She wrote love to the last page
Saturday September 19th 2020, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Life

For those who have not yet heard: author Cat Bordhi was a master teacher, both in knitting and in life, and her daughter worked from home from her home with her young son these last few months, keeping his grandmother company as she gradually slipped away from us all. I’ve met Cat. She was a lovely, loving soul.

I have a pair of socks she designed, socks like no pair I’d seen before, and it is a fitting honor to her that they were knitted and gifted to me as a complete surprise by a friend who knew I would love them.

Today is for the color blue
Wednesday September 16th 2020, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Food,Life

I went to pick a fig or two this morning and saw a few speckles on the ground and wondered at the idea that it had rained a little in the night–it was not in the forecast.

And then about halfway to the tree it got through to me that the rain was getting through to me–it not only wasn’t done, it was just getting started. I got my fruit for breakfast, hurried back inside, and found myself not soaked but wet and cold enough that I was definitely changing out of that.

It didn’t make it to even a hundredth of an inch.

But the air cleared up and the sky turned a forgotten blue. We can breathe again.

Meantime, after wanting to for a long time I bought a silk comforter six months ago and after watching this video of mulberry leaf to finished quilt, am utterly in awe of those who created it.

Tuesday September 15th 2020, 9:33 am
Filed under: Life

I started to sit down at my computer just now and Richard, working at his next to me, pronounced, Your blog’s back.


The company that hosts it did a major update and broke it and there was nothing we could do at our end but repeatedly remind them day after day that they had a problem and needed to fix it. (While praying they could and would.)

Pass the chocolate, we’re good to go here. Onward!

All things in Mordor-ation
Wednesday September 09th 2020, 11:21 pm
Filed under: History,Life

My alarm went off in what seemed to be the middle of the night. (Pictures to follow.)

The Bear Fire, the Oregon fires, all those others that are still going or just starting: smartphone auto-filters just weren’t up to it. Holly did a good job with her good camera.

It wasn’t night, but it wasn’t really day, either, with the sky a deep deep dark orange overcast–and it stayed that way. We simply weren’t going to have any day today, rather, it was as if it were about forty-five minutes past sunset all day long. It was very weird. At noon it seemed to let up enough that you could see more clearly across our small back yard for a few minutes, and again around five, but that was all the light we were going to get.

The air quality actually registered as moderate with the marine layer between us and the towering smoke, but the national weather service sent out a tweet saying quite honestly that their instruments were not designed to measure from fire and as far as doing anything outside, use your nose as your guide.

Be careful.

I went out anyway at 1:30 to pick up a prescription to if nothing else stop the annoying auto-calls about it, and to get a flu shot as long as I was out there.

Our (admittedly understaffed) local CVS takes an excruciatingly long time to do the simplest things while studiously avoiding customers. And so even though the Rx had already been filled it was well over an hour later that I came back to my car.

Where the ash was already re-coating the windshield. I looked around and thought, if fire ever actually broke out around here right now, how on earth would anybody know?

Bench pressing
Sunday September 06th 2020, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Lupus

And yet another announcement of friends moving to where housing is more reasonably priced to work remotely from there.

And so there is now a quite lovely wooden bench under the elm tree for enjoying a good book from, for those who can do the sun time and as our grandkids get older. I quite like it.

How it came out
Thursday September 03rd 2020, 9:48 pm
Filed under: Food,Life

So, yeah, I never made the connection between that night in the hospital, Lee’s photography, and the need to knit fish on a turquoise background before, but what was supposed to be a post about sourdough last night suddenly helped me connect all those long-time dots that were back there somewhere in my brain waiting to be found. Who knew.

On the food experiment: Trader Joe’s sells a frozen spinach artichoke heart cheese dip that’s quite good. I had some thawed and ready in the fridge.

Yesterday was about seeing how well that would go with sourdough.

I let the dough rise overnight as one does with the thought that I would mix the stuff in in the morning (and give myself one last chance to back out of the idea.)

