Month: September 2014

Conversation by generation

With my granddaughter, watching me knit:

“Grandma, what are you knitting?”

“A gift for a friend.”

(Whispered by her mom: “Maybe Grandma would make you something if you asked her nicely.”

(“Like what?”

(“Oh, a hat, a scarf, some gloves, a sweater…”

(Eyes light up, smile opens wide. “A sweater!!”)

“Grandma, would you make me a sweater?”

“I’d love to! What color would you like?”

(Wide, excited eyes) “Green! I want green!”

“Would you like the kind with buttons down the front or the k—”

“Buttons! I want buttons! And green!”

“Would you like to go to the yarn store tomorrow and pick out the yarn?”

“Green! I want green!”

Mom: “There’s lots of colors of green, you know.”

Grandma: “You could pick light green, dark green…”

“Yes, yes! Let’s go to the store and get yarn!”

(Next day, after yarn—which was an adventure all its own—and buttons—likewise—have been purchased.)

I’m sitting on the couch finishing up one part of the gift. Delighta walks up to me, slight frown on her forehead.

“Grandma, where’s my sweater?”

“I haven’t started it yet. It will take a long, long time to make. I’m knitting you a little square of the yarn you picked out so you can remember what color it will be.”

Silence for a few seconds, then, “Grandma, are you starting my sweater yet?”

(Later, when I handed her the little swatch of green yarn with a double cable dropped in the middle. On a piece that small—maybe 2.5″ square—it looks more like a booboo than a cable. She shows it to her mother and mumbles.)

“Oh, boy. It’s not very good.”


Jan. 11, 1988

Snaotheus and I had another of those “visits” last night (a fairly frequent occurrence at the time, when he had such difficulty slowing his brain down to go to sleep. He’d creep downstairs, crawl into my lap in the beat-up old brown fuzzy chair, and proceed to bounce his brain off the wall [and me] until it got tired). I was trying to explain to him how to close your eyes and visualize relaxing, pleasant images ( something I am so very good at ).

Snaotheus: But when I close my eyes, I don’t see the pictures too clear, Mom. Parts are missing.

Me: That’s OK. Just think about how they make you feel—sort of quiet inside. Now close your eyes…

He does. Long time passes while his closed eyelids tremble, flickering skin so delicate, so nearly transparent you can see every tiny vein and artery.

Me: Now, what do you see?

Snaotheus: (L-o-n-g pause) Mom. (L-o-n-g pause. Finally…)

Me: What?

Snaotheus: It mostly looks pretty black.

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All gone, a-a-a-a-all gone

No more big looming trees that will fall and crush me in the next high winds. The loggers came and took them out this morning. Now you can see way up the little coulee (which doesn’t show too well in the photo), and that baby is gonna channel high winds right smack at the back of my house. Well, at this point all I can say is I hope the roof stays on.

The loggers were very sweet; even offered to leave a tree in place if I was particularly fond of it. “Fond” and “death by crushing” don’t leave a lot of negotiating room, though, so they’re gone. I will say one thing two things: It smells really nice back there, and I think I’m allergic to cedar as well as junipers. I hauled one branch over the fence that I asked them to leave so I could make a walking stick, and I itch every place it touched me.



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A little bit happy, a fair bit sad

Since the developers clear-cut the mountain to the north of me last fall, I’ve noticed a distinct change in the wind patterns during winter storms. Wind used to come from the south, in which case it would have blown trees down away from my house. Now winds come from the north, meaning any trees that blow down will land on my house, which has enough problems already.

This is a serious approach-avoidance situation. I love those trees, especially the ones in the back. They feel like a big warm hug from Mother Nature every time I go back there. I’ve even been thinking of putting a small deck-like structure back there so I can sit out under the trees.

They are also extremely tall, and four of them are western cedars, which have notoriously shallow root systems.

