Checking the apricots after it hit 96F
Friday June 10th 2022, 9:39 pm
Filed under: Garden

The two survivors of this year’s apricot plantings. The really nice one promised to Eric and Aubrie, front and center here with the new reddish leaves coming in at the top.

And then there’s this one. It is actually still alive, marginally, but all it’s done since its first five leaves came out is to lose two of them. We could call it an inch tall if it stood on its tippy toes. It was going to go to some friends, back when it was sprouting and showing promise, but… Good thing I decided to make it prove it was worthy of them first.

Basically, this is going to be my year for saving Anya kernels rather than giving seedlings other than the one.

Two people that I know of got two baby trees each from kernels I mailed them last fall and theirs are actually growing. Good. They got the right seeds, then.

Thursday June 09th 2022, 9:57 pm
Filed under: History

The first January 6th committee public hearing. Covered by every news network except the Murdochian one that just lost its last claim on the word.

I saw some of that day as it was happening, riveted in fear on our Constitutional self-911. But this. The video that punctuated points of testimony, the visceral reminder again and again of just how bad it was. Officer Edwards’ testimony and hug afterwards with Officer Sicknick’s widow.

Cheney laid out the case like a gifted prosecutor.

She only named one particular Pennsylvania Congressman who went to Trump seeking a pardon for what he’d done on Trump’s behalf (of course Trump blew him off because the cruelty was always the point with him) but it was clear there were going to be more names to come.

It felt like Justice Herself walked into that room tonight and took a seat. We’ve waited so long. But as the old K-Tel ads used to say in my childhood, But wait–there’s more!

(On a side note: my email works again! Yay Richard!)

Wednesday June 08th 2022, 9:21 pm
Filed under: Life

I did a quick grocery run and walking into Trader Joe’s, some random tall guy with a square face and fading blond hair just ahead of me took one look and his face instantly lit up into the biggest smile.

I…like most women, don’t go around encouraging strange men to maybe follow me around, so I gave a polite nod back and went about my business. That’s just how it is, and that was fine.

Our paths crossed again coming out and he hesitated just a moment with that radiant smile again, like he’d found a friend and it made him so happy and he wanted somehow to share that, and this time I slowed down to give him a good smile back (with my eyes and inside the mask) to let him know I was definitely acknowledging him and appreciating the greeting and the moment.

Because it had finally hit me: what he’d seen. It wasn’t me.

It was the vyshyvanka. The Ukrainian embroidered blouse with the traditional little tassel tied at the front and more embroidery down the sleeves. He knew what that was and he knew it conveyed solidarity, whatever my own background might be.

I wonder how many people back home he told about it.

It’s perfect
Tuesday June 07th 2022, 9:43 pm
Filed under: History,Life

It came!

No bought article of clothing has ever brought me to tears before, nor was I expecting it to.

I hadn’t been at all sure it would arrive at all; I’d thought of it more as a donation on a personal level to someone in an area of the world where–well, there was one guy there who told a reporter he’d found a phone number in the glove box and called it and confessed, I’m so sorry. I’ve stolen your car. I watched it for two hours and the key was in and my family was under fire and we had to get out and I’ve taken them to relatives in the east.

Basically, along with the profound apology it was, How do I get your car back to you now? Is it even possible? Are you okay?

The man who answered the call exclaimed, Thank G_d!  He owned four cars, he told him, he’d evacuated his own family in one and he’d filled and parked the other three in areas where it seemed people were most going to need that help to get out. He couldn’t know who they were going to be but he knew he could do something about it.

Every single car had now saved people, and in every single one, they’d found the number and had called him to let him know where his car was and to apologize.

And every one heard that same grateful response.

Good people looking out for each other.

Quite a few people in Ukraine are artists doing beautiful work.

Zelensky had pleaded with people to keep paying their taxes if at all possible so that the infrastructure, the utilities, things could be kept running for the people and be repaired after shelling.

Which is a very good reason to help a small business from abroad.

