Sunday February 04th 2024, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

Our average annual rainfall is 12-15″. We got 3″ in two days, and I know the southern part of the state has had it much much worse.

That was the first power failure in memory where it was the oven that I didn’t open for fear of letting the temp escape. The blueberry muffins came out okay enough.

There had been a flash, and then part of the house had power, three rooms did not, and in several rooms, you’d flip the switch, think, well not that one, and then two seconds to, in one case, five minutes later, the light decided to turn on after all.

Except only halfway.

The hallway bathroom looked like it was auditioning for Halloween.

The oven was out.

The microwave could still helpfully offer a timer?

The computers were out.

The fridge was out.

The big freezer in the garage was out, but its temperature alarm was not.

Basically, anything that took a lot of power was cut off, and the house was starting to get cold.

The printer, unasked for, suddenly woke up every ten minutes on the nose and made sounds like it was printing. Bizarre.

And yet, most of the lights were in fact still on. You just couldn’t cook nor access any food that wasn’t shelf-stable–a definite heads-up that we need to buy soup or something and in sizes that won’t have leftovers. Yay for only slightly soggy blueberry muffins.

We looked at the breakers. He flipped some. Then I did, one at a time. The notations for what each goes to was written in pencil 35 years ago by the electrician and there was no way, so it meant turning one off, running inside, seeing what effect if any that had on anything in any room, flipping it back on in the rain and trying the next one as the camphor tree helpfully threw leafy bouquets at us. We were wondering if our wiring had been fried in that flash.

It didn’t seem like a power failure and yet it was acting enough like one that I finally said I would call the city.

City Utilities, said my phone, had a number to call to make a voltage report.

So this was actually a thing?

‘Known problem. 8:30,’ the recording promised.

At 8:37 the lights in the room where I was knitting an afghan row suddenly went out. I didn’t get up to get the flashlight across the room because they were still on in the living room and down the hall when suddenly oops, no they weren’t.

He tells me that means that of the two 110 volt lines going into the house, they cut one and then the other to work on them but for the sake of electronics they should have done both at the same time.

Me, I’m just glad for people who are willing to be out working in that storm with such hazardous wires flailing around them in the winds. To not have to replace a thousand dollars worth of food in the freezer for the second time in a few months.

The heat kicked on as I sat down to write this right after I had my computer back and man, it feels good.

The light in the front entryway refused to be resuscitated. That is a problem I can handle.

Update: the official rain monitor went down with the power failure at 3:46 pm and it has not yet been rebooted, so that three inch tally means up till that point.

Didn’t Ace the test
Friday January 26th 2024, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

Peaches on one side of the river, apricots on the other, but that makes it sound like I’ve done more than I have so far.

Meantime there’s a picture for this:

Richard is forever losing his combs. My last-resort option was a Tupperware party favor eons ago and he can’t take it because I can’t replace it. Dang it’s ugly (protectively so: for the life of me I cannot picture him ever wanting to put THAT in his pocket) but it’s great. Lives in my purse.

So I went looking and found the familiar old Ace. Those have always lasted forever, right?

Turns out that that 150 year old company sold out to the usual origins of cheap shoddy stuff overseas and their classic Hard Rubber dating to the Civil War is no more. He used it today for he thinks the third time ever and then showed me.

So I went looking tonight. Kent brand sounds good on (pixel-based) paper. I know, I know, we just sang that song, but we’ll see how it turns out.

A simple pocket comb is not something I ever thought I’d have to ask for recommendations on, but if you’ve got suggestions I am here for it because you know he’s going to lose that new one in no time.

Or maybe he’ll finally find that this one’s worth making sure he hangs onto it, I mean, I know I did.

Time tesseracts
Sunday January 21st 2024, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Family,History

(Madeline L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time.”)

I was talking to my mom tonight and at one point she was marveling: her great grandson lives with her.

Right, right…

Looking at time in the other direction, her great grandfather was in the group of pioneers who with their covered wagons went ahead and scouted out the Salt Lake valley and reported back to those gathered in Iowa that it was a good place to move out to.

