Embroidered Shirt Day
Monday May 23rd 2022, 8:06 pm
Filed under: History,Life

I don’t usually lift other people’s pictures but I wanted to show you this one before it’s sold to show you what I’m talking about.

In the middle of the war, the Washington Post interviewed people and had an article, bless them, on the traditional embroidery and clothing of Ukraine and the women who create it. Vyshyvanka is the word but they said it carries memories of the Soviets’ efforts to erase the village-by-village patterns in order to basically de-Ukraine the country.

So President Zelenskyy simply called the traditional day of celebrating that part of their heritage National Embroidered Shirt day. Simple, to the point, and good marketing for his people.

One mention jumped out at me:

“The designs are often intricate and brightly colored. They represent scenes from Ukraine’s varied geography, which spans forests and steppe, prairies and river canyons.

Many of the keepers of Ukraine’s traditional clothing methods are older women, who receive little support for or income from their embroidering.”

The reporter talked to people who’d spent their time in the bunkers with floss and needle trying to declare beauty in the face of devastation.

In the comments, readers were mentioning their favorite Ukrainian shops on Etsy and assuring each other that yes they do ship, yes they can still get items out.

I wonder just how many people immediately went to Etsy. I know I did.

Some things immediately leaped into my cart Saturday, but I decided to let them sit there till Monday so I could step back from the impulse buying–although I did order a happily bright red jacquard toddler skirt for my younger granddaughter. At two, you can do that for them, and she has a birthday coming up this summer (and Etsy warns that shipping from Ukraine will likely not be speedy at all), while at seven, her cousin’s age, I’d have to check in with the kiddo or her mom first to get a feel for preferences before doing the grandma thing.

Some things learned: linen is the most traditional and common, cotton’s a close runner up–but if it says chiffon, it’s polyester, although the reviewers I saw liked the quality of it. Most work is machine embroidered, and when I was into embroidery as a kid I thought that was a total cheat.

Now, hey, anything that helps them out: you can make and sell a whole lot more in the same amount of time. One vendor proudly shows a video of a multi-needle industrial machine embroidering the design she’d created. Cool.

Not everything is traditional. This sure isn’t but it is stunning, and though I wouldn’t look great in it (nor is it in my budget) I sent the link to one of my daughters, who most definitely would.

This seller’s work is gorgeous. Lots of hand embroidery and traditional blouses there. Here, too.

You can even buy embroidered cotton t-shirts. I’d show you the more formal looking one from another shop but, um, oops, probably they’ll make more before mine gets here.

I really like this blue one. Maybe they’ll have one next month. Because this heavy cotton jacquard skirt (with pockets!) was the splurge I decided on, along with one of those hand-embroidered blouses to go with. (Not that one, but close; I picked one with a tighter neckline for lupus’s sake.)

A 17″ tie would be laughably short on my husband–but if you know someone who likes the one whose picture I swiped, here it is. That handwork definitely deserves a link.

There was another shop that I’d picked a few things out of to debate over today before buying what I ended up with. But between Saturday and today that vendor in Ukraine, with beautiful work and lots of glowing feedback and a number of items for sale–

–vanished.

Um, maybe they simply sold everything? I can wish. Things are being snapped up quickly, though.

But that is another reason why I went ahead and bought what I did: because I could. Because they’re there, now, doing their best while I’m here where it’s safe. I want them to know they have the whole world supporting their every single day in what they create to bless this world of ours.

And because they just plain make beautiful things.



Because of course it is
Sunday May 22nd 2022, 9:06 pm
Filed under: Knit

The first few miles of seed stitch. The partial frame to the future picture of a bed of coral and wooly fish and the waves above.

Reefer madness.

 



Nestmate
Saturday May 21st 2022, 9:44 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

Seed stitch, 251 per row for the border, and it is slow going but it’s going.

Meantime, part of me has been thinking I really should reapply the grape Koolaid to protect my cherries.

And yet. Let the baby mockingbirds finish learning how to fly.

This morning I saw one that was regressed two days from what I’d seen before: when the parent flew off it hunched down to try to pull off this wing/leg/leap thing; after all, it had managed to land on the fence, but again and again an almost, then a nothing doing. Hunch/unhunch hunch/unhunch. I stopped counting after ten of those. The six inch jump where the top of the fence banistered upwards was way more than it could see over or dare try to get up to.

