C’est une bunny day
Monday August 02nd 2021, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

You have to get up early if you want to see the bunny.

Only, this time I stopped and simply watched it for awhile to see if it would try to get past the netting over my tomatoes and squash or chew on the cherry or scout for that unripe pomegranate whose weight brought its branch to the ground.

None of those.

It was scouting out the spots where my watering the trees had allowed a pocket of weeds to stay green here and there–and for good measure the dried weeds. A long straw of the invasive decorative grass that the neighbors planted that wants my yard too (and that I had missed in my efforts to pull all those out) disappeared bite by bite and then the seeds dangling off the end were dessert and at last it was gone. It looked around for more.

It had never occurred to me that the weeds and their seeds were what it was living off of.

Nice. I think we might be friends after all.

But this evening I did pick the first reddening tomato, just in case.



Bar none
Sunday August 01st 2021, 10:14 pm
Filed under: History,Knit,Life

Another plain hat waiting for the moment when I’ll want the ends to already be run in. Soft and warm and wool and washable.

I woke up feeling fine this morning but church by Zoom was clearly the only way to go, just to be sure.

And then we got an email: the (unnamed) unvaccinated boy who was reported last week to have tested positive after going to Scout camp had carpooled there with another unvaccinated kid, who is now sick with covid.

Between them they’d exposed a whole lot of people. (The email didn’t say that. It didn’t need to.)

It asked that, of the kids who’d attended that camp, only the vaccinated ones come to in-person church.

Those two would have been old enough to have gotten at least their first shots–I do not understand why vaccination was not a requirement, although, on second thought, it may well be that it was.

I read a comment today where someone saw a long line of young people and went around the block out of curiosity to see what it was they were lining up for.

It was a pop-up vaccination clinic.

They noted that the bars in town had with one accord decreed that you must now be vaccinated to enter.



You play the hand you’re Delta
Saturday July 31st 2021, 9:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life

(Three feet.)

I drove through smoky skies yesterday, so much so that approaching the airport I could barely see the plane in the air much less make out whose it was by the coloring. When the sun glinted off it was when I was sure it was there.

At about that point on the way home, I was suddenly sneezing. This is not something you want to do at freeway speed and I got in the far right lane and tried to keep it as suppressed as possible, but it was one after another after another. I got home, got inside, it calmed down–and then my nose suddenly gushed.

For hours.

I just didn’t get it. I was perfectly healthy at noon.

By the time I went to bed it was just a bit of sniffle, so, yay for that, at least.

In the morning I was still stuffed up and so I reluctantly called dear friends whom we were going to be celebrating a birthday with tonight and bowed out. I was quite sorry but you never know. It was just not worth the risk nor the worry. Richard got to go, he’s fine, and Phyl got her peaches, at least.

Was it the smoke? Was it something that had been in someone’s house whose ashes made my lungs go nuts? Was I actually exposed to covid and had a short cloudburst of it? I’ll never know, but I’m almost over it already. Which makes me think it was either the smoke or my immune system yelling, Hey, I know you, get out of here! Because colds don’t do one-day stands.

I’m still going to do Zoom church in the morning. Friends don’t put friends at risk.



Just peachy now
Friday July 30th 2021, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Food,Life

(Side note: the tall apricot seedling is 35.5″ now. It is outgrowing the 54″ cage I ordered two weeks ago like a teenager outgrows jeans.)

The plumber:

I sent a camera down, he told me, because it was so bad. Those tree roots are a lot worse than they were.

Then he explained something that blew my mind: These Eichlers. They have asbestos in that pipe, and it weeps moisture and attracts the roots.

Asbestos?? Why on earth would they put asbestos in a sewer pipeline? Much less something that in any way leaks. Okay, it was the 1950s, but still.

It’s just from this point to the street, so you’re not exposed to it.

(Me in my head: except when it backs up and I’m stuck cleaning up after it.)

He told me that, as we knew, that main line is going to have to be replaced–but he also said he thought that we should be able to put it off till maybe next year (which for us would be really nice at this point.) But that it would be about fifteen grand to do. He doesn’t do that job but he could give me a good referral.

