The plane people
Sunday September 19th 2021, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Today, it turns out, was the day David was giving a talk in our ward. The mask resister guy. I got a quick heads-up early this morning and so we stayed home and watched by Zoom.

This time he was fully on board with wearing one and wearing it correctly, other than when he took it off to speak. Maybe it helped that his parents were visiting and in the audience and in their 80s, but whatever, all my hopes for him to prove to be a good man and worthy of the bishop’s longtime friendship were fully realized as he spoke. It was such a relief.

He talked about living in New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy, and of the goodness of their neighbors who’d helped them out when they’d had no power for eight days and had been flooded out.

About people looking out for the kids of those who lost parents on 9/11.

My sister-in-law was a schoolteacher in that state on that day and many of her kids lost one or both. Her school was put on information lockdown from above: no TVs on, no radio, no kids were to be told anything until the end of the school day, when the ones whose parents worked at the World Trade Centers were to be gathered and told then. They were trying to give the kids one last normal school day in their lives. My SIL had issues with not informing them when they had a right to know.

I wondered if she and he knew anyone in common.

He talked about all kinds of ways people come together and how much it means and how important it is to each of us to actively be a part of that, and also to be willing to receive that goodwill and effort from each other.

He did make one mention in an aside of the pandemic’s passing (Delta? Hello?) that had me rolling my eyes: he’s still got some perseveration on his favorite blind spot, but the rest of his talk had me forgiving him and so very grateful and relieved to be able to get to see this other side of him. I’d so wanted him to be like this in the rest of his life.

And I wanted more of how that felt. So this afternoon I curled up with my newly arrived, updated copy of “The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland.” The author, Jim DeFede, interviewed the townsfolk and the passengers at length in the months after that day and then simply told their stories.

I’m hoping I’ll find an epilogue saying that that cute couple that met there among the thousands of stranded passengers got married, but we’ll see. (No spoilers!)

A book about people being their best to each other in the worst of circumstances.

That couple met because one new friend said to another woman who was the only single in their immediate group, We need to set you up with someone. She stood up, pointed to another plane person dining across the room, made lasso motions at him because she was from Texas so of course she did and told him and her new friend to introduce themselves to each other.

So of course they did. And of course yes he did turn out to be single, too.

So far it’s working out really well! Okay, back to my book.

And the young girl from the town who was staring at probably the only black woman she’d ever seen in her life, to the woman’s serious discomfort. The girl’s mom told her to go ahead, so she did: she went up to the woman and blew her away by asking in great hope, Can I have your autograph?

Making her feel like she was the most special person in the room and looked up to rather than the so out of place foreigner she’d been feeling like up to that second.

So many people who went so out of their way for complete strangers–that’s a very healing book. Thank you, Canada. I highly recommend it.



Set in stone
Saturday September 18th 2021, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Food,Knit

So we did, we went to Mutari, and I got their Costa Esmeraldas bar because that’s long been my favorite (Dandelion buys beans from that farm too) and those two put in chocolate and sugar and nothing else, whereas the Manoa we tried has some cocoa butter. They’re all great.

As we headed out I picked up a long-stalled hat project and saw why it had been on timeout so long–hadn’t I ever counted those stitches? How did that happen? I ripped it out, cast on again with the single-ply wool arguing with the bumpy road, and with great satisfaction finished the ribbing for the new hat at about Scotts Valley. I considered what kind of patterning–but, nah. I wanted to keep looking at the redwoods we were driving through. Mindless stockinette it was.

Meantime, remember how I love stone houses?

Someone made their kids a stone tree house. With stained glass (-ish) windows no less. Photos 28-30.

The perfect place to retreat with a good book or yarn while keeping an eye on the kids. (Hey Mom that’s MY tree house!)

The perfect little cool-grandparents retirement cottage, both of them.



Maybe it’ll even grow
Friday September 17th 2021, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Garden

I figured if I wanted those cherry and apricots to sprout in September, I’d better put them outside in the sun during the warmth of the day–and keep a careful eye on them to make sure they don’t dry out, which those tiny plugs do fast, and that they don’t get too steaming hot inside their mini greenhouse setup. And to remember to bring them back into the warm house at night.

