Well hello there!
Sunday August 07th 2022, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Mango tree

Last year, the mango tree was fighting off a fungal infection. It had not liked the humidity buildup in the now-defunct plastic greenhouse and there were black tips in a lot of places; the perfume and intensity of what an Alphonso could taste like were only a memory and a hope.

It’s still recovering but a lot better than it was, and it set a large crop this year. For awhile. Oh well.

Tonight, quite to my surprise, I found two like this and a third almost as big at the back of the tree and some smaller ones that might well get there, hiding near the fence line. How in all these times had I not seen these?! I mean yes the foliage is thick, but.

Enough to share again if this keeps up! Go tree grow!

A blooper that worked
Saturday August 06th 2022, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life,Lupus,Recipes

Our school district held to the traditional Tuesday-after-Labor-Day opening long after that was no longer fashionable. Years ago we got next-day camping spots at Yosemite, passing school bus after school bus as we drove there–and ran into a family we knew who were doing the same thing: no six month wait, just call and come right in, everybody else’s kids were in class.

The good old days.

Our friends Phyl and Lee throw a ‘last Saturday of summer!’ pool party every year before school starts. We older parents all remarked how odd it felt that that meant today.

Richard and I always arrive late when the sun is low.

I wasn’t about to go swimming with a heart monitor on, but sitting around the pool with old friends at a potluck, that we were definitely into. Made new friends who let me hold their baby.

All of this by way of saying that if you ever make my chocolate hazelnut torte recipe as four dozen mini cupcakes, if you get them in the oven and five minutes later see the bowl still sitting there on the counter waiting to go into the batter that has the half pound of hazelnut puree/cocoa/salt and you exclaim AAAGH! loud enough to be heard across the house and you only got the quarter pound of hazelnuts in that was a different step of the process–no worries. It’s all good. Yes the texture is more crisp cookie on top and a smoother texture than usual below because it’s got all that extra sugar relative to the ingredients that actually went into it, and not a whole lot of Cuisinarted nuts.

The verdict? They were devoured fast and I’m glad I saved a few here for breakfast.

I do have that half pound of waiting hazelnut meal with cocoa in it to play with, though. Whip some egg whites and sugar to meringue them into cookies? That’s my guess so far.

She liked it! Hey Mikey!
Friday August 05th 2022, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Family

I got to hand deliver the red afghan to our niece today, who was thrilled. Her six-month-old daughter grabbed it, as babies do, and it was soft. Hey. She liked this. She held onto it and pumping her arms up and down tested what this new thing was like. Tasty, too!

We got to catch up a bit with Richard’s sister the new grandma out here for a visit.

Some days just leave a smile that you know is going to stay with you a good long time.

Doesn’t look like much yet. But it will.
Thursday August 04th 2022, 9:12 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Finished the ocean part, the waves coming in at the beach, the ice plants, and most of the beach, flowing in like Half Moon Bay.

The steep scrubby hillside that rises straight up from the beach will be seed stitch, differentiating from the stockinette of the short stretch of sand below.

And then finally I can get to the fun part. The redwoods.

There’s gotta be a pun in that name somewhere but I haven’t found it yet
Wednesday August 03rd 2022, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Life

A Zio. Who thought that’s what it should be called?

No exercise nor shower for 24 hours. Push this button when anything happens and write down the events when they do.

(Getting out of bed and turning on the light and finding a pen and trying to sound coherent at 3 a.m. is not high on my list.)

So yeah, out of an abundance of caution the cardiologist decided to put me back on a heart monitor for two weeks so that’s what I did for fun today. I found myself the first few hours reaching to scratch that unfamiliar pressure a bit and freaking, Don’t DO that did you push the stupid button tell me you didn’t! I didn’t. I think.

By tomorrow it won’t feel like such a novelty. I mean, it’s not like I’ve never done this before.

Not even a week
Tuesday August 02nd 2022, 7:46 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

All that time of feeling like, hurry. Hurry. No, seriously, hurry! This needs to be done. This needs to be ready. This one. L&A’s can wait.

I was telling Richard on Saturday about that and how it felt like such a relief that it was done in–somehow in time, whoever it was supposed to be for.

His sister called Sunday. Her son had just moved to San Francisco with his wife and baby and she was flying out to help and to play grandma for the week; she would be there Tuesday.


She and her siblings are all quite allergic to wool so I thought, it would be nice, but it wasn’t realistic to hope for. And I knew if I asked, and they were, then I’d have to make not only a third baby afghan but a non-wool one for his sister, too, who also just had a baby. Right?

(Shading from the trees vs the sunset in this photo.)

