And Shaun jammies too
Friday July 19th 2019, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

A lot of companies won’t ship to Alaska. But they’ll ship to me. If I ship it in my own box it’ll cost a small fortune, but if I go to the post office and use one of their all-you-can-fit-in Priority boxes it’s the same cost as to anywhere else.

We have a two year old devotee of all things Shaun the Sheep, the show spun off from the Wallace and Gromit movies.

Guess what he got today.



Got that one right
Sunday July 14th 2019, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I’d been thinking…but I hadn’t quite convinced myself that that was the right choice for her and she wasn’t there anyway, so, never mind.

Church was over and the navy cowl was still in my purse as people were standing around chatting, the crowd gradually fading.

I still don’t know a lot of the new people but at least their faces and personalities have started to become familiar.

Then I saw the woman I’d given the most recent cowl to and she was talking to one of her friends from back before the ward boundary changes; I walked up to them saying, I was looking for someone wearing blue!

The first one laughed, the second had no idea, the first started to tell her what she was about to be in for (man, she caught on to me fast!), and then there was the “are you allergic to wool?” out of me.

Handknit wool and silk. In a perfect match to her outfit.

She went home thrilled.

I need to start the next one, because that was just way too much fun to miss out on next week.



27 months
Saturday July 13th 2019, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

FaceTime.

Again!

We sang ABCDEFG again.

A delighted, Again! (I noted that he no longer sternly pouts No No No at the inclusion of TUV.)

He was loving this. Again!

Umpteen more rounds.

Then Wheels On The Bus. Shaun the plush Sheep went round and round, up and down, and moved on back.

Again! He giggled at how fast Shaun wiggled his ears at the up and then plunged out of sight from the camera so fast on the down.

Again!

As many rounds as you want, honey, for as long as you want during this brief time in your life in which you do. That’s what grandparents are for.



Give it a new life
Thursday July 11th 2019, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life,Politics

I’m a one project at a time person, but huge projects beg for a little puppy of a one in the purse wagging its tail end and begging for attention and the occasional treat of a few stitches here and there. You can’t lug the Pyrenean Mastiff of wool everywhere.

This one had been ongoing for over three weeks and it was bugging me: I wanted both the longterms done now. No cowl of mine should take nearly a month. I wanted to be able to start something new.

So I sat down this afternoon and worked for four hours straight to the end of the ball. I’m reluctant to name the source of the merino/silk yarn because their politics have become known and what I would consider indefensible–some of the very peoples that they denigrate help work in the mills that make this stuff.

But the yarn was in my stash, it’s quite soft, and it was pretty. Such a lovely drape to it, too.

And now it will make someone else pretty, somewhere where it will only be about the love in its making.

It was time for it to go.



Sundown
Tuesday July 09th 2019, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

Suddenly realized that not only was it the night we’re supposed to get the bins out to the curb for the morning pick-up, if we didn’t get moving we would run right into skunk o’clock.

Bam. Instant procrastination cure.



Middle age? You too?
Sunday July 07th 2019, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Bill was twelve when we moved here. His oldest kid is now in college.

Marcus was a teenager at the time. He took a job back in this area after grad school, and with the recent changes in the ward boundaries now lives in our ward again for the first time since high school.

He did not know Bill and his family were here from out of state for a reunion celebrating Bill’s widowed mom.

Which means that just like the shopper at the grocery store yesterday whose face lit up for us all as Ginny and Michelle and I first laid eyes on each other, I got to see the moment Marcus looked up, saw the middle-aged man looking expectantly and happily at him, just waiting for him to notice: that sudden stunned wide-eyed double-take and recognition as he leaped out of his seat, that arms-thrown-around-each-other moment of pure joy.

Thinking about it happily all day, I realized that what it did was make me want to always, always treat everybody in such a way that they would feel like that years later when they randomly run into me like that. And I so want them to know I feel that way about them. I want that to be for everybody. No exclusions.

The somebodies we’re used to seeing in our day-to-day life and taking for granted.

We love more deeply than we ever really know.



Blessed were the five year olds
Saturday July 06th 2019, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden,Life

We lost the earlier pomegranates to, as far as I could tell, the serious windstorm we had in the spring, so it was nice to see some new ones starting out.

And then I found this big one hiding.