My next door neighbors had to do that two years ago. The friend four doors down did last week. I guess when your homes are old enough to sign up for Social Security it’s just how it is.

Thank you Bernie, we nevertheless have running water again, and turning the waiting washing machine on felt so good.

I celebrated (since we needed to replenish the supply) by going to Andy’s.

His normal presentation is everything laid out in cases with the peaches in a single, cushioned layer and you pick and choose gently however many of whichever type from the boxes, but, covid and you wouldn’t want what a bunch of people might have touched, so unless you order a case of a single variety touched only by the picker, they’re on display in small boxes with the fruit stacked like this.

I bought a nice flat case last week. Today I wanted variety. And a Cherokee tomato.

And I have the freely running and draining water to wash them with.

 



Ya gotta love the outtakes
Thursday July 29th 2021, 8:29 pm
Filed under: Life

I wanted progress? Life’ll give me progress to work towards.

We finally got the house repair contract, it is signed and it is a go and it was a lot. Dry rot, get rid of the old cracked skylights included. (I think the raccoon paw prints have been rained away and at least the animal didn’t fall through our bathroom ceiling in the middle of the night–all the more reason for trimming back its gateway tree last week.)

The plumbing backed up this morning because of course it did.

Okay life. That’s enough. Cut it out.

Bernie our plumber was right in the neighborhood with no time to work on it now but willing to come take a quick look.

He was marveling at the guy who built our addition and remembering, oh yeah, this house: No outtake? People always have to go up on the roof? A lot of guys don’t do that anymore–too many accidents, their insurance gets cut off if they do. You really need to have one installed and it won’t be cheap.

I said, Yeah, that tree (waving towards the big one out front) –we’ve seen the video with the roots cutting into the line, we know we’re going to have to redo that pipe.

He said, Yeah, it’s always right at the end of your property where the blockage is, and he marveled that the city had planted the Bradford pear within a foot of their outtake. Thanks, city.

While I was thinking, Just not today. Please, let’s not redo that line right now, I just signed away tens of thousands and I need that one thing to work enough for now…

He didn’t have time anyway and it turns out you can flush one toilet and wait awhile till the next time. One load of laundry, no, that’s what set it off, but the bare minimum it can manage.

So he’ll be back tomorrow to see what he can do.

Meantime, not knowing any of that, our son-in-law sent us a photo of a teddy bear that I’d sewn for Sam when she was a baby, that has been wearing a baby dress of Sam’s for forever, that is a favorite of the northern grands now: Lillian put it on a nice soft pillow and tucked it in for the night with a bear-sized blankie over it.

A grandtoddler soothing a teddy to sleep was just what my day needed.



While I knitted…
Wednesday July 28th 2021, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Life

It was April when I looked up and saw this and started searching for termite companies and then started getting bids.

It turns out that that was probably from the neighbor’s tree falling on the roof and dry rot setting in but we did, in fact, have termites. And a nice entry spot for them there.

The company wasn’t great at answering questions before the inspection but my gut instinct turned out to be right: any inside of an outside wall had to be accessible.

I wasn’t perfect in that but I certainly tried. There were quite a few times when I wanted to simply whine, Can’t we just tent the whole thing? But tenting apparently contributes to the climate crisis, and when the spot-check guys found they had competition they offered to up the warranty from two years that both were offering to five years for $600 extra, still cheaper than the tent guy. Done.

Collapsible ironing boards that have been upright in one humid laundry room spot for 27 years do not, in fact, collapse. The big bookcase? Sorry, just going to have to work around that.

They did find termites on one side of it. We might want to move that thing after all before the five years are up.

The younger guy working outside brought some of what he found in a towel to show me, clearly fascinated by them: “They look like little maggots!”

I wasn’t sure those weren’t, but whatever, I had utterly no idea how to answer his being almost charmed by them so I went with the spirit it was offered in and answered, “They’re so cute!” I mean, why not. If the guy’s doing a job like that why not help him enjoy it.

After all the angst, after all the prep, after all the back exercises so that I could keep going at moving stuff out of the way, with some assist from my husband till his back gave out–

–it’s done.