Worse things have happened in my life than needing to knit for someone, c’mon.

Deadlines are wonderful things. I finally blocked this–I mean, I love the 3-D effect too but I wouldn’t want anyone to ever feel like they’d ruined it the moment water hit it–and then texted the nephew: Are you guys allergic to wool?

Answer: No.

Me (wanting to yell YAY!) Is red a good color?

Answer: One of the best. Grin.

Me: Machine washable, too.

Answer: If only babies were.

(Me: I’ll catch up with his sister later.)

Not on my list
Monday August 01st 2022, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Life

My little sister thought this one was cool, and she’s right: a 6000 square foot 1920 house near the shore of Lake Michigan that some guy decided to thatch. (One building site in the UK said thatched roofs last 50-60 years, but you have to put new thatch on top every two. Just as a warning.)

Here’s a little history of the place in case you ever wanted to live like a very rich hobbit.

Then there’s this other one, which comes with its own cave. Where they had a tree. And they built a house. And they incorporated the tree into the walls of the house both inside and out and if you want to walk down that hall, well, climb or crawl, buddy.

Whoever buys that absolutely needs to have an indoor cat to explore those limbs.

And absolutely needs not to have a dog.

Summer breeze
Sunday July 31st 2022, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life

It was a good old-fashioned Bay Area summer day today–meaning, when the breeze blew it was actually a bit chilly. It’s how it used to be most of the time when we moved here thirty-five years ago.

The doors at church were open for the fresh air after a rash of covid cases last month.

I’d brought a Coolibar sun jacket to wear walking to and from the car; it doesn’t wrinkle and it easily stuffs down into a purse  and I really do need protection from even that much UV.

I’d almost brought a wool cardigan instead, though, and sitting there with that breeze coming right in at us I was wishing I had. Coolibar to the rescue near the beginning of the service.

When we broke for Sunday School, Suzie came up and told me she’d been wondering if I was wearing one of my Ukrainian shirts today. She hadn’t been able to tell from behind with that jacket on.

I was.

She was relieved: People forget, she told me, like it’s not still going on. She was really glad I wore those.

I was surprised and quite gratified. I’d bought them to make a difference to artists under siege trying to still make a living in the middle of the war. I’d had no idea it made one to her, too, but it did, it meant a lot, and her conveying that meant a lot to me in turn.

And I thought, we’re at the empty nester stage where I can afford to splurge on such things; she’s in the throes of the kids in college and soon to be in college stage. I remember how it was.

I would pronounce one a hand-me-down and share it if we were at all the same size.

Taking turns
Saturday July 30th 2022, 9:19 pm
Filed under: Friends

A large box van showed up but only briefly and that was that. No new neighbors yet.

But I did get some peaches to our friend Phyl on her birthday.

And then I stumbled across a Ukrainian source of fruit recipes in the middle of a half-off sale and bought a small cookbook’s worth. Those cherry rolls will probably come first.

Summer sunlight in a ball
Friday July 29th 2022, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

The termite guy came a few days ago to do the annual inspection.

His eyes studiously avoided the Andy’s peaches on the kitchen table that were smelling like every perfect golden orb of summer truly ought to. So just before he went out the door, I punctured his resolve by asking him if he’d like a Baby Crawford and a Kit Donnell I’d bought at my favorite local farm? (Picking them up and holding them out to him.)

You should have seen his face! He was so looking forward to those and so happy at being shared with.

There are new neighbors moving in across the street–tomorrow, according to my former neighbor who now rents the place out.

Only, as I was reading his text this morning, I saw a young family walking around the front yard there for just a minute or two, apparently showing their little kids what the place that was soon going to be home looked like. So it wouldn’t feel like a stranger to them but a new place to look forward to exploring.

I did a quick debate: I need to return the empty boxes to Andy’s but they’re the best things for not squishing easily bruised fruit around little kids and how many should I and I need to go introduce myself so okay what should I put these in…

They were already walking back to their car.

I opened the door and tried, but they were out of earshot and I’ll just have to wait for tomorrow.

Which was probably actually better; those few I had left were a week old and I really ought to get a fresh set for them–a thought aided and abetted by an incoming message from my friend Catherine asking if I were going anytime soon and could I pick her up a box of peaches if I did….

That settled it. I drove to Morgan Hill. Another box of Kit Donnells, Andy’s late friend he’d named his new variety after, another of Baby Crawfords, and Catherine and I could mix and match on those later (and did.) I threw in some Sweet Cherry Pluerries and some Green Gauge plums.

The clerk, recognizing me with a smile, asked as she checked out my fruit what I was going to make with all those.

