From Kat with love
Sunday July 25th 2021, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

My doorbell rang this afternoon, and when I opened it I stood there speechless.

If you remember when we and our neighbors finally got the city’s permission to cut down their redwood that had grown onto our property and after raising our shed a foot was threatening our foundation? The city finally caved after Chris, our longtime arborist, told them there was no question it had to go.

It was a massive all-day job, with a crane and several trucks involved.

Redwood is valuable, so I was dumbfounded when they started feeding it into the chipper–had I known, I would have looked up someone, anyone, to be ready to take it.

With that sound to go with the sight of the disappearing towering tree, the neighbor from behind, an old friend, walked over to bear witness to its leaving us and then another from down the street came, too. I said ‘him’ on Facebook, but checking my old blog post it was actually Kat who asked: her husband would love to work with that, would they be willing to save that last big bottom section for them? (It was too late on the rest.)

The crew was relieved and gratified at knowing someone would actually use the best of this and told her, Sure! It was loaded in two pieces onto a large dump truck and I never did see how they got them going lengthwise across her front yard–did they move the crane, too? But they got them there.

And there those big logs sat for a year, to cure, I’m guessing?

And then gradually one started getting shorter.

Then months later the other one was gone, with little sawdust piles left behind.

There was a new border to their garden. They added to their fence. And as far as I knew, that was that.

So here was Kat: holding out a two-foot slice of that tree, prepared, polished, and with a turquoise river running through where the wood had split, a thank you for sharing the tree and a memorial of it for us.

She had wanted me to have that for a long time and at last it was done. She didn’t know–she’d almost put hooks into it so we could hang it, and would be happy to, or maybe we’d want to make it into a coffee table…?

I didn’t notice her signature till later–alongside a rendition of that tree as it had been, with its base about seven feet across and with the boughs reaching towards our house to the right, becoming one with the wind.

I was speechless. I was emotional. I had badly wanted something from that redwood but I would never in a million years have asked, and I was completely blown away and couldn’t keep the catch out of my voice.

Which was exactly the reaction that matched the work and effort and goodwill she’d put into it and made it all worthwhile, and wow. We will treasure this the rest of our lives. We will treasure her the rest of our lives.

Table, now that I’ve had a few hours to think about it. Definitely. I have no idea how, but, table.



Red orange, purple white purple yellow orange
Friday July 23rd 2021, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

We ran out.

I checked before I left, and yes, please, she’d always, always love a case from there.

And so I came home from Andy’s with a big box of peaches for her family and one for us.

But when I went to deliver theirs she had a particular thank-you in mind: Satsuma plums from her tree, an orange zucchini, a yellow cucumber, a purple onion, white eggplants, all from her garden.

There’s got to be a colorway in merino out there to match.

I exclaimed over the bounty; she said well I’d driven all the way down there and back, and we both came away feeling like we got the better end of the deal. But best of all: we’d had a chance to connect and say thank you.

Thank you Andy for that.

 



The jewel box
Wednesday July 21st 2021, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

Twenty-nine inches! Six inches in nine days! With the height of the pot that new 54″ cage isn’t going to last very long. That’s fine, plenty of other things need to be kept from the cottontail.

The other thing that happened yesterday, after the tree crew left:

I had an appointment with the audiologist, trying to fine-tune the new aids and check the fit after the manufacturer had re-molded the painful left one.

Towards the end I pulled out a small cardboard box filled with paper towels scrunched a bit like decorative tissue paper and inside, a perfect Sierra Rich red peach.

She did this little gasp and told me, My husband and I were just saying we had to find a *good* peach!

I said that the paper towels were because she was going to need them.

So now they know where to go.



Which color do you want?
Saturday July 17th 2021, 8:32 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Knit

I gave Phyl and Lee their choice of Andy’s red peaches or yellow as a thank you for driving us to the airport. (I’d waited a few weeks because the later in the season, the more flavor.) The reds were marked as cling; they opted for the yellow Santa Barbaras and I sent them off with not quite a whole case, since that seemed like a lot to them. (Then I tried one of the Sierra Rich reds and the pit came away like what was the big deal supposed to be.)

A few hours later my doorbell rang: the friend who’d watered my garden while we were away, surprising me with a small box of plums and peaches after a trip to, you guessed it, Andy’s Orchard. The first white peaches we’d tasted this year. Loved it.

On the knitting front: when I booked the trip, I wasn’t sure of the kids’ work schedules so I scheduled our flight home to arrive in the late evening. Tuesday the holiday was over, their normal life took over and we were on our own, free to play tourist and wander around for the day.