I planted those last Saturday. This is Friday. Remembering when it took me from January to April for anything to come up the first time I tried this two years ago, one of the Anyas stunned me this morning by starting to swell open and showing a bit of white growth. There’s no way that’s supposed to happen yet! But I’ll definitely take it.



Dairy-free, too
Thursday September 16th 2021, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Dandelion Chocolates in San Francisco sent out a newsletter a month ago that, among other things, talked about a new bar they’re coming out with in the new year from Hawaiian-grown beans that they’d swooned over and bought 300 kg of. How often do you get to buy American-grown chocolate? But the flavor! That’s what had really grabbed them.

Then they said if you don’t want to wait that long to try it out, here’s our friends’ start-up over there and they’re using the same beans in their Mililani bar.

So of course I was tempted. How could I not be. I looked up Manoa Chocolate. I put that bar in my cart, I took it out of my cart, I told myself this was silly, I can make my own chocolate, I tried to forget about it. I ground up two pounds of stashed nibs to distract myself away from temptation: the tempering was total amateur level but the flavor made up for it and several weeks later we’ve slowly nibbled through a good bit of it.

And then Michelle was coming home, which meant a trip to Mutari’s in Santa Cruz would be coming up, and I wondered how Manoa’s would compare.

Science. You can’t learn if you don’t experiment. Right?

But I did not expect it to arrive in a box inside a zippered chocolate-decorated tote. Beautiful packaging that one would be quite happy to put to use.

Michelle tasted their chocolate hazelnut spread and pronounced it *the* best. Less sugar than Dandelion’s, more hazelnuts. Definitely this one. And the bar! This and this, she said, these are what she wants for Christmas.

Me, too.

Best pre-made chocolate splurge ever.



A work of art
Wednesday September 15th 2021, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Life

Because one’s home should be a castle, right? (Picture #4 is sheer perfection.)

I’m pretty sure it was the trip around the country my family took the summer I was ten that was when we met a relative of my dad’s. She was either his cousin or aunt. Colorado I think?

She lived in a stone house. It wasn’t very big. There were handmade doilies, and a pretty bush on the left near the door, but the whole outside of the house being stone just entranced me. I had never thought you could even make a house out of rocks like that and I vowed then and there that I was going to live in a stone house too someday.

And that never left me. I confess I looked up the price of putting slate across the front of this house after seeing a local one that had that but reality caught up real fast when I saw the costs.

Things I have learned since childhood: wood has give to it that makes it flexible and strong in an earthquake. Brick crumbles. Concrete breaks. (So, says my front entryway after a mere 5.4, do 9.5″ square tiles.)

What do stone houses do? How do you know to decipher what type of mortar someone used, and how much you can trust it. Let her who is without quakes not cast the first stone.

And the only answer I have, other than that one’s made it through 93 years now, is: they never get termites.



No chocolate allowed
Tuesday September 14th 2021, 9:48 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

Me: Man, what a lousy night. Couldn’t get warm, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t find the wool blanket (the extra layer on my side.)

Him: That’s because you tripped and spilled hot cocoa all over it.

Me, slowly: Oh. Right.

So I am here to report that dabs of unscented laundry detergent on day-old cocoa on white wool, left to soak in for an hour or two and then rubbed a bit, did indeed get the whole thing to come completely clean. Gentle cycle or no, running it through the washing machine didn’t help its pilling whatsoever, and it did shrink slightly as one would expect, but the merino came out all the softer for it.

And we’re talking 1:1 ratio cocoa/sugar in the milk, not some half-fake commercial mix. But it came out.

Spending the day that tired, I sat down, propped my feet up, and knit. After 75 minutes, my hands demanded a break from the needles, which at 6.5mm were a lot bigger than I usually use but that the scoured and floofed-out chainette Piuma from Colourmart really needed. (The light beige.)

