Happy Birthday!
Thursday April 15th 2021, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

One of my kids got their second shot for their birthday and our first iris bloomed in celebration. It’s a happy day.

Meantime, I’d procrastinated because they’re not due this year for another month: did anybody else feel like this? It was weirdly comforting to do the taxes. It made no sense. But it was all so familiar after all these years and I guess it felt like the old life back again. Or something. Am I just being pandemically weird?



Antsy puttering
Monday April 12th 2021, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Life

More apple flowers, because the day around here wasn’t about much more than watching the plants grow. But they are pretty.

I woke up with the thought that next week, I get my second jab, and two weeks after that I get to actually go out and do things! Like, y’know, go to Trader Joe’s and see what all the new stuff is now! The three-ingredient chocolate mints. I miss them. Go to yarn stores!  Or get an almond pastry at Copenhagen Bakery. Or or or.

Letting that longing come unleashed became a little too much fairly quickly, not helped in the least by the news of the day in Minneapolis, so I quietly put all that aside and went and immersed myself in laundry and the like around the house. It always needs to be done anyway. Keep busy. Breathe deep.

With a whole lot of praying for a whole lot of people out there. There is so much we have to make so much better.

So glad that at least the guy in his Army uniform in Virginia survived his encounter with racist cops, but it was a near thing.



Samantha wrinkles her nose
Thursday April 08th 2021, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

The jiffy pots just weren’t doing it for those remaining seedlings anymore and I knew it.

I realized that it was lifting the bags of soil that had been stopping me.

So I didn’t–I left them propped up and scooped out dirt by the plastic flowerpot-full and took it to where I wanted it to go. All I’d needed was to just get started. It was slower, it got my hands in the dirt more, it was more meditative–and it got the job done.

Five apricot seedlings planted in pots, six if you include the one from last year. That should be enough to do some fine taste-testing of Anya’s offspring in a few years. Some got more peat than the others, some more planting mix, some, more topsoil; it got a bit random because hey, I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m just guessing.

There’s one last one whose roots haven’t started dangling out the jiffy bottom yet, ready and waiting for the friend it’s been promised to to plant as she pleases.

A quick house note: I am told that yes this kitchen does have a stove–it pulls down by the handles from the small oven above. Apparently it’s called a Bewitched stove, because the TV show of that name from my childhood had one like it. (Here’s the Graceland version.)

I love that this house has its original one still there and still working. Mechanical dials for the win!

I’d still remodel the heck out of that kitchen if it were mine. With some regret, because that thing is cool. I just wouldn’t want to be stuck having to try to use those tiny burners that I’m told were slow at a friend’s house and I would most definitely trip over them jutting out like that but only some of the time. My body just doesn’t do graceful.



Collaborative
Wednesday April 07th 2021, 8:51 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Seven miles instead of 75. It delays his being fully vaccinated by five days, but still. I conferred with him and then grabbed it. I also immediately canceled the original. The site said Sutter would offer it as a first shot to someone else and asked that that be made possible as soon as we could, which was only reasonable.

Immediately after I finished that up, the doorbell rang: my friend Constance, who lives hours away these days (there’s a shawl in my book named after her.)  She had been in the area on a work assignment and was stopping by on her long drive home.

We ended up on chairs in the shed. It was trash day but for obvious reasons I had not put the bin back right away. This gave us a spot that was outside, as one should in a pandemic, under a ceiling-height roof and with sides, as my lupus needs to be out of the sun, and it was perfect enough of a spot for visiting that I wondered why I hadn’t thought of that a whole lot sooner. Anyway. We had a lot of catching up to do after not seeing each other in person for too many years.

And then I sent her home with a 5 gallon fiber pot full of new topsoil and peat moss and a baby Anya apricot tree to put in it, kind of a grow kit. Just add water. After you get it back out of your car.

And on a totally different note. My late father, a modern art dealer, would absolutely have howled. Sometimes the art world can get a bit precious, and that poor innocent couple who picked up a brush from somewhere in the spilled paint on the floor and scatterings of paint cans and such in front of the mural and added their touch to what they thought was a public-invited graffiti project, well…wouldn’t you?

(When in doubt read the little white box on the wall next to the art in the gallery, but never mind.)



Pot humus
Friday April 02nd 2021, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

Woke up with a smile on my face. We have a date, at long last: seven weeks till we get to see who we want to see and go where we want to go.

It felt celebratory to pick up the topsoil I’d ordered from the local nursery; I wasn’t going to risk my back lifting them before that drive to Antioch. Even if I’d ordered the half-size bags for caution’s sake.