So we did. I’ve mentioned the drawbridge in Seattle.

But the other thing is that we stumbled across a yarn store, parked the car, and went in.

(Side note: it’s a good thing us good little Mormons Googled when we saw this other place as we drove by because “Skep and Skein” was NOT a yarn store. It was a tavern and none of us would have had the faintest idea what to do with each other had we walked in.)

So we drove on (wait–we’ve already been on this road, hey, Waze!) and saw another sign.

There is always room in the luggage for a souvenir skein, I told Richard as we were getting out of the car, but it was going to be tight. We walked into a charming little brick Tudor and met just the nicest owner.

Hmm… I went to see if I could find something to show her shop to you and discovered that she has the same name as my sister’s best friend growing up. Here’s the article. Our Local Yarn Shop, OLYS for short. I’m not seeing a date on when it was written–but Laurie told me that a pandemic three months after she opened had not been in her business plan.

Wow. I absorbed that a moment. And you’re still here! I pronounced in triumph.

Yes, I am! she answered happily. But she allowed as how it had been a near thing for awhile there.

Meantime, she had a steady stream of customers, some of them clearly old friends, and each time someone wanted to ask something or stepped behind me in line to be rung up I stepped out of the way and waved them forward and let her chat with them and take care of them because they were going to be in a position to come back and I wasn’t and I wanted her to have every success. I really liked this lady.

She gave her store its name from the fact that she sells yarn from sheep from local farms with the name of each animal on the skein. Which is cool–but they were in natural and muted colors, and they were lovely, but right now I needed color color color to entice my fingers to get back into really knitting again.

I came away with this Manos and a Madeline Tosh that hit just the right notes and they just barely managed not to fall out of my overstuffed purse in the airport.

I told Laurie the story of visiting my in-laws in Texas and having one of my readers here ask if she could come pick me up and take me to her knitting group night while I was in town. Sure!

And how I was absolutely gobsmacked to find us pulling up to the doorstep of the original Madeline Tosh shop. I met the owner. I got to meet her! Turns out that wasn’t her name, she’d named it in honor of her favorite aunt. I tried not to be too embarrassing in my fandom.

Anyway. So here’s the Manos in a potato-chip-munching mindless-knitting stitch that works so well with multicolors by scattering each little shot of color hither and yarn.

(Edited to answer Anne’s question for everyone: it was this yarn. My skein was a little more saturated than the one they show.)



Apricot-sized peaches
Friday July 16th 2021, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden

Anne stopped by yesterday and got a tour of the trees. We both noted a couple of chewed peaches on the ground–so much for the critters being good about staying away.

I ended up sending her off with a Baby Crawford and an August Pride to let ripen at home; that’s when she was here and even if they weren’t absolutely as perfect as they could be it was definitely better her than the squirrels. She sniffed them and exclaimed over the peachy smell.

That was a good reminder to me to appreciate rather than wish for more. I needed that, and I should have given her more. They just didn’t quite seem to have bragging rights in them yet and I allowed that to hold me back.

But in truth, the Baby Crawfords were already sweet and the yellow was coming in and if it were a commercial orchard they’d have been picking them. Richard and I decided last night that the right thing to do would be to pick all of those in the morning, because once the critters start going after your fruit it disappears fast.

I missed three, it turns out, but I got the rest. (I’m giving the less-ripe tree next to it a little more time.) Stem side down after I snapped this picture and a paper towel over them for ripening, as one does, but it only seems to take a day or two on the few I’d already tried and they were surprisingly good.

But at that size they weren’t going to last us very long–and more importantly, I owed a box of Andy’s peaches to the friend who drove us to the airport two weeks ago at an hour when he would have preferred to have still been asleep.

And so I did, I have boxes now from Andy’s: his big peaches to give our friends and to last us past the weekend, and an older box with mine in it looking cute. Cut them in half to share and they’re a bite each. But a good bite.



Small world
Wednesday July 14th 2021, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life

I was looking for this page comparing Anya seedling characteristics vs their fruit and somehow ended up instead at the gardening forum page that had the link that I’d originally found it from. For a heartbeat I was disappointed. Then I decided to re-read it anyway.

Only, this time, while recognizing that familiar thread, I did a sudden doubletake because, wait, if that internet name is the guy’s initials and his unusual last name–!!! and I squinted at the tiny photo–it IS! That’s Cassie’s husband!

Yay for photos on Facebook, because I’ve never met the man, only my friend who married him after she moved away from here a dozen years or so ago.

