Slab happy
Monday June 05th 2023, 9:14 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

I’m saying Dad was in on it. It’s exactly the kind of thing he would have done.

His pulmonary fibrosis took him just before the pandemic began.

Last week I was looking at my two boxes left of Andy’s slab apricots (not knowing I would later spot a few more carefully put away in the wrong spot) and thought, I really ought to send one of those to Mom. She loves them and I’m sure she’s out by now and I’ll be going down there soon and can always get more.

Those are the ones that are picked dead ripe so they go smush and don’t look pretty when they dry them. They’re not just sweeter, their texture is amazingly juicy for dried fruit, even mine that are nearing a year old now–they look great. They taste great.

It was Friday before I got around to finding the right size shipping box, thinking, one for you, one for me, and actually delivered hers to the post office.

Which means it arrived today. I confess I was not connecting the dates when I sent it off.

It’s my late father’s 97th birthday. Mom got some of their favorite dried fruit on the very day and a call from me wishing her happy Dad’s birthday.

Thank you, Dad!

And now we get to get to know their daughter
Sunday June 04th 2023, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

It’s the first Sunday of the month, so there was no assigned speaker at church today: just, whoever felt so moved could get up and say what they felt.

A woman I didn’t recognize was the second to the podium.

She started out with, We lived here 31 years ago…

And I found I had just gasped under my breath but out loud, TObie?!

It was!

She said how befriended they had been by the ward back then, and now they’d come full circle: their daughter was coming for a program at Stanford and it was a chance for them to visit and tell old friends how much they loved them and how much their faith and love have grown over the years since we’d all last seen each other.

Her husband spoke, too, and came off the stand and gave Richard a big hug.

I knew they would be swarmed after the meeting and I wanted their kids to enjoy this, so I took a turn of my own.

Thirty-one years ago, I told them, I was a newly diagnosed lupus patient and got sent to the indoor therapy pool that was across the street from here; it’s closed now, but, one day someone dropped a roll of film there. There was no way to know whose it was except to get it developed.

It looked like a set of wedding photos. Except–the groom looked like Michelle-the-lifeguard’s new husband, only the bride wasn’t Michelle, and they were suddenly quite afraid Michelle would come in and see these while they were quietly querying every client who came in.

Do you know who these people are? when it was my turn to be asked.

Sure! That’s Steve and Tobie, thanks, how much do I owe you?

I watched their jaws drop in tandem just like mine had when I realized who was here–and then we all laughed. Steve, I said, you’ve got a double out there!

The pool folks had let themselves see all the ways the guy didn’t entirely look like Michelle’s husband after they knew it wasn’t him. Phew!

So many stories I could tell about our friends, and every single one of them would make you happy like they do me. Such good folks, so long missed. How often do we get to catch up after half a lifetime? (Or I should say in a nod to my mom, a third of a one?)

The more the merrier
Saturday June 03rd 2023, 9:45 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden

When the new neighbors moved in, I was talking to the mom one day and told her, looking up at our Bradford pear street tree (pictured), that it was just a stick in the ground protected by stakes when we bought the place.

And see that ginkgo? I asked, nodding towards the tall gorgeous tree two doors down from her. That was a year old when we arrived with our small children, I told her. We’ve gotten to see that grow up, too, that much in just these many years.

She has now seen how in the fall the ginkgo’s profuse leaves turn a brilliant yellow, as if radiating back to the sun all that had come to it during the growing season. It is gorgeous.

Her house had had a messy, sickly, kids’-ball-eating street tree (sorry, kids, we tried, maybe the winter winds will blow it out of there) but the former owner took it out years ago and it was never replaced.

Yesterday, to my surprised delight, it was.

There is a beautiful new ginkgo tree in her front yard and she and her kids will get to watch it grow up and get to say to some new young family moving into the neighborhood some day, We planted that.

