Let’s try this
Saturday December 04th 2021, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

After being an hour late for the annual December Birthday Club party because I overslept by two and a half hours (!!!) I had to do something. The party was great fun even if I missed half of it.

I was at a loss.

I’d been thinking poles set up somehow inside the long tall line of coffeeberry bushes with frost covers hitched over them, but I didn’t have poles and I don’t even have a car that would be easy to transport them with if I bought any because we’d be talking nine feet tall, easily.

I was standing at the window, watching the rabbit eat the weeds now that my pomegranate tree has no fruit to raid, wondering if it has mange on its back, poor thing–when it hit me.

I found a single big black plastic bag, and it was way too small to go over the smallest bird netting tent, even scrunching it up. But I have yarn and I have a needle. Hey. I laid the garbage bag flat across the front of the thing and sewed the edges just barely around the back with the yarn continuing to where I attached it on the other side, kinda sorta like the lace and tongue on a shoe. I walked into the bushes the rabbit had fled into, told it to watch its step here I come, and set the thing awkwardly and swayingly on top of the flowers and leaves over my head. It tilted but it stayed.

I walked over to our bedroom and turned: nope. Needs to move about four feet that way. Tried again. Looked again. Tried a third time and felt like I’d gotten it, but that it wasn’t wide enough. So I grabbed another cage and put a double layer of white frost cover over it–not great but I have it, so try it. I hauled a chair over there (one leg sank into the ground, whoops, try again) and managed to get that one up there without knocking the other one down. Or me.

They are Not Pretty. They definitely make a point about why they are there–assuming there’s anyone over there to see it. I’m not sure there is. I’ve begun to think the interior lights are on timers because I know they’ve used them for traveling in the past. For that matter, code says the exterior light must be on one, and oh if only.

If we get a stiff wind those could blow into either yard.

I’ve got more birdnetting tents.

The thing is, if one of the kids took their mom home with them or to assisted living, that light would likely be on till well past the rest of their mother’s life.

Deep breath.

Okay, so, we’ll see how that goes tonight.

You light up my life
Friday December 03rd 2021, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

About a year ago, the good folks next door were the ones whose house had the hammering and the pounding going on for several months.

They had decided to expand and divide to use a bedroom and the new space to create an Additional Dwelling Unit along the side of their house closest to us so that they could have a caretaker in their old age who could have their own apartment, taking advantage of California’s newfound enthusiasm for ADUs.

Their two kids have stayed there while visiting but I don’t think a full-time caretaker ever did because Jim was still well enough to carry the load.

He died at 86 a few months ago.

She has cancer, he was her caretaker, and I quite worry about her but she is not one to share details to non-family nor to want to be helped.

Thanksgiving brought lots of cars for a few days.

And one of those people turned on the light that got installed at the side of the house during construction. (That’s a daytime picture.) The light that Jim had turned downward a little bit after we’d requested, back when it was new, but it’s still bright as ever.

I was looking at the super-bright LED street light yesterday, then theirs, and back again, and decided the street light was indeed  louder–but not by a lot. It’s simply bigger.

Theirs is a spotlight straight on Michelle’s face at night when she’s here and it lights up our bedroom, too. And I mean really lights it up.

So we have now had a full week of restless sleep for him and almost no sleep for me as I look at the clock every single hour, hour after hour, wishing I could shut that thing off while I toss and turn. In all the years we’ve lived here, in all the city light reflected off the winter fog, it’s never been like this.

Yes I could wear an eye mask–but I’ve never found a comfortable one and the recent cornea flare makes me highly reluctant to put something on that will have my eyelashes brushing against both it and my eyes all night.

Yes I could put up black-out curtains, heavier than the two-layered ones we have now–but we have transom windows as well and to cut those off would imprison the room entirely. I like waking up to tree branches and birds in the morning and a chance to check out the clouds. The architect designed that added-on room to be free of neighbors’ lights. At the time.

I sent her an email. I didn’t know if she could even walk across the house to her computer to read it, so I was really glad to see her slowly walking to her door a few days ago with two people carefully watching, arms out, ready to catch her at every frail step, and that she was upright or at least was just then–for her sake, because it’s so much better than being bed bound.