The closer I got to the end of the ball the more the stubborn side of me had to see it through. Intermittently as needed. I let the amount of yarn dictate to me when I was done, and after dinner, it was.

I gave it a bit of water for the lace to settle into place and it is now hanging to dry. Right next to that sweet soft Irish-made blanket.



Maxwell’s smart
Monday September 13th 2021, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Garden

Note to self: Saturday is when I planted the four Rainier cherry pits a friend’s kid had saved for me because they were so good, along with two of my five Anya kernels. Yes that’s out of season, but they had chilled long enough to stratify and I think I needed to make a declaration of hope towards the future against the twentieth anniversary of 9/11–and I so want to be able to give that twelve-year-old a cherry seedling of his own in thanks for his wishing I could have cherries that good all the time.

There’s also a possibility that his family will move away in the next year, so I knew I needed to hurry. They’re the ones who polished off my favorite apricots at my request because we were leaving town to see grandkids for the week, and they saved the kernels so I could plant some more.

But those cherries from Andy’s farm! He had to save their pits for me, too, even if his mom wasn’t so sure–and so it was just the four.

Coming winter light levels are why I only experimented with two apricots to see if I could get a jump in growth on next year, but the cherries? Every one.

I have this secret ingredient for after the Root Riot plugs help them sprout…

I mentioned to Michelle that the Anya apricot grown in lobster compost from Maine totally skunked the other seedlings in height and growth after I’d tried different soil types. Five and a half inches (oh but it tried), 24″, and then 43″ for the Maine event. Such a stunning result.

My child for whom evolutionary biology was her favorite undergrad class cocked her head a bit, looked me in the eye, and cracked, I *assure* you they did not evolve in the same environment! (Wikipedia link to the Fergana Valley along the Silk Road.)

Well, no. But it just goes to prove that everything goes better when you’re serving lobster. The stone fruits are just the cherries on top.



Just the right colors
Sunday September 12th 2021, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

The teacher in Relief Society asked, How has some small act of kindness made a difference to you?

Heather raised her hand and said, When we were changing the ward boundaries, it was a two year process and there was a lot of feedback and pushback from people who didn’t want any changes, because who does. But it had to happen.

I nodded, remembering that time a few years ago: one ward using the building had had a lot of people move out and was sparsely populated. The other one, situated where the housing was cheaper (that would be ours) had way more people than could fit in there comfortably and they just plain needed to be balanced out, along with the others in the stake. I didn’t know that she had been one of the ones having to deal with it. All I knew about her was that I’d once asked her after a biannual stake meeting where she’d been one of the speakers if by wild chance with that unusual last name she was related to one of my husband’s old college professors.

She was stunned. She was thrilled. She sought him out, badly needing to talk to him: her dad had been diagnosed with cancer two years after we’d moved away and had died of it fairly quickly, and since she’d moved to California and that had been something like thirty years now, she needed to know someone here who had known him, someone she could talk to about her father. She missed him so much. It was a great comfort to her, and I can’t tell you how glad I was that I’d asked.

Richard had had no idea his memorable old professor was gone.

So here we are a few years later and she blew me away by saying, And I was one of the people who had to do that change to a new-to-me ward. And I wasn’t sure how (basically, how she would be received.)

And then here comes Alison on my very first day here and she’s giving me a hand knit cowl to welcome me. (Me, thinking: I did? Yeah, sounds like me.) Heather described the multiple colors and how much they were her favorites, and at that point I remembered thinking that this matches what she’s wearing–it’s definitely for her.

Heather: And she knit a scarf for every woman in the ward!

I was suddenly doing a little bit of a cringe there, because well yes I did but it took me almost two years and then so many new people moved in at the end of one summer–it’s a college town, after all–that, being in the middle of a baby blanket project and then another, I felt like I could never catch up and gave it up. Plus by that point I was so, so bored of making cowls.

My wanting to is starting to come back to me now, though, and I think it was seeing the one in my hands and needles before the meeting started that sparked her memory of that winter-friendly warmth on this hot day.