The logger agreed (or it was negotiated with him by one of my neighbors, who has taken the lead in trying to keep as much forest for us as possible) to leave a 30-foot buffer between his clear-cut area and the back ends of our north-side houses. Largely because [expletive deleted] put the houses back there either directly on the property line or slopped around with the surveying, nobody knew they essentially had no back yard. Either a screw-up or an intentional mess is possible, given the other crap [expletive deleted] pulled. All those folks who thought they had a fair bit of forest behind their houses found out last fall that they. . . don’t. The logger was kind enough to designate the buffer area to help make up for that (although it won’t be permanent).

We’ve all noticed the wind pattern change and one fellow had a tree fall on his house last winter during a storm. There’s a legal wossname attached to all our properties absolving the landowner to the north of any responsibility if trees fall onto us, so if they fall, we bear the cost. The logger doesn’t have to, but he offered to go through the buffer behind each of our houses and take out the trees most likely to fall over and crush us in our sleep. That’s a kind thing.

Today the logger came by and agreed to take out I believe it was four of my biggest trees. They’re dangerous; they’re huge trees, well over 50 feet tall, and they have big trunks and are no more than 10 feet from the house. If the wind knocks one of ’em over, I am squished like roadkill. Soon, a guy will be out to start cutting down trees.

The trees around this place are the chief reason I bought it in the first place. There is something about trees—big trees—that makes me feel secure, even though I know that’s stupid given their propensity for falling over. I love those trees. I will miss them terribly. This will also eliminate still more of the Douglas squirrels’ habitat, which makes me very unhappy.

There you have it: A little bit happy, in that a danger will be eliminated at no cost to me (and it would cost many, many large if I did have to pay for it); a lot sad, in that I lose well-loved trees and the squirrels more of their home.



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New weed

After several years of diligence, vigilance, and other such-sounding words, not to mention merciless extermination, I have gained a small measure of ascension over the bittercress, the weed that was my nemesis for lo, these many years.

Now, it seems, a new one has ridden in on a bag of soil I got last spring. This stuff spreads like crazy: One morning, you’ll find one tiny plant; the next day, there’ll be a four-square-foot carpet of the stuff. I don’t know how it does it.

I’m still on a quest to find out what it is. Not clover, because the flowers aren’t right and the leaf color isn’t, either. It has a sour taste that reminds me of a tiny-leaved plant I called clover when I was tiny wee little, and used to pull it out of lawns and eat it. Don’t know if my parents ever knew that; if they had, I’m sure I wouldn’t have eaten it for long. Here’s what it looks like:


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Happy plants

Intending to get past the previous post, which evidenced at least a touch of humor about the present $@#^$$! House Project, which has become distinctly Not Humorous over the course of the day, I offer evidence of at least one thing I’ve gotten right this summer.

Since earlier iterations of trellis-like objects have not persuaded the clematis on the enormous and hideous retaining wall to grow in a fashion that would disguise said hideous retaining wall, this year I hung up a big sheet of doubled deer (or maybe it’s bird) netting. It took a little effort to convince them to grow on/under/around it, but once they got the idea, they went to town. Sadly, I’ve still had to rip and chop and kick and otherwise dissuade them from growing out onto the driveway, grabbing unwary walkers and small animals by the neck, and yanking them to their dooms.

Two views of the two—that’s two, 10, 2, II—cherry tomato plants I put in. Here, they’ve managed to encroach upon the boundary bushes to the right and are reaching hungrily for the dying peas on the left. Not to mention creeping toward the stairs, probably hoping to catch me in an unwary moment. That bed is probably eight or nine, no more than 10 feet wide at that end.


They’ve also pretty well taken over the entire length of that bed, which is roughly 12 or 14 feet, maybe a tish more. The leaves cowering in the front left-hand corner are the blueberry bush that was formerly the largest thing in that bed. I’m used to the asparagus growing a canopy that prevents anyone walking past it, but these TWO MEASLY TOMATO PLANTS have gone way beyond the bonkers stage. It’s scary out there.


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