Sounds oakay by me
Sunday November 12th 2023, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Garden

This is really cool: Virginia has been having its citizens collect acorns and other seeds from a list of wanted tree species. You bring the seeds, (unfortunately they seem to be done for this year), they’ll get them started growing and then distribute the trees to replant formerly forested areas.

Here’s another one, for the DMV (Delaware/Maryland/Virginia) Potomac River area.

Found one for Sacramento, CA, and state-wide, here. Note that Re-Oaks specifies only acorns collected from within California, and that’s probably true of most states.

I wonder how many others have organizations like this?

Another slice, please?
Saturday November 11th 2023, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

For when I try to remember later when it was: last night we went to listen to the local philharmonic orchestra playing and to meet our niece’s boyfriend, who plays in it. He loves his new hat. We really like him.

Tonight, we went to a potluck of about 20 people and to swap Thanksgiving stories.

Alice’s was that the part of her family assigned to bring pies one year decided that their relative’s kitchen was small and let’s just leave them in the truck till it’s time for dessert.

They were at a farm.

I almost asked if it was a pickup as I was just waiting for it: crows? The dog? But yes, as she continued it was clearly a pickup.

It was the horses, and they were having the time of their lives.

The penniultimate
Saturday November 11th 2023, 12:55 am
Filed under: Wildlife

Turns out pennies can be valuable after all. Behold: as bear fur. The sculpture on Google’s campus is named Curious.

I’m picturing running fingernails down those edges to hear its music–I bet he’d sing a baritone.

Two Roads Home
Thursday November 09th 2023, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Friends,History

A surprisingly few years ago for all that has happened since, my friend Nina was telling me of her efforts to help her mom close out her house to get it on the market. It had taken so. much. work.

In the far back of where some old stuff had been stored for many decades, she came across a box she had not known about.

Inside were old handwritten letters. A lot of them. But they were in Polish so there was no way to know what was in them. (Possibly others in German, too; I did not know when she was telling me about them after her trip to her childhood home that I was someday going to want to ask.)

She’d lost so much family in the Holocaust and there was so much she had wanted to know of who they had been–and how the ones who had survived had done so. She was suddenly so close yet so far.

And then one day it hit her hard: of course she knew someone who could translate those! That lady at the pool was Polish!

Tonight, flipping from page 69 suddenly to the Acknowledgements at the back of the book, the lady at the pool has a name to me.

Nina connected with cousins all over the world and one is a journalist in Britain and those letters became the backbone of his new book, and if you’ve heard of “Two Roads Home: Hitler, Stalin, and the miraculous survival of my family” by Daniel Finkelstein that made the front page of the Washington Post, well, my one little hanger-on claim to fame is that the first lace shawl in my book in 2007 was designed and named for the author’s cousin who found those long-lost letters.

So if you are reading this you are three steps removed from Mr. Finkelstein yourself.

Their grandfather pleaded the Jews’ cause in a meeting with Goring himself, while he still thought that might make any difference. Wow.

Wednesday November 08th 2023, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Thick yarn again, big needles again, red again, 75/25 cashmere/merino, and it is so soft. I bought 150g for $18 and used 51g to get 22.5×12.5″ before blocking (as shown). Basically, six bucks.

This is why Colourmart‘s mill-end half-price sales are addictive.

It got its picture taken before the wash.

Virginia don’t make me wait
Tuesday November 07th 2023, 11:24 pm
Filed under: History,Knit,Politics

I wanted to see the moment that number hit 21, sealing the Virginia Senate for the Democrats. My yarn was red, my hopes were blue.

I glanced down at the next stitch, quickly back up, and in that amount of time there it was.

Their Senate and House both have a one-vote margin on the Democrat side as I turn in for the night and I have 6.5″ of a new cowl to show for it.

Monday November 06th 2023, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Family,History

The story of Jim Mattingly’s role in Apollo 13 was in the news again with his death: the astronaut who got exposed to Rubella just before the flight, found himself grounded for it, and then from mission control helped work out a way to rescue the men who did go up after one of their oxygen tanks exploded and damaged the module.

Which got me searching: I knew it was Apollo and I knew the summer it happened because I was sixteen but that they didn’t land on the moon. No, I wanted to argue with my screen, 17 was NOT the last mission with the Apollo name on it.

Found it. The Apollo-Soyuz flight in July ’75.

My aunt had married into the family that included the man who would become head of NASA at that time.

Which is how my father, my little sister, and I, however improbably, somehow found ourselves with invitations to attend that 1975 launch in Florida. In person.