Which means it was cold right out of the fridge going into the bread dough which wanted warmth.

Which meant that, since I didn’t do the smart thing and nuke the dip a bit, the usual one-hour morning rise was going to need to be a whole lot longer. But that would have made it really sour and taken an unknowable amount of time and I had plans for the day, so I just popped it in the oven anyway. I ended up with a dense focaccia variant. It was good but not excellent; next time just make normal sourdough toast and dip it in the dip.

And then on with the morning.

Man, I have never seen a line like that at Goodwill to drop stuff off! At least they let us–they weren’t taking any more donations for awhile there. Closets are definitely being cleaned out.

There were two fire trucks parked on the road a half block from Andy’s. It was hard to see if there was smoke in a pocket of the hills above or if that’s just where the wind captured an extra bit of what was everywhere anyway, but either way, CalFire was ready to be right on it.

Ripe Green Gage plums are one of the best fruits on the planet and well worth the trip to Morgan Hill.

Maybe that’s where it all started
Wednesday September 02nd 2020, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

Spent a long time going through yarns and fish photos and measuring and eyeballing and I think the next two are figured out. I kept thinking, as I often have, that what I really need is my friend Lee’s pictures from his dive trips. (His ability to sketch would be nice, too.)

He and Phyl have from time to time offered us much-enjoyed evenings of seeing his underwater photography and one of those times was not long before Crohn’s put me in the hospital the first time. The doctor had me on morphine, and this time I was the one on a trip–with Lee’s tropical fish lazily meandering around me in the very brightest colors against a turquoise background, keeping me company all night, keeping me amused and distracted from the severe pain and feeling less alone because all of that was because of happy memories that had come from them.

A friend dropped by this afternoon with homemade jam from her fruit trees; I sent her off with a cooled loaf of cranberry pumpkin sourdough because I always know that one will be good.

We were kind of ready for something else, though. I was paging through my Artisan Sourdough Made Simple tonight and I didn’t really want to do it this way I wanted to try that and now there’s an experiment in the kitchen rising overnight and if it turns out fabulous you’ll hear all about it tomorrow. And if it doesn’t we’ll pretend this paragraph was never written.

In my dreams.

Revanche was a dish served hot
Saturday August 29th 2020, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Food,Knit,Life

She’s used Doordash before.

Doordash didn’t realize she’d moved out of the Bay Area.

The two restaurants had nearly identical names.

And so she found out her order had been put in 800 miles away at a place she’d never heard of. She tried to cancel it but the restaurant said they’d already entered it into their Doordash account, so, so sorry, too late.

So she told them she was going to tell us to go pick it up.

Given how they acted when I got there, they were clearly hoping nobody would come.

When I said who I was, who she was, why I was there and what I was doing, the guy at the counter reacted like that was the most creative way to scam a free meal he’d ever heard of. He was, in a word, rude. But I wasn’t going anywhere. I finally had her talk to him while I held the phone so he wouldn’t have to touch it. He conferred with someone else–and they started cooking that meal. Half an hour after it was supposed to have been picked up, because I’d gotten the message late.

No diners are allowed to eat inside, but all the pickups were inside and I was already there, and technically I wasn’t dining, so they told me to sit in the darkest corner where the lights were turned off while they worked on it.

The oldest person in the kitchen came out from time to time to smile benevolently. He was not wearing the mandated mask. He seemed to approve of knitting, however, and though silent was the one friendly face in the place.

My yarn was dark green and my needles were black and Mecha’s single ply splits too easily but that’s the project that was in the purse and I did make good progress on it.

I was careful not to so much as touch the top of the table. No point in creating extra work for them.

I got the order home…

I don’t know that they usually put that much and I mean that much! heat into every single dish. Given that what was ordered was originally intended to be shared with small children, I do have my doubts.

Play with your food
Wednesday August 26th 2020, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Wishing safety and refuge to all in the path of the hurricane. (The Washington Post is offering updates for free, no subscription needed.)