They were wonderful. They seemed thorough. The older guy made a point of telling me that if we find any sign, anything, anywhere in the house for the next five years, call them and it’s under warranty and they’ll be right out. (Meaning, if they couldn’t see something in the garage because of too much stuff on that overhead rack it didn’t matter, it was covered.)

I still can’t believe it’s done!

Except it’s not quite: I need that ironing board so it’s back where it goes but I still need to sign the contract on the guy doing the wood replacement and the roofers so the camping gear is still all over the family room. We’re working out details and timing. The termite stuff needs eight weeks first. I am resisting the urge to shove the six-man tent into that overhead rack.

Progress feels good. I want more of it.



Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Tuesday July 27th 2021, 9:59 pm
Filed under: History

I went to school with family members of these guys. If only the Dove kid my age had lived to see this.

So good to see those Confederate General street signs coming down and being replaced with their families’ names. So long overdue.

Long ago there was some land near a creek that emptied into the Potomac River a few miles further down that was thought not to be worth anything because it was too hilly and rocky to make good farmland out of–so the owner was willing to sell it to an African American man, who brought in family. Their descendants have carried on a strong sense of community for generations now.

So glad to see the signs that convey their joy and love replacing the ones that, when they were put up, inflicted pain deliberately, quite possibly in backlash to that very community’s landownership and pride.

So much better now.



There there there there and there
Monday July 26th 2021, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Life

Trying to prepare for the termite guys. Trying to remember where each spot was that they are going to have to be able to reach and realizing with a bit of alarm the scope of what that means. Is emptying the top two layers of shelves in the pantry enough? We’ve never done this before. If we’re supposed to move furniture, it’s not going anywhere, not with our backs.

Richard got the camping gear out of our son’s old bedroom closet–they have to be able to get at that ceiling, too. Can’t move it in the garage in case they want to work in there. Where’s their chart?

The family room has no termites. Suddenly it has a lot of stuff.

We have too much stuff.

Maybe after this we’ll have a lot less. The only reason we’d ever need that camping tent again is if we had another big earthqua—

Oh. Right.

Okay, it stays.



From Kat with love
Sunday July 25th 2021, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

My doorbell rang this afternoon, and when I opened it I stood there speechless.

If you remember when we and our neighbors finally got the city’s permission to cut down their redwood that had grown onto our property and after raising our shed a foot was threatening our foundation? The city finally caved after Chris, our longtime arborist, told them there was no question it had to go.

It was a massive all-day job, with a crane and several trucks involved.

Redwood is valuable, so I was dumbfounded when they started feeding it into the chipper–had I known, I would have looked up someone, anyone, to be ready to take it.

With that sound to go with the sight of the disappearing towering tree, the neighbor from behind, an old friend, walked over to bear witness to its leaving us and then another from down the street came, too. I said ‘him’ on Facebook, but checking my old blog post it was actually Kat who asked: her husband would love to work with that, would they be willing to save that last big bottom section for them? (It was too late on the rest.)

The crew was relieved and gratified at knowing someone would actually use the best of this and told her, Sure! It was loaded in two pieces onto a large dump truck and I never did see how they got them going lengthwise across her front yard–did they move the crane, too? But they got them there.

And there those big logs sat for a year, to cure, I’m guessing?

And then gradually one started getting shorter.

Then months later the other one was gone, with little sawdust piles left behind.

There was a new border to their garden. They added to their fence. And as far as I knew, that was that.

So here was Kat: holding out a two-foot slice of that tree, prepared, polished, and with a turquoise river running through where the wood had split, a thank you for sharing the tree and a memorial of it for us.

She had wanted me to have that for a long time and at last it was done. She didn’t know–she’d almost put hooks into it so we could hang it, and would be happy to, or maybe we’d want to make it into a coffee table…?

I didn’t notice her signature till later–alongside a rendition of that tree as it had been, with its base about seven feet across and with the boughs reaching towards our house to the right, becoming one with the wind.

I was speechless. I was emotional. I had badly wanted something from that redwood but I would never in a million years have asked, and I was completely blown away and couldn’t keep the catch out of my voice.

