And yet who knows, it might
Monday October 03rd 2022, 8:11 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life

This is a little bit out on a limb–and yet.

I’ve mentioned how I was instantly smitten with a beaded sunflower necklace designed by Oleksandra in Ukraine. I waited several weeks before ordering it to see if its effect on me would wear off; the lower sunflower in particular is really big and I don’t naturally tend towards the ostentatious.

And yet. Those flower halves lifted as wings to the sky, the inner petals below curled as if caught up in the velocity above: it spoke to strength, resilience, survival. It reminded my eyes of peregrine flight, if you remember my volunteer remote-cam work towards their recovery. Yes, I could wear that. Thinking of strangers’ eyes lighting up on seeing me wearing a vyshyvanka: I would. For them.

It somehow felt a compelling part of the historical moment that I wanted to bear witness to. My father would have loved the art of it as well and I missed him, and that was somehow wrapped up in it, too. My little sister and I were with him on the plaza in Santa Fe when he fell in love with a shadowbox turquoise necklace and spent a long time talking to the artist about how her creation had come to be and about her work; he’d bought it for Mom, just like his dad had once picked out a large turquoise and a setting type and had watched another Navajo artist create a ring to surprise Dad’s mother.

That ring was big. It was almost ostentatious. And I treasure it. I’m the granddaughter who got to inherit it.

And so, wondering which granddaughter’s this would someday be, I bought that gerdan in July, back when there was only one, and I’ve written here of the long international back-and-forth wanderings that thing has been taken along on ever since.

My longtime mailman rang the doorbell Friday and I said quite gladly, You’re back!

He enjoyed that.

He’d been away when the post office had been unable to figure out where to send that gerdan. I knew he wouldn’t have had a problem with it.

Meantime, Oleksandra had been avidly following that tracking every day, even though for me it hasn’t changed since September 17.  She sent me a note a couple of days ago to let me know what the American postal service hadn’t been able to say: it had arrived back in Kiev! She was going to go retrieve it, repackage, and re-send it. She had made another two of those necklaces anyway even though I had told her that if it never showed up to please consider it a donation and not to worry about it.

But she was determined, and luck turned her way, and so, one way or another, there are strung-glass sunflowers coming my way shortly. Maybe it will spend the usual month or two waiting in Kiev to leave the country again; maybe it won’t.

And here’s where part of me can’t say/part of me can’t not say it so I’m just going to put it out there:

I was woken up very early this morning, October 3, by a dream that stayed vivid and still is, which is not a usual thing for me: that, however long it might take this time, I was once again at my front door opening it to our longtime guy and he was handing me a package. It was, it was my long-hoped-for necklace from Oleksandra, my personal connection to a family with a loved one defending their country there.

And as he handed me that package from Ukraine it totally capped off the day for both of us as we found out that we had both heard the news:

The war had ended that day.

Ukraine had won.

I know that all the fiercely wanting it to be so does not make it so. I know a dream does not require reality to bend to it. And yet the wild irrational hope holds on hard and it utterly refuses to let go, and all I can do is pray hard in grief and love and longing.

All I can say is, we shall see.

And that I wish that there could be overnight delivery on that thing.

I hope they still do this when I’m old
Friday September 23rd 2022, 8:31 pm
Filed under: Friends

We have a quite elderly widow in our ward at church, probably the oldest person there. She’s lived in her house with the big back yard and tall trees and winding creek up near the hills for most of her long life.

Someone had an idea that I want to pass along: that her friends who could should bring themselves a sandwich and gather at her house for lunch on Fridays, clean up afterwards to make sure she doesn’t have to do any work to have us come, and give her company and laughter while being sets of eyes looking out for her for the sakes of both her and her children across the country.

We had such a good time today.

Word of mouth
Saturday September 17th 2022, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

Y’know, I was just saying to my husband this afternoon that I wanted a cookie or something sweet like that but that I didn’t want to bake because then we’d eat the whole batch. If I could just buy one that’s as good as what I could make myself… If only.

And then I opened Facebook to see if anyone needed to be wished happy birthday.

One of my friends had just posted a picture of a gorgeous pistachio dessert from a local bakery she’d driven some distance to try out.

Turns out it was about two miles from us. Never heard of them. Opened in December 2019 and survived the pandemic–wow. Dairy free? Vegan? Nut free? Name your special dietary request and they can do it and everything is gluten-free. (They’re working on setting up shipping nationwide.)

Back in the Purlescence days, there were I think five people there who were seriously wheat allergic–just touching flour made one person break out in hives–or were celiacs, and it was one of those friends getting the word out that this place is safe for them.

You know I had to go try it out.

And then I had to take some to yonder allergic child of mine, quick while it’s fresh, before it starts raining tonight and all day tomorrow (YAY!!!)

