Lockdown day 25
Thursday April 09th 2020, 10:08 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

I couldn’t disappoint Suzanne. So I did get some done today.



Lockdown day 18
Thursday April 02nd 2020, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden

We had two bad years in a row for peach leaf curl disease, and even though I’d used copper spray, one tree was dying and I gave up and replaced it with a resistant variety, and the August Pride…at least looked better than that. I decided to let it try for another year.

My artistic gardening friend James out of the blue decided that someone had done something good for him that was making his life so much better–so much so that he wanted to pay it forward, and he asked me if he could come over with his copper spray and do that job for my peaches?

Totally unexpected. Yes please thank you!

And look at that healthy August Pride now. Needing to thin all that fruit is a great problem to have.



Lockdown day 15: work from home edition
Monday March 30th 2020, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Lupus,Wildlife

This actually happened last week but I had to decide to tell it on myself.

The suet cake holder is hanging from the underside of the middle of the porch awning; no squirrel has so much as attempted to reach it, ever (if you don’t count the one that bounced a little going across up there, peered over the edge and gave up.)

There is a tall metal toolbox directly below it which no rodent can climb. A mover put it there last year after his dad’s estate settled and trying to wrestle it into a better place is something we would have to hire someone younger to do, so there it has stayed; it was that or the living room at the time and no thank you but at least it wouldn’t get rained on there.

So this is how it has been for six months now, with me feeding only the birds and nothing else so much as sniffing in its direction. Still, I tended to buy the chili-oil-infused cakes just to be on the safe side. I draped a thick but old 3×6 wool rug over it that is no longer quite nice enough to be at our doorway, giving the birds a better surface to hop around on and nibble fallout from while protecting the box. Every now and then I shake it out over whatever in the yard maybe needs some fertilizer. What else you guano do, right?

When the initial quarantine order came down I only had a few cakes left and the bird center was shut down–I was stuck with ordering from Amazon, but at least I was going to buy the same brand, not some knock-off that had who knew what. (Later, the bird center would be deemed Essential Functions and allowed to deliver to your car in front of the shop. Which I have yet to do.)

The ones mixed with peanuts seemed like a good thing for nesting time of year and to attract more types of birds, right? So I ordered a case of those.

I put the first one out there: one big fragrant four and a half inch square of come-and-get-it. Somehow my husband made himself a peanut butter sandwich shortly after.

I heard something and looked over to see a huge gray squirrel that had made the massive leap successfully and was gauging how to get from there up the rest of the way to that suet. I hadn’t so much as seen one cross my yard in awhile and I was just astonished to see one right there!

I burst through that sliding door after it got caught and noisily didn’t want to open as immediately as I wanted it to, while I yelled, YAAAH!!!! GITOUTATHERE!!!

It took a flying leap and away. I set up something I hoped would be a barrier along the far edges and came back in, not wanting to spend too much time in the sunlight–lupus and all that.

To the sound of my husband in the middle of a work conference call right then, and having just apologized and explained to his co-workers, the familiar voice of one of them, chuckling. At both me and my husband’s embarrassment and totally understanding. A couple of others were chiming in, laughing.

Oh… Hi, Gary…

The next time I put a suet cake in I broke it and put the two halves side-by-side in the holder so that from the phone lines through the trees over yonder it doesn’t look like there’s much left in there worth bothering with, much less falling over backwards with a cinnamon broom landing on your head like the second time it had tried. Into the stored frost covers. It was cushioned.

No more squirrels.



Lockdown day eleven
Thursday March 26th 2020, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Friends

They decided to go for an evening’s walk.

Our phone rang: We’re turning onto your block and wanted to see your faces and we were wondering if we could talk through your window just to say hi a moment?

SURE!

So that was our dose of humanity for the day and it was so good to see them.



Sprung a little freer on day ten
Wednesday March 25th 2020, 7:23 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

We started the afternoon with a hailstorm but it let up.

Four o’clock is still working hours, from home or no, plus the driving time to get there. Only two other people had publicly responded to the idea. I had this small terrible fear that the whole thing was going to be a bust.

Park on the east side of the street right before where you turn onto ours, Catherine had said: no parking is allowed there, so there won’t be any other cars in your way.

I saw three other cars when I got there. And then another. And then another. Okay, good. So there we all were, just out of sight of their house but blatantly out of place to the older guy crossing the intersection in front of our line. Of which I was inadvertently at the head because I’d started to overshoot–I’d thought their street was a little further down.

So. No point in having his day be anything but better, I figured.

I had used a piece of cardboard as a backing, taped a piece of plain white paper on top, and Sharpied on it, Happy Birthsday J and J! Just the right size to hold up at a driver’s side window.

I held that sign up for the perplexed pedestrian and he broke into a big grin and gave me a thumbs-up. Alright then!

I don’t think he’d seen what was on the other cars. He’d just been looking at mine.

One, they’d spray-painted–on a sheet maybe?–and had affixed it somehow to the side of their car to make a really big banner. Another friend had used grocery bags to make paper-cut-out words. Someone else back there had–I dunno, I didn’t get a good look other than bright pink and sticking out. None of us had been able to go in to a store for anything you could buy, none of us had had quite 24 hours’ notice, we’d all kluged it from whatever we’d had, which made it all the sweeter. Or we’d simply come. Which is what mattered most.