Which was exactly the reaction that matched the work and effort and goodwill she’d put into it and made it all worthwhile, and wow. We will treasure this the rest of our lives. We will treasure her the rest of our lives.

Table, now that I’ve had a few hours to think about it. Definitely. I have no idea how, but, table.



Zucchini divas
Saturday July 24th 2021, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

We have had a trio of young mockingbirds for days, teenagers teasing their nest mates as far as I can tell.

But today the first tomato got its first tinge of pink. And suddenly there were eight of them! Mockingbirds do not come in flocks. This time there was more chasing out of territory, mixed with perching all around my veggies.

But they did not find their way in yet.

One, however, had learned that if it stood on top of the square-metal-cage’s netting where it was a bit loose and bounced up and down, it could get close enough on the downbeat to snag a blueberry. I was so impressed that I figured it had earned it.

Interesting: if you put the phone’s camera right up to the netting you get its shadow in sharp lines looking like it’s draped directly on half the plant, whereas the actual netting is those blurred-out thicker edges perpendicular to the squares below.

While the flowers demand, never mind all that, look at ME.



Red orange, purple white purple yellow orange
Friday July 23rd 2021, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

We ran out.

I checked before I left, and yes, please, she’d always, always love a case from there.

And so I came home from Andy’s with a big box of peaches for her family and one for us.

But when I went to deliver theirs she had a particular thank-you in mind: Satsuma plums from her tree, an orange zucchini, a yellow cucumber, a purple onion, white eggplants, all from her garden.

There’s got to be a colorway in merino out there to match.

I exclaimed over the bounty; she said well I’d driven all the way down there and back, and we both came away feeling like we got the better end of the deal. But best of all: we’d had a chance to connect and say thank you.

Thank you Andy for that.

 



Unreal estate
Thursday July 22nd 2021, 8:23 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

The late afternoon shade disappeared into the wood chipper. Thirty inches. The apricot tree is on a roll!

Meantime, I know it rains a lot in Portland and I can understand wanting the kids to be able to play inside as well as out. They do have a nice play set outside.

But, but, that picture # 12.

Someone hung a child’s swing from–tell me that’s not track lighting? With metal hooks into it to the metal chain to the swing? What could go wrong? (No, don’t spill that juice box!) With it set up exactly so that a little kid’s feet can gleefully help you clear that table and that puzzle you’ve just finally put the thousandth piece into.

Note that the other metal hooks don’t have swings (anymore?)

I have questions.

 



The jewel box
Wednesday July 21st 2021, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

Twenty-nine inches! Six inches in nine days! With the height of the pot that new 54″ cage isn’t going to last very long. That’s fine, plenty of other things need to be kept from the cottontail.

The other thing that happened yesterday, after the tree crew left:

I had an appointment with the audiologist, trying to fine-tune the new aids and check the fit after the manufacturer had re-molded the painful left one.

Towards the end I pulled out a small cardboard box filled with paper towels scrunched a bit like decorative tissue paper and inside, a perfect Sierra Rich red peach.

She did this little gasp and told me, My husband and I were just saying we had to find a *good* peach!

I said that the paper towels were because she was going to need them.

So now they know where to go.



They got to see it again
Tuesday July 20th 2021, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Life,Mango tree

Today the tree crew came, the same one that six years ago cleared out all the random stuff that was threatening the fence along that whole length of it. We needed a do-over. It was a big job. (Reading that old post, a pomegranate and mandarin and sour cherry did go in there, the fig went to the other side of the house.)

But the first thing the original two had done that day was to make a beeline for my three-month-old stick over there and exclaim, That’s a mango, isn’t it!

Today there was a third man on the crew.

I added a request to the job over the phone yesterday and Chris the boss-man showed up to make sure everything was understood and while he and I were meeting up out front his guys were heading for the backyard ahead of us.

Those two had something they really wanted to see. It WAS still there! It had lived! Look how big it is! Look at all that fruit! (I’m sure that there was also a, Look how different the yard is now and how much all the new stuff has grown!)