So I sent her a note. I said, He wrote that two years ago but that has to be him and I have no idea if both of you have any interest whatsoever but if you seriously do, I’ve got some seeds and you’re welcome to a few.

She wrote back quoting her stunned husband: “Those are like GOLD!” He’d so wanted to try, but the four hour drive each way to Andy’s to buy apricots while raising kids and running a small business, there was just no way, he’d finally given up on the idea because it was never going to happen.

And then Google gave me a page that was not the page I was looking for but was the one where he needed me to be to find him and actually see him this time. I don’t have a lot of kernels, because Anya season overlapped with our going out of town, but a few are coming their way.

If I gave you some for this growing season and they didn’t make it, you’re not the only one and it’s okay and let me know so you can have a do-over if you want it.



Tree geodes
Thursday July 01st 2021, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,Knit

Dani, whose cheerleading enticed the planting of my mango tree, grew up with two Alphonsos in his yard in India.

They died a few years ago and he told me his mother was devastated.

When I said in a conversation yesterday that we had to get her a new one he said an unseen seed had survived and is now growing back and she was quite happy about that–and I am, too.

That got me to go look. Here’s what you get when you do that. Mangoes come in two types, monoembryonic and polyembryonic. Polyembryonic seeds produce multiple seedlings out of one seed and all will be clones of the parent–except one, and it will be visibly weaker or stronger than the others depending on whose experiences you’re reading on the ‘net. But mostly you get to straight-up replant what you’ve already got and experiment with the outlier. Turns out citrus do that, too.

Alphonsos are monoembryonic. You know what one of the parents is, you know how good it is, but there are no guarantees.

The nearest mango tree to mine that I know of is in Fremont and I’m sure there are no bees making that grand leap across the San Francisco Bay to my yard way over here–I’m pretty darn sure my sweet little Alphonso is a virgin. Still, it apparently means that whatever could sprout from its single-plant seeds could be anything from the tree’s genetic history.

His mom’s seedling is almost old enough now to fruit and soon she’ll find out. I’m really hoping she gets a great one.

Mine tried to fruit in December, lost them to the cold, but bloomed some more and persevered and now it’s covered with them. It takes months longer for them to ripen here than in their native climate but they’re getting there.

But darn if I’m not sitting here after all these back and forth emails wondering what kind of seedlings I might get, too. To find out, I could grow one in a pot, on the patio, on wheels to pull it out from under the awning to full-on sun and back again against the house at night, you know, what I’d originally envisioned as a way of managing a tropical here before Dani insisted I must, must let it grow in the ground and allow it to become what it’s meant to be.

We were both right. It’s much more of a tree and far more prolific that way. Mangoes are deep-taproot types.

So–if I kept and planted an Alphonso seed (space-wise, one would be enough) I could do it planter-on-wheels style, and then gift the tree away once I know the fruit is good. Because by then I’ll be more than happy to give away the impossible amount of excess from my own tree as it is. Hopefully.

Since our rainy/dry seasons are reversed, I asked Dani about watering it, I mean, I’d been doing it once a week all this time so I must be doing something right? He asked his mom.

Oh okay. Twice a week for the summer it is, then. Maybe that’s part of why it took them so long to ripen.



The all the people after so long of no people day
Monday June 28th 2021, 10:13 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

Holly was in the area and dropped by this morning. I was expecting to offer her some cherries. I was not expecting a gift of her cross-stitching and stood there quite agape before she even got past the entryway. A photo will be added when it comes through but none could possibly do it justice. So much talent and love in that piece!

Then Chris the contractor came. He found damage the previous people hadn’t–he’s thorough. I mentioned needing the roof replaced and that I hadn’t heard back from the company that I know he’s worked with previously: because they not only did our roof 27 years ago, but when we needed someone to fix the mistakes our remodeling contractor had left behind, that big roofing company had recommended we hire Chris. And we were very glad we did, and wished we’d known about him the first time around.

I asked him, Will they do a job for me a lot faster if you’re the one asking? (Because the roofers around here all have long waiting lists right now.)

Oh yes. And then he detailed how their working together would mean the sealing around the edges wouldn’t have to be done twice and he could lower his bid by that amount.

Then he left, and after lunch my friend Nina showed up. She had never gotten around to trying out Andy’s Orchard herself, though she’d certainly enjoyed what I’d brought her, but at long last it felt like it was time and she had time and let’s go! She called in an order for a case of Blenheim apricots, picked me up, and I showed her the way.

They had Anyas. They had Anyas!!