The twins’ dad just happened to go for a little walk. It was 4:00. He waited a moment, checking his phone, and then waved us over.

And so our parade began.

There were easily a dozen cars by then.

Now, I’d never done any such thing before and I was kind of winging it there but I drove at pretty much walking speed and held up my sign and Happy Birthdayed from inside my car.

They’re thirteen. They did what new teens do: they smiled back, they got all embarrassed, and they headed for the front door to escape with their mom calling after them.

Parked cars on both sides keep it a tight line driving down that street so, eyes back to straight ahead for me.

It’s a cul-de-sac, and as I got to the bulb at the bottom of it another elderly man stepped forward–right into the middle of it, quite deliberately in front of me. He didn’t know who I was or all those other cars way up there but none of them looked familiar, this was not our neighborhood, and he wasn’t having this intrusion. Didn’t we see the No Thru Street sign? Hello? The lockdown? Whether he was saving space for his grandkids to come out and play dodgeball or what, who knows–but I again held up that Happy Birthsday! sign.

Ah, okay. He gave a little smile back, waved like the other guy had, and stepped out of the way.

Coming back the other way, making space for the ones still coming meant I was really going slow this time.

Catherine was just joyful as she recorded video of our going by. Her girls were closer to the street now, by the twin flowering trees that had been planted out front when they were born; they were looking out at all the cars and people with a look now of, Wow. Cool. Thank you.

They’ll be telling the story of their 13th birthday to their grandkids someday. It was great fun.



Lockdown day nine looking forward to day ten
Tuesday March 24th 2020, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

(Actually, this was Sunday’s rain but it gave us an encore this afternoon.)

Someone on the church chat asked for ideas on keeping kids amused.

I mentioned that my sister-in-law’s granddaughter turned four and there was supposed to have been a birthday party. Oh well.

What ended up happening instead is that her daughter-in-law took said granddaughter out to the front lawn–and a parade of cars went by! Each with a parent at the wheel and a friend holding up a Happy Birthday sign enhanced with preschooler artwork, the kids waving and cheering at each other.

One kid rolled down her window before her mom could stop her, but then the wheels on the bus went round and round and kept on slowly going, so, not too much exposure there.

Catherine read that.

And that’s why I get to be one of the ones surprising her birthday-girl twins tomorrow. Quick, I need me some cardboard. This generation seeketh a sign.



Gauging the squirrelocity
Monday March 23rd 2020, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

About this time every year the next door neighbors work outside picking the last of their oranges with their telescoping fruit picker.

They were our kids’ semi-adopted grandparents, their own having gone off to college when we moved in on our oldest’s fifth birthday. We went to their 50th anniversary party enough years ago that I can no longer put a date to it.

They have been active and with it and engaged in the community for so long. But this year, at long last, the oranges, at least the ones facing this side of the fence, have stayed.

Well, until those moments where they don’t.



Forever after
Friday March 20th 2020, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

It took me a day to find the words.

For those in the knitting community who may not have heard yet. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka YarnHarlot, friend to all, welcomed her second grandchild and first granddaughter this week.

Two days later Elliot’s baby sister was gone from them.

My younger sister lost a baby at birth, with the scant consolation that she knew she likely would. His older brothers insisted still on a birth-day cake and blowing out the candles in his honor and memory.

Charlotte Bonnie.

Nicholas.

Part of who we love and are, they are with us forever.



Lockdown day three
Wednesday March 18th 2020, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden

Knitted a little, should have done a lot more.

Last year’s volunteer Sungold tomato plant, bursting into bloom all over after the rains, hanging off the remains of the one that would have been four years old had it made it through another winter. I guess it didn’t mind being a toddler but it did not want to sign up for preschool.

A close-up on the Indian Free peach.

This being pick-up day, I happened to step outside to bring the bins back from the curb at about 4:00 and saw my neighbor several houses away. She waved her arms and shouted hello and I waved back and it felt wonderful to see another human being out there. We’re all a little starved for contact.

And while everybody’s working from home and relying on their networks, Comcast went out. This post via my phone.



Itching to go
Friday March 13th 2020, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Today they said it may be that one is still contagious with COVID-19 as much as five weeks after feeling better. Maybe. Only testing could tell if you’re good to go.

If that’s what either of us even had, but who knows when we’ll get to know.

I couldn’t do anything about that so I ran the last end in anyway and sewed the label on with it. It’s ready whenever I am.



Thank you!
Saturday February 22nd 2020, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Friends

Anne showed up at Stitches and they waved her in so she could get my stuff. She sent me pictures of the new pie plate from Mel and Kris, and this time it looks like a traditional pie plate; my other one from them is more a tart pan.

Today was a little better than yesterday, so all I need is patience and the germ will be over.



Blue diamonds
Saturday February 15th 2020, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

I got to meet the mom of a recent recipient of one of my hats today. It was instantly clear why he’s such a delight and I wished she lived closer.

