Peeling away the layers
Wednesday March 22nd 2023, 9:32 pm
Filed under: Life

While a purple hat in Mecha got quietly worked on in the other room for the most part: Joel came and spent a fair amount of time measuring everything we might ask him about later. His boss knows we’d like to redo the whole kitchen even if we don’t plan to right now, so I’m sure there was incentive to make that a possibility as long as he was there.

He admired our cabinets, saying, They don’t make them like that anymore.

Yes, they were custom made–but in the early 90s, when the state was requiring certain finishes on the wood for the environment’s sake, rescinded after they found out those don’t hold up. The skylight bleached it out; they need to be refinished.

Refinished, definitely, and we can do that, he told me. He was glad I knew how good what I had was.

(It’s everything else that has to go. The Bosch dishwasher. It can stay too.)

The big but independent appliance place I bought my Speed Queen washer/dryer from got back to me with questions about inches and placement re replacing the stove set-up, and it looks like we have clearance enough, if barely, to not have to knock out part of the wall behind the stove, so now Joel knows his guys are not the only ones I’m talking to and that’s always a good thing.

So we are one day and several steps closer.

Joel had so carefully not been eyeing my blueberry/orange juice/almond flour/maple sugar muffins while he was working, but you should have seen the look on his face at the end when I offered him some.

They’re still getting the pricing on those roof panels.

Yeah, I said, yesterday’s bomb cyclone definitely did not improve them.

He chuckled.

There’s another atmospheric river on the way next week.

Groundhog day
Tuesday March 21st 2023, 9:17 pm
Filed under: Life

Today’s rain forecast was at .63″ last night. We’ve had (update) 3.35″ in the last 24 hours and last week’s wind storm all over again. The patio roof panels did a song (more a shout) and dance again. Joel is coming tomorrow again, this time to give us a quote on the kitchen thing and whether or not this will have to be the time on the countertops or whether we can save that expense for later.

We’re supposed to have another storm in a week. Mild, though, the forecast says. Again.

(I will say that big pot thrown across the yard is the one that I had taken all the soil out of to replace it and replant, so at least it was empty.)

Update: officially, we had a bomb cyclone today. We don’t do those here. But we did.

Out of range
Monday March 20th 2023, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I went to go make sure we were seeing this the same way.

That stove is 29 years old. Do you want me to call a repairman on that switch?

He did a little wince/laugh like, why would we ever… No.

So: it came as a set up, the stove and the vent set up behind and not above it, with the switch to the fan built into the stove. Suddenly today we were stuck with a gas stove with no working vent, which is not safe, and Thermidor has long since ditched any stove with that switch.

Maybe I wasn’t the only one whose sweaters caught on fire (twice!) from those burners being set so far forward.

Only one burner was fully functional at this point anyway. Good riddance.

I’ve mentioned before (probably often enough to get really boring about it, sorry) that the original contractor goofed and put a 36″ stove below a 30.4″ inch wide cabinet gap above it. Which has helped ruin the finish on the wood. You could never sell the house like that and we don’t want to look at it either, a 30″ cooktop has to go in.

But the cutout for it is still 36″. So the countertops have to go.

So. I need a contractor, like, now. I have no idea if the guy who didn’t get back to me yet with an estimate on the patio roof after the storm is available for that, but I just shot a query his way.

I guess that electric skillet we inherited four or five years ago will finally get put to use. And I will finally soon not have to look at the Corian color anymore that my husband liked so much because he does not have an artist’s sense of color when seeing it against the cabinets and at the time I didn’t think I cared enough to object. Corian wasn’t supposed to chip? It did. I can out-klutz anything.

Man, I can’t wait to see it go. Out! (But we’ll see what the contractors say has to be done.)

And here’s where you paws in the measure
Sunday March 19th 2023, 8:59 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Our neighbors invited us to listen to a piano recital of their daughter and some of her fellow students: a kind of a practice run before their official performances so that playing for an audience wouldn’t be such a novelty on the big day.

We were thrilled.

It took me straight back to my days at the Maryland State Piano Competitions at Peabody Institute in Baltimore: these kids were the best of the best on that baby grand. An hour of straight-up concert. So good.

One of the moms had to show up late. Which led to the moment afterwards where I turned to the young woman behind me and told her with a big smile, Thank you for laughing!

She laughed again.

She’d been at the keys when someone’s mom had had to come late to join us. What we didn’t know is that the family’s large dog had been put in a bedroom to keep him away from the guests, and here was a stranger coming up to the door: his family must be notified! It was his job! WOOF!!!

And then for good measure as eyes suddenly went big and fingers hovered above the keys in freeze frame, an encore of WoofwoofWOOF!!

You know what? It was perfect. If any of those kids get nervous on the bigger stage later, they can just picture that big friendly dog making sure from the other room that they were all okay.

Springing up
Saturday March 18th 2023, 9:33 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden

You wait and wait and wait and then it all starts at once.