Friday, the young employees at the farm store thought they were over for the season, but no, they’d still had more to pick. I didn’t miss out for a whole year after all! Thank you Nina for getting me back there!

And I saw my old friend who’s worked there for the past two seasons for the first time this year.

I bought three pounds and almost, almost bought a whole case, too, except, that’s a lot of apricots. I’m wishing now I had, just so I could go around to a bunch of friends and say, This is what I’ve been talking about!

I did a taste-testing: Friday’s (second) Yuliya apricot box (most of which went home with Holly) vs the Anya. Both of them John Driver varieties from Silk Road areas of the world. I’d never seen both at the same time before.

The Yuliyas are sweet and quite juicy, although with a skin that is surprisingly a bit tough. The Anya I tried could have used another day but it still totally beat the other hands down with its spicy complexity, not just sweetness, and definitely a thinner skin, one that didn’t distract from the rest of the experience. I swooned and fell in love with my favorite all over again.

Now what do I do with those Yuliya kernels I saved from the first box. Probably let them go so they don’t get mixed up with the Anyas. I’m told Yuliyas need pollinators and the Anya row is next to the Yuliya row at Andy’s, so… If anyone wants to rescue them let me know.



Friends of trees
Saturday June 26th 2021, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life

Our longtime arborist came yesterday to give me a quote on cutting back where the trees had grown over the house again.

Chris remembered when the mostly-dead olive his men had taken out had been over in that one spot and it just wasn’t that long ago. He kept exclaiming: Look at all the cherries!

His eyes got wide when I said, Yes, and I’ve picked them twice already.

It is one prolific tree. I offered him some, but he said another client had actually already gifted him some. Beat me to it.

I showed him all the fruits on the mango, and he marveled, It was just a little stick! Look at it!

The first time he’d come, he and his wife had had a babysitting crunch and he’d brought his little boy with him. Remember that hat you gave him? he asked me. He loved it!

That six year old is a teenager now and his baby sister is–She’s HOW old?! I asked.

It was not lost on either of us in that moment that kids and trees tend to change before your very eyes, so slow you almost don’t see it and so fast you marvel in awe.

I told him my oldest grandson was ten now. He laughed and proclaimed, You win!

I later asked my friend Nina if she’d like some just-picked sour cherries. She was thrilled. Since we’re all vaccinated, that was the excuse for her and her husband to invite me and mine over for the evening. (Out of curiosity, I weighed the Rubbermaid container before we left: it was over three pounds and even now, the tree is loaded.)

Man did it feel good to sit and catch up as if life had never changed so drastically for so long. We met Calvin and Hobbes for the first time at their house thirty-something years ago, and we have made so many memories since. It felt great to be making new ones.

Holly’s coming by Monday. A bunch of cherries darkened nicely today but I think they can make it till then.



With a cherry on top
Sunday June 20th 2021, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden

(Last week’s photo. They’re darker now.)

I Huck Finned her over by the fence.

Friends of ours dropped by with a jar of homemade strawberry jam and a loaf of banana chocolate chip bread by way of excuse for coming to say hi.

I asked them if they’d like to pick some sour cherries.

Sure! said Phyl.

I’ll wait, said Lee with a smile, sitting down to visit inside with my husband.

I had been daunted by the number of cherries still to go on that tree. They are small and they are many. But being able to offer something she was quite delighted to have felt great. We went through the leaves looking for the darkest reds together and between us we got her enough to maybe make a batch of jam, which is what she was aiming for, and since she’s putting them straight in the freezer for now, that’ll give the tree time to ripen more of them for her.

I’m pretending I’m not hoping for a jar. But I think I will mention I’ve got some Ball 4 oz mini jam jars taking up space in case she needs any.



Depends on how you felt
Saturday June 19th 2021, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Friends

Two years ago I bought two Woolbuddy felted-animal kits at Stitches, and later a finished octopus from the same folks at some other festival. Cute as can be, but the octopus wool (now *there* are two words I never thought I’d put together) was disappointingly scratchy, when, to me, it didn’t have to be, and so I never made the kits. If I’m making something for my grands I want it to be something soft.

Although, that moose and anglerfish were just so adorable.

So I finally offered them up to the ward chat list and a mom with young daughters responded.

Her ten year old is the perfect age and I was really happy to see them go off with her.

But first I showed her my falcon. It was a gift from one of the other cam operators back when she and I were both helping monitor the peregrine nest at San Jose City Hall. I wanted her to see that she and her kids could draw with wool, merino wool that would feel good, and make all kinds of really cool things if they want to. She asked me to send her a list of what type of wool to look for and where.