So far, Richard and I have tried the chocolate muffin with the mini chips and monk fruit in them; we’re saving the  two frosted ones on the left for breakfast. Oh, and we each had an apple cider mini-muffin. Yum.

But just from those two tastes I’d say that yes. We will definitely be back. Probably way more times than we should.

The right day for that
Sunday September 11th 2022, 8:37 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

You know, I should have had one last yarn over at the top of that dandelion. I’ve been thinking of ways to avoid that jog where the trunks go inwards a stitch at each side on their way up. You can’t see the seven rows of branching under that curl of fabric, but they’re there and (measuring tape out) I probably should have ignored my earlier calculations and started that part sooner.

There are always things you can do better the next time and it’s fine this way this time.

Meantime, we have a new young couple at church and they were asked to give today’s talks. They were funny, spiritually grounded, clearly thought the world of each other, and I look forward to getting to know them better.

The man’s mom and grandmother came.

The grandmother was taking in my blouse, this blue one, so my friend Phyllis explained that I buy them from Ukraine to help out there.

Turns out there’s an adopted grandchild in that family from Ukraine and those two women were highly interested to know where one could find such things. They’d had no idea one could.

Now they do.

Pom Poms
Tuesday August 30th 2022, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden

I knocked my pomegranate tree over. Partly. My hose and I. It was very sudden: I woke up Sunday and went wow.

It’s juice-making time inside all those bright little reddening balls and clearly Saturday’s watering got slurped right up. There are no fruits on the back where it’s up against the shed, and so all the weight was towards the yard and there you go. See that oversized stake? It and all these branches you see leaning to the right were upright on Saturday. And they will be again once harvest is over.

The new neighbor’s little girl told me about the lemon trees in their back yard and asked to see the fruit trees in mine.

I told her she couldn’t just go back there, her mom had to know where she was. So she and her little brother and their mom all got invited over to see.

They’ve moved quite a few times and expect to again in a few years and the mom was wistful, telling me what kinds of fruit trees she’d like to plant someday–but what can you take with you, you know?

On a more practical note, she told me of a type of Chinese or Asian pumpkin (her description) that you cannot buy here. That she was trying to find seeds for so she could have them again. Like my apricot trees! she said. You want them you have to grow them if you can find even that, right? She was so happy for me that I got to have my Anya offspring.

I wished her all the best–and you know that the search for a source for her has begun. She’s only lived in the area a few weeks, and now I’ve got a list of the various specialty grocery stores she could try.

Not to mention, now I know which of my neighbors adores the pomegranates that we have so many of coming up. I can’t wait.

Do what to it?
Wednesday August 17th 2022, 9:53 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Life

Next Tuesday, Amazon said. The box showed up today. Ask me if I mind.

Comes assembled, they said. But, it turns out, screw the knob on the drawer yourself, lady. Yeah, I think we can handle that. (Note the lack of application of said knob. That drawer came in handy already!)

I tested out the setup by talking with my mom while trying not to lean on its slight wobbliness, and we now know that my sister Carolyn’s name types out as Kill Christmas. You know, I can actually do that kind of word mangling better than it can but it’s trying.

Speaking of whom, she and her husband have been househunting online. A few days ago, she flew to see her grandkids in Ohio with a day trip to the town in New York where she’s been looking. On that very day the most perfect house for them went up for sale–and now it’s theirs. Great condition and reasonably priced, to top it off. And she got to see it in person. Because it was on the one day.

I can’t wait to see what she does with her new horse carriage in back. Would it kill Christmas if I asked her for a pony? Always wanted one when we were kids.

Nina got her peaches and dried apricots from Andy’s and I threw in some of his plums, too. The lady at his farm agreed with me that fruit straight off the tree was the perfect homecoming after time in the hospital.

My heart monitor came off and went in the mail per protocol.  So did a birthday present for Lillian, who is turning three whether her Grammy can fathom that number so soon or not.

Writing all this it suddenly struck me what it was that I didn’t do today and I didn’t even think of it till just now: I didn’t knit.

Wait, how did that happen?

Such good news
Tuesday August 16th 2022, 9:47 pm
Filed under: Friends

My friend didn’t answer when I first called from my cool new gadget today; she was in the middle of being discharged from the hospital. She’s home. Praise be.

I told her I would go to Andy’s this week and bring her some peaches in celebration.

And dried apricots, she requested. His Blenheims.

Will do!

Friends from when our kids were little
Sunday August 14th 2022, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

About twenty years after she moved away, M-L was here at church today, catching up with old friends: she was on a trip that took her close enough to here that she couldn’t pass up the chance.

I cannot begin to say how much it meant to get to see her.

We laughed over memories of her twin toddlers being told to offer Oreos to my husband and those two adorable little boys sneaking around the corner, snarfing down the creme centers, putting the cookies back on the plate, and proudly offering up the soggy remains as if no one could possibly ever catch on.