But it made it clear the answer to my question was, not really. Not readily.

The light stayed on.

I dropped off some of the other neighbor’s homegrown persimmons yesterday and a condolence card (with a short aside of, about that light, that I hoped wasn’t horribly misplaced) hoping that a caregiver would stop by and pick them up for her.

The persimmons didn’t move.

I checked: did I have her kids’ phone numbers? I had her daughter’s.

No response. But then who answers strange numbers these days. I was afraid to call my neighbor herself because I know how important rest is when the body absolutely demands it; I’ve been there. And how would she get up the energy to talk loud enough for my ears?

The light stayed on. It bounced off the white walls and the mirror and straight into the eyeballs.

I googled for ordinances about light pollution, and it may in fact be in violation, although residences have more leeway than businesses. But I know what it’s like to be in sheer survival mode when very very sick, and getting up to flip a switch a few rooms over is I’m guessing from what I saw just too much energy to expend with too great a risk of falling.

I can’t imagine living alone like that, though.

I finally fell asleep last night before 3 a.m., and that would be a small triumph and great improvement, except that I don’t hear my alarm clock and don’t always feel the vibrations either and my husband knows that and he knows I have to deal with all the ileostomy dressing/shower/get ready stuff before the crew shows up to work and walks around our roof with the skylight in the master bath, etc etc, so in his sleep he helpfully gave me a small nudge, and then another, to help me wake up in time. It’s our routine for when my alarm is waking up the wrong person.

Because sunrise is to the left side of the room and the left side especially was lit up nice and bright just like it had the previous six nights as if it were past dawn, even though by now I had barricaded the farthest window with a very large flat box and a big green plastic cutting board, the kind you use with roller scissors; it wasn’t much between them but at least it was something.

So here I was at 3 a.m. for the seventh night running. It would have been the blissfully dark night of a new moon but for that stupid light. I did not fall back to sleep in the slightest and at 6:45 gave up and got up.

You know, I really really don’t want to try for a second heart attack. This is getting old. So. Tired.

Those persimmons and note disappeared from her door today, finally. I can just picture the note being slid over by a caretaker to somewhere where she can read it when she has the energy to. Which she might well not.

The light was still on.

I noted the trashcan was still on the curb since Wednesday and nobody had taken care of it for her. I pulled it up against her shed. I had offered before and Jim had always turned me down but he’s not here now and that, at least, I could do for his beloved wife.

It appears someone is in the ADU right now.

The light is still on.

(And now you see why I needed that happy picture of my dad yesterday so much.)

Happy December!
Thursday December 02nd 2021, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life

Went to the Relief Society Christmas party tonight, the first one at church for me in two years. Real conversations in real life!

And then instead of coming home and blogging I came home and started a batch of pumpkin orange cranberry sourdough bread because I’d just been surrounded by sweets I was avoiding and wanted to make something really good, too (but not fattening). The enthusiasm there over everything just spilled right into my kitchen here.

And so, so you wouldn’t be disappointed about my not writing a blog post tonight (oh wait) I thought I’d share this picture from a few years ago that I stumbled across yesterday of my folks. Because this was so my dad.   

So much for being done
Wednesday December 01st 2021, 8:35 pm
Filed under: Life

Everybody got their second hat to give to someone they loved and got a chuckle out of that.


Behind the downspout where the walls do a right hand turn in this zigzaggy added-onto old house, where nobody had noticed before–and we’d all looked all around for such–I found a new damaged spot at the bottom of the old siding a few days ago. (To Mom: outside Sam’s old room.)

One of the men poked it with a metal bar and said at least it wasn’t mushy in there.

I’m wondering if I should call the termite people back on their warranty first.

Chris came out and looked at it this morning.

Me: “Do we have to”… (Thinking, there goes another eight grand or so.)  –edit in the morning after getting the estimate: the siding will be far less than that, assuming there’s not more going on behind it. One definite yay on that.

He understood, but answered what we both knew to be the truth: “It’s only going to get worse.”