(A side discussion, yes I remember about the Missouri Compromise balancing free states and slave states, and how the Mormons were growing in number in Missouri enough to risk outvoting the slaveholders and thus overthrowing slavery throughout the country at the ballot, thus their homes were burned, they were shot at, their leader was among those killed, and the governor issued a decree that all Mormons were to be shot on sight. That law stayed on the books until the 1970s, when a drunk driver who killed a young mom tried to get off on the grounds that she was Mormon–which embarrassed the state into rescinding it.


Her great grandfather was born four years after the War of 1812. He was not only later the first mayor of Salt Lake City, he was there before Brigham Young.

And his great granddaughter, now 93, takes good care of herself and still does volunteer work. Her great grandson gives her a lift to the grocery store every week.

It’s all set now
Wednesday January 17th 2024, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

Tart cherries out of the freezer, pie into the oven, dinner on the table, good times.

We were waiting for it to finish baking. Then he told me a story that, if he told me forty years ago well it’s new all over again to me now because I sure didn’t remember it.

I had made some reference to the Hostess Fruit Pies of our youth: they sold them in the vending machines in the dorms but I couldn’t afford them on my budget, and they were always, always sold out anyway. I managed to snag one twice my entire freshman year–but that’s okay, since they didn’t have more than about a single actual cherry apiece in them. (My mother was a master of pie baking and those were always such a disappointment.)

He looked at me funny. They had cherries!

Was he sure?

He was.

Did he have a lot more of them than I had to make that observation by?

So that’s when he told me.

He was a teaching assistant in the computer science lab and people were constantly coming to him for help. He told me, The problem is people think computers are, are, magic! It’s ‘the computer’s not working,’ not, I told it something wrong.

GIGO! I said. I remembered that phrase! Been a long time since I’d heard it, though: Garbage In Garbage Out re computer commands.

So he would ask them, Tell me what it’s not doing for you. Then when they explained, without even going and looking he’d tell them, I bet you a cherry pie that the problem is in the…

He told me, They’d have like a typo in their code that they were sure they didn’t have; it’s easy to do, you just have to find it. Or something like that. Once they had to explain what the problem was he knew they could find it, they just needed to know they *could* find it. His job was to help them learn that, not do it for them.

And he gave them a little extra incentive to want to. Plus he got a hand pie out of it.

I could just picture some poor sod hitting every vending machine on campus looking for a danged cherry Hostess.

He told me, I never–not once–lost that bet.

Then he mentioned an old friend of ours at the next grad school who said to him one day, Every time you come in here and we talk I always, always find the bug. You never tell me what it is. You never go looking for it. But after you leave I always find it. How do you do that?!

The answer was, (You find the confidence and then) You think it through. That’s how.

And with that, we decided not to wait till our Definitely Not Hostess tart cherry pie had set, much less cooled down. Straight out of the oven. A little whipped cream for a little cooling and we dove in while it was still, frankly, a bit soupy.

We figured out we wanted it right now enough not to let that bug us.

2:34 a.m.
Saturday January 13th 2024, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Years ago there was an article about a woman who got a McArthur Genius Grant that made it possible for her to continue her research into why some women get so ill in pregnancy that they can’t keep food down. Or certain types of food.

One of the things I remember was her delight that that money meant she could indulge in buying papayas, her favorite–and not even have to worry about the cost! I always wondered if she ever got pregnant after that and if she could eat those while she was. Because you know sometimes life has a twisted sense of humor like that.

So here’s my Genius-wannabe take on another aspect of womens’ health: why does insomnia become so prevalent after menopause?

When our second child was born, my mother-in-law came to town to help out after my own mom had left, and one of the things my MIL did was to get up when the baby cried at night, wait while I nursed him, and then show up in the doorway and tell me to go back to bed while she burped and changed him.

Sometimes I was desperately grateful for the break, sometimes I didn’t actually want (though I would never have said it) to hand him off because it was my alone time with him without a two year old bashing a book in my lap while the babe was in my arms nursing demanding that I read to her (ie, pay attention to ME, Mommy, ME!) but I knew my MIL’s time in which to get to make those offers was short, so of course I let her have some baby time too. Zzzzzz.