She showed me a picture of the baby hat she’s knitting for one of her colleagues who’s expecting and a sweater she’s looking forward to finishing before the weather turns.

She’s one of ours. But then I found that out the day I gave her her cowl.



Surf City!
Saturday September 11th 2021, 9:37 pm
Filed under: Life

And on a lighter note: Michelle is home!

Which means that a trip to Mutari Chocolate in Santa Cruz is in order.

So guess what I saw yesterday. And yes one of the bumper stickers does say Santa Cruz, because of course it does.



Arlo and Janis
Friday September 10th 2021, 8:03 pm
Filed under: History,Life

Twenty years ago today, this comic ran.

The author had no way to know when he sketched it out however many weeks in advance.

In my Mormon faith, we live with God as spiritual entities before this life: walking in the presence of that absolute Love and knowing nothing else.

Birth begins what is essentially the teenagerhood of our spirits: when we move out of the house and go explore the world on our own and figure out who we are. Life constantly throws things at us and, whether we know of God or not, it constantly demands that we choose how we’re going to respond–with love or by fear. We are to learn compassion. We are required to forgive, in order to be able to grow. That doesn’t mean justify, but it does sometimes mean putting it in God’s hands, saying, This is too much for me, here, You handle it. And please guide me to be able to because I need every bit of help I can get.

We are not alone: we are born with the Light of His divinity within us showing us forward if we choose to follow our consciences, that Love befriending and loving us when we come up short. As we do. As parents respond. Always present if we’re willing to see it; a little more visible every time we offer our gratitude.

Mormons believe that we will judge ourselves in the presence of that absolute Love by what we did with what we know, not by what anybody else knew. Those who chose to live by love will recognize that Love because it was always a part of them. Because they wanted it to be, they worked hard for it to be.

So many people that day.

And this one cartoonist, following a nudge whose source he could not have seen, wrote the words and drew the images so that some of those thousands or their loved ones might, in seeing them, feel it so hard that they got up and did something to prepare. For their loved ones. For what they could not know the morrow would bring. Or they said something. Or, simply, they loved a little more fully, not knowing the depth of the importance of those last few kind words and deeds.

They could not have known. He could not have known. We who know now, may we love a little more, show it a little more.

A lot more. For the gift of still being here, we owe it to each other.



Old and soft
Thursday September 09th 2021, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

(Trying to get the house ready before our daughter gets here.)

Huh! Those are still around. Who knew? But then, with all the history to it, of course it is.

It’s this yarn. That I rescued from the moths and dyed to boil any remaining eggs or larvae and knit up into seven small scarves, three of which got put into the header on my blog years ago. Yellow is the easiest color to overdye (red is the hardest) and, well, you can see what I got out of it. The yarn is from a post-War trip my folks made to France: hand-brushed pure angora.

There was still just a bit left. And still just a bit chewed up. Same as it ever was.

I put it away so that I could stumble across it again in another ten or twelve years or so and again get to remember that moment when I found that box with all those little balls of bunnytudinousness tucked away in a black cardboard box in my folks’ basement eons ago, in great delight that the great angora yarn story of yore–it still existed!

Probably should have added another layer of ziplock.



Bark patterns
Wednesday September 08th 2021, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Tonight: 9:36. He’s early. The small dog that barks every night around ten. And only a quick few arfs tonight; maybe he’s done for the night. Or, I thought, maybe we’ll be smelling the skunk in a minute. They only have so many times they can defend themselves though before they have to recharge for about a week, which of course would teach a dog that it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay to keep barking–Whoa! Hey you can’t do that to me!

Yesterday I was out working in the yard a bit near sundown and heard him–and was surprised, and not just because it was way early. I came inside and told Richard, Y’know how X’s dog barks every night? (X’s dog being known to try to chase me out of my own driveway at the top of his lungs, frustrated that I just chuckle and ignore him or, worse, bend down to his level to let him decide if he wants to come on over to sniff my hand. The nerve of me. Sometimes he even does it, too, wagging his tail and then barking again because that’s his job in his mind.)

Yeah?