And now there are two apricot seedlings in good-sized but not huge pots for them to get a good start on life in and they look glorious.

One bag done. A second is in the back yard.

There are eight (!) more of them because, uh, I think I overdid it. Like, a lot. The guy just barely managed to fit them into my Prius and I should have paid the $55 delivery fee for their strong young men to come bring them and stack them up wherever I might ask because some things you just can’t weigh in terms of the equivalent number of bags that that would work out to and hey lady did you realize you’re starting to get on the old side, but, oh well. Too late now. They are totally smelling up the inside of the car because I forgot to get the dolly and found my limit for one day and had the good sense to stop.

But those two trees are finally where they should be for the next year while they grow their roots a bit. They’d so needed it. They’d stopped producing new leaves until their roots had somewhere to reach to, too, and now they look so good. And it makes me so happy.

Guess who forgot to take their picture as I was taking them in.



Alliums among us
Saturday March 27th 2021, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,Life

I have this plant that grows next to the house. I didn’t put it there; it was a surprise. It simply showed up one spring and every one thereafter, leafing out of the ground and then sending up a purple flower stalk next to the walkway. I had no idea what it was. It never spread–it was just the one plant. For easily twenty years now.

Last year there wasn’t much of a flower to it at all, which made me realize how much I’d been looking forward to it. Oh, well.

This year, the rainy season is nearly over and we’ve gotten about a third of normal. Dry dry dry. My allium did come up under the sidewalk light as always but it’s tiny, with no sign of any flower to come, but at least it’s still alive.

I ordered some cream with my groceries. I had a craving for making chocolate tortes. I wanted to run the beaters, melt the chocolate into the cream, mix the one spoonful I like to make of leftover ganache into my hot cocoa the next morning, all of it.

The new next door neighbors, as it turned out, do indeed like chocolate and are not allergic to dairy.

She opened that door in excitement before I could even knock.

She’d had to work today and it had been a long hard day and then she’d just gotten home to my message. Not five minutes later I would get a text saying how good that torte was.

And as I kind of floated down the sidewalk, there it suddenly was.

Wait. Where did you come from? What…?

It was a new allium. With the tips of its unusually short leaves just brushing the sidewalk. There had been so little water there was almost no stalk, either, but there it was, radiant in the late sunlight.

And it wanted me to notice.



From the ground up
Friday March 26th 2021, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

When we were little kids playing hide and seek, didn’t we all secretly wish we had a trapdoor? Although, this one has a certain Cask of Amontillado feel to it, doesn’t it? Is that really a telescoping stairwell? Hey up there! Don’t move that dresser!

Personally, I’d just as soon build in the walls of the whole actual ground floor and not leave the house hanging waiting for the ending of the first story, but that’s just me.

I’ve been wondering what a good little Mormon would do with a wine cellar in a house–I mean, to my eyes, it begs for a yarn store impression with a skein stuffed in each slot, and think of all the designs you could make with the colors of your stash before you even knit it, but then how would you mothproof them?

I do really like that greenhouse, though.

How about the latest peach flowers at my nice peaceful house instead. Where, while doing the dishes, I had a sudden pang of missing how one daughter could call from the other room, That was a small Corelle plate.

Or, That was a bowl.

She could identify each piece by sound when they fell. Practice makes perfect.



Moderna part 1
Thursday March 25th 2021, 10:27 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus

Thank you for filling out the pre-arrival form, the clinic’s site said. Please bring proof of ID with you to the vaccination site.

Which is how I found myself plunked down on the tarmac at the county fairgrounds in front of a college kid hired to screen people: I couldn’t hold onto my hat against the wind off the Bay and hold my cane and fish through my purse. He needed proof that I had an appointment to get that shot.

It’s…in the email address I didn’t have on my phone. It’s on my account at the clinic–and I didn’t remember the password. I never use my phone for that. Crum. I figured oh well so much for that as I told him I’d checked before leaving and the site had said to bring ID and I’m a tech-idiot.

He waved the grandma in. I guess because they were going to look me up inside anyway; let them have to deal with me if I wasn’t legit.

Name? Address? Phone? Appointment time? Yes, there you are.

I was legit.

I did not feel a thing and wouldn’t have known I’d even gotten the shot if I hadn’t been paying attention.

The fifteen minute wait afterwards: I was looking around at everybody, wondering if they felt as overwhelmed with the release and the gratitude as I was; one of the nurses monitoring stepped my way with, Are you okay?

I laughed, yes, very much, thanks.

