One smoking-hot car
Thursday April 18th 2019, 11:13 pm
Filed under: Family,History

Chocolate happened. And the test of Richard’s latest Rube Goldberg: to hold it at this level warmth, then down, then up, then hold for tempering it. It’s currently at 30C, with the molds on a cookie sheet with wires running under it. For our control group we have the extras that didn’t fit on it.

Meantime, the treasure of the day. Cute little car, I said. (Wondering at that odd bit at the top.)

He looked it over. “It’s a cigarette lighter–see?” (Flick. Not that anything came out.)

Okay, *that* was ironic. An intricately detailed toy car for a Detroit radio station’s call name given, I presume, to the chairman of the FCC, a small token that didn’t violate Federal guidelines. (Or maybe Richard’s Grampa bought it. Can’t ask him now.)

It is certainly a historical reference to the fact that most adults smoked when we Baby Boomers were growing up; the cigarette companies provided free smokes to American soldiers, oh so patriotically, so as to snag the Greatest Generation market; they were so much a part of the culture of the day that one of my favorite Halloween candies was candy cigarettes, so little kids could mimic their parents, box and all.

Which my mother found to be an outrageous product and made us give them to her to throw away–so one year I hid mine. I guess you could say I sneaked a smoke in the woods behind the house with Mary Lou next door. (I can just see my parents reading this and going, Ooooh. Mary Lou. That explains it. That kid…)

So. Not only was GrampaH a commissioner of the FCC at one point in his life, he was also the one who got hauled before Congress and grilled mercilessly for saying the law says the airwaves are to be used for the public interest; the Surgeon General has just come out with the (first) official statement that smoking is bad for your health; ergo, the law says smoking ads should not be allowed on the air.

They painted him as corrupt but he had every receipt for every expense he’d ever submitted going all the way back to when he’d helped establish the Federal Radio Commission before TVs existed. His wife sat in the room to cheer him silently on and knitted herself a herringbone coat which she would proudly tell me about when she was 97. They grilled him for days, the southern tobacco-growing-state Senators in particular.

Awhile later they went, he’s right, and passed a law specifically taking smoking ads off the air.

And so here we are, all these decades later, with a little toy car. From a radio station. In Detroit. GrampaH had owned the little roadster, and he was a Mormon. Did he offer it to people who wanted to light up? Would not having an ash tray in a high official’s office have been rude?

Who knows?

We had no idea the thing existed.

But I gotta tell you, the provenance of this one (it’s sitting on what it says is its owners manual) is nonpsychodegradeable.



Well so just try it
Wednesday April 17th 2019, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

My sister-in-law asked two days ago if we were enjoying everything.

?? Enjoying what?

Today the doorbell rang: it was the truck driver she’d been expecting to arrive here. All those pictures she’d taken last year, all that inventorying, all those ranked choices between the siblings, the conference calls–she was looking forward to all that work on our behalf paying off for us.

Boxes and boxes and boxes and I’d had no real idea.

The soft but entirely synthetic afghan, so not my thing but made the way my allergic mother-in-law had asked for. I was just at the very start of teaching myself to knit lace at the time–there was no such thing as online knitting anything other than this still-new little group called the Knitlist.

But then the Barbara Walker books came back into print.

I chose a pattern that was a mixture of feather-and-fan and cables. Because cables. They were more my thing, but I figured if I did a whole swath of lacework like that I would be forced to keep going and I would make mistakes and learn along the way how to correct them and I’d get more confident at it. I committed myself inwardly to an hour a day and pretty much held to it. My own mom said an afghan should be long enough to cover your toes and go up to your chin–and my father-in-law was 6’7″. I was a careful newbie at this yarnover thing. It took me three months.

I stretched it out and looked it over, quite pleased: I did a good job with that, and that was actually really nice yarn.

I have grandkids coming in two days and my living room was stacked high with moving boxes and I wanted them out of there. Books, quilts, old cameras. An electric can opener! Something we’ve never bothered to buy, but it would be nice and now we have one. The yellowing plastic dated it to, I dunno, around the time we got married? Things lasted then, and so have we.

Pulled this thing out and guffawed in disbelief. Burlap? Is supposed to hold water across the desert? Was this some kind of a DadH practical joke? Because he would have loved it if it had been, that would have been just his thing.

Richard was surprised at my surprise: everybody knows those work, right? Of course they hold water!

How?!

You’re the fiber artist, you tell me!

Me, slightly bug-eyed, feeling that rough fabric: it was tightly woven, but. Uh… No. Just no.

But the thing does say it’s patented, so? If we believe hard enough? Or something.

Maybe if I tried filling it. I’m not sure which way would disappoint me? If it works? Or if it doesn’t?