The hyper-feltable merino breed. Not superwash treated. Wool roving or washed raw wool.

The kits were a great way to get those creative juices started.



Oh hi big brother
Thursday June 10th 2021, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

September 2019, Kimber gave me a nice haircut and we agreed on the next March for me to come back in for a trim. But March 2020 didn’t quite turn out as expected. She is fully vaccinated now and I am, too.

She combed it out and held it up for me to marvel in the mirror with her: Look how long it is!

Yeah, I told her, I pulled the two halves to the front and snipped a few times over the pandemic, otherwise there would have been about ten individual strands down to my waist. I lost a fair amount when I was sick and it got pretty sparse at the bottom.

Do you want this much? (About two inches.) Or this much? (About four, maybe even five.)

I held up my hand to motion the four/five.

My self-snipped edges fell gently away to the floor, finally, after all this time, curling into circles on impact after she’d conditioned it straight. The straggly ends by my face got evened out and morphed into done on purpose. It looks great.

I took a picture when I got home, and of course it didn’t come through, but I have to say I was dumbfounded to see my older brother’s face looking back at me from that photo. Twins.

Except with hair.

And I know exactly who would tell me, with a grin, not to complain over not being able to get a haircut.

Kimber waved me off at the end with, See you in two years!

I laughed/winced, Not that long!



After the CZU fire
Sunday May 30th 2021, 9:23 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Last time I saw him pre-pandemic he was just starting that amazing sprouting thing that boys his age do.

Today he gave a talk in church at the pulpit. (We were still on Zoom for it due to my feeling under the weather yesterday.)

I was gobsmacked: when on earth did the short kid turn into this tall young man who had to lean down to the mic? Wow.

He told us of his dad asking him and his brother to come with him on the long drive up into the mountains to Camp Lehi: there was a need of volunteer workers in the effort to restore what had been before the CZU Complex fire last summer.(Post-fire pictures in link.) Camp Lehi was a church-owned property in constant use in the summers in particular–or was.

He said he figured this was his one chance ever to be allowed to use a chainsaw so he said okay. Power tools!

He had been there with his family on ward campouts a number of times; he knew what used to be there. Trees can only grow so fast, but on the human side there was so much to do.

What he hadn’t expected, he said, was how as he put in that hard physical labor he envisioned his efforts going towards people gathering there again. Enjoying each other’s company there again, laughing together again, seeing wildlife there again.

Making memories there again.

He felt an overwhelming sense of joy that he got to be a part of helping make that happen. He had not expected that.



Have all you want
Monday May 10th 2021, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden

A chocolate torte went to my friend Edie, the second (I always make two) was for Donna.

Donna’s husband Clyde stopped by to pick it up and was reveling at the idea of being able to actually see friends in person again at last. He was delighted when I offered him Meyer lemons from our tree; we walked around the back to pick some.

He looked at all the fruit trees and happened to say, Y’know, the one thing I really miss is good dried apricots. You can never find them anymore.

I had been munching on exactly those all winter long to try to fend off pandemic pounds.

He’d grown up here when there were still Blenheim apricot orchards in the hills.

I dashed inside a quick moment, knowing time was pressing for him, and grabbed the pound box of slab Blenheims from Andy’s Orchard that I’d opened a few days earlier, not quite full but close enough in the rush.

He tried one. I told him I had another box and Andy’s was about to open for the season so I could get more, take them, enjoy.

He’d wished for these for so long. He finally knows how to find them. And Andy gets a new customer.

Man, that felt good.

If Donna wants one, too–his eyes lit up at the thought–one of my apricot seedlings is going to have a great yard to grow up in. The newest and tiniest (shown alone and for comparison) got a slow start but in the heat these last few days has grown its roots to over four inches long. It’ll do great. But whichever, they’re all good.



Old friends
Tuesday May 04th 2021, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Friends,Lupus

Constance’s work brought her back in town. Twice in two months after not seeing each other for probably ten years!

The plan was to sit in the shed again, but walking a few steps from the front entryway out of the air conditioning and into the blast of heat, we turned around in unison, going, just, no. She was fully vaccinated; I will be Thursday. Less risk to it overall if we go inside than of me being out even in filtered sunlight, right?

We sat in the living room distanced with me masked and her not so I could hear and spent a couple of hours swapping stories and catching up.

Man did it feel good.

She worried just a little about her Anya apricot seedling being babytreesat by her house sitter for a few days.

I figured if anything happens to it then I’ll know where the next one of mine should go.