Looks like something straight out of New Orleans, doesn’t it?

But the story of the day is that Michelle stopped by and, wanting an ingredient she can no longer buy at the much-missed Milk Pail, asked if I’d like to go to the little boutique grocer in the other direction with her?

Sure! Haven’t been in there in ages!

But then I found myself needing to do just one thing before we left, and then another, and oh that, too, while she waited patiently. It’s not like we were going to be gone a long time, she could have pushed me. But instead, it was a happy, No hurry.

We compared notes afterwards and turns out that as I dithered, both of us began quietly wondering if we would run into someone. There was something of a sense of anticipation.

We were almost done in there when there was this sudden three-way exclamation of surprise and recognition and arm-throwing-hugging and joy, pure joy.

Ginny, retired now, is a master teacher and all four of my kids were extremely fortunate to have her. Me, too, for that matter. For just one example, I learned from my oldest the visual rule of three in a composition. She mentioned it to me as an oh everybody knows that as she pointed out its elements in her drawing.

Now, I’m the daughter of an art dealer, I spent several summers of my childhood museum-hopping across the country with my family, and I had somewhat intuited it but had never had it explicitly spelled out in my life. The moment was a revelation to me.

Ginny taught my five-year-old who taught it to me: the eye is pleased with images it can divide into threes subconsciously. This is why a photo that is split straight in half looks off, somehow. Why two-button polo shirts always feel wrong. You need an odd number. Starting with three.

Which is why I tried to fix the pomegranate photos above because hey, Ginny’s probably going to see those, but the program burped. Never mind.

She wanted to catch up on each of the kids, and me, and I wanted to on her and her twins-plus-twins grandkids. I told Michelle the story of going to the fifth grade teacher’s funeral and afterward, a tall man who was carrying an easel with a flower arrangement to help put it away started approaching us and Ginny gave me a heads-up that we needed to get out of the guy’s way.

I said, Ginny. That’s my son.

The shock and exclamation of delight and at 6’9″ he wasn’t a kindergartner anymore, wow!

Michelle grinned.

Turns out Ginny recently lost one of the great friends of her life, and we grieved with her. I wish now I had asked her a whole bunch of questions about her friend and I certainly should have, but I was trying not to take up all of her time in the middle of a narrow aisle in a store when she surely had other things to do.

I think of all the children, and all their parents, to whom she has made all the difference in the world. The classroom where, when a child needed to calm down, they got sent to the little curtained off enclosure she’d made where they raised butterflies, where a Monarch they had helped sustain from its earliest stages could land on their shoulders and another on their outstretched hands when they just needed a moment alone like that.

I wonder how many adults out there now are looking back on those days and planting milkweed. To befriend life back. She taught us so well.



They took a long time to fill
Friday July 05th 2019, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Knit two afghan rows, make myself put it down and do something else for twenty minutes for my hands’ sake, repeat. That’s been the pattern for lo these many days.

Which is how I quit knitting and saw the note on Facebook from my friend Michelle in San Diego. We met when her fussy toddler was made happy by a finger puppet at Lisa Souza’s booth at Stitches years ago.

I went straight to the USGS site. From 8:16 to 8:50 pm tonight, there were four earthquakes where yesterday’s was in southern California: 5.0, 7.1, 5.5, 4.9. Felt from Mexico to San Francisco to Sacramento. (We didn’t.) Yow. That last one happened in between when she posted and when I signed in a few minutes later.

Remember when they took out the concrete floor to the shed to get at the roots after the neighbors cut down the redwood tree a few months ago? We had two water containers, 35 and 50 gallons, that they had to empty so they could move them out of the way. We’ve been putting off refilling them because we don’t have a new floor to that yet–we were waiting till the neighbors are done with their addition to their house before throwing more contractors’ trucks in this block. We didn’t want to have to empty them again to move them again to have to fill them again. One does not waste water here.

Dude. Four earthquakes in a half hour and the biggest one in twenty years: you know that’s increasing pressure elsewhere in the system.

We did what we should have done from the beginning and, flashlights in hand, washed off the very dirty tops of the lids and refilled those tanks, relieved when we could finally put that second one back on. Done.