Meantime, the roofing people called yesterday. They’d been bumped off till later and later to the point that they were going to patch the bubbles in the foam and forget about it till spring because they were booked solid.

But what about the rain?

That’ll be enough for now, it’ll work, they assured me.

But the good part: we had signed a contract for a recoating of the foam layer. They’re going to redo it altogether, the entire roof (not skipping the part under the solar panels) at the contracted amount to make it up to us.

Okay, but I want that in writing.

Seven and a half left
Tuesday November 30th 2021, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Called that one right.

The guy who chose the bright purple hat was the only one who was not here yesterday, but then the only one who was today. So I got a chance to ask him in private: did you pick that color to make someone else happy? And can I have you pick one for you?

His daughter, yes, and, YES!

So he got the Prussian Blue that had just come off my needles (bypassing its camera moment altogether.) I told him, Now to be fair, the others need to pick one for someone they love, too, and his face lit up in happy anticipation for their sakes as he told me he’d let them know.


Winding up, winding down
Monday November 29th 2021, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

This hat is now done, a dark blue one after it nearly so, there’s a multiple-browns skein waiting that needs to stop being in a hank so I can get to it next and the crew again got to watch me working away as they did, too.

The damaged board is gone, so are the telescoping metal temporary-support poles, and my awning is back in one piece looking brand new because some of it is.

But the one who’d chosen a hat in a color so as to put someone else above himself was not there today so no surprise round two happened. It may yet; I hope so, but if not I’ll be grateful for the incentive to get those done wherever they may end up.

The wood of the new siding is not down flush against the patio like the old was, and the guy went over with me all the other ways they had protected that part of the house from future rain (as I tried not to think how the original contractor should have done every bit of that.)

After four weeks, the trailer was full, the cover was pulled across the top for roadworthiness, it was hitched up to the pickup, and off it went towards the dump at long last.

The house looks so, so much better.

Still waiting on the new windows. Still waiting for the skylights to arrive. Still waiting for the exterior painting. Still, someday, the kitchen do-over and the 27-year-old vinyl floors and the driveway….

Still waiting for the new roof to happen.

Still waiting for the rain.

But it’s a start. We got a great start.

Fall colors
Sunday November 28th 2021, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Garden

The California Coffeeberries are in full bloom.

The tall Anya apricot totally gets this changing seasons idea. (And if it’s this big growing in a pot from a seed in January, how big would it be with two years in the ground?)

One of its siblings, less clear on the concept, just started pushing out another new set of leaves. Well okay maybe.

Given the dozens of cartons of them in our driveway every Christmas when I was a kid that Dad had had trucked straight from Florida to our house for a fundraiser for charity, I thought I’d post a picture for my mom of my seven-year-old Page orange tree. A serious windstorm blew through and stripped most of the leaves away but it is determined to get some offspring out into the world. By the looks of it I don’t think it’ll get another chance after this. Can the fruit sugar up without the leaves? I’m doubtful, but curious. They’re supposed to be quite small but not that tiny.

Meantime, as I type this, I realize the hat I was working on today is the colors of the Page’s yellows, greens, and a bit of the dirt below. Of the skeins I bought yesterday, that one was immediately compelling and I had to write this to find out why.

I may have picked that up along the way
Saturday November 27th 2021, 9:17 pm
Filed under: Knit,LYS

(The colors are better than my phone claims.)

I finished another hat for the work crew; I’ll run the ends in when they’re here so they can feel like they got to see part of that one happening, too. Man, it feels good. And I did get to Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco and stocked up on guy colors and started in on the next.

The skein that’s still in the hank is the one that arrived as expected from Imagiknit, along with the usual business card.

But the other side of it is no longer blank.

Imagiknit got bought out this past summer by one of its former employees, and one can only wonder in astonishment at what some customer must have said to elicit this.

And then I laughed, hard, thinking who this got sent to, because, yeah.


Oh any day’ll do
Friday November 26th 2021, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Food,History,Knit

Imagiknit let me know my Pocion Mecha yarn is on its way. I bought a single skein to leave the possibility open of getting to a LYS tomorrow and picking out more hat yarn in person but I wanted to know that that colorway would be here before the workers return, and tomorrow it should be.