It’s got to be waxed on the inside. Surely. Right, so I don’t need to make myself have to try to figure out how to dry it back out.

Where on earth do I put such a thing?

 



If only I could put their perfume in a photo
Tuesday April 16th 2019, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Life

I spent lots of time today winding yarn, going over patterns, debating doing this vs that. It felt great to be planning something interesting.

There are more and more and more apple blossoms. My Fuji tree is nearly 30 years old and last fall was the first time I ever hired a professional arborist and his crew to prune it (and a few others.)

Those guys knew what they were doing. Yes, we had all that rain, but still, not only is it beautifully shaped, I’ve never seen it bloom as much as it is now. Which is what I was hoping for.

P.S. And on a completely different note, as someone whose family did a camping trailer trip across the country and back in 1969 plus many other road trips, man, what we missed out on! An entomologist and his son have created an app to identify the bugs that wipe out on your windshield. Divvy it up, kids, your side vs. Susie’s and see who can win the most splats! A bug in the southeast likes the smell of exhaust pipes for laying eggs. Darwin rules.

Make sure Dad passes on the right, too. You want your fair share.

 



Notre Dame
Monday April 15th 2019, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Family,History

We talked to the kid whose birthday is today.

Who once did a semester abroad in Paris.

Who stayed in an apartment on the Left Bank.

Who got to see Notre Dame every day.

Who told us, before we saw the latest of today’s news releases, that more had been saved from the fire than they had quite dared to hope.



Each day a blessing
Sunday April 14th 2019, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family,Life,Lupus

My niece Emily has been in the ICU: she caught the flu, got worse, started barfing and her (tween? Tell me he’s not a teenager yet?) son called my sister and said, Grammy, Mom needs you.

My sister went over and called an ambulance.

Emily’s kidneys had shut down and things were very very bad.

This afternoon she was moved out of the ICU, where she’s been the past week.

Today she ate solid food for the first time. Some.

She feels–well, she’s definitely had more fun than this.

Everything. Everything. Is looking far better than it did. We can start to breathe again.

Today Mom and Dad told us Dad’s in hospice care now. Dad’s favorite caretaker can still come and that made the decision easy.

This is another of the amaryllises from Dad last fall where the TSA thought the bulb was a bomb.

This is not how I usually photograph them and I wondered why I was doing it this way as I snapped another from the same angle rather than changing it. Why… And then I got out of the sun and put it back on the porch and that was that.

I did not see till I went to post the picture: it was taken looking straight down so that the stem that supports the blossoms is out of direct sight–but you can infer where it held the sunlight within itself by how it left only its shadow to our eyes. But it is real, it is there, it is strong against the winds outside, and there where it cannot directly be seen, it holds the glorious colorwork steady.



Blenheims
Saturday April 13th 2019, 5:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life

(Photo posted with permission.)

I love growing fruit trees. How many things that we spend money on remain with us, doing good, for the rest of our lives?

Jennifer and her husband bought a house early last year about a half hour away, and sorry though I was to see them leave here, I asked her if they’d like one as a housewarming present, and if so, what type.

YES!

Turns out she had been wishing very much for an apricot tree, specifically one of the old wonderful Blenheims that are hard to find in stores.

Yamagami’s had Royal Blenheims in stock.

She sent me this picture today.

I cannot begin to tell you how happy it makes me.



“What will you do with your one wild and precious life?”
Friday April 12th 2019, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Friends,Mango tree,Wildlife

I sent Dani (the original instigator of the planting of my mango) a new picture of the tree and he sent me this article.

Who knew that Alphonso mangoes were helping to keep the last wild group of Asian lions in the world alive?



Can I hear you now?
Thursday April 11th 2019, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family,Garden

A few more days and the whole cherry tree should look like this and more.

For my dad: an Apple Blossom amaryllis started opening today.

The Frost peach has been properly thinned, and so has hours of paperwork and housework that had needed to be out of the way before company comes next week.  Sometimes even the disorganized have to crack down and get to it.

The reward is that I found the bluetooth pendant for connecting my cellphone to my hearing aids–it had fallen behind the computer.



The apples are finally waking up
Wednesday April 10th 2019, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Garden

More spring pictures.

The Fuji apple started blooming two days after the Yellow Transparent, as it does every year.

The brand new Frost peach tree I planted last month? I need to thin that pair to a single peach. (I know–already!) Always leave the bigger one.



Taxes
Tuesday April 09th 2019, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Life

Never mind, delete that, the resident computer scientist just told me how to find what I needed in spite of a certain well-known tax program’s user interface goof. Alright, then, let me finish that up.