Her husband was the one who, during the flood of ’96, opened his front door to see if any water was backing up, just time to see their koi from their backyard pond swimming past his feet. Brad loved to tell that story.

He was also the first person in the county they’d moved to to contract covid, when even the tests for it were new. The first one there to survive the ventilator. He wrote a rare-for-him Facebook post that day of his intense love for his family, his gratitude to all who’d taken care of him, his plans to hike in Finland with his family the next year where his wife’s mother was from. He was going to go to rehab to build his strength back up and then at long last, home!

He stood up at the side of the bed–and was suddenly gone. This was before they knew covid causes blood clots.

I’ve long kept in touch with M-L, but to get to see her and share in person the love and the support and the grief and the pride in her now-grown kids and mine just meant so much.

We got home. I had an email waiting. Richard made a phone call and was out the door but told me not to come and not to be exposed. Were visitors allowed? As he explained afterwards, Part of being visiting clergy is an inability to read when you need not to.

And so he in his K95 mask got to visit our friend Nina, who is in the hospital with meningitis, and to be there for her husband, who knew Richard would know what this is like.

I tried to keep her company before and after by email while trying not to wear her out. I know how responding to even the most appreciated message or in-person visit can wear out a sick body even while reviving one’s spirit.

She is delighted at my new phone gadgetry and could I call her on it, she asked.

Today? Or would tomorrow be better, I asked.


I told her I’m looking forward to it.

How trash day took a turn
Wednesday August 10th 2022, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Friends

Or more specifically, the mailman did as he maneuvered his truck around us a moment later, waving in greeting, too.

She was closing her garage door. I was putting our recycling bins away after dinner. I caught her eye and waved hi.

And this time she waved back, hesitated a moment, and we found ourselves walking towards each other and meeting our new neighbors.

She told me eighty people had applied to rent that house and she didn’t know why her family had been picked, but she was very glad.

I told her the owner’s kids were the same age and gender as hers when he bought the place a year after we bought ours and I bet you remind him of those days.

She hadn’t known that but you could see her liking him all the more for it.

And I thought later, and I bet he wants there to be kids enjoying those good schools like his got to.

Just then the neighbors two doors down from me pulled in at home–and they had young boys. Playmates! (as the new woman’s kids suddenly appeared behind us.) More introductions.

I mentioned that the biology teacher at the high school had co-written the textbook and had so inspired my oldest that she’d gotten her PhD in that field.

It’s a great neighborhood, I told her, you’re going to love it here. The other neighbors nodded a definite yes to that.

A blooper that worked
Saturday August 06th 2022, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life,Lupus,Recipes

Our school district held to the traditional Tuesday-after-Labor-Day opening long after that was no longer fashionable. Years ago we got next-day camping spots at Yosemite, passing school bus after school bus as we drove there–and ran into a family we knew who were doing the same thing: no six month wait, just call and come right in, everybody else’s kids were in class.

The good old days.

Our friends Phyl and Lee throw a ‘last Saturday of summer!’ pool party every year before school starts. We older parents all remarked how odd it felt that that meant today.

Richard and I always arrive late when the sun is low.

I wasn’t about to go swimming with a heart monitor on, but sitting around the pool with old friends at a potluck, that we were definitely into. Made new friends who let me hold their baby.

All of this by way of saying that if you ever make my chocolate hazelnut torte recipe as four dozen mini cupcakes, if you get them in the oven and five minutes later see the bowl still sitting there on the counter waiting to go into the batter that has the half pound of hazelnut puree/cocoa/salt and you exclaim AAAGH! loud enough to be heard across the house and you only got the quarter pound of hazelnuts in that was a different step of the process–no worries. It’s all good. Yes the texture is more crisp cookie on top and a smoother texture than usual below because it’s got all that extra sugar relative to the ingredients that actually went into it, and not a whole lot of Cuisinarted nuts.

The verdict? They were devoured fast and I’m glad I saved a few here for breakfast.

I do have that half pound of waiting hazelnut meal with cocoa in it to play with, though. Whip some egg whites and sugar to meringue them into cookies? That’s my guess so far.

Summer breeze
Sunday July 31st 2022, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life

It was a good old-fashioned Bay Area summer day today–meaning, when the breeze blew it was actually a bit chilly. It’s how it used to be most of the time when we moved here thirty-five years ago.

The doors at church were open for the fresh air after a rash of covid cases last month.

I’d brought a Coolibar sun jacket to wear walking to and from the car; it doesn’t wrinkle and it easily stuffs down into a purse  and I really do need protection from even that much UV.

I’d almost brought a wool cardigan instead, though, and sitting there with that breeze coming right in at us I was wishing I had. Coolibar to the rescue near the beginning of the service.

