what’s your recipe? I know you told me thirty years ago…

Plus, all those apple seeds.

So we will try out that new toy and hopefully it will last for generations like Mom’s. Thank you, Ellen!



Thursday the multiple 13s
Thursday June 27th 2019, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Family,Politics

By the time we booked our reservation at our favorite major-celebrations restaurant only the 8:00 slot was left.

Which meant being able to watch the entire second debate first.

Which definitely gave us a topic of conversation over our dinner.



Thank you Mathias
Sunday June 23rd 2019, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

A two year old started randomly yelling in the middle of church today insisting he wanted a donut and got taken outside a moment by his mom to be shushed, along with a couple of other toddlers who chimed in. I mean, who wouldn’t want donuts? Where were their donuts?

Which is how his mom and those few others saw the arsonist setting the fire that was starting to whoosh up the dry hillside right to where there was a chapel full of people who had no idea what was happening behind them. It came close.

Everybody is okay. We are praying hard that the guy is somehow caught and stopped.

Out of the mouths of babes, oh Lord, Thou has perfected praise.



Into the woods
Saturday June 22nd 2019, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Twisty, windy, blind-curved mountain roads, past Alice’s Restaurant in La Honda where there were motorcycles parked everywhere and across the intersection and a sign said, loudly, HAM RADIO operators something-something and I looked at the resident ham with a question mark but no, he doesn’t even ride a motorcycle…

And then the state park we had come for. Redwoods like Muir Woods without the distance nor the crush of summer people.

My brother-in-law was admiring a set of giants just after the four of us got out of the car and gave a chuckle when I told them that a circle of redwood trunks like that is called a fairy circle. (Right. They’re so dainty, aren’t they?) They all come up from the same set of roots, and, (coming on to the next one) see this bit of growth at the bottom? That’ll be the next one. All part of the same entity.

There’s no knowing how long ago this one played Hulk! Smash! on its way down, but somehow the bottom of it looks like a wild boar to me.

Or maybe that’s just its tutu?



Purple Wonders
Tuesday June 18th 2019, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden

I have just a trio of strawberry plants in a planter as an experiment; they were a bit of a splurge and I wanted to see how they would do before I got more. Starting in January or February we get the occasional amuse-bouche from them: one for you, one for me. Or maybe we split an only. They aren’t terribly big.

June, though, is a strawberry’s favorite month.

My sister-in-law wanted to see how the yard looks like these days, so once the sun got low we did a little walk-around, her face lighting up again and again as I said our first pomegranates ever were beginning, our first good crop of tart cherries is about ready, we’ve got tomatoes kind of scattered around to test where the sun is best like the one hiding behind that sweet cherry over there.

She didn’t remember that we had a mango, and was intrigued.

Mandarin, cherry, peach, lemon, plum, fig, apple, pear…

“Is this where you fell?”

“Stepping over that, yes.”

Coming back she glanced at that pot, saw what I had not and exclaimed, “Oh! Strawberries!” A red one was peeking out from the leaves, and I lifted the netting tent off and handed it to her, looked around and found two more. That would make one for Richard, one for her, one for me.

I was going to take them inside and rinse them first (one pretends to be proper when one has company) but hers looked clean and she popped it right in her mouth, just like I do.

She stopped right there with a look on her face almost to pain. I was suddenly afraid she’d gotten a bad one–there’s a reason they call them straw berries and I don’t have any straw. I’ve lost a few to them sinking into the dirt and looking perfect on top while rotting out the bottom after a watering.

Quite unsure, I asked, “Is it good?”

She swooned. “Now THAT. Is a STRAWBERRY!!!”

Which is how she got the other two.



Skidmarks
Monday June 17th 2019, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden,Life

The good news is I got all the trees watered.

The bad part was stepping out of the tall raised bed that runs the length of the back, having my foot skid out from under me and going over and down.

Some people do tattoos. I do a more temporary cherry and plum version.

Meantime, I popped one of these in my mouth and confirmed that I do need to start picking them. I held off, though, so my sister-in-law could get to do it too when she gets here tomorrow, if she wants. Pie, anyone?



Happy Father’s Day
Sunday June 16th 2019, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Family

It was great to talk to our kids.

And man, it felt good to hear my dad’s voice. Cheerful, welcoming, happy, so glad to hear our voices, ever the best a dad could be, and I felt all over again just how lucky I am that I got to have him as my dad.



A quick note after celebrating our friend Lee’s birthday
Saturday June 15th 2019, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden

My sister-and brother-in-law are arriving this coming week.

Ripen fast, guys.