I couldn’t believe she would wake up like that for me, night after night the week she was there. That she was willing to wake herself up and be sleep-deprived along with me when she didn’t have to be.

What follows is in no way meant to downplay that sacrifice on her part because of course that was far, far more than rolling over, looking at the clock, and rolling one’s eyes at it.

But here’s my theory: that evolution designed us to help the next generation survive those first few days or weeks or whatever of motherhood and get more rest so that there would BE a generation after that, while increasing the bonding between all the generations at that most tender of times.

Which is why I was telling my stupid body at 2:34 a.m. (and 2:36 a.m. the night before that) that the youngest grandchild is now four bleeping years old. There’s nobody to go help in the night. Knock it off, willya!

And then you just keep going
Thursday January 11th 2024, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

So, there’s two ways to do it, he was saying: take twenty years while you carefully weigh every possible variation of every possible part or event or choice–or build fast go smash blow things up and learn and then go do it again.

Like Elon Musk on the latter? I asked.

Exactly. NASA vs SpaceX.

This from a man who’s quite proud of having been part of a software group that worked on the Mars Rovers, so I guess he does have some idea of what it’s like to work with NASA, actually. (You should have seen his excitement over that perfect landing. But I digress.)

He was thinking I’d Musked it, but, no, not at all. I explained that (while knitting lots of hats and a few cowls) I hadn’t just dithered over it these last three or four months–I’d drawn, redrawn, googled for images for inspiration, drawn some more, but I just couldn’t picture it in my mind; that brain function was lost to injury years ago.

I told him, I pulled out the–remember when I made that landscape of Alaska in a completely impractical baby blanket for Lillian, out of baby alpaca and silk, and then made it over again in washable wool? I still have the original. I looked at it again today and again worked out how I could riff on it.

I even dreamed the silly project a few nights ago and got some of that visualization down and it has stayed with me.

I had collected so much cashmere for it from Colourmart’s half-price sales (and had quite a few lace weights plied into the weight I wanted for an extra $5. The offerings are few this month but there are some.)

So I felt like I had NASA’d the thing to death. I had long had the bottom edge finished and waiting.

But what it came down to was, I was afraid of it. I was afraid after all this build-up of totally botching the thing. (Thinking of Carolyn’s tire swing that I embroidered lawn scuff marks under so it would not look like–yow and never mind and I was thrilled when one of her neighbors marveled in delight, Is that the tire swing?!)

It felt like a huge triumph today when, first the Alaska, then pulled out the latestest sketch, the yarn, then lined the balls up together, okay that no no that one okay and that and put that back that no that’s going to be sky not river that won’t go but that one…

…and at long last I committed to it and sat down and knitted that first row of color work. It felt like cutting into one’s first steek (man, could someone who writes Autocorrect go learn how to knit?) But it just didn’t have to be that hard. At all.

I’ve wanted to do a creekside and it has wanted to be a mountain landscape for all this time.

Mountains it is.

For the first inch, anyway, unless it decides otherwise–proving that my yarn is still the boss of me–but I think. I think. I’ve got it and I can take it from here.

(Let’s draw it in colors rather than purl stitches, and change those antlers) okay, where should I put the elk?

Priority: mailed
Thursday January 04th 2024, 8:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Yesterday I asked my brother if he’d like some Andy’s apricots.

He knew what those slab Blenheims are like, and Yes he would absolutely love that.

He texted today that he was coming home. (YAY!!!)

Emergency room medicine, I told Richard.

My non-apricot-loving husband got this impish look on his face and told me that that was copyrighted thankyouverymuch.

It doesn’t count if it’s not ice cream on the way home from the ER?

Nope! he grinned. Tradition!

It would be kind of hard to ship Cherry Garcia…

I found a box big enough for a single pound; there was space for more but not for another box, so I emptied most of a second pound into a ziplock and used that for padding.

I’ll just call it emergency medicine. It is on its way.

(I had no idea what was about to happen when I suddenly decided on Friday to make one last long trek down to Andy’s farm before he closed his shop from January 1 till May. I had some of his apricots to tide me over–but I bought a few more anyway. And there you go.)