On a random note of practicality: I read somewhere that the best way to freeze unused sourdough starter is to spread it out on parchment paper and then as soon as it’s frozen, crumble it into a small freezer container, giving it an easily-accessible form for later. So I just did that, wondering if it would pour out all over the place but it didn’t and finagling the parchment into the freezer space contained the starter, so, cool.

And randomness for its own sake: the Washington Post offers its subscribers a scanned-in shot of what the front page was the day (please fill in this form thank you) one was born.

Okay, I figured that was just trolling for data, but still, I was curious.

Below the fold, there was a story of a judge who’d had twenty young azalea bushes stolen from his yard while he was having a weekend at the beach, carefully spaded out of there.

It lists his home address, notes his tony neighborhood and the prices of the houses, and says the thieves even got the ones behind his ten foot fence.

Who on earth is allowed to have a ten foot fence?

His neighbors were hit that same weekend, and they, too, were at the beach. Their roses too were left untouched.

A truck was pulled over near that street with a hundred azaleas in back, and the authorities were requiring the driver to offer proof of having purchased them.

Okay, today, that would mean the newspaper doxxed a prominent judge–on the front page, no less.

The kicker is that the date on that newspaper? I was a crawling baby aspiring to walk. So per them, I was, in fact, born yesterday. And more than.

Edited to add: since I wrote that they have corrected the link.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Thursday November 25th 2021, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

I hope everybody had/is having a wonderful Thanksgiving!

We were to go to a friend’s, whose kids we know from when they were growing up, and I had just pulled the promised cranberry pie bars out of the oven a few minutes before when I heard Richard calling me.

He wanted a barf bowl for the migraine that had suddenly walloped him upside the head and he needed to go lie down with an ice pack in as dark a room as he could get.

I sent Karen a note with my thanks and apologies. I offered to drop the cookies by.

He got up a few hours later and seemed to be doing better.

I sent Karen a note. I said we were hoping that that would last, but just please know that we were tentative and I’m so sorry. (While glad she had a big enough crew coming that two people would not make a difference on the food one way or another.)

But it looked for awhile there like we were good after all. I got the little things done like covering the mango tree for the night (we hit 36F last night) to be ready and then noted that it was about time to go.

And that was his moment of truth. He wanted to go, he really did–but his head just couldn’t manage it. He was only barely upright.

I sent Karen a note, and then I drove to her house and dropped off three strong paper plates’ worth of cookies, hoping they would be enough with all her kids and grandkids snarfing them down.

But the house was dark. There was a string of white Christmas lights on in front of the door, which had me hopeful for a moment and knocking again only louder this time, and the side yard seemed set up so as to be pretty ready–but there was not a soul around. Huh. So I left the cookies on the doorstep a little off to the side so they would have a chance to see them before they stepped in the corn-syruped stickiness and headed home, glad that it wasn’t quite dark yet.

I have somehow reached the official Old Lady status of not liking to drive at night. Richard’s cataracts have been operated on. But he wasn’t there.

Got home, searched through the piles of emails back and forth from this past week, and there it was: it was going to be at her son’s house on X street. She’d never told me the actual address because, as she told me later, Who looks at the numbers? You just go to the one you always go to. (While noting that yeah, that wouldn’t work for me would it.)

And that is how one friend who is deaf and texts or emails missed signals with one who apparently doesn’t own a cellphone and how do you reach someone when their only phone is their landline and they’re not home? She got not one of those messages today. I thought they were going to her phone. Nope. Her desktop.

She finally called me, wondering where we were. I apologized and explained and told her I hoped she wouldn’t find herself in the middle of a raccoon/skunk fight over those cranberry bars when she gets home. She hoped I at least would still come, and I explained about the night driving, and since she’s older than me she totally got that.

Coming home from dropping off those cookies at dusk, a woman I’d never seen before, dressed in dark clothes, had stepped out in the middle of the street in front of my silent Prius a few minutes before. I saw her in time–but what if someday I might not, and so no, I don’t take that chance.