The heart had only one instant answer to that and it surprised us both.


She did a little gasp for joy and looked me in the eyes and exclaimed, “Yes!”

I can run that one end in later
Thursday July 28th 2022, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

And with that done and out of the way, the Northern California afghan has begun.

The process
Wednesday July 27th 2022, 9:40 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

(Edit Thursday morning: I just put in a better, daytime photo of the finished Alaska afghan.)

Now that I’ve finished the last pattern row on the Ravelry Red afghan it feels like all the time in the world–almost–to decide on an edging. Or not.

When our granddaughter Lillian was on the way, I made this Alaska afghan for her to arrive to in Anchorage–fully knowing that baby alpaca and silk made it gorgeous and soft but completely impractical.

Which means that after I finished it I turned right around and knitted it again in superwash merino Rios, which while not quite so soft would do just fine with her daddy putting it through the laundry.

Besides, the second time I had a better feel for how it was going to go. So call this one, which is still here waiting to be a shawl for her when she grows up, the unrough draft.

It has the bay’s edge we explored, with its ice crinkled by the incoming tide pushing up the surface like rock candy (very briefly that Thanksgiving at 12F with a stiff wind blowing!), the moose we saw, knitted in gansey the way they’re often right there but you don’t see them in the trees but that one came right up to our car and peered in at us in a childlike curiosity, the pines, the dandelion that bloomed brightly well above knee height in the summer, the snow falling on the towering mountains, the bald eagles we saw.

Sam was offered a job that would take them to Washington State as her husband was driving her to the hospital in labor.

A year later she sent me a picture of the bald eagle in the tree over their new back yard.

As I thought about what to knit the 50/50 cashmere/cotton for L&A’s long-hoped-for baby on the way, I found my mind going back to those two afghans yesterday. Interesting, custom-designed, gender-oblivious. But their baby was going to be a Californian.

The waves, yes, oh, you have to have the beaches. The pines–taller, way way taller, hon. The eagle will be a peregrine falcon, the dandelion will be ice plants (non native but quite prevalent around the Monterey Bay, Kaffe Fassett memorialized them in his colorways evoking where he’d grown up), I could do those in Daisy stitch. The hills going straight up above the beach, the steps of rock or wood built here and there for safer access down to the water.

The redwoods. Of course the redwoods. How could they be anything else?


Red flames chevron
Tuesday July 26th 2022, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Ten more rows to finish this pattern repeat. That’s my arm, complete with vyshyvanka embroidery, holding the baby afghan up while it’s touching the floor.

All of this knitting these past few weeks, all this time, and it wasn’t till quietly working the row before last that the picture finally opened up to my inner sight how the next one should go. Has to go. Was always meant to go. What it has to look like. And why of course this red one wasn’t meant for L&A’s baby because that motif was going to be the one for them all along.

And yet the flames one had demanded to come to be, too. I’ve said several prayers of, Please make it so obvious that there’s no question when You’re trying to tell me who its recipient is.

There’s this unmistakable sense of joy when I have–I can just hear my Dad chiming in with, Oh, you’re going to love this.

Now that I know what goes on the needles next (as the coral reef afghan waits patiently) it’s suddenly a little harder to spend the time to add an edging to this one, so maybe I won’t. Ten rows and go. Block and then I’ll decide.

Our soundtrack
Monday July 25th 2022, 8:55 pm
Filed under: Life

The nurse on the phone: “You’re a complicated case.” She wasn’t even sure which doctor to refer me to, and I said I’d wondered the same thing so I’d decided to throw it all in the lap of my primary care and let her decide.

The upshot is that we already know I have the autoantibodies for both hyper- and hypo- thyroidism and that they usually cancel each other out but since the hyper- speeds up the heart, let’s test that first. So I drove over to the lab.

Okay, not that. Next!

The phone rang after I looked up my results: they’ll call back and let me know what the next step is. But if I have a night like Friday again, go to the ER, okay?

Yes’m. I told her that 30+ years of lupus had left me a little too blasé about such stuff and I apologized for that.

Meantime, for those who didn’t hear, there was a surprise at the Newport Folk Festival on Sunday: Joni Mitchell, who  had polio as a kid and a brain aneurysm awhile ago and hasn’t done a set on stage in twenty years, showed up and sang with Brandi Carlisle.

Who cried a little for sheer joy and love and I think so did everybody else, including me. Go Joni.

Sunday July 24th 2022, 9:04 pm
Filed under: Life

The pen is mightier than the sword…

…And if you look at “sword,” it’s “word” with its plural having wandered around to the wrong place.