I pulled him quietly aside from the crowd and asked him her favorite color. He knew exactly where I was going with this, and hesitated while looking off in the distance for about three seconds before stating with great certainty, Blue.

Vivid? (Like this?) Or more like, say, indigo?

He gave me a good description of what he had in mind and I wondered what I had in my stash that matched that. She’s flying home tomorrow, but he’s bringing her to church with him before that. Not a whole lot of hours there, much less available for it and certainly no time to go buy the yarn.

I walked in the door at home afterwards, walked into my kid’s old bedroom that has become the yarn stash room–

–and found a super soft hat I’d utterly forgotten I’d made a month or two ago that was in just that kind of a blue. Out of 14 micron merino. Only the best.

At the time, I was wondering why I was wasting my time knitting this when I had the usual queue pressing on me and this was scheduled for nobody, not even me, and I quibbled at the little carry-around but it got on the needles and then I had to finish it to get it off them.

Even the ends are already run in. It’s in a sandwich ziplock in my purse, waiting; all I have to do is show up.

Ever since, I have been marveling at the choreography, once again, of G_d, who knew that needed to come to be and that it needed to be ready and nudged that ball into my purse before an appointment that I don’t even remember what the appointment was for nor which waiting room it was and there you go.



There goes Peter Cottontail, hopping down the bunny trail…
Wednesday February 12th 2020, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Mango tree

(Here’s a better picture of the mango.)

I watched a cottontail rabbit jump into and out of the Costco-sized planter my strawberries are in. That, to my regret, answers my question as to whether it was too tall for it. (Well, duh.)  I went to head it off.

Cottontails (says Wikipedia) like to duck into the same sheltering spot every time, which makes it easy for hawks to sit and wait, but it would have had to have cut across in front of me so instead it went straight to–

–the hole past the raised bed under the corner of the fence dug out by one of the nocturnal regulars around here. It would only have done that if it knew it was there and it knew what to expect on the other side.

I immediately boarded up the spot, with mental apologies to the gardeners next door for the return of the goods. It’s got cute twitchy ears, at least. Have fun.

That was yesterday, and today I was trying to figure out how to confess to them.

Until, whoops, guess what was munching on the weeds where the grass used to be.

I think this one was smaller. And yes, it ducked into its usual spot in the coffeeberries. I think the one that went up and over and down to the hole over thataway was going to the spot *it* knew to run to, because it definitely seemed bigger, and it seemed slightly darker–I don’t think it was the same one.

Please tell me we’re not about to have a whole crew of rabbits. I keep marveling at how they could even be here, 65 years after this area was developed and fenced off.

But note that in neither case did they run for the mouth of the mango cage where all that sweet flowering scent is coming out of. So far so good. Yay.



And now she knows what Stitches West is
Tuesday February 11th 2020, 9:58 pm
Filed under: Friends

It didn’t get blocked, but then baby alpaca makes for a drapey, well, limp fabric, so it was most of the way there as it is, and I didn’t know how much the 30% bamboo would stretch it out after water hit it. I liked it the way it was.

But I did get it finished, although the morning of my appointment was cutting it too close.

This was for the doctor who was taking no new patients when mine retired but who, when I asked, not only said yes but said yes with great enthusiasm.

I had only ever seen her wearing black; today as it happens she’d branched out: a black top and khaki pants.

They only had charcoal at the store but I figured it would definitely do.

She not only loved it–she told me maybe this would get her to pick her needles up again after a couple of years of not really knitting and she was quite enthused about that, too.

She’s a knitter. All she’d needed was a spark. I’d had no idea.



Hurry up, tree!
Wednesday February 05th 2020, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life,Mango tree

My Big Boy tomato plant from last year finally froze to death. The Sungold under the eaves is still blooming. House warmth for the win.

Monday night and thereafter, I had to turn on the heater under the Sunbubble at dusk for the first time all winter; the Christmas lights just weren’t enough. For so long it was simply about keeping the mango comfortably above freezing, but now we need to protect the more vulnerable flower buds that are bursting out all over.

This is just the top of the tree because I can’t step far enough back in the greenhouse for a better shot.

The tree’s gotten big and the crop will be a lot more than last year’s three fruits.

My friend Jean grew up in Hawaii and misses the Hayden mangoes of her youth. She tried three times to grow her own but always lost them to the cold and she has cheered my tree on with great enthusiasm ever since she found out about it.

Last year’s three went to Dani who instigated the whole thing and whom I’d long promised the first fruit to, Eli who helped take care of the tree numerous times while we were out of town before we bought the greenhouse, and the last one for, well, us.

This is the year the first one is supposed to be for Jean. Jean, who once brought a paper bag of ripe pomegranates to church from her two year old tree that were such a revelation that I’d planted my own, a Parfianka, having never known before what a ripe pom actually tastes like. (The stores can’t sell them when they start to split.) Jean, who loves seeing pictures of how my Alphonso is growing, it’s really doing it, it’s surviving here! It’s blooming!

Today’s her 94th birthday.

The last few months she’s been pretty much bed-bound.

I don’t know that it’s fair to ask her to hang around till this big plant of mine finishes doing its thing in six or seven months but I’m still going to remind her I promised.