The fig tree sprouted not only leaves but six breba figs on its first day awake today: they are the spring fruit that precede the main August crop. I got one last year. Whether it’s the tree getting older or all the rain, it just delights me beyond reason that we won’t have to wait so long to taste a ripe fig again.

And then another Anya apricot went from this morning’s will it or won’t it sprout to–look at that! That makes three good ones and one dying out of 16 planted, but they’re not done yet. (Picture of three week old one, 3.5″ tall/4″ across as gauge swatch.)

The one whose first leaves snagged in the kernel coating got some of its relentlessly tiny true leaves blown off in the windstorm a few days ago before I snatched it inside, too late. That did it. It’s toast. So to see this new one coming up so green and so fast was a relief; I have local friends hoping for a seedling but I have to make sure they’ll grow first and at half a day old these leaves are as big as that other one’s ever were. Yay!

And hey, Afton? We finally finally started that batch of chocolate. Esmeraldas from Ecuador. Dandelion definitely does it better than I do but hey. Basically, I woke up grumpy after a long insomniac night and then figured out the best way to make it better to everybody.

Homemade chocolate is where bad tempering is okay just the same.

We went low tech
Friday March 17th 2023, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Friends

Could group one make theirs all fall? Could group two make theirs not fall? The race was on!

And so the ward party began. The cups cascaded down three times but were back up by the time time was up. The dominoes fell where and if they felt like it but had to be told what to do.

And then a To Tell The Truth game, with my hubby as a contestant. Who had made the first ever mobile phone call and from where to where?

And the answer was the guy who’d worked at Stanford Research International from the time it was new. The place where the mouse was invented before Xerox or Apple ever heard of it, where DARPA net started its evolution into the internet. Basically, the roots of Silicon Valley grew where and when Don was there and he later wrote SRI’s history.

And the young tech workers learned something new from the old while a good time was had by all.

Mountains on mountains
Thursday March 16th 2023, 8:54 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

1. His co-worker was what? I blinked. She’s going skiing?! Did she check first? Road closures? They’re hand-shoveling out the buried chairs on the ski lifts.

2. Everybody’s trying to figure out how four goats came to be running around in traffic in San Francisco. The people who rent herds out for munching fire-prone hillsides have said nope, not theirs.

3. The silk tape cowl is finding out what size it wants to be when it dries. This is nearly the whole 150 grams’ worth: it’s big and it will likely stretch some from all the weight. Note to future self: I started with 70 stitches on size 9s and increased to 84. It was a quick knit, but also not because the yarn was a bit of a hassle.

Although, compared to some silks it was thankfully a lot less snaggy on the fingers and it offered a chance at easy retrieval at a dropped stitch if you were careful.

But what I like best about it is that it’s done. I’d been needing more of that.

Wednesday March 15th 2023, 9:33 pm
Filed under: Life

A large window blew out 43 stories up on a skyscraper in downtown San Francisco. Yay for those reverse-911 calls pleading for people to stay home during the storm; thankfully nobody was hurt. Today I ran to the grocery store and was amazed at all the tree debris shoved to the side of the road. The next town over is still out of power and so their schools are closed, because the schools are required to feed the children.

Which means yesterday they called out for pizza for the entire district’s student body one hour before lunchtime. Can you just imagine being the owner who got that call? I wonder if it took every pizza parlor in town. Probably did.

Our old contractor Chris’s man Joel came by this afternoon. He measured, he observed, he poked and lifted: we had four panels broken. He would get back to me with a quote on lifting the one back up and then tacking the cracked and broken back into place, risking the wood beneath by exposure over time, vs replacing all the of them so they’d match.

Is this a trick question.

But he was trying to make sure he’d be doing what we wanted.

I pointed out the one in the corner. He lifted it–it’s not supposed to be able to–and saw where the cream colored paint ended about 18″ down the dark brown beam, whereas it was supposed to have been entirely painted. I do have a contemporaneous small can of that paint that I bought so as to have it for emergencies.

And so we go forward from here.

The next atmospheric river is supposed to start Saturday/Sunday night and go to at least Wednesday.

And then it just really took off
Tuesday March 14th 2023, 9:08 pm
Filed under: Life

In the immortal words of the late Richard Thompson, author of the Cul de Sac comic and Richard’s Poor Almanac,

“March comes in on clumsy feet

Kicks the trashcans down the street

Spills some garbage on the lawn

Blows the rest to Hellandgone

Knocks the branches off the trees

Gives the power lines a squeeze

Then March leaves. And as it goes

the sun comes out. Then it snows.”

(Yeah, we had a fun day today. Noisy, though. 77 mph winds at SFO, 97 in the hills.)

Between a rock and a wet place
Monday March 13th 2023, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Garden,History,Life

The phone rang at dinnertime.

It was a reverse-911 call from the county warning of the incoming storm and pleading for residents to stay home and stay put if you’re not in an evacuation zone. And don’t drive through water in the roadway!