No photo can convey how beautiful this soft shirt is with its radiant viscose cross-stitched embroidery and how beautiful it instantly made me feel when I put it on. (I turned one sleeve slightly sideways so you could see the pattern better.) It deserves a far better photographer than I. Whoever Marina is out there, thank you so much, and I pray every day for you and for your country.

I knew she’d wanted to. I’m thrilled she was able to: it came!

(A side note: the address that is the name of this blog at gmail is still working. Work’s been intense for the resident geek and my main one is still on the fritz.)

Come to the library
Monday June 06th 2022, 9:32 pm
Filed under: History

The first cherry pie of the season, even if it was 1/3 store-bought Rainier sweet cherries to augment my early sour ones. We celebrated with a slice after coming home from dropping off our ballots at the local 24 hour box.

Seven states are having primaries Tuesday, including California. Vote!

Man, it felt good walking away from that box, and even more so that car after car was pulling in with people getting out and doing the same, that sense of community, that sense of coming together as Americans, that sense of purpose, whatever our politics. It felt sacred.

I sent a note to the county afterwards to let them know that box was full. It’s a good problem to have, but they needed to service it pronto.

Dad’s buddy
Sunday June 05th 2022, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life

Random and then suddenly it wasn’t anymore:

A friend made a comment out of the blue yesterday, and it took me straight back to when the folks were visiting when the kids were young and Dad hoped out loud that he could get to see his old Army buddy while they were in California; when he told me the town I said that was near the Monterey Bay Aquarium, about 100 minutes away, so we could make a day trip of it all. So we did.

That moment when the two of them laid eyes on each other for the first time in 30 years. Good memories. I had been wishing for several years that I could remember the guy’s name so I could let him know his old friend had passed, if he was still around himself.

So then my inbox clogs when it has no right to and I was vacuuming up old emails and tossing them to make space (and then it jammed like an antique typewriter anyway and won’t even let me do that and I’m sorry and the resident geek will work on it tomorrow) and one of those old emails…had Dad mentioning Walt.

I had his name.

I kept that email.

I went looking for an obituary. There wasn’t one. He’s still alive. Hit by a car at 95 at the start of the year and had a long recovery ahead of him at the time.

Someone had interviewed him in spring 2020 for an oral history project, by Zoom because of Covid, and it seems almost quaint now that they were hoping that by the fall this pandemic thing would be over with.

I knew Walt had done a lot of children’s theater in Carmel and some children’s cartoons back in the day.

Turns out the early Charlie Brown TV specials? The kids’ voices? Those were his kids. Till they got too old for it while new specials were being made. Turns out his were not made in Hollywood–they were made in Burlingame, ie between my favorite yarn store I went to yesterday and here. That was a surprise.

Turns out not only was he in the Army with Dad and I was nodding my head at some of the places he got assigned to–yup, yup, Dad, too. Having never made it into any actual war zone for having been too young when it all started, he re-enlisted for Korea out of a sense of duty and ended up sent to a desk in the Pentagon. Writing he was good at. Soldiering, no way to know.

And I quote:

“And he (a Marine Corp Colonel) took me under his arm cause he knew Washington, I didn’t. So he would take

me to meetings and places where—you know—my most memorable, if want to call it that, was—he said one night to me, I want you to hear this guy, he’s gonna give a little lecture— are you busy tonight. No, I’m not busy—okay good, come with me. So we went to this place and there was a whole group of people in the room and a guy comes out and—before he’s going to speak, and this Colonel looks at me and said, I like you to meet Joe McCarthy [laughs]. And I said—and by then I already had an impression of him. And I almost—it was everything I could take to shake his hand. And I had to sit and listen to his lecture—it was like—and literally in that meeting he waived a piece of paper and said—I have a list of the communists that are in Washington. So, that I never forgot [laughs]. And—well that’s one of the memories—that’s the shocker. Eventually they got rid of me because the war ended.”

I read that and it struck me that the angry power-hungry extremists of his youth who had briefly had everybody kowtowing to them had been shamed into political oblivion not long after that infamous night.

It can be done again.