There’s a long way to go but our closest fire evacuations have begun to lift.

One more birthday picture. (Food powder based.)

Boulder Creek
Sunday August 23rd 2020, 8:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life

Some friends of ours had two little boys, 2 and 4, and the wife was expecting a girl–and suddenly had to have emergency surgery and everybody held their breath and prayed hard for mother and child both.

Months later, their daughter is here and safe and sound and her mother has recovered. Yay.

Restrictions are only one person at a time can go in a house that’s for sale and the realtor and buyer must come in separate cars, and all that was a pain, but they did it, they just bought a house to call their forever home. They moved out of their apartment and up into the beautiful, redwood-covered mountains last weekend.

Tuesday they were bringing their kids home from the grandparents’ and the road was full of people streaming out of there. Huh. Well, nobody had given them any kind of evacuation order so they put their boys to bed but out of an abundance of caution started gathering whatever they might need because you never know.

Forty-five minutes later they got that order to get out and scrammed. In the ordinary chaos of having just moved, they did not find everything they wished they had but it sounds like they got everybody’s favorite blankies.

Yay for grandparents close enough to go to.

Yay for having bought fire insurance.

Thank heavens for firefighters who do what so few of us could.

They know a hotspot flared up near their house but that it got tamped down, and right now that’s all they know.

Whatever surgery life performs on their expectations in the immediate term, they’re safe and sound and everybody is, in every way that matters, doing well. May all those tens of thousands of other people in the same boat be so as well.

The River fire
Saturday August 22nd 2020, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Food,History,Life

Photo by, as far as I can tell, Iris Brewster, because she credits the photographers in her other pictures. It does embiggen if you want to see better.

Mom? I still don’t like brussel sprouts. I’m sorry. I’ve tried, I know you’ve tried, I’ve olive-oiled and roasted and reminded myself they’re healthy and all that, but they still are what they are.  It helps that I’m married to someone who doesn’t like them even more than I don’t like them. Except at least they’re better at your house because you’re a far better cook.

But some came in our weekly produce bag last Saturday. I put them off for most of the week, which surely didn’t improve their flavor any, but there is no room in our fridge for more than one gigantic Milk Pail box’s worth so I finally roasted them last night and they stank up the house so bad it still lingered in the morning. I even ate one. Richard hoped I wouldn’t ask him to. The rest are in the fridge, all ready for us to magically change our minds and be thrilled and devour them after a bit of a zap.

But this is why my conscience could not simply throw them out without trying and at least tasting them. That’s the sun up there and a fire behind that ridge. Click to really see.

And yet still they feed us. 

Good folks
Friday August 21st 2020, 9:47 pm
Filed under: Food,History,Life

Seventy-seven thousand people including all of UC Santa Cruz have been evacuated along the coast, where the nightly fog that’s supposed to keep the forest floor and the roots of the redwoods damp has gone missing, and who knows how many more folks inland had time to pack before they had to get out of there. The unheard-of August lightning storms? There are more in the forecast.

Yesterday it was smokey at Andy’s Orchard but it wasn’t terrible. Today the high school across the street from him had become the evacuation center and the area was marked Evacuation Warning: be packed, be ready.

I am so glad I went when I did.

The phone rang this morning, but the person was breaking up so badly that neither one of us could make heads nor tails. So they just came. The doorbell rang a few hours later: it was the mattress people. It was not Saturday.

I had told them that if the fires got worse we’d be happy to wait because their safety was the most important thing, to please check first. They appreciated that–and instead decided, okay, we need to get this done NOW. I wondered if they’d been driving since before dawn.

They put the new cover on the new mattress. We were supposed to have to do that part per the seller and watching them, I’m not sure we could have.

They got everything set up. I followed them outside to say where I wanted the old one to go till we could hire someone to come pick it up.

They knew that we had just missed the city’s semi-annual cleanup date when it would have been done for free.