Then a parent flew in to feed it, and as soon as it flew off the other came right in and did, too, none of this you’re a big kid now–they babied this one. And it seemed to have more down left.

Not the same fledgling. I was sure of it.

The question was settled for good this afternoon when I saw all four of them: the parents feeding the baby on the upper fence and the one I’d become familiar with standing in its usual spot on the slightly lower portion, watching and clearly hoping to get in on this, and a parent did fly over from the one chick to the other.

And then dove into my cherries. Even if they eat mostly insects in the spring while new bodies are developing and fruit in the fall, hey, a little fast food for the kids, right?

I got a couple of clusters into one of those Costco egg carton-ish mango containers for now because I want to get at least some of them turning darkest red for us. When I no longer have babies begging I’ll work harder at discouraging the birds–besides, those parents are doing a great job keeping the squirrels at bay and squirrels don’t eat a meal, they strip a tree. So incentive to keep the mockers hanging around is not a bad thing.

Bugs on the fruit are the best bird baby formula, though. Help yourself.



And a little chick shall lead
Friday May 20th 2022, 9:17 pm
Filed under: Knit,Wildlife

Same spot on the fence. It likes it there. The shrug–its shoulders went no higher–as it looked up at where it wanted to follow its parent to while doubting itself again and again. He tried wagging his tail like his parents, nowhere near as much but still a new thing from yesterday.

C’mon, you can do it. I’ve seen you do it. You know you can. C’mon!

Shrug. No.

Shrug. (Looking up wistfully.) No.

The wind was blowing; not hard, but how do you trust it won’t gust. It was a whole new set of variables and the fledgling had no idea what to do with it and was clearly reluctant to test how this whole flight thing goes when the air fights back.

Suddenly, with the outburst of hungry two year olds everywhere: ME DOOZ IT! It raised its wings to the height they were meant to reach to and took off into that not-holding-still sky. Totally overshot the first limb on the tree, stumbled, but grabbed the next and held on for dear life. Phew!

See? You *can* do it.

It suddenly dawned on me: I’d been procrastinating and procrastinating and procrastinating getting going on my latest project because I couldn’t decide whether to make the coral a three-dimensional effect with waves and wisps of it growing out of the fabric or just go for a flat pictorial version so I don’t have to try to make the fish somehow 3-D too and whatever all else ends up coming in after that, and picturing small grandkids pulling at protruding bits didn’t help–but when you come right down to it, part of me had just never believed I could pull the whole thing off anyway. If I knit it one way I’d probably wish I’d done it the other, and you can always see after the fact how you could have done it better when you’re making it up on the fly. I love my ocean afghan created by googling “pretty ocean fish” but I can sure show you where the mistakes are.

I was being a baby bird. Stop it. Now just go knit.



Room service
Thursday May 19th 2022, 9:39 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

That one looked a little different and caught my eye so I stopped what I was doing to watch a moment.

Nope, it wasn’t injured–it was just being a toddler. I don’t think it had ever walked on a flat surface before.

Mockingbirds do this thing where they bend down in front a bit and lift their wings up high and then out wide behind in a two-step dance, very formal and ritualistic, and the thinking is that they do it to flush bugs out so they can quickly skewer them.

Or they’re trying to mimic a DeLorean, but never mind.

So this little one had made it up to the fence–meaning it had flown up, not just fluttered down, this is good–and it was waiting for its parents to bring it breakfast.

One flew in, checked that it was okay as the baby started begging, or maybe just told it, hi, I know, I’m working on it, no I don’t have any yet, and flew off.

Hey!

So it started trying to hunt like its parents up there on that bugless fence but it looked more like uncertain jumping jacks while trying not to fall over on its face. Raise those wings more, kiddo, don’t fluff up your chest. Lift. Out. Lift. Out. Like that. Only bend this much.

It didn’t trip over its own feet walking in the direction Momma had taken off in but it looked like it came close a few times.

Suddenly she appeared again diving into the mango tree, grabbed an ant or maybe a nice big earwig (I saw them on top of the frost covers when I had to use them last week) and brought the kid a bite after all. Yay! She waited while he ate it, then flew to the neighbor’s tree across their fence.