And I suddenly wonder as I type this whether a certain talented writer who witnessed it and who worked in the Pentagon played a bigger part than he said in exposing McCarthy’s words to the world.

Every reporter matters.

They had just the right ones
Saturday June 04th 2022, 7:42 pm
Filed under: Knit

So the answer is, a week ago I wasn’t ready to go to Cottage Yarns because I hadn’t done enough yet to know what I needed. Now I do. And so I went. (Quick, before I run out of the aptly-named Whales Road colorway.)

No Brownian motion
Friday June 03rd 2022, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Knit

The hardest part of a super-ambitious project is getting it off the ground and past that initial bit of self-doubt.

But if you didn’t, how else how would you ever come to discover that–okay, how long in my life did this take me–that the way to manage all those random balls of color (since I’m not doing it Kaffe Fassett each-strand-only-as-long-as-your-arms style) is to take one of those big sturdy zipped plastic bags that blankets come in, put all the balls in it as you’re working, do the usual double-yoyos process with each pair as you switch strands along the row–

–and then when you’re done knitting for now, just flip the flap over them all, zip it up, and DON’T MOVE IT. Don’t let those roll all over in there. Don’t pick it up. Just keep it flat right there hogging half the couch with everything staying right as you left it so you can unzip and just get right to the fun part the next time. Knowing you’ll have all the more incentive to.

For the next six months. Right. Yeah, that’ll be popular. But man it was so easy to just pick up right where I left off without having to spend any, much less serious knitting time untangling first.

Mr. Post would have loved this
Thursday June 02nd 2022, 9:20 pm
Filed under: Life
There was a Washington Post article today on a twelve year old kid being bullied, and how when they found out, about a hundred of the older kids at his school showed up at his homeroom to sign his yearbook. They even took him out for ice cream. They made being his friend the cool thing to do, and they showed him what it was like to have learned empathy from having been through that themselves at his age–and that they’d come out the other side where nobody was bullying them anymore.
It reminded me of a favorite English teacher in my junior high school, the tall, gentle, nearing-retirement Mr. Post, who told us he loved teaching seventh grade. He loved us. But eighth? He wouldn’t do it. Keep him in seventh, thanks. In that moment he taught me to pay attention to when people were being nice–to when *I* was being kind to others, and should always be.
(Sorry for the blog glitch with the messed-up paragraphs.)
There was a comment to the article from someone named Ted Champ that really needs highlighting and that I wish every middle-school teacher and parent out there could see.
He wrote:
“When I had a similar incident in an 8th grade class one year, I sent the student being bullied to the library and had a very honest talk with the remaining students about their behavior (all 30 of whom were involved. Peer pressure is huge at that age). I expressed my deep disappointment, and then I sat at my desk for the remaining 20 minutes, not saying a word. Just looking at them.
Without an assignment or task, the students didn’t know what to do. But eventually a few pulled out sheets of paper and began to write letters to the bullied student, then more did the same thing. When he returned at the end of the period, many were there greeting him with those apologies both in writing and in words. There were lots of tears and hugs.
There are tears as I’m writing this now, and this happened nearly 30 years ago. A powerful moment.”

Don’t land in this tree yet
Wednesday June 01st 2022, 9:08 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden

Last year’s Anya seedling that only got six inches high all year has been spending this season catching up, so I transplanted it into a much bigger pot yesterday to give its roots room to stretch. I was pleased at how completely it had filled out its 14.5″ one, with everything growing thick and straight down (that was a lot of roots! What a change since April!) and nothing twirling around the bottom yet. But just about to. Good timing.

If I knew for sure that one of these was going to have the apricots I’m hoping for I’d just plunk it in the ground and be done with it. But we’re still at the experimenting stage.

Over here to the left of those is the one planted this year (in another 14.5″ pot) that I haven’t given away yet: it definitely wants to be another tall one. It’s supposed to be for the friends who are moving (the ones with covid right now), but realism might require I simply save and mail them kernels after next month. I sent them the photo and said either way works fine by me. (While thinking, if it’s going to stick around here for awhile it needs a big pot, too.)