There were bleachers set up just like any bleachers anywhere. You had to get there way early. You had to agree to go absolutely no closer and no exploring (I remembering looking longingly at the shade under the trees over yonder), and we were a mile away from the actual launch pad for the sake of our safety.

The Florida heat and sun were something else and I remember the intense sunburn–and wondering whether some of it had come from the intensity in the flames at takeoff. We were surrounded by actual VIPs, but I have no memory of recognizing anyone’s faces, just that I still couldn’t believe we got to do this.

But I do remember the sound and then our necks craning up, and up, and up, and up… till at last it was gone from us.

And then the kicker: there was a toll road with two toll booths along it to get to NASA. On the way back out, all those I assume hundreds of cars (that’s a guess, it felt like thousands) were all lined up to pay those two silly sets of tolls with my dad grousing, Why don’t they just make everybody pay both at one booth and then open up the traffic and let it go? It made no sense.

But we’d been there. We got to go. We got to see it. We were there.

Trick or Treat
Sunday November 05th 2023, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

Somehow a third cowl is now done. (And wet because I forgot to snap the photo first.)

Last Sunday there was a potluck lunch after church; I took some pumpkin almond flour muffins in an old Tupperware pie-taker. I’ve found it to be exactly the right size for putting three rings of cupcakes in.

My friend Gail, who is old enough to be my mother, saw me carrying the now-empty container afterwards and her eyes lit up: that was perfect! Could she borrow it for Tuesday night?


I had all week to muse on that; in all her years only now had she found the best thing to hold out to trick-or-treaters? But I could see it, though: big but fairly flat so that all the candy showed rather than being in a pile, so that kids could see what they were choosing. Wide enough to put space between a small shy child who has to reach in for their goodie and a grownup they don’t know well.

It took someone well aged to help me see the potentials in that piece of plastic through the eyes of a little child. I will always think of Gail now when I use it, and next Halloween (insert a Please? sent upwards) I will offer it to her before she even asks.

She wheeled her walker up to me today, chuckling, and held it out for my reclaiming. I laughed too and we thanked each other.

Well, somebody!
Saturday November 04th 2023, 9:38 pm
Filed under: History,Knit

The Washington Post, owned these days by Jeff Bezos of Amazon, announced its new CEO and Publisher today: a guy who worked for Rupert Murdoch the last ten years.


Well, meantime. I needed a carry-around project and looking at the vastness of the yardage in that stash of mine, just had no idea. So I found myself saying a prayer: please direct my needles to where you want me to take them.

Next thing you know I two small but thick balls of Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk in my hand that were a mystery to me: maybe a Webs sale? ( for a URL was pure early-internet-adopter genius.) Stitches 2018?

The first one got me to 6″, blocking will increase that, and two balls will be just right. I should be able to finish this Sunday.

Okay, so that answered the what, now we just need the who.

No-spray fruit trees
Friday November 03rd 2023, 9:13 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

Tuesday night I heard… I stopped a moment. Something out there. There it was again. And again. I finally stood up and stared blindly out the window into the dark and the noise stopped.

Heard something rattling around Wednesday night, ten-ish again, and walked a few steps outside this time. It stopped.

Thursday night I said to Richard, You know, if that was a skunk, that was really stupid of me. He allowed as how yes, we would have a problem if it were in that case. I said *I* would have a problem and that it would have been acceptable for him to tell me I was sleeping in the tub that night–vinegar, right?

Then, being that kind of smart, I went outside in the dark and put an unused bird netting cage against where I saw a bright red orb on the ground. Carried a flashlight that time, at least.

Tonight my little nocturnal friends were out there two hours early. Party at eight. Guys? You’re getting louder.

I flipped on the outside light this time–why I didn’t those other two times for the life of me I do not know, oh wait, yes I do, it was after the neighbors’ bedtime those times–and waited a moment to let them take in this new variable.

And then I went outside and collected all the bird netting cages. The tomatoes are all done for anyway (oh wait one wasn’t) and grabbing the first of those, walked toward the pomegranate tree.

A short quick noise and another. I took another step forward.

Now, notice here that I’d been walking around out there backed up by the bright porch light and whatever it was had decided for all that time that I wasn’t a threat nor, apparently, even an interruption. That offers a suggestion as to what it was. Yow.

Then suddenly there was the skittering sound of a small-ish critter bouncing off who knows what in its scramble to get away back through the shed, the one whose outer edge was left so conveniently lifted high by the departed redwood tree.