I like how the cherry is asking, Y?
Friday June 02nd 2023, 9:39 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit

Note to self: twelve now, with 159 and 166 grams including the 36g paper cones left on the two at the end of the repeat plus a purl row.

The mockingbirds were flying into the Stella tree for the first time yesterday, the heads-up that the cherries were starting to turn red. My mom reminded me of the grape-and-only-grape unsweetened Koolaid spray to keep birds away from fruit, and I armed a bottle tonight.

And then didn’t do it yet. The raccoons seem to think it’s fruit punch bowl time when that stuff shows up and I don’t have an Erva bunny cage around the cherry trunk yet. Eh. Tomorrow morning. (Do I type, in an old nightgown so I don’t care if the wind blows purple stains on it? And before I wash my hair.)

p.s. I thought this one was looking like it would start to come up today. By comparison, the other sprouted last Wednesday. Grow little apricots grow! 

Zipping around
Thursday June 01st 2023, 9:00 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Holly was going to be about half the distance here anyway, so could she?

Yes please? (YES YES YES ohprettyplease YES!) We hadn’t seen each other since before Covid and a lot of life had happened to them since then.

And so she picked me up and we went out for lunch.

Came back, stitched and knitted and talked. So much to catch up on. How’s the remodeling going. How are the kids. How’s that adorable little grandchild? Pictures!! Yonder daughter of mine finished her East Coast-zoned workday and joined us for a bit. We laughed. We had a great time.

But there was rush hour–so much rush hour to try to dodge and we kept it short.

I forgot the oranges we were going to pick but did send her off with an apricot seedling for her family to remember the day by. May it live and bloom and thrive along with all of them. I didn’t get its picture, much less hers, but I’m putting this one in to show her what hers looked like on April 30. It’s a lot bigger now and just starting to put out side branches.

And then she was off, north and east and back towards her own life.

While I suddenly realized I’d had my skirt on backwards all day.

How toddler of me.

So next time the laughing will pick right back up from that point.

Wednesday May 31st 2023, 6:22 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

That lizard that I thought looked like an itty bitty alligator sort of?

It is in fact called, it turns out, an alligator lizard.

And in the loveliness of spring, they do… This. Which is why I’m stuck with the Beatles singing, ‘Hold me, love me’ in my head. Uhhh…

That’s enough for the moment
Tuesday May 30th 2023, 9:23 pm
Filed under: Knit

I’m at 17 cones now wound off since Saturday. Enough for several afghans that will be knitted with my hands getting to enjoy those soft yarns at their best rather than their straight-from-the-cone quickest–and by that pre-wash, not having to worry whether they’ll shrink at different rates within the project the first time they hit water and soap. It was worth it.

FOROY abated
Monday May 29th 2023, 9:04 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

All that stifled desire to finish the white afghan spurred my winding cone after cone on the niddy-noddy this morning (in between delivering the apricot seedling) in order to get it ready for scouring–the pre-shrinking, the blooming, the softening. I did this much by the afternoon, with a few more over the weekend and a few this evening, about six thousand yards.

I opened a zipped tote bag to pull out one I’d wound up Saturday to add to the picture but it never made it in because as I reached in I saw it and stopped.

Was it really.

How. could. it. be.

It was!

Then how did I not see it Saturday?

That Kone I’d been making the white afghan from, where the 900g had come in two cones? One of which was 160 grams more than the other?

Apparently when it arrived I’d put the smallest cone aside to make a cowl from and then forgotten about it: there had actually been three. The last 150 grams, right there, explaining the weight discrepancy on the other two. Mysteries solved.

FOROY: Fear Of Running Out of Yarn.

I checked the color, I checked the spinning, I really scrutinized every bit of it to make sure I had it right, but yes–it’s a match. If the stuff on the way is a match too well super duper, but I can manage with this.

Meantime the hardest part of the next project to get myself to do, the scut work of the job, is already and even enthusiastically mostly done because my frustration made winding endless yards of still-mill-treated yarn into a useful and comforting outlet.