The tall one from last year? I let it get too dry a few weeks ago because I know they prefer dry over soggy, but I overdid it. Its leaves wilted a bit, it recovered quickly and survived just fine–but I seem to have killed off the growth tips because there have been no reddish new leaves popping out since, whereas there have been on the others. So its year-sibling might catch up to it after all.

Well, that’s one way to dwarf them.

I’m understanding better why apricots are usually grafted onto peach rootstocks: the resiliency. I might have to learn a new skill.

Let me add a video here of the peregrine eyases, a male and a female this year. Today was the first time the mom dropped the prey and took off from the mad scramble and let them feed themselves. There was a UCSC student on camera time and he added captions for fun on the food fight.

Texting the doorbell ditching
Tuesday May 31st 2022, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life,Recipes

My friend whose husband just got his PhD and they’ve been getting ready to move away…after being so careful for so long, they and their boys came down with covid last week. Thankfully they had all been vaccinated so it wasn’t as serious as it could have been–but.

I offered to bring dinner.

They are well loved; I had to wait my turn.

Y’know, I love a good split pea soup. Celery, onions, green onions, red pepper, chicken broth, halved grapes, an intensely flavored Californian EV olive oil and ham. (Theirs is THE best olive oil out there. It is like the difference between a rock-hard tasteless grocery store peach and an Andy’s Orchard peach.)

It was the first time I’d tried cooking the split peas first in an Instant Pot. There’s no rhyme nor reason to the recipes out there; one said 15 minutes’ pressure, another, 30. Hmm. Risk grit or liquid? Thirty it is. (Two boxes of broth to a 14 oz bag of the peas.) Verdict: definitely the only way to go next time.

The vegetables sautéed while that was going on and then everything into the dutch oven on the stove for an hour or so because I just couldn’t get the IP to maintain the temp I wanted for simmering.

I hauled out the hazelnut chocolate torte recipe. I have two 24-mini-cupcake pans, mostly because I’d forgotten I’d already bought one. Good thing! That recipe was the perfect amount for filling both, and it is way easier to freeze some for future breakfasts in that form.

Aubrie had reminded me that Eric was allergic to dairy, and of course we know that one well. I melted cocoa butter for the butter. Turns out it’s a very stable fat with a shelf life of 3-5 years–I checked, because mine was about a year old. Not a problem. Worked great.

Two paper plates full of those, a bar of freshly made chocolate, a box of Andy’s slab dried Blenheim apricots that they love, some cherries from the Stella–hey! Getouttamytree! I chased away the two squirrels and picked some before they could.

And some fresh juice. Because when you’re sick you have to have juice. It’s the rule.

Chocolate tea for it
Monday May 30th 2022, 9:53 pm
Filed under: Food,Wildlife

We just finished the tempering attempt and the pouring into molds and all.the.cleanup., and the Fiji Rakiraki is waiting to be pounced on in the morning. Making chocolate is the perfect two-person hobby for empty nesters.

A little hot water got the last of it off the melanger pieces but you don’t want that quickly-solid a fat going down your drain ever, so most of it came off by way of vigorous paper towel rubbing first while the thing was still warm and the chocolate smears weren’t set yet. But that last little bit. You just have to.

There’s the drought. Waste no water. Hmm. There’s that dog next door who got onto our side once, so only pour it where it can’t get into.

The azaleas.

I opened the front door and took a step–

–and as I tossed that faintly chocolate water in the bush, something out there rustled and made its opinion known with a snarly hissy sound. Loud enough for *me* to hear, such that my first thought was a startled!ohwaittheoakisgonethere’snomountainlionaboveme. Skunks don’t snarl, do they? (Has it really been three years? We’ll be teasing each other over that one forever.)

But they definitely do come right up to the doorstep, so, hey. Enjoy your chocolate out there. And get the heck away from my miniature apple tree.

The birds and the beans
Sunday May 29th 2022, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

(Roasts the cacao nibs, sets to cool, throws in Cuisinart for the first stage. Chocolate with banding time is an old peregrine group tradition, I just add my own spin to it.)