Turns out that the person I’d stopped and waited for to either cross or notice me and that I’d waved hi to when she finally did was my new next-door neighbor’s mom, out for a walk after dinner.

Anyway. So that is how we had our first-ever (Costco) stuffed chicken breast Thanksgiving dinner.

Tradition-heretic that I am, I’d always wanted to ditch the turkey.

Worker beanies
Wednesday November 24th 2021, 9:51 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Today, with Thanksgiving tomorrow, seemed a good time. Especially with one of them looking up at all the changes and saying with great satisfaction that our house was almost done.

But suddenly the two who were there most of the day and have done most of the work were heading from the back yard towards their cars, so on the other side of the house I stepped out the front door and after the one I could see from there.

He’s the one who shows up the earliest and often leaves last, determined to get more done.

Turns out they weren’t leaving yet, they were just putting a few things away, but what did I know. So let’s give them more to put away.

Romero’s face lit up, surprised, as I repeated my offer, holding out a ziplock crammed with colors. Whichever hat you would like.

He immediately went for the foggy blue-gray while telling me why. “I watched you make it!” (As I thought, Ah, I must have been working on that one while you were removing the nearby part of the awning. That sounds right.)

At that Armando stepped into view over by his car and I went oh there you are! and offered him his choice. He chose a fairly bright purple, and I never would have guessed that. Romero had followed me over towards his friend and put his blue-gray one on, showing off with the biggest smile.

The third guy, who has spent less time here, arrived a bit later and chose the Jupiter red. Armando, waving from the roof at that point, teased me that he’d like to pick one out too and I laughed.

It wasn’t till after they’d all left that the obvious hit me that his immediate reaction to my offer had probably been to pick one for his wife or his daughter he’s told me a little about, and that what he was really saying was, actually, he’d like to have one, too.

I can be slow at the wrong moments.

I’ll ask on Monday when they come back–if, but only if, I have an extra by then for all of them, so maybe that’s why I’d needed to be lagging on the uptake back there.

Said the woman who just dove into a new afghan project because I seem to be on a roll with those and even with the slow-going ribbing edging it’s already past 4″.

She finally got hers
Tuesday November 23rd 2021, 9:18 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

It was starting to feel a bit silly to both of us–we were trying, but we kept missing each other, so I finally emailed Kat this picture of why I wanted to catch up with her. She had made me that glorious slab from our old tree, and as I put it, I wanted to redwood you back.

She was gobsmacked.

And so we set a time for the morrow.

I was walking towards her house and turns out she was walking towards mine, which so much captured the earlier email dance-and-misses and we both laughed at finding each other right there halfway.

I pulled it out of the tote so she could see it in the sunlight for real.

She did a small gasp. She loved it. I got to tell her why I did it how I did it. A little about Malabrigo–how their start-up mill burned down and they rebuilt using solar power and what good folks they are in person.

She loved the colors, she loved the memorial to that tree, she loves working with her hands herself, and said, We do the different ends of the spectrum–me with the wood and you with this softness.

She was very very happy with that softness.

She has two big dogs.

My late cousin John had had two big dogs.

I’d explained in the emails that I’d once made my cousin a handspun hand knitted afghan and his dogs had shredded it beyond repair, thus the zipped tote bag (yay for 60% off free shipping!) that was coming with this to store it in.

She wanted to know how long it takes to make such a thing. And then she asked me a question that was clearly only a part of what she’d been wondering: Do you knit, like, all the time?

Just about every day–as I quietly remembered that day when she’d showed up at my door and almost apologized because of the time lapse I knew nothing of between when she’d envisioned surprising me and when she actually did. Well, hey, wood has to cure for a year, doesn’t it? Seeing where she seemed to be going with this, I added, Except not always. Sometimes it just kind of leaves me for awhile.

Kat: And you have to find your inspiration, you have to have someone to do it for, right?

Me: YES!

She told me she’d often thought about selling her woodwork. And yet, and yet–she just got so much more out of doing it to give it and to share it.

I’d had no. idea. None. I’d had such a great friend around the corner all this time and would still not have known it had she not gifted me first.