Do you ever have one of those moments where it feels like G_d’s putting your faults to good use?

Seedling stuff while I wait for that yarn
Sunday May 28th 2023, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Garden

We will start off tomorrow by delivering a baby apricot tree to a good friend. This one’s actually on its second year: it only got a few inches high last year, just a tiny little green sprig of hope, and then its growth tips died for the year (I think when we went out of town.) I kept watering it because you never know–and it really took off after breaking dormancy this spring. It pleases me no end. 26″. And now Becca gets to watch it grow up.

Contrast that to this one planted this February. 11″ high. You’d think they’d be about the same, but no, not at all. So it really does pay to keep taking care of them when they disappoint.

And then there’s this little guy, planted a month ago. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one start off with ten leaves all at once like this. This morning there wasn’t much of a stem to speak of; tonight, there definitely was. Having killed off two this year, maybe by overwatering, (plus the one I knocked upside down, pot and all–oops), I’m thinking, Just. Keep. Growing…

Sudden screeching halt
Saturday May 27th 2023, 9:27 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

To recap: I started out with two sets of 900g of the 64/36 cashmere/cotton, one of which came divided into two cones–and I was working the yarn doubled from those two; the slightly larger of them, I now know, was 160 grams bigger.

I made it to the end of the eleventh motif with about a yard to go on the smaller and got out the waiting full cone. Four motifs to go, was the plan.

Head tilt.

It didn’t match. It clearly, obviously, didn’t match.

But Colourmart always matches! I’ve bought yarn from them 18 months apart that was still the same dyelot, but this was spun slightly looser, was whiter, and had less of a feel of machine oils to it. Bought two months apart with the same picture, but it was clearly from a different mill run.

If I had worked from the two separate sets in the first place, and I nearly did, there would have been no problem. I’m just glad I was able to get that eleventh motif finished!

So I have two options: break off the remaining strand, wind off 80 grams from it to have two, and make as much of an edging as I can and hope that it’s big enough and that the thing doesn’t come out too lopsided.

Or: remember when I did that math to get it to twin bed length? I ordered more to be sure I could, figuring I could always use that nice a yarn at that cheap a price, and it is on the way.

So either the new yarn will match what I’ve knitted–or the other mill run. Or even if not, I’ll have two large cones to work from for the next big plain white project. I could even do extensive cabling, which generally uses up about a third more yarn.

I won’t have enough information and can’t reasonably do anything till the new one gets here sometime hopefully next week.

Ah, well, momentum, it was good while I had you.

I was pushing all the more to finish the afghan because as I stepped out of the shower yesterday a mental picture of what my next big project should be and will look like kind of stopped me and took over my brain for a minute and I spent part of yesterday going through stash to find the colors I would need. I was just going to have to push myself to finish the white. And so today I had #11 done by 1:00 pm.


So I wound and scoured new-project yarn and knitted a large swatch (we are NOT doing 72″ wide this time!) I actually swatched this time. Are we proud of me or what.

A day in May
Friday May 26th 2023, 9:25 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

The tenth: done.

We have the first tomato flowers of the year. (Photo taken through netting, thus the blur.)

Re the peregrines: while the sub-adult was in courtship with the adult, a male adult flew in and took over mating duties for a single day while the teenager sat over yonder and cried audibly in camera range at being ousted. But there was no fight, because the adult male didn’t think he was old enough to be competition yet–and then was never seen again. Avian flu, we don’t know.

So the female went back to accepting the sub-adult because that’s all she had.

And so I wonder…

Of the three eggs she laid, only one hatched and it’s late enough by now that there is no expectation the other two will.

Maybe he wasn’t fertile yet after all. We’ll never know.

(Today’s video here.)

A pairadox
Thursday May 25th 2023, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

Ninth, done. Part of me has been picturing one of those old-time flip-photo books with these where you can almost see the stitches moving.