We are staying home and staying put. It’s supposed to start pouring any minute, strong winds, the works, and then another atmospheric river is expected next week. You know the “Drove my Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry” line? The levy wishes.¬†They are dropping boulders from helicopters at this point to be able to reach it.

And yet all was quiet here so far. So I took a moment to photograph the biggest Anya seedling: I love its formation, it’s such an elegant little bundle of hope, and its leaves have really grown. It just makes me so happy.

There was enough air movement to twirl its skirts a little.

The flowering pear is at that glorious moment of full bloom mixed with the incoming leaves; it had waited all winter for this.

The start of the storm keeps being pushed back–11:00 pm, they think now. Edit, nope, 1:00 am.

That pear tree was a staked newly planted whip when we moved here. Hey, little apricot? You’ve got this.

Petal power
Sunday March 12th 2023, 10:08 pm
Filed under: Garden,History,Politics

One of the companies affected by the bank failure: Etsy. 95 million buyers, 7.5 million sellers, per the Washington Post. The Feds have declared that tomorrow all depositors are to have access to their funds after all, at no cost to taxpayers. Such a relief.

And to change the subject: the one peach that needs a pollinator is going to do just fine this year, rain willing. I love how similar and yet how different the flowers are. The Indian Free, with the darker pink interior, produces peaches with a dark red center.’s silk ribbon leaped onto my needles.

I don’t know how this is going to go (understatement alert)
Saturday March 11th 2023, 10:48 pm
Filed under: History

The abrupt Silicon Valley Bank collapse: the accounts that vanished in the last few days were the ones that smaller-to-middle-sized companies simply doing normal business rely on to make payroll.

If the early reports and gossip are true, the richest investors triggered the run via insider information. They bailed themselves.

California law does not allow businesses to not pay workers on time, not anticipating situations where they’re scrambling to get at their own funds in their own bank accounts so they can do so. Legally right now, they could tank as fast as that bank.

This isn’t about bailing out the rich, it’s about rescuing those of us at the worker level who rely on that next paycheck, whose employer was perfectly solvent, successful, and had fully expected to continue from day to day.

Note that a few decades ago, Chrysler repaid the Feds in full and early. Different business but still a useful precedent.

Edited 3/12 to add: one of the companies that had its money in that bank? Etsy.

Rare but it happens
Friday March 10th 2023, 9:25 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

Those stripes on the chest are protective of the young: they signal to adult peregrines that this is just a kid hanging around, no reason to hassle them, they’re not trying to steal your mate nor your territory.

But since no other male had chased him off at the abandoned nest and he got there first and then she showed up, well, it took a number of days to convince her but there you go.

The falconistas say this pair should mostly likely succeed this year after all.

Flight feathers are usually molted as a symmetrical pair wing to wing and he’s missing just one, so that makes him easy to spot till the new one grows out.

Just to add re the California flooding: the road nearest the Bay is under water and the city put out a warning and we’re definitely not traveling anywhere, but we’re doing fine.

Oh, and, thank you all for the advice re the microplane. My daughter reminds me that she thought they were a good idea too so she bought me one a year ago.

That was the Christmas we had almost no lemons because the unusual, intense summer heat had so stressed the tree that it had dropped the fruit before it had had any chance to ripen. And so the microplane had been forgotten.

And now I know where it is!

Look at the flip side
Thursday March 09th 2023, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden

Four peach trees just starting to burst into bloom in sync with each other, which never happens. Just as the deluge begins. Hey honeybees, work fast for me, willya?

So, confronted with a bag of thawed cranberries from Michelle’s freezer, I reacted as one does: I baked. I used her Miyoki cultured vegan butter and skipped the baking soda in the recipe, although it probably is the one thing that needed it if anything does but given my antipathy to it nothing does, so, anyway, so I did that. I squeezed out nearly a quarter cup of Meyer lemon juice (glad to pick and use up two off that tree, so many dozens more to go) and shorted the unsweetened oat milk accordingly. (The dairy allergy thing.) I added a tablespoon of Penzey’s powdered lemon peel rather than grating the ones off the tree because Meyers may have the best lemon juice but the white pith is very bitter.

That’s my excuse for that laziness.

So those were the changes I made to the cranberry lemon cake recipe. I made 24 cupcakes out of it. 350F, 25 minutes was just right, and that brown sugar on the bottom and cranberries on top of it was heavenly.

I can only imagine how much better with real butter and buttermilk these could be, but they were very good as is and that time will come all too soon. It’s great to have her home.



Hunkering down
Wednesday March 08th 2023, 11:17 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden

Massive rain is coming, with tomorrow alone expected to be 10% of a normal annual amount (we’re already at over twice that total.) So after a quick visit with Richard’s sister who’s in town to fill in on some childcare, he and I ran to Michelle’s apartment and between the three of us got it very nearly empty tonight.

The first of the Anya apricot seedlings, at 16 days old in this morning’s bright sun. Soak it in while you can, little one.