I came away so intensely grateful that I’d listened to the muse that had insisted, You need to knit her a redwood and honey you really need to go big.

Three Atlases
Monday November 22nd 2021, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Life

Today they were working in the foot of the L at the back patio–meaning the other side of the glass from my left as I knitted or answered email, so we could watch each other at work but tried not to too much nor too blatantly.

I told them I only take pictures when their faces aren’t showing. I did want to have a record of the progress, though.

I finished the dark green hat. Considered a moment, the timing seemed a no, and it got tucked away with the others. Considered starting a fifth new one but something in me screamed NO MORE HATS RIGHT NOW so the silk afghan finally got back its place at the front of the line.

I’d thought it was going to make it to 70 repeats but at 65 those cones are going down fast. I debated trying to finish it tonight so I could say I had, but, y’know? Six hours with scattered short breaks was enough needle time for one day.

Meantime, one of the first things they did was to set up telescoping metal poles to play Atlas and support the awning while they took some of it apart. The rotted piece had to go.

The ends of those boards are just ending in random air. For now.



Sunday November 21st 2021, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

A friend’s mention of a concert she sang in years ago sparks this memory.

When my kids were growing up, the middle school had a fantastic music teacher: Tim loved the kids and he loved the music and everybody wanted to be in his class. Rumor was, though, that the program pretty much dead-ended when you graduated.

Fortunately for us, my oldest started high school the year they hired Theron. Theron was a master teacher himself, and suddenly the band and orchestra room was the place to be–our kids were in great hands.

I think it was his third year there that Theron, tall and thin, was found to have a 15 lb. stomach tumor.

This was in the bad old days before the ACA: you had to keep going to work to keep your insurance to cover your treatments when you got sick no matter how sick you got.

I knitted him a handspun afghan in a Tree of Life design from wool my folks had bought me for Christmas that year after I’d found a one-time source for a merino lambswool that was finer than cashmere and fur-like in its softness. Memory wants to put it at 14 microns. It just felt like it was meant to be for him.

The other teachers in the district donated their sick leave to save their colleague’s not just insurance but his very life.

But someone still had to teach that jazz class. Someone still had to lead the high school marching band. Tim drove over from the other school to fill in. He knew the kids already knew him and that it would be a comfort to them as well as him in being a familiar face while doing what he could for his friend.

Theron recovered and for awhile it looked like they were right when they said they got it all.

He was there for Back To School night–but I knew. As I said to him later, I don’t think anyone noticed who’s only always been healthy. But to my eyes, he wasn’t just leaning on the music stand because it had been a long day, his face and his body gave him away.

He was on sick leave again almost immediately. He was 35.

At his funeral there were pictures of his life that were a surprise to me but not to some of the kids, even though Theron had never spoken about being gay. His family sat on the right at the front of the chapel, shooting angry glances to the left half in the direction of his partner and friends.

I found that unspeakably sad for all of them. I did not get a chance to introduce myself to them–it felt to me like they didn’t want to talk to anybody they didn’t know.

But I did afterward to the grieving man who did not deserve that extra hurt.

He realized that I was the one who had made that afghan.

In his grief he comforted me by making a point of telling me that Theron had requested that afghan be kept right there on the bed with him at all times his last week on this earth.

He had wanted me to know.

Tim stepped into the high school job altogether and working with the vocal teacher had the choir and orchestra learn Mozart’s Requiem for their joint December concert.

The final piece was If Thou Be Near.

The kids poured their love, their grief, and all that they had into those perfect notes and I found myself in tears. It was one of the most powerful musical experiences of my life.

I caught Tim afterwards and thanked him for teaching our kids, thanked him for choosing that music.

And, I said, he was. ‘If thou be near’–Theron was there. So proud of those kids, so grateful to you, so appreciating the music, so loving–he was there.

Tim’s eyes were full as he nodded, Yes. And then said it out loud: Yes.

Don’t roll your eyes
Saturday November 20th 2021, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Politics

Tracy Ullman as Angela Merkel. Somehow I had missed out on this till now.