They used the lift to get the old one onto the truck. No worries, they said, we’ll take care of it.

I was not expecting that at all.

When I told the one guy I’d bought the peaches at a farm yesterday, and how things were there today, his eyes got wide and he really, really appreciated it (and probably was really really glad they hadn’t waited till tomorrow) and headed outside to the truck to share with his co-worker. They waved thanks, I waved thanks, and they were out of here while the routes back out were still safe.

More 2020
Wednesday August 19th 2020, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

The mattress we ordered is supposed to finally arrive Saturday. I guess it has been sufficiently quarantined from its New Jersey origins now.

The trucker’s route is sending him north from LA, and I just sent him a note asking him to please check the fire situation before coming: the fires are in the mountains, but there was a brush fire alongside the main freeway down in the valley a few towns south of us yesterday.

I wanted him to know that his safety is the priority.

Friends have been evacuated from their homes, we haven’t heard back yet from Richard’s aunt but the red zone on the map is thankfully not close to her and she is clearly peachy fine. The Salinas fire does not seem to be near her daughter’s.

The air was yellow today, the light reflections inside were weirdly orange, and you walk outside and your nose says, hey, you need some marshmallows to go with the graham crackers and chocolate in the pantry. Just hold the skewer out…thataway.

One picture in the news made it clear that Richard could have seen the rising mushroom of smoke from the other side of the mountains from his office, if not for covid and working from home. (Do NOT take the scenic route up the coast!)

But at least we got a slight break on the heat.

My prayers for the firefighters and those in the path.

Flash light time
Sunday August 16th 2020, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden,Life,Wildlife

A restless night of not much sleep, not registering that there was a big storm going on out there, and I gave up and got up at a time when it just happened to be quiet out there.

I was washing my hands standing under the skylight when a flash of light startled me into glancing towards the light switch, not fathoming, just as the BOOM!!! hit and the power went out.

Found out later that one of the many lightning strikes had hit a few blocks over.

Thunderstorms?! In the Bay Area? In August? Rain? In AUGUST? A hundredth of an inch, as it turned out, but hey, that’s enough to sprout the fall weed seeds.

More and more house-rattling. I had been planning to go pick the one fig that should have been ripe first thing this morning. There was no going out there.

And then it seemed to settle down and all the booms stopped.

I really wanted that fig. I thought maybe I might chance it.

It wasn’t really raining (oh! Well, not enough for me to have heard from inside), just the slightest sprinkle.

For all that the fig, it turned out, had not finished ripening in the night and I left it there to be stolen later by the squirrels (which it was.)

Ten steps back to the door, I was halfway there, when out of the gray-not-blue, another BOOM! skittered me inside so fast! I could just picture the obituary: Lost Grandma because she just couldn’t bear to give up that one single piece of fruit to the rodents, but it was not the fig that got roasted.

They say we may have a repeat tonight of either yesterday’s PG&E shutdown or another weird storm and a third power outage, so dinner was the fastest thing I could cook so we wouldn’t be stuck with half-raw chicken and a fridge we couldn’t open.

Edited to add: I’m guessing that one of the biggest fire tornados ever may have helped create the atmospheric conditions that led to that storm.

Dried cranberries soaked in the juice of an orange
Saturday August 15th 2020, 11:02 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

Been too long.

You never know when someone else’s diet might change or something, so to be on the safe side I called before showing up.

I hadn’t seen Nina since before the pandemic started.

I put the ziplocked loaf of cranberry pumpkin sourdough down on her doorstep (that one recipe is totally worth the price of the book) rang the bell, and stepped back.

Our masks in place and with the sun low for the day’s heat blast to calm down some we continued the conversation outside that had begun on the phone. Life. Kids. Grandkids. Work.

There was such an intensity of joy in something so ordinary.

They made French toast with some of that bread after I left and I got exclamation marks!!! texted to me. Now she knew why I liked that recipe so much!

Any time, hon, any time.