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!?)



Covid covetings
Sunday March 07th 2021, 11:27 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

The closer we get to being vaccinated, the harder it feels to wait. I’m trying not to be antsy.

We had a great time Facetiming with the northern grandkids today–but Lillian wanted us to BE there, not just be pictures that interacted with her.

With you all the way, baby girl, with you all the way.

The state is allocating doses by county and has decided that ours having had the best compliance and the fewest cases and deaths with ample resources to deal with the illness means we’ll be the last to get the vaccine.

Which feels a little like punishing the well-behaved, but on the other hand there are so many people whose circumstances put them in so much more need than us. We can simply stay home and wait a little longer.

We’ve proved that.

But I do not blame the friend younger than I who drove into the next county and got his first shot. I so get that.



Takes two to tumble
Friday March 05th 2021, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

In answer to Chris and Sharon, Richard was the one who started talking over a year ago about eventually retiring near the grands. The ones south have a great deal of family very close by, the ones north, none whatsoever. But right now he’s happy to be here and in the After Times they’ll all be easy to fly to.

But you move to a place where you’d want to live anyway even if the kids were to take a new job and not stay where you’ve moved to. He does like Portland. I think I was ten the last time I was there other than in the airport so I wanted to familiarize myself a bit.

But we’re happy with our neighborhood and friends, and peaches and blueberries that blossom in January, I mean, how do you beat that?

Speaking of those peaches.

The one that started blooming a month ago is now about 2/3 of the way leafed out and it’s finally going to rain tonight.

The growing-leaves stage mixed with cold weather is how you get peach leaf curl attacks; once they’re fully leafed out the fungus is somehow powerless, and it can’t grow in warmth. It wants new growth on a chilly night.

We get ocean cold with our rain.

The local gardening columnist said to put a lightweight frost cover over to help keep the rain off. Well, we have those for sure, although it would take two of us to try to wrangle it over.

My sweetie was very dubious about this idea but he wanted to be supportive. I couldn’t do it by myself: after days of warning spasms from having to haul all those wet clothes around in the water heater blowup, after carefully doing back exercises to ward off what they threatened to become, this afternoon I bent over a box that had been delivered and without even picking it up it felled me right there for a moment. Protests of innocence at it got me nowhere. Here we were again.

It took me awhile to be able to stand up so as to go get an ice pack.

But I really wanted that tree covered, and the ice packs were helping some, so we went out there tonight together to try to wrangle the thing. Visions of summertime peaches right outside the door can get the better of you like that.

He got the fruit picker to try to maneuver the thing over the top–and not knowing I had just fallen down on the other side of the cloth with my foot tangled in the acanthus stems that border the tree, he caught his own foot and fell with the picker and bloodied his face–thankfully not against the tines. I finally extricated myself at the sound of his voice and got over there, where he then tried to get up by holding onto the picker held upright for leverage so I tried to hold onto it on the other side to steady it for him.

With a man more than twice my weight and a back already like that.

And now his matches.

He wasn’t surprised when I told him his shoulder was green.

It’s a really good thing our house is a ranch right now.

It’s time to look at each other wryly and say in unison, and not for the first time, Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to do that?



The kitchen in the attic
Thursday March 04th 2021, 11:06 pm
Filed under: Life

A few moments of, wait, what?

I pictured the balancing act of trying to lift something heavy or awkward in or out of these cabinets. If that place were a business OSHA would be having words with them.

On this one, I started off thinking, wow, you can get an actual mansion for what you could sell a Silicon Valley postwar tract house for–and then I got to the master bath. Where the tile edging on the vanity and up the side of the shower is a motif of lipsticks. With walls the color of–okay, Tammy Faye Baker’s old news, who’s famous these days for outrageous shades of brilliant rosy red on their face?

And then we get to a cute old house that the owners were clearly trying to make over for its big day on the market along with its ADU over the garage.

But someone way mismeasured for that countertop. And you know it’s new, because the backsplash behind it is the latest fad that will age every house it’s in 30 years from now and that home has already been around the block. I did a double take. Go look at that sideways fridge, it’s a hoot, and the cart blocking it from being rolled out is even funnier: you WILL diet. No more pandemic munching for you!

To be fair, maybe it’s the angle of the camera and the corner of the fridge isn’t bumping the ceiling.

But oh, then there’s this one. I’ve always adored stone houses. And with a play structure for the grands, room to run, and the waterfront just far enough away for while they’re little?

I clicked on the street view and thought it was showing the wrong address. It wasn’t; it was just showing what it used to look like.

Man did that house get Cinderalla-ed.

That light-filled addition at the front completely changes the whole character of the thing and it’s just stunning.

Note that the child’s play structure at the side got changed to one for an older child and the trees have grown since Google drove by.

And there’s enough light and space in that atrium that you could grow a dwarf mango in a pot there. Y’know, the important things.



Pony, express
Wednesday March 03rd 2021, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Life

This is so cool. A woman in North Carolina who grew up on a horse farm is volunteering her horses for kids to read to them, and sometimes ride them.

The horses feel loved that someone is taking the time to talk to them and they hold still while they do. The kids feel the attention of the horses with no correcting or feeling judged if they get a word wrong, in a community whose literacy rate needs help.

In some cases where parents cannot get their kids to the horses, the horses have come to them.

If the Washington Post’s paywall doesn’t get in the way, go read it. It’s such a great story.



He got us in hot water
Tuesday March 02nd 2021, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Life

For the record: today, March 2, 2021, the new water heater was installed by JohnA at Water Heaters Only with a six year warranty promised on the thing.

I have never been offered a warranty on one before. We hired the people who only do this one thing because they have a good reputation and they get it done for you that day, but this was better than I’d hoped.

The last time one flooded the master closet it was a Saturday when I was off at Stitches West for what turned out to be the last day my minivan was still running.

This time I was the one who had to deal with all the googling and the calling and the emptying and the cleaning.

The carpeting got ripped out that time and a new floor put in there. We may need a do-over.

There was a pan under the tank and a spigot and it was supposed to empty outside, and it did but there was way more water than it could handle. There is now a wider taller beautiful much more functional pan, not smashed in on the side by the guy putting the heater in over it this time, our beautiful new water heater, and (shout it from the rooftops) it does not have a thermocouple! The part that broke every two years!

The guy on the phone had asked me to read off the model number and when I did, went, Oh, that’s an old one!

(Yeah, it was an old model when we got it that the other guy must have gotten a very good deal on at closeout but we had no way to know that at the time.)

It is amazing how much stops when you don’t have hot water. Yes, Texas, I know, but still.

It is amazing how cold a tub can still be in the morning after three large pots’ worth of hot water off the stove gets dumped in with the chilly stuff when there wasn’t even that much of the chilly stuff.

It is mind boggling how much stuff was in that closet that reached the floor, how much water it soaked up into the clothes that didn’t, how many loads of laundry had to be done (nonstop the whole blinking day), how many things had to be aired out and dried. And oops that hanger with the paper across the bottom is still wet.

I was almost too tired to knit, but I even got a little bit of that done at a moment when I had to just stop right there and put my feet up while the washer washed. One lace motif done. Yay.

So I measured and yes my apricot seedling hit 6″ today. Grow tree grow!