It’s not X’s dog after all. Turns out there’s one over the fence from next door. That’s where it’s coming from.

He was as surprised as I was. There are two?

Their voices are very similar.

It’s always quiet by bedtime, for us, at least.

Skunk spray is more effective than inhalers for compromised lungs and it would actually help amid all this smoke, but nope, no such luck tonight.

I’m sure the neighbors don’t mind.

(Update: and of course just because I wrote about them, it is now 11:09 p.m. and it sounds like the two of them are having a bark-off out there. Perfect comedic timing, guys. 11:12–And… they stopped.)



Lopard print
Tuesday September 07th 2021, 7:57 pm
Filed under: Friends,History

It’s a weird day when you lose a battle of strength with an iris leaf.

I have special skills like that.

I was walking away from the apple tree and didn’t realize fast enough that I’d caught my foot at the edge of the iris patch and that an unknown number of leaves–possibly even just one–had wrapped around my ankle and it was not giving way, no sir.

My brain flashed the warning from my doctor: hand bones heal faster than hips. I stopped trying to twist around to see what that was that was doing that and put my hands out front and center as I fell.

So as I try to ice all the everythings, with my brain acting a little sleepy and me telling it shut up and quit complaining that was nothing and you know it brain, let me just type real fast what a friend with an interest in linguistics made me laugh over: in the 16th century, Meg says, everybody in Europe knew what a giraffe was. France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, they all had close to the same word for it, essentially the Arabic word with the z changed to a g plus whatever word ending suited.

Except England.

Because come on. EVERYBODY knows those are, as they spelled it, Camelopards. What else could they be?!



And the bee-eat goes onnnn…
Monday September 06th 2021, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Food

I always thought I should try this but I wondered just how many squirrels would suddenly show up if I put a jar of honey out in the yard. Even with the lid on. I could just see them trying to wrestle or chew it open.

None, turns out, although it was only one afternoon. I did have a fair amount of smoke dust to wipe off it at the end of the day, which shouldn’t have surprised me but it did.

They say not to microwave it. They say a pot of hot but not boiling water will do it, and for me it’s never done it. Putting it right next to a pot of soup boiling away for hours? Not that either.

But by golly a black lid, direct sunlight, an unseasonably 93F day in September, and that crystalized year-old honey was now as runny as the day the hive was rather sorry to see it go.



C’mon, guy, it’s just not this hard to understand
Sunday September 05th 2021, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

That guy again. From the stake. The one who’s been openly contemptuous of the mask requirement. The one that I have to work so hard at forgiving while he keeps on doing what he needs to be forgiven for. He always has one on now because legally he has to, not to mention the very President of the Church has said to do so as well as the County, but it doesn’t do his chin much good.

He was going to be helping the young men in our ward with the Sacrament. They wore masks and gloves and I knew would be carrying around an extra tray: each small torn piece of bread was to be distributed in its own tiny paper cup rather than piled up in a heap so that no hands touched anybody else’s; each paper cup went into the second tray when done. No mingling. Same with the water in those tiny cups. Two trays, no cross contamination. What you take, only you have touched.

Even if one visiting adult thought this was overwrought nonsense.

I said quietly to Richard before the meeting as it hit me, “It’s September! They said he was going to give a talk in September, and they were going to warn me so I could stay home and watch on Zoom.” And then it hit me further that, wait?!–it was Fast Sunday. There were no set speakers. Huh.

I am guessing he must have heard me because he yanked his mask up over his nose for the few steps that he was walking past us, eyes straight ahead. Well, I’m glad he was willing to do that, at least. There is hope yet.

And then clearly it came right back down again. The bishop, who had just sat down on the stand, stood up and hurried past us.

And texted me an apologetic note: he was surprised, too, or he would have notified me per my request. He told me he’d asked the councilman to keep his mask fully on and that he was now doing so.

I would say, having that gentle of a soul (our bishop truly is) make a request of you when you know that renowned virologist will then be able to look you in the eye throughout the meeting to come has to have been the most benign earned comeuppance ever.

Maybe he’ll learn yet.