Took a break to help him clean up a corner of his and a very small package labeled

After Thoughts Magnetic Earrings

came to hand. It had slipped behind the furniture long ago.

He looked at it and gave a wry grin. Remember these?

I hadn’t even looked at it, really, so, no.

He named the guy’s name.


It involved a trip with the kids, where the older two were about 11 and 13 and conspired with their dad to pull as dire a practical joke as one has ever seen from any of us. You put these on in pairs: they’re magnetic so you need both sides to hold them on. Voila! Nose piercings! Multiple ear piercings, all with sparkly little fake jewels at the centers of little stars marching way up your earlobes. But the sparkly nose piercings on both son and daughter just totally sealed the deal.

And so temporary–all you have to do is pull on the outside one and the pair falls off into your hands at the end of Halloween…or punking a particular someone who might or might not have been to the right of Attila the Hun but what are friends for.

The two of them knocked on the door, grinning, the rest of us a few steps behind to let them have their spotlight moment.

The husband, knowing we’d driven some hours to get there, opened the door

took one look

and slowly closed the door in their faces, shaking his head, saying, I’m sorry, I’m…sorry, I just can’t let you in like that, as the door shut to. He was dead serious.

This was more of an effect than any of us had expected and the kids protested loudly through the door that they were fake, they were fake, here, watch us, they’re just magnets!

He opened the door and let us in with some reluctance still (I guess we were going to subvert his children?) but he required they take them off on the porch first and expected an apology and well, frankly, so did they though they didn’t say so and well that was interesting.

We found out later he was cheating on his wife. Who had cancer. She divorced him and lived the happiest I’d ever seen her for the years she had left.

Do I remember those magnets. A rhetorical question if there ever was one.

It is just so weird sometimes what some people think is immoral.

Wednesday May 24th 2023, 9:32 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit

I planted a handful of Anya apricot seeds after we got back from Seattle a month ago and today the first one finally sprouted. Those baby leaves just delight me to no end.

The sideways-design idea? Yeah, lace stretches every which way and all that, but laid flat like that it’s 72″ wide and 27″ long. Or 33″. Or more if you hold it up and its weight pulls it down, but either way, I’m thinking I’m doing this much again and calling it done.

Or (looking the dimensions up) I could do a bit past that and call it a twin size. Should I really want to?

Almost halfway
Tuesday May 23rd 2023, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit

Another same but not quite the same picture: seven. One half pattern repeat like that is 3252 stitches per day.

English needs a word for when there isn’t peer pressure but you treat yourself as if there were for your own advantage in order to accomplish something. Keep it up, it’s working! Thanks!

Meantime, our enormous tropical-looking I forget the name but we’ve always called it the man-eating plant with its scaly trunk undulating on and above the ground like a Chinese dragon has sent up a flower bud wrapped up inside that thick corn cob-y thing. Past experience says that it will open up for less than a day and only partly exposed to view, facing the sun.

And now I know where we put the blue outdoor five gallon emergency water container. It was tucked under that thing so as to be out of the way and out of sight. Worked, too!

Keeping an eye on that
Monday May 22nd 2023, 9:40 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life,Lupus

Sixth, as you follow it diagonally: done.

I’ve had problems with my corneas tearing from my eyes being too dry. My eye doctor told me to use not just drops, but a particular one because it didn’t have preservatives that would accumulate over time and the single-vial version would negate the risk of contaminating the bottle.

So I use GenTeal.

There’s been a growing recall of contaminated eye drops that have caused eyeball loss and sepsis and deaths and that multiple antibiotics are not able to cure.

GenTeal’s single-use vials say made in France. Okay so far. Their ointment, however, is made by one of the two companies under recall. FDA link here. Symptoms list here. If you use any made in China or India, including those sold by Costco, it’s probably from those two companies that this has been traced back to. One source I read said the India plant has been a repeat offender on contamination, but I don’t have the data to back that up.

Regulations, folks. They’re life savers.