A few more wobbly steps and wing gestures that really didn’t do it and then suddenly–our little one did it! It flew! It overshot and had to grab at the last just before it fell off the fence, but it made it there below her tree.

Just then Poppa showed up with an impressive whole beakful of bugs for the kid and stood there a moment as if stumped: Right here! The kid was just right here, I know it! Where did he go!

Eh. He looked around, gave up, and ate most of it himself.

This afternoon the sun was shining brightly off the new feathers of–that had to be our kid again. In the exact same spot between the mandarin and the mango. Waiting to be fed again, calling for food, finding and eating the one Dad had dropped.

I checked my Sibley’s: yup, the young ones have light brown speckles on their upper chests. So that explains that.

I wanted to see if a parent would come this time, too.  I know they do keep a close eye on their fledglings.

A minute or two and then our baby flew to exactly the spot its momma had this morning in that tree. Still overshot the landing a bit but the flying was definitely steadier and definitely better at going upwards. The parents flitted back and forth, all was well, and I returned to what I was doing.

My first few mango bud clusters this year and even the new stems supporting them were chomped to a total loss.

And then our mockingbirds noticed the buffet. The flowers that came later have been gorgeously bug-free.

I hope the mockingbirds nest here next year, too.



Be fruitful
Wednesday May 18th 2022, 9:44 pm
Filed under: Garden

My Parfianka pomegranate, planted January 2016. The leaves aren’t east coast green but the gaudy reddish orange is fun. (My camera obscures the blossoms a fair bit, sorry.)

The leaves on my fig tree are noticeably smaller than normal, and I counted a dozen little nubs of future figs tonight whereas by now there should be a lot more.

The flowers on my apples, sweet cherry, plum, and peaches were small and surprisingly sparse, but the sour cherry carried on like normal.

The New York Times marveled recently that after all this practice at conserving water, all those warnings that there is no leeway in those reservoirs, Californians used more this past January than the year before, not less.

And my reaction was, DUH. Given climate change, we were trying to keep our much-needed trees alive while there was zero rain in most of the rainy season; we were hoping that past patterns for a last-minute March storm surge would hold. They didn’t. I only watered mine once a month during the winter, three hose minutes equaling 27 gallons per tree, and they’re letting me know it wasn’t enough. Normally I don’t have to at all.

Even this close to the Bay the leaves on my tall trees are going, Where’s my groundwater?

If you live where water is not a problem and you have the sun and any kind of space to garden, this might be a good year to plant one.

There’s a patch of public land by a ramp to an overpass leading over the commuter train tracks not far from here that would be great for guerrilla gardening, if rain could somehow be a sure thing again. Someone once planted daffodils in part of it, which was so charming, but they’re gone now. Someday I want to sneak a pomegranate in the biggest area because they bloom so much for so long for so many to drive past, and then they top it off with fruit that only the most determined critters bother. Or a lemon tree–no raids by mammals or birds on those. Or something, the good rain willing. Something that doesn’t need much babysitting.

Not this year. But I’m not giving up hope. I’ll leave the nursery tag on a limb so the city will see what it is, chuckle, go okay, and leave it there.



The cure
Tuesday May 17th 2022, 9:53 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Woke up running a slight fever but got up and stayed up and didn’t mention it because it was just a slow-start morning, right? Plus I didn’t want to interrupt his meeting. So he didn’t know.

Finally, no, enough already, and at about 2:00 I went to go lie down, telling Richard, Wake me up in half an hour. Um, maybe forty.

So he tried, but nothing doing. I was not getting up yet.

At the hour, he came in and, knowing I don’t like insomnia at night after too long a daytime rest–

Okay, here’s where I explain about being toddlers and preschoolers in church together sixty years ago. Little kids need movement and song and dance is their thing.

So here’s my 6’8″ husband holding his arms over his head for a sun or a tree, take your pick, singing, Innn the leafy treeTOPS* the birds say good morning. They’re first to see the sun! They must tell everyone! Innn the leafy treeTOPS, the birds sing good morning! as he leaned to the right and stood on that foot, then clapped the other against it then leaned to the left and clapped the right foot against it in rhythm the best he could, swaying back and forth with his sun held proudly high.

You goof!

I hadn’t thought of that song and especially those movements in just forever. I was laughing as I put my hearing aids in.