Okay then. As long as you’re gone now… I managed to get the house-facing half of the pomegranate surrounded with my makeshift barrier; should have done all that by daylight awhile ago but I’d thought we had a few more weeks to go on those and I’d wanted the fruit to get every bit of sweetening sunlight it could this late in the year.

They say the way to tell if pomegranates are ripe is the color, if they’re heavy, and if you can see the bulges of the arils inside pressing against the shell. (I still think this one needed another week or two but once it’s split you have to grab it before it rots.)

I say it’s when the tree is issuing so many invitations to the wildlife that you’re risking a fight between the raccoons or possums and the skunks every night.

The skunks always, always win.

Except tonight.

I’d almost forgotten how fun little projects are
Thursday November 02nd 2023, 8:20 pm
Filed under: Knit

Started with ten stitches per repeat, made it twelve after awhile so it could widen out and continued till the cowl would be able to fold in in triplicate. The eye likes odd numbers. Braided cashmere Piuma from stash and no I have no idea where it’s going to yet; I’ll find out soon enough.

It’s making ends meet at the moment but I’ll run those in as soon as it dries.

Can you just see it?
Wednesday November 01st 2023, 8:43 pm
Filed under: Friends,Politics

He checked the date: Nov 1 last year, Nov 1 today. Aargh.

I was supposed to come in tomorrow, I told him, but the front desk called me to cancel and said they could move me up a day.

? -Oh that’s right there’s a seminar tomorrow (leaving me thinking, Which you really don’t want to go to.) He explained why that reschedule was a goof: it doesn’t matter that it’s a year apart–the insurance company requires that eye checkups be a year *and a day*, even if they don’t tell you that, or they won’t cover it.

I said, Why don’t we just have a national medical system and get it over with?

He, having recently returned from several weeks in Germany, thoroughly agreed. He said, It’s not a perfect system over there. But it’s a whole lot better than ours.

And so I have a new appointment in about six weeks.

All the more waiting-room knitting time, right? And he did manage to get me a badly-needed new glasses prescription as long as I was there, because, he said, They don’t cover that part anyway.

Haunted house
Wednesday November 01st 2023, 11:38 am
Filed under: Friends

When we moved here, we had a woman next door, also new to the neighborhood, who had had a lot thrown at her of late and kept to herself. We went out of our way to smile and wave hi when we saw her, and gradually Sandy thawed; eventually we would become great friends.

Our last Halloween in New Hampshire, our oldest had shrieked in fear every time I opened the door no matter how much I tried to explain that those were children in costumes just like her. Our first Halloween in California, she looked out the window next to the door in great excitement and said to her toddler brother, Here come trick or treaters! Let’s be scared!

It was a few years later. The kids had so been looking forward to the day. But on the worst morning it could possibly have been, they (and I don’t know how many of their friends at school) were all down with stomach flu and there was absolutely no way.

Meantime, Sandy had decided she wanted to convey just how much she enjoyed our little kids and had driven to the local Mrs. See’s chocolate shop: she had bought a cute little cardboard haunted house filled with candies for each of our kids. Just our kids. She was going to exclaim over their costumes and tell them how cute they were.

She had waited in great anticipation for that doorbell to ring, and waited…and waited…and ours hadn’t come.

The next morning she saw me and asked why not. I told her about the kids being sick.

She confessed what she’d done and brought over the four little haunted houses with a fervent get well soon wish.

And that is one of the first memories I told Sandy’s daughter the day she rang the doorbell to let me know her mom was gone.

Halloween will always remind me of a neighbor we were so lucky to have.

After a 36F morning
Monday October 30th 2023, 8:13 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Who let the winter sneak in at night? Suddenly there’s another cowl started. I mean, gotta have a waiting-room project for Wednesday, I figure, except it might be done by then.

Piuma cashmere from stash.

Sunday October 29th 2023, 9:00 pm
Filed under: Friends

I did some more hairdryering after writing last night’s post and hung it over a rod near a vent and by morning it was dry. Next time I won’t cut the timing so close.

I didn’t find her till church was over.

“Last week you reminded me of me when we first moved here years ago,” I told her–“and so I did this this week. It’s silk,” as I handed the cowl to her.

She just kind of stared at it a moment. Then, wordlessly, she held it out, looking it over, folded it in on itself, then back out, exploring the essence of the thing, trying to take in something she would never ever have imagined happening.

“Tell me your name again?” I half-apologized.

She had to say it twice because the room was fully of happy chatting people drowning it out for me the first time: “Liz.” Nice and loud, now that she knew I needed her to.