Because-I-can’t-do-anything-else-about-it knitting
Monday January 01st 2024, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

The tops of hats are my least favorite part to do: to keep from growing any gaps between the knitted-together pairs of stitches and those around them, I pull the yarn consciously taut, and I tend to keep it taut all the way around those rows. It makes for a dense, warm top of the head, but it’s a pain in the hands to squeeze those needle tips in there over and over.

But hey, you’ve got two pairs of size sevens tied up till you do, so….

I needed to go finish yesterday’s hat. I didn’t really want to–I wanted to start something new, something brighter, something cheerful on a gray day.

And then the phone rang. It was my mom.

My brother is suddenly in the hospital and he’s going to have a rough go of it for the next little bit and we are all praying hard.

I sat down with that hat and realized it was offering a chance to control one small thing in my life and have it come out the way I wanted it to, right now, no waiting. Make it.

Even working the ends in felt like a relief. Whoever it’s for, including possibly a doctor or nurse taking care of him, it’s ready, and I need to go start another one.

And just wait till next time!
Tuesday December 26th 2023, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

Maddie couldn’t wait: she wanted me to help her knit. She wanted to make a finger puppet. She wanted it to be one she had made.

And so I cast on ten stitches, did the first row, and showed her how. Only, this time she was half a year older than the last time we’d tried this and she had that earlier experience under her belt and she took right to it. It became a dozen stitches, sure, but she did nearly all of this by herself. All she needed help with was figuring out when turning the thing not to knit into the too-loose stitch-below-the-stitch at the beginning; yarn tension was not a thing yet.

She wanted it longer but asked if I could add the last few rows to it.

Sure. Did she want it folded lengthwise and sewn?

No, widthwise.

Oh, well then you’re pretty much there. A row or two, she watched carefully as I sewed it, and then it was gleefully declared done and tried on.

It didn’t need to have a face or wings to be a finger puppet to her, it needed to be something made by her. And it was. She’s a natural. It was the day before her ninth birthday and I hadn’t learned till I was ten, I told her (and a half!) She’s good!

San Diego and back
Sunday December 24th 2023, 10:13 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

We celebrated us some Christmasing. And his big brother’s birthday. And his little sister’s birthday, but mostly hers since that was the one we were there the day of and the day before for.

But grandkid #2 is the one I told the story to of my dad flying home from France suddenly blind on one side, having to have surgeries to get his eyesight back in that eye–and how we were supposed to be coming for a visit soon after. (I think that was the trip home for my sister-in-law’s wedding.)

We came.

Grandkid #2’s daddy was two at the time. And he was kid #2, too.

His grampa was depressed and grouchy while trying not to be, but he was.

That little boy of ours instantly decided that his Grampa was his total hero and yelled, Grampa! and ran to him and hugged him every time he saw him, even if he’d just toddled out of the room and turned around and yup he was still there so hey there’s serious celebrating to do here! Grampa!

If Grampa growled or was loud (he was a bit hearing impaired) it made no difference: hugging him, climbing up into his lap, being with him was what life was all about that week for my little boy.

And you know what? By the end of our visit, I told grandkid #2, my dad wasn’t depressed anymore.

I added, and I’m telling you this because you remind me of that. Because you’re so cheerful.

Grandkid #2, a tween, looked into my eyes. Then he hugged me for a long time. Then he ran and hugged his Grampa.

I could tell, over the next 24 hours, that he was thinking about that story a lot. About how much of a difference he could make–when all he had to do was love people and be his best self. It changes everything.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it, and love to all in this beautiful world of ours.

Cookie cookie cookie
Friday December 22nd 2023, 9:58 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

A crazy-busy nonstop runrunrunrunrun kind of a day like probably a lot of other people had today.

The teacher friend who needed homemade cookies for a party and was even crazier-busier than we were and had absolutely no time for it got handed plates filled with warm ones right out of the oven, courtesy of yonder daughter.

I think we’re ready?

No flakes time of year
Thursday December 21st 2023, 11:46 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

An eye-popping quote from the movers. A $300+ quote from UPS on a 30 pound box. No and no. It was actually cheaper to fly a dear friend to come visit (twist their arms!) and bring stuff in her luggage than it was to ship it. All the stuff that didn’t make it to Boston that she really wanted to have, she replaced.