And then he had to sing it again so I could hear it this time.

 

*(That’s the highest note so you have to sing it the loudest. It’s the rule.)



Fury flurry
Monday May 16th 2022, 7:43 pm
Filed under: History,Wildlife

The crows and ravens do not fly over my yard. They clearly still have institutional memory of the fake dead crow that was out there at harvest times a few years running, and crows do not go where another crow died. Which is why I put it out there. Ravens ain’t dumb either.

So it was quite the surprise that there was this big flash of black wings beating it hard across the back yard this afternoon.

With a mockingbird right at its back just in front of its tail, divebombing harassing right there on it and calling for the death of a thousand exploding suns on its enemy and I’ll rip your tail feathers off get out get out get OUT! as the raven dove down on the neighbor’s side of the fence and up on the other side of their yard, trying to escape its fury. AND STAY OUT! as the defender swooped up to the phone line.

Clearly the raven had earned that.

The size difference between the two was just astonishing.

I think my mockingbird pair just earned themselves names: Zelenskyy, and Ukraine. (Not, you: crane. Wrong bird.)

———

Edited to add, before I forget: I have been told this is verified as having actually happened, and now you know as much about that as I do. Watch out for hurling pineapples. To Mom: to read the story all the way through, click on See Replies each time and his next posts will show.



Double eclipse
Sunday May 15th 2022, 9:44 pm
Filed under: Life

I looked at the sky at 6:00 tonight as knitfriends in a Zoom bemoaned stormy skies on the east coast that meant they wouldn’t be seeing the red total lunar eclipse tonight. I didn’t say, Blue and clear and bright as could be here. (I did tell myself, don’t be smug.)

Cue the comeuppance of the fog coming in on little cat feet...

During an eclipse, you know it’s there, you just can’t see it. Tonight, we know it’s there being not-there while it’s there, we just can’t see not seeing it.



A bit hairy
Saturday May 14th 2022, 9:36 pm
Filed under: History

Ron at Buffalo Wool Co (whose buffalo/silk socks are the only ones my husband wears now, and they made it through over two years of him walking around in his socks while working from home. I finally just replaced them) mentioned today that they’d donated a bunch of buffalo hair to a group gathering any kind they could get to felt and use for cleaning up the BP oil spill and he’d never heard what came of it.

Till now.

And if you pay attention to the NOAA guy in that video, they quit using the stuffed tubes of hair because then it got waterlogged and fell to the bottom of the ocean, and then how do you get it out, so they switched to a chemical method of dispersing the oil, which he acknowledged wasn’t great for the environment but better than oil and now it’s sitting out of the way at the bottom of the ocean. Cue to a picture of a mass of oil down there.

Um, wait…



And more since April
Friday May 13th 2022, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

I was looking at some old pictures: this is my oldest Anya seedling, pictured a year ago when it was finally really starting to grow its second year, and three weeks ago.

Suddenly I got why the young termite guy last week, on stepping out the sliding door, stopped right there a moment, transfixed at the changes since last July. On everything. He was delighted–and a little wistful.

I found myself so much wishing I could give him a yard big enough to grow his own fruit trees, because I knew in that moment he’d take great care of them and if he didn’t know how he’d go learn. In a heartbeat.

His moment of wonder stayed with me and finally I had to go flip through the pictures to see for myself what he’d been able to that I should have. To remember to appreciate it more.

When you see it every day it’s easy to not quite notice what the very intermittent viewer can.



Plain and simple
Thursday May 12th 2022, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

The decreases at the top always take longer than I expect them to, somehow, but run in the ends and it’s done.

Ella Rae Cashmereno Aran (I’d say more a worsted.)

I sent off a note to my niece whose son it’s for, explaining the fall and that I’d just finished the brim and had had a pattern picked out to do next when I decided to go outside to do some yard work in the setting sun. How I then found myself waiting for the emergency dentist with my hands simply working familiar, simple stitches, again and again and again and around and around and around, too rattled to think through that pattern but comforted by how the knitting took my mind off myself and towards happy anticipation of her son getting what he’d hoped I’d be willing to make him.

I told her how grateful I was that they’d asked because they had made it so I had it when I was the one who needed that.