The idea of having the storage for a water emergency but with no water in it after such a strong warning was unfathomable. Yes you don’t waste water, but we are so much more than the worth of 85 gallons.

We will rest a little easier tonight knowing that’s done.

Okay, so, back at last to the afghan. I’ve got time for one more row.

(Edit, there was another 5.5 at 9:18. That’s a strong aftershock.)



The little stinker
Tuesday July 02nd 2019, 7:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Wildlife

There was a problem with the washing machine at her place so of course we said, sure, c’mon over here.

Her schedule was tight enough that she got a late start at it but it had to be done.

And so it was nearly 11:30 last night when she was reaching down to pick up her hamper of now-clean clothes to take home as I was reaching to open the front door for her when I suddenly shrieked, DON’T OPEN THAT DOOR!!!!

Followed immediately after, it must be admitted, with my inwardly admiring how the colors of the fur kind of melted into each other–it looked marvelously soft. Definitely spinnable. I can see why my brother reached down to pet his roommate’s cat one night years ago, just as he heard his apartment door automatically locking behind him right in the moment he realized that the animal at his feet was not, in fact, a cat.

Having come down the walkway and crossed the doorstep in my moment of !!!, the skunk now went through the open gate just to the side and sniffed at the recycling bin. Then in the direction of the few leftover tomato plants that got plunked in the dirt over there a few months ago because I didn’t know where else to put the extras.

Hey dude. You already ate those. And you pooped on our sidewalk afterwards. At least put it in the garden yourself.

Right. So, no go, and what was that blast of sound? Not caring for that. It turned around and bounced with a jaunty little walk back down the way it had come, a wobble to its step that kind of looked like how a two year old runs. It was absolutely adorable.

One could not tell in the night if it had ducked into the azaleas at the end there or gone under the cars or–? There was just no way to know.

Her: A skunk?! The way you yelled I thought it was a black widow spider!

Me: (gobsmacked.) Would you rather it was a skunk?!

Her: Yes!

Me: (Thinking, but, but, you can’t stomp on a skunk…!)

Her: Because, black widows!

Her: Oh man, what if it gets my clean clothes.

We invited her to crash here for the night, but no could do, starting with contacts solution back at her place. We spent a couple of minutes debating who was the brave one (too soon, too soon) and finally (still too soon, but it was late) Richard proclaimed, I’LL be brave! and grabbed a flashlight to match the one in my hands and we opened the door and basically created late-night hell for the neighbors. We’re HERE (shuffle shuffle shuffle loudly) little skunk, go AWAY! (Shuffle shuffle shuffle) We’re HERE, little skunk, go go go!

Me: Should I look under the cars for it?

Them, in unison: NO!!

She got in her car. Only then did I flash the light and nope, it wasn’t under our car, anyway. She managed to pull out without backing over anything.

Two feet and a pane of glass. I haven’t been that close to a skunk since our honeymoon.



They did it!
Monday July 01st 2019, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Garden,Life

A great big pot of applesauce with a very small blond boy standing over it, grin big and hand wide as if about to do an exuberant splashdown into that tasty goop: it’s not my kid so I’m not putting his face here, but it was a great photo and it made my day.

I passed Ellen’s recommendation on to the mom of the Victorio Strainer so she doesn’t have to cut the seeds out next time, and then promptly ordered one myself so we could both use it when the Fujis come on. My mom used to have something like that all my growing up, only big, metal, and heavy,  essential to her for getting tomatoes to the right texture for chili sauce; my tomatoes have started turning color (bird netting was applied today) and I was feeling nostalgic. Mom, what’s your recipe? I know you told me thirty years ago…

Plus, all those apple seeds.

So we will try out that new toy and hopefully it will last for generations like Mom’s. Thank you, Ellen!



Jenna
Sunday June 30th 2019, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,Life

Yellow Transparent apples. I wrote a little note detailing how we’d come to have such a tree–a dwarfing rootstock grow-back after the main tree had died–and what the little things were like.

Great for applesauce. Terrible keepers–three days at the max but only in the fridge, one to two on the counter. Mushy. Small. Once a big commercial variety, now very rare (with good reason) but if you want a cooked apple, they taste good.

And then I posted that on the ward chat.

One person responded, and she said that as a matter of fact she’d been thinking of making some applesauce; she’d love to bring her little boys and come pick apples, what a cool idea!