Another minute. Another. I had planned to be knitting. But no, just look at all these–people! Resuming normality starts right here with a cavernous room full of strangers together just doing, y’know, life-type things together and not walled off or Zoomed but for real and mostly pretending to pretty much ignore each other like strangers do in our older habits and isn’t this just so cool!

Out that way?

Yes, that way.

(Meaning the long way around in the most sun. It had been a lot of sun for a lupus patient.)

I found myself back near where I’d had that earlier conversation and the one guy was nowhere to be found to try to thank him; there were now three young African-American men directing people where they needed to go. Second shots are that building, first shots are this, back out to the parking lot is thataway past that building, yes.

Seeing where I was coming from, alone, (somehow nobody else came out of there when I did) they all asked me if I was okay.

And that’s when I found myself just speechless. One stepped closer and repeated: Are you okay?

It took me a moment to get past the enormity of all the thoughts of the last thirteen months and now this that tried to all jam through my brain hole at once and blocked it tight.

I finally managed to say something and it was the one thing I wanted most right then: Did they do you guys first? (You who are out here in public serving the public being exposed to the public, being so essential to every one of us who’s being given this great gift.)

This beautiful young man answered my question with a smile by repeating his, asking after me.

There was a space between moments of people coming and going just then.

So I told him about flying to help our daughter with her preemie for three weeks as she recovered from complications, how we’d had tickets to go see them again, and then it all… And now she’s starting to talk! I cannot WAIT to see her!

He just pictured that sweet baby girl and loved loved loved all the love in person to come for our sakes. For so many. The tenderness in his eyes. I felt myself in the presence of such a good person.

I asked again. Did they give you guys shots too? They should!

No, he said with a twinge of sadness mixed in with his joy for me, for everybody.

Had it not been for this whole pandemic thing we would probably have given each other a hug on the spot.

I will remember him and that conversation for a long, long time to come.

California announced after I got home that come April 15, a month sooner than they’d previously thought they’d have to set it for, everyone over 16 will be eligible for a covid vaccine.

I don’t know those men’s names, but I’m going to be praying for them all in the meantime. Particularly the one. Stay safe, guys, and thank you for being careful.

I had wondered if I would run into anybody I knew today. I didn’t. But I feel like I do now.



Well that’s a youthenism
Wednesday March 24th 2021, 7:08 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

There’s a new anti-viral drug that was already being studied when covid-19 came on the scene. They’re not done with the Level III studies, but so far it reduces covid viral levels to undetectable, it seems safe, and it can be taken as a pill rather than through a needle. Go Emory scientists!

There’s a silk cowl that just needs blocking now.

And at this 1919 house, where they forgot to put in the stairs (pic #3) if your sense of balance doesn’t know which way up is you’re going to have a heck of a time knocking on the door.

Note the bicycle wheels in the next picture. And the listing description: “Green energy. Construction elements: recycle materials.” I think we have a new creative euphemism.

And then we have a nice tall house in the hills that someone walked away from before it was finished, and someone’s hoping that for a huge sum of money someone else will want to take it on and finish those extra touches like railings on three floors of overlook decks way way way above the ground.

The twelve year old graying plastic wrap still on that new tub just makes it. They need this place for a movie set. Just as it is. I’m sure they do.

Any Hitchcocks needing a remake?



Double take
Friday March 19th 2021, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Life

(In previous years that sour cherry’s limbs were so flimsy the birds couldn’t perch on them. There were seven when I pulled the camera up.)

Over at someone’s listing.

You want a big house, you want a short commute, you want to look out on all the city lights. I get that.

But–someone help me out here. There in the basement.

A king-size.  Bunkbed.

What??

And on a different note, after previously saying they had 100,000 doses on order but couldn’t make any appointments and actually canceled second appointments for some who’d gotten through on the earlier rounds, my medical clinic came through today and my hours of site-searching paid off. My first vaccine dose is next Thursday. Richard can’t get it yet in this state, but now at least I can.



The rescuers
Wednesday March 17th 2021, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

I had an instant reaction of, That one. Even if it’s really too big. I love the angles everywhere. The kitchen. The trees. The boulders. The nature path. It fades into the landscape like a Frank Lloyd Wright and then you walk inside but you’re still somehow mostly outside.

If we were moving to Portland now and were sure we could afford those property taxes longterm I’d be seriously considering putting an offer on it today contingent on physically seeing it and an inspection report. (I might change those small windows up high to plain and solid rather than segmented. Philistine, I know.) Just tell me none of the glass is single-paned.