There were two successful San Jose City Hall hatchlings this year, one male, one female on that HVAC ledge on the 18th floor. I almost miss my days being on the cam-op crew.

They got banded a few days ago. Video highlights here. (That’s an update; the original link broke and they fixed it.) Thankfully it doesn’t show the moments right when the biologists stepped off a perfectly solid roof, because rope or no rope, looking straight down from that high up is just not in my comfort zone.

The babies were adorable as they tried to let them know, We are fierce!–well, maybe not, as they got flipped over–You just watch out! Our momma and dad are mad at you!

(Checking the time here, it’s one hour into the conching, time to add the superfine sugar to the churning cocoa mass, runs to the kitchen and gets that taken care of.)

Begin: the rest is easy
Saturday May 28th 2022, 9:53 pm
Filed under: Knit

What was really stopping me. That was the question. Sure, it’s the diving in when I know I’ll be stuck with what I’ve done once I do it and I do not have the artistic ability to fully envision what I want before I draw it with yarn. I just don’t. I am good at critiquing how it should have been after the fact.

But I had at least sketched a preliminary overall view of the start of it yesterday, which is essential, and I really wanted to get to it (and to stop boring you all about how I haven’t.)

I debated making a trek to the yarn store that has the best Malabrigo Rios stock (oh cool she’s got a new website!) and I just wanted to say hi to Kathryn anyway. It’s been awhile and I miss her.

But after I went through my second storage bag of the stuff, all I really needed was a bright blue/green skein, and not for days’ worth of knitting yet.

The truth hit me. It was the winding. I wanted to go to Kathryn’s Cottage Yarns because she and her husband do that for you and that’s why buying new was so tempting. I could not start my first color-pattern row without attaching lots of new strands on the needle and they were still stubbornly sitting there in hanks because I’d done the previous two afghans from cones and hadn’t had to bother with that and definitely didn’t want to.

Which is a really dumb reason for not beginning colorwork you really want to knit.

Edging, ocean floor, rocks, fish (and there’s a Purple Mystery, too.)  They’re not hanks anymore.


Aspiring to justice
Friday May 27th 2022, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Life

I decided to watch a few minutes of the Depp/Heard trial yesterday and the closing arguments today by Camille Vasquez. I was agnostic on who was at fault, going in, and I wasn’t about to spend days mesmerized by the court proceedings but I do have a relative who went through a hellacious divorce from someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, as Heard has been diagnosed with, and I guess I wanted to be able to understand better what he’d been put through.

As his lawyer put it to the judge, Visualize the genders reversed: we wouldn’t be here, because he’d be in jail.

I wondered if Vasquez would eventually say something like that. She left it at “…reversed?” and let the jury fill the rest in in their minds. She didn’t have to say more, it was all right there.

I was blown away at how good a lawyer she was: she anticipated what Heard was going to say, she remembered exactly when Heard had completely contradicted that under oath, she had the photos and the recordings in the evidence right there at her fingertips point by point. She remembered who had testified when and what they had said. She did not allow Heard to talk over her.

At the last she said to the jury that the question before them was, were they going to believe Ms. Heard and her sister?


The names went on and on and on and on of people who had testified in the case supporting Johnny Depp’s version. She noted their professions: doctor. Nurse. Both his and hers. Police officer. Friends, fellow actors, the TMZ reporter Heard had strung along. People who had been there when Heard had said things had happened and they said no they didn’t–or that Heard had done it to Depp, not the other way around.

She explained Borderline Personality Disorder and how the defining characteristic is an intense fear of abandonment. Every time Depp removed himself from the room because of her behavior, she became much worse while demanding he stay right there with her. Taunting him that nobody would believe him that she’d hit him because he was a man. Vasquez played the recording again.

“I Hate You Don’t Leave Me” is a book that explains how such mentally ill people think. I read it years ago when that other case closer to home was going on. It’s not my story to tell, but I will say Heard played that part well both in court and in those recordings from when she and Depp were in private.

I’m so glad he got out, too.