They were all hers.

I think, when she and her husband laid eyes on the tree, that they were maybe wishing they had some competition, but hey.

And so this young couple and two adorable little toddlers ages 1 and 3 were here this afternoon with their padded bag and together we picked those apples. I added a few Meyer lemons and newly-ripe plums, because I could.

The one-year-old picked up a Santa Rosa plum, took a bite, and tossed it.

I laughed and explained that if you pit them and blenderize them, the skins are tart but the interior is sweet and it makes an effect like tart cherry jam.

As they were leaving and I was thinking of all. those. little. apples. she was going to have to core and peel (they asked if I use the skins in apple sauce, and I said I do in apple butter) I stopped her going by my front door and asked her to wait just a moment.

I dashed inside, pulled out the electric apple peeler and asked if she’d like to borrow it for a week?

The relief in her voice as she said YES! Thank you!

–Yeah, I should have offered that from the get-go.



And thanks for all the cheese
Saturday June 29th 2019, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life,Lupus

Steve, owner of The Milk Pail, was offering raclette and other goodies and throwing a small impromptu party today at his much-loved shop, which closes forever tomorrow. There was the big bash with a band already, but he just wasn’t done saying goodbye to all the faces and stories he’d known for so many years, this place he’d put his life into.

Which meant these were hours when I knew he was going to be there.

I put on the sunblock and headed out. His wife and his daughters, too: they were all there.

And I only had the one. All this time I’ve been baby blanket knitting, ~90 hours’ worth of work so far, and I wanted to have four made. But I’m a do-one-project-till-it’s-done knitter, aside from the purse-friendly carry-arounds. Which this was, so at least my good intentions got that far: one would do when one was what I had.

And so, in memory of all that he’s given the community–Milk Pail has been an institution for 45 years–and of the good fight we fought together at City Hall, and most of all for the gift of his friendship and great example of how to be a truly decent human being, I gave him a handknit hat.

They loved it, all of them, because his happiness was theirs and I loved them for it.

Who now is going to put up a big sign in their grocery store saying this is their personal cost of a 25 pound bag of oats and if you put it on your bill, they will then deliver it to the local soup kitchen? Who is going to throw community cheese parties and melt that raclette right out of its rind onto your waiting bread? Where else can you order Thai Curry Cheddar (or even find out that it’s a thing?)

I could not let him retire without a bit of my knitting, I just couldn’t.



For every spring forever after
Wednesday June 26th 2019, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,Life

The friend who got a Blenheim apricot tree as a housewarming present sent me a picture of her tree with beautiful yellow fruit on it and told me she’d let her kids pick the first and ripest today and how joyful an experience it was for them all.

It completely, totally made my day.



Thank you Mathias
Sunday June 23rd 2019, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

A two year old started randomly yelling in the middle of church today insisting he wanted a donut and got taken outside a moment by his mom to be shushed, along with a couple of other toddlers who chimed in. I mean, who wouldn’t want donuts? Where were their donuts?

Which is how his mom and those few others saw the arsonist setting the fire that was starting to whoosh up the dry hillside right to where there was a chapel full of people who had no idea what was happening behind them. It came close.

Everybody is okay. We are praying hard that the guy is somehow caught and stopped.

Out of the mouths of babes, oh Lord, Thou has perfected praise.



Into the woods
Saturday June 22nd 2019, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Twisty, windy, blind-curved mountain roads, past Alice’s Restaurant in La Honda where there were motorcycles parked everywhere and across the intersection and a sign said, loudly, HAM RADIO operators something-something and I looked at the resident ham with a question mark but no, he doesn’t even ride a motorcycle…

And then the state park we had come for. Redwoods like Muir Woods without the distance nor the crush of summer people.

My brother-in-law was admiring a set of giants just after the four of us got out of the car and gave a chuckle when I told them that a circle of redwood trunks like that is called a fairy circle. (Right. They’re so dainty, aren’t they?) They all come up from the same set of roots, and, (coming on to the next one) see this bit of growth at the bottom? That’ll be the next one. All part of the same entity.

There’s no knowing how long ago this one played Hulk! Smash! on its way down, but somehow the bottom of it looks like a wild boar to me.

Or maybe that’s just its tutu?