Maybe I just need me some blue-green slate flooring like that here. I grew up with a slate floor entryway that had been quarried just down the road and my feet just want to dance on that for the inner child who once scraped her boots off where it didn’t mind the mud.

But wait till the trees leaf out in those gardens. Wow. (Which floor is the laundry on?)

Meantime, the Washington Post had a story about a man who grew up in not the best of circumstances in Washington DC–and became a falconer, rescuing injured birds while saying they’d rescued him. There’s been a documentary made about him and them.

Quote from the Post: “The Falconer” will be available for viewing from Friday through March 28. To sign up for a free screening, visit bit.ly/Falconer-DCEFF.? ”

Which I sure did.

Thought I’d put that out there in case anyone else wants to see it.



One dedicated person in the right place
Sunday March 14th 2021, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Life

If you know anybody with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, this is huge: a well-respected Stanford bioresearcher (San Jose Mercury News link), one of those who worked on the Human Genome Project, has a previously world-traveling son with a severe CFS case and was appalled at the lack of knowledge, funding, or interest in it, not to mention the fact that many patients are told it’s all in their heads.

His son is fed via tubes, in bed, and unable to speak.

I have no doubt that the dad’s reputation and previous work helped him land the funding he did. The result is a test that so far has identified every one of the severe cases tested (two year old Stanford link–there were 50 more patients affirmed last year by it) and ruled out every healthy control volunteer. It is finally a verifiable, quantifiable thing.

And now he’s applying what he’s learned to studying covid long-hauler syndrome.



Now you Guam and done it again, Marj
Friday March 12th 2021, 11:44 pm
Filed under: Life,Politics

If anyone’s considering putting in quartz countertops–and I would say the majority of kitchens I’ve seen that were clearly remodeled towards putting the house on the market have them–you might want to read NPR’s report on them first. Now that the industry knows their workers’ lungs are getting silicosis, they’re still not doing enough to protect them.

Granite is far safer to work with (and personally I think it’s prettier), and if you get a dark one (scroll down to the bottom for details–I’ve linked to that site before, it’s a good one) if it’s truly all granite you likely will never have to refinish it because it will never absorb a thing.

Meantime, in political news, the ever-loud-and-angry Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene decried our giving foreign aid to undeserving countries like, y’know, Guam!

The representative from Guam decided to gift her with some Guam Chamorro Chip cookies as a warm welcome to the new Representative, and the governor is sending her a history of the territory. All done with island charm, it sounds like.

So you know that means I had to go run look up what a chamorro chip was. Made from some exotic dried fruit or something?

Apparently it’s mini-chips. Of the chocolate, shall we say, persuasion.



I thought they built it from Airstreams, but no
Thursday March 11th 2021, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Life

The curb view at my house this week, with two nests in that tree.

I rather like this old/new house.

But I keep wanting to ask the folks who gutted and rebuilt it, why? Two stoves: that’s eight burners you could be trying to stand over and stir at the same time! And for all that, only one oven. It’s been surprising to me how few houses under a cool million have a double oven when to me it’s as close to a necessity as common sense will allow me to call it.

But then there’s always this house which used to have one. Which is the reason I’m writing about houses again because you have to see that one quick before they remove the pending listing. They built it with rocks, then cinder blocks, then finally bricks on the inner side. I guess that counts for insulation?

I think they were trying to thwart Oklahoma hurricanes with that shape?

It looks like the upper oven failed, they gutted it, they left the outer frame of it intact and then stuck a microwave inside. And if you think that’s weird, the kitchen floor is made from telephone pole slices.

It’s creative, for sure.

But I just don’t see where the yarn stash goes.



Line’em up
Wednesday March 10th 2021, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Life

I didn’t catch it at first and then I did a double take.

Those guys must have had my contractor. Picture #5: quite the setup they’ve got there. And a good lesson why mine needs to get remodeled out of there before I ever think of putting our home on the market. At least mine’s lined up evenly, even if the cabinets hang over the stove on both sides. (I know. Still are. Pandemic.)

Or picture #17 in this one: is that bathroom vanity made from an old library card catalog? With a grab bar added? (This is begging for an “it got carded at the bar” joke.) Or was it something else in a former life? It must be a big chunk of why the listing says they spent $67k on the bathroom remodel.

A greenhouse! And then picture #25 on this one wants to see who’s coming to buy this house and are you bringing us treats? Maybe we can give you some mohair!

(Thinking of a teen who once asked me, Mohair? MO-hair? What kinda animal is a Mo!?)