Follow up
Wednesday May 11th 2022, 9:09 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life,Politics

So this post is a little like the fledgling finch I watched trying to land on the newest leaves of an apricot seedling today: kind of flapping its wings all over the place with its feet flailing before flitting off thataway.

Pete Buttigieg, talking sense and being reasonable on the whole Roe issue before the Court.

Last night I was going to start Gansey squares above the brim next on the requested gray hat–when all that other stuff happened. I took it to the emergency dental appointment because you just never know.

But my brain was just not doing patterns. Stockinette on auto-repeat only.

Just need to decrease at the top now.

My new Skacel olivewood needles showed up for tomorrow’s highly anticipated new start in brighter yarns and I’ve never had olive ones before. I know it’s a particularly dense wood. If you’ve tried them I’d be curious to hear what you think.

(And yesterday’s post should have been titled, Another one bites the dust. I think my brain is back.)

I took a gross picture of my face. My husband, with better lighting, took a grosser one and sent it to all the kids. Um, thanks I guess?

The new dentist called this evening to follow up to make sure things were okay. I like this guy.



Rudolph the red-nosed
Tuesday May 10th 2022, 8:24 pm
Filed under: Life

You know how sometimes you think you should get something done and then life makes you?

I haven’t been to the dentist since just before the pandemic. Yeah, I ought to, but yeah, I floss religiously and they’re looking pretty good, and unnecessary exposure, so, yeah, whatever.

Turns out my dentist had back and heart surgery starting in March and his doctor basically told him, Retire. Now.

So when I went looking for any missing teeth–no, looks like they’re still attached, yay–as I picked myself slowly up off the ground, I found out I had nobody to call to ask if I needed an emergency appointment.

I’d gone straight down and bounced off my front teeth. They are loose. Not knowing what else to do, I put a note on the ward chat and six different people instantly recommended the same one and it’s actually someone I know a little and he says yes that needs to be seen and he is having me in to his office at nine pm and it’s actually quite close by. He kind of apologized that he couldn’t get out of (whatever it was) sooner, and I was a little dumbfounded that he would worry about the inconvenience to me when I’m the one who should definitely be apologizing for messing up his time.

Do your back teeth still connect when you bite? he asked over the phone.

Yes. They feel a little funny, but, yes.

He was relieved. “That’s a good sign.”

(Update: no breaks in the teeth. I lucked out.)



Watching, listening
Monday May 09th 2022, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

After a restless night worrying about baby birds I woke up just after dawn and ran to go check but it was of course the coldest point and too early.

But there was a mockingbird perched in the same nearby spot on the telephone wire as the night before–much fluffed up against the cold and his eyes looked closed but his head was upright: asleep but at the ready.

He was instantly all attention a half hour later when I came back and uncovered the tree.

There are to be four of these unseasonably cold nights and then that should all be over with. I will fold the frost covers up and out of the birds’ sight.

I covered the mango again tonight just after sundown, hoping that that was late enough, and when I had the first layer halfway over, out flitted a mocker from the apple tree. Not coming straight there–no, you don’t give it away, you zig zag and head there kind of sideways in fits and starts when you’re a nesting parent.

But which nesting parent? And was one in there already?

I stopped, pulled things back to make room for it to dive down in the branches, went inside, and when that didn’t work, went out of sight inside for a few minutes (knowing the last of the light was fading fast.)

Nope, s/he’s sticking to that spot. Okay, so I came back out and finished the job as it maintained its and we will both do the best we know how and I know where to find him in the morning.

The other thing I wanted to mention: Spencer, who is three until September, the grandson I played Chase Me! with last month while his siblings played Legos–his daddy started Facetiming me for Mother’s Day at a moment when his youngest was far across the room and down the hall.

Spencer saw my face on that screen and instantly came running! He was so thrilled to see me! (I adjusted things on our end so he could see Grampa too because that level of enthusiasm just has to be shared.) They’d gotten doughnuts for Mommy, and he’d done this and this and this and this! and he was so excited to get to tell me every detail of his day! Everything. Not that I heard all that, but I could throw in a, That’s cool! and a, Yay!

I had never heard him talk that much in his life and I was loving it, while his older siblings grinned and yeah okay’ed and little kids gotta little and waited their turns quite nicely.

Doughnuts for them all and stories and love. Life is definitely good.