Chris and I joined up with them as the three of them stood around the mango tree happily talking about it with the new guy taking it in. I lifted the two biggest ones on the fence side and they’d already seen it: “Yes, yes!” excitedly.

I know that at least one of them had grown up around mango trees.

That added request was to cut back that tall tree over there so that it didn’t shade it in the afternoon. They were on it. (I thought I knew what type it was but I just googled it and nope, I’ve been calling it the wrong thing forever. Never mind then.)

They did a great job.

There were no ripe mangoes to offer them yet, but at least I had the next best thing: perfect peaches from Andy’s, and the look on the face of the first guy to eat his while the others were finishing putting equipment away… Most definitely a hit.

And now there are no more branches hanging over the house and we are ready for the roofers. But first the termite guys.



Toss it back to the grizzlies
Monday July 19th 2021, 5:32 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden,Life

(Lillian ducking into the sunbeam.)

Back when Sam and her family lived in Anchorage, she took us to an ice cream shop, Wild Scoops, that sold local flavors including from fruits I’d never heard of. Salmonberries? Birch syrup? What kind of flavor is Fireweed?

So I ended up buying a cute little 2 oz jar of salmonberry jam as a souvenir to go with my scoop so I could taste that, too, and a small jug of birch syrup by mail after we flew home.

The syrup was okay. I don’t need to buy it again. The jam was sugar+pectin+an orange color to it but no berry flavor I could discern and other than the fact that it was a local thing and a novelty to us, there didn’t seem to be much point to it; let the musk ox and moose keep the berries.

Fast forward a few years. We were at a kiddy park with Mathias and Sam in Washington State July 5th where there was play equipment and a bit of grass surrounded by deep, lush trees and a short trail along the fenced perimeter.

Cherry trees! That’s why all the happy robins bouncing around! Clearly a holdover from when that whole area had been prime cherry and berry farmland a hundred years ago; the now-feral trees dangled Rainier-esque solid yellow and who knows what dark red promises mostly well out of even my 6’8″ husband’s reach.

But we managed to bend some branches downwards enough and we got some and shared them around and they were delicious. Sam pronounced that moments like these were why she was glad they had moved there.

She had already told us that blackberry bushes were the devil, that they ran rampant all over everything with their thorns: the Pacific Northwest’s version of kudzu with an offering but an attitude.

And then I pointed out a berry bush. The leaves were a lot smaller than the blackberries her husband had cleared away from their side of the fence at home; I wondered what they were.

Oh those are salmonberries, she said, a park ranger told us that.

Very small. Half the usual thumbcap depth at best of a red raspberry. Tasteless. Seedy.

And the color. Suddenly I knew.

Some garden catalog three or four years ago had had a spiel about a woman who’d found an abandoned farm that had had red raspberries and blackberries and had found something else growing down by the creek that she thought must be a hybrid of them of some kind. The thorns were a lot shorter. She’d taken some cuttings home. She’d tried growing her new variety in good soil, bad soil, sandy soil, clay soil, and it grew in everything! And now here they were offering this rare find to their customers! In high demand!

I’m a long way from being a knowledgeable gardener yet, so foolproof sounded good to me and I ordered one. I grew it in a large pot, because I do know enough to know that thorny berry plants like to take over the world and I wanted it contained.

I got a few stubby shallow little berries with not much flavor–well, any, really. I figured the critters had eaten them before they’d gotten ripe or big yet. Right? I kept waiting for them to grow into, y’know, proper raspberry shapes. They didn’t.

I got maybe two whole berries to myself last year, but this year the plant grew a lot more and produced more. But the fruit didn’t change at all.

They’d sold me a salmonberry plant and didn’t even know enough to know that that’s what it was and I certainly didn’t. But there is no question. I recognized that plant and that fruit in that park because it was growing in my back yard and knew that it was only a matter of time, and a brief time at that, before I’d be ripping mine out.

All those pretty leaves it took so long to bother to produce.

I confess I’m still giving it (increasingly brief) sprays of precious California water to keep it alive. I guess it’s just plain hard to assassinate a plant you’ve nurtured, even one that would rather stab you than feed you.