Oh, and–if you’re in California, property taxes are due Wednesday, not the 15th. You only have to be tripped up by that once (early on) not to ever do it again.



Well that worked
Monday April 08th 2019, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Family,Mango tree

I left the Sunbubble zipped and the Christmas lights and heater on while we flew to see my folks; Richard’s Rube Goldberged auto temp set-up on the lights no longer works, so those would just stay on, but the heater’s would turn it off above 74. I knew the humidity would rise a lot with nobody around to open the greenhouse door by day and I had no idea how hot it would actually get in there. But tropical trees don’t argue with heat, is all I could figure.

When we left it that way for five days over Thanksgiving we came home to black spots on the leaves and a graying and withering away of all new growth, taking away all chance of fruiting from what would have been. Alphonso mangoes do not like humidity. The fruits from last summer held on, though.

It’s warmer now than it was then and boy has it rained (with the irony of, not inside the plastic. I’ve had to water this one tree.)

I didn’t want another disease attack, now that I know my resistant variety is actually somewhat susceptible, but you do what you have to do, and besides, visiting my Dad was vastly more important.

All this in ten days. This is what the new growth looked like as of yesterday that had been just starting in several spots, like the first photo. All those small lower clusters of leaves did not exist yet when we left. New branches on a mango in flush can grow several inches a day, with the leaves reddish as they grow, then light green, then gradually dark and lush, and I knew that, but still, wow.

Heat and increasing sunlight with the season and plain good luck. And suddenly I have a much bigger tree.

As soon as these bud out and start fruiting, those uprights will start curving gracefully downward with the weight. And what would have fruited in November suddenly doesn’t matter.

We ate our first just-for-the-two-of-us mango yesterday, the third from the tree. It was like nothing I could describe and do it justice, but it was very very very good.

There is one last summer 2018 mango turning slowly yellow as this year makes its promises.



Italian for star
Sunday April 07th 2019, 9:48 pm
Filed under: Garden

An afternoon at 74F and the Stella cherry started to quietly celebrate at the back of the tree.

I’m not putting any sweaters away yet, but I’m looking forward to what that one’s going to look like in a few days.



Reds and greens
Saturday April 06th 2019, 9:26 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

We’re having a Cooper’s hawk sighting nearly every day now. Cool.

Another Red Lion amaryllis from my dad–here, the hawk’s gone now, let me give you a close-up. Love love love these. If you have an amaryllis with four or more leaves it should bloom the next year, too.

The ground is so wet that digging a big deep hole and finally planting the Kishu mandarin I got for Christmas was surprisingly very easy. Like pushing a shovel into Play-dough.

If you live in non-citrus-growing areas and wish for a mandarin orange, plant this one in a pot to keep in or out depending on the weather. The tree is small and the fruit is golf ball sized, soft, seedless, and the peel pretty much falls off and you can just pop the whole thing in your mouth just like that. The fruit doesn’t ship well for grocery stores, you have to grow your own.

It ripens months before my Gold Nugget and thus stretches out the season for us. Not to mention it will create more ground-bird nesting habitat out of what was a bare spot.

Today was a perfect spring day and the Sungold cherry tomato that I planted in 2017 burst into even more blooms. Three years!

Note that it was originally set up inside the largest tomato cage I could buy but by now it’s simply carrying it up and away on its shoulders to wherever and there’s no disentangling the thing, all you can do is admire its Leaning Tower of Pisa impression from inside that happy thicket. (Those few dead leaves are from where the freezes got to the outer edges of the plant but it’s made up for it since.)

And to repeat the Red Lion red theme, while listening to two two-hour sessions of the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I got ten repeats done on this cowl; I can get one last one out of this skein and then that’s it.

There will be two more sessions tomorrow, so it is time to pick the next project. Baby girl afghan is what I want to do, but I don’t think I have quite the yarn I want for it yet.



An Anna’s
Friday April 05th 2019, 8:24 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

I was being watched. It took me a moment.

It was holding quite still, perched on my Babcock peach tree, which does not get enough sun and so is not very big but has a few lingering flowers still.

Now that it had my attention it belted out one loud chirp, waited a beat as if to consider the thought, then, a second.

How did that tiny thing make that huge sound? How on earth did I of all people hear–it really was, (as it took off), it was a hummingbird.

It had apparently decided I was harmless so it went around me to taste a flower on the Indian Free peach, probably creating new fruit for me right before my eyes.

Then it landed on the nearest branch and went back to looking curiously at me from within arm’s reach.

Where it stayed until at last I raised the phone in my hands, set on camera, hoping.

Nopenopenope ‘bye!



Can’t wait to meet her
Thursday April 04th 2019, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Family

There is this other news happening, too.