When we broke for Sunday School, Suzie came up and told me she’d been wondering if I was wearing one of my Ukrainian shirts today. She hadn’t been able to tell from behind with that jacket on.

I was.

She was relieved: People forget, she told me, like it’s not still going on. She was really glad I wore those.

I was surprised and quite gratified. I’d bought them to make a difference to artists under siege trying to still make a living in the middle of the war. I’d had no idea it made one to her, too, but it did, it meant a lot, and her conveying that meant a lot to me in turn.

And I thought, we’re at the empty nester stage where I can afford to splurge on such things; she’s in the throes of the kids in college and soon to be in college stage. I remember how it was.

I would pronounce one a hand-me-down and share it if we were at all the same size.

Taking turns
Saturday July 30th 2022, 9:19 pm
Filed under: Friends

A large box van showed up but only briefly and that was that. No new neighbors yet.

But I did get some peaches to our friend Phyl on her birthday.

And then I stumbled across a Ukrainian source of fruit recipes in the middle of a half-off sale and bought a small cookbook’s worth. Those cherry rolls will probably come first.

Summer sunlight in a ball
Friday July 29th 2022, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

The termite guy came a few days ago to do the annual inspection.

His eyes studiously avoided the Andy’s peaches on the kitchen table that were smelling like every perfect golden orb of summer truly ought to. So just before he went out the door, I punctured his resolve by asking him if he’d like a Baby Crawford and a Kit Donnell I’d bought at my favorite local farm? (Picking them up and holding them out to him.)

You should have seen his face! He was so looking forward to those and so happy at being shared with.

There are new neighbors moving in across the street–tomorrow, according to my former neighbor who now rents the place out.

Only, as I was reading his text this morning, I saw a young family walking around the front yard there for just a minute or two, apparently showing their little kids what the place that was soon going to be home looked like. So it wouldn’t feel like a stranger to them but a new place to look forward to exploring.

I did a quick debate: I need to return the empty boxes to Andy’s but they’re the best things for not squishing easily bruised fruit around little kids and how many should I and I need to go introduce myself so okay what should I put these in…

They were already walking back to their car.

I opened the door and tried, but they were out of earshot and I’ll just have to wait for tomorrow.

Which was probably actually better; those few I had left were a week old and I really ought to get a fresh set for them–a thought aided and abetted by an incoming message from my friend Catherine asking if I were going anytime soon and could I pick her up a box of peaches if I did….

That settled it. I drove to Morgan Hill. Another box of Kit Donnells, Andy’s late friend he’d named his new variety after, another of Baby Crawfords, and Catherine and I could mix and match on those later (and did.) I threw in some Sweet Cherry Pluerries and some Green Gauge plums.

The clerk, recognizing me with a smile, asked as she checked out my fruit what I was going to make with all those.

The heart had only one instant answer to that and it surprised us both.


She did a little gasp for joy and looked me in the eyes and exclaimed, “Yes!”

Slow-mo dominoes
Friday July 22nd 2022, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

Another day, another $495 spent on the house: a contractor who came at 8 a.m. sharp and got those roots and stump dug out of there so that we can finally get the fence repaired. It was a spot where the neighbor’s tree had fallen on our tree which had punctured our roof while upending the section of fence with its roots so that it eventually, after some years of precariousness, simply toppled over, too.

The guy’s boss had broken his foot in the minutes before he was supposed to drive over to our house Monday to give me an estimate. After explaining, he showed up on crutches the next day with someone else driving him. He was having surgery on it the next day. So I’m hoping for an easy recovery for Mr. Kelly, and I’m glad he had someone else on hand to do the actual removal because there was no way, poor guy.

My one selfish hope was for the employee to be done in time for me to drive to Andy’s before traffic started picking up again, and that proved to be no problem at all.

Because I had promised some Andy’s peaches for that small sewing job. They’re here and they’re waiting. Happy weekend!

Wednesday July 20th 2022, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Friends

The neck was way too big and the tie too flimsy on this one to be trusted to hold it together for long; I considered undoing the top edge, pleating it, cutting the bottom off to cover the new top edge–

–Nah. I ran a narrow elastic through the casing and tacked it down with my sewing machine as a quick fix. That was easy.

Oh wait no it wasn’t, as I saw that the machine had jammed a whole wad of thread on the underside that pulled right off, and whoops, one edge of elastic was going swoop! into the inside there.

I managed to stab at it with a sewing needle till I pulled it back.

I do not use my sewing machine enough to justify taking it in for a tune-up; those were $80 twenty years ago. $100 to do this?

Bribery was definitely the way to go.

I messaged this picture to a friend who’s good at sewing: would she be willing to do that small bit of tacking down for me on her machine, in exchange for a pound box of peaches from Andy’s come Friday?

It is safe to say we have a deal.