Major sorting today.

Then to Dandelion Chocolate.

Answering Freecycle posts.

Out to dinner.

Good stuff in good condition, a lot now in homes that wanted it, a few more pickups to come. Everybody who said they would come, came. A brand new Dowd puzzle, shrink wrap intact, made how they don’t anymore as if the box were an antique book with uneven, slightly browning page edges. Someone was ecstatic. Someone else was wistful. The wistful got first dibs when she said, Hey, these other four puzzles need to go, too. Brand new.

She likes puzzles but not that many.

Turns out Mr. Wistful is a teacher at her old school. I spelled out exactly what was still here and it made his day–they will definitely go to good use.

If you ever want to get rid of a really good Balsam Hill small Christmas tree, or anything else for that matter, post the Freecycle.org offer the week before Christmas.

Someone’s elderly mom who no longer had a Christmas tree is going to have her daughter show up with a three foot, perfect little pine topiary. I explained that it needed new lights. I think I’ll add a box of my glass ornaments when I put it out there tomorrow.

Wednesday December 20th 2023, 3:32 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

There was a long string of kvetching back and forth on Nextdoor.com today over people parking in front of other people’s houses. It got pretty silly (and I wasn’t about to step into that.) C’mon people.

Back in the day, there was a kid across the street with a jacked-up monster truck. Bright red, huge tires, bumpers at window height (illegal now.) Couldn’t miss it. And for whatever reason he always liked to park it in front of our house and not his.

The fact that they couldn’t make any sense out of that I think is why it bugged my kids. Although I certainly rolled my eyes over it myself. It is safe to say it dominated the view out our front window.

So one day that truck was there and clearly the guy had had a good time because you could hardly tell what the paint color was for the layers of mud. How it got splashed that high I did not know.

One of my kids really felt that particular day that this was an injustice too far.

And then suddenly all the Sunday School lessons about serving rather than finding fault came back to me and I had the answer to that: hey, let’s have a conspiracy! Here, I told them, help me fill the bucket. Soap. Sponges. Do it fast before he comes back out. You with me?

They really got into this. YES!

I helped carry the water; they dashed out there and got right to it and made it their project. They started on the side facing our house where they wouldn’t be seen from his. Was it okay to climb that bumper to wash that window? They decided it was. They were giggling by now and having the time of their lives when Sandy next door, who had really been bugged by the guy’s parking habits herself, opened her door in surprise and asked, What are you doing??

Washing! Truck! was the answer. (With that kid agonizing to me afterwards, I sounded so stupid but I didn’t know what to say fast enough and that’s just what came out!)

Ooookay, and she went back inside.

There were still a few soapy/muddy smears here and there when they decided that that was as much as they were going to be able to get away with without getting caught and came in snort-giggling and smiling and anticipating. There was a lot of hanging around the window by the front door to see. And then, deliciously, the guy (18-20 years old or so) came out to get in his truck just like they’d hoped, and–


He walked around it, completely befuddled. Who? How? What?? Huh. Well, okay, and without saying anything to anybody because there was nobody outside to say it to anyway, got in and drove off.

Memory says he parked it in front of his own house after that; I’ll have to ask my kids.

Saturday December 16th 2023, 9:06 pm
Filed under: Family

Checking the flight time from Boston, loving that it’s coming in early. All the more hours with us!

Having a ball
Saturday December 16th 2023, 10:07 am
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

My mom called yesterday, blown away.

My best friend from high school lost her mom to cancer while Karen was a freshman in college. Her dad remarried, then passed away himself a few years later, and her stepmom was the only grandmother her daughter ever knew. She died in her 90’s a few years ago.

It’s the Christmas season. And there was a wonderful mother figure still out there from Karen’s point of view, one who was widowed just before the pandemic and after a long, good marriage. Reaching out just felt like the thing to do.

My folks had moved at retirement, so she made sure she got the correct address from me.

And now Mom needed Karen’s address for her very delighted thank you on those Lindt dark chocolate balls that she would never in the world have expected.

Man, I picked good friends when I was a kid.