bus stop

bus stop with homemade purple bench, water fountain, and raspberry canes
This is the second-closest bus stop to my house. Don’t you think the owners/tenants must be lovely people? They provide not only a bench but a water fountain and fresh raspberries! There are more raspberry canes planted in the square of dirt around the bus stop sign.

The first-closest bus stop to my house features a mini Australian Shepherd whose human successfully trained him not to bark at the people waiting right outside his fence, so that’s pretty impressive too.

foliage

wall of foliage

hiding from Google Street View

I’ve been hearing this sound like maybe a tree bough is rubbing against the house, intermittently when a breeze picks up. I went outside and tried to spot where it might be, but the shrubbery and spiderwebs got the better of me. I decided it would be better to get up on the roof and look for it from above, so that’s what I did Saturday morning.

I hauled loppers up there with me, and a sweatshirt to kneel on because the shingle was already painfully hot. There were four or five big trees encroaching on the roof in various places. One bay tree, two maples, plus some hazelnut and walnut all threaded together with clematis vine. And a cedar that’s maybe getting ideas.

I snipped and lopped and heaped the branches on the roof until I’d made enough progress that maybe the roof won’t be such an ideal freeway interchange for rodents– my other objective. Then there was the problem of where to throw it all off the roof– in most places, it would get caught in other greenery long before hitting the ground. I pretty much pitched half of it down from above the back door, and half of it down from above the front entrance to the porch. (Later when Sanguinity went to cut it up, there was way too much for the yard debris bin, so a big pile is waiting for next week.)

I liked the diagonal view across my block from the roof– all the other roofs plus antennae and outbuildings and a jumble of fences, like a Miyazaki cityscape.

Of course, the sound I’d been worrying about is still there, exactly the same as before.

Delta

pink rose

backyard rose

Sanguinity and I caught the bus to happy hour at The Delta after work yesterday. They’re in a sweet spot lately. After the incredible early nineties (oh, the biscuits, oh, the breakfasts, but the cook would literally sit and read a book until he felt like cooking), they got really popular, and dropped some of the best things off their menu, and better not even think about going there on weekends. Now when I say I’m going to the Delta, my co-workers look puzzled and say, “oh, is that on…Mississippi?” It’s still doing fine, they just have time to do things right again. When the waitress overheard that it was my birthday, she brought house-made ice cream and a cookie. We were so full for the walk home and the rest of the night.

serving suggestion

I actually followed the serving suggestion off a Triscuit box. (We have mint growing out back.)box of Reduced Fat Triscuits with picture of cottage cheese, peas, and mint on a triscuit

It was good despite not looking as styled as the photo. Then I finished off the bag of frozen peas by adding them to mac and cheese.


Asali Solomon’s Disgruntled is funny and sad and a coming-of-age novel, but I worry it will fall through the genre cracks because it follows its protagonist, Kenya, from age eight to twenty, and so isn’t sold as YA.


Naomi Shihab Nye’s The Turtle of Oman is slow in a wonderful way. You can get a sense of it from her hilarious-in-parts interview with Roger Sutton. My favorite part was a camping trip in the desert that felt, and feels, eternal.

What to Put on French Fries

Sanguinity over-browned some roux while making creamed spinach and decided to start over. Later she turned the browned batch into Sauce Espagnole, and we rediscovered how wonderful our 1975 edition of Joy of Cooking is:

Legion are the children of this mother-sauce, and only the cook’s clumsiness or lack of ingenuity need convert them into the changelings we lump together as “gravy.”

Graaaaaavy.

Basil

Basil the standard poodle
This is Basil, the standard poodle next door. Sanguinity and I spent the week taking care of him and his kitty. Basil’s interests include playing ball and not being alone. <3 <3 <3

Once, years ago, in a job interview (with people I didn’t like) when asked, “what’s the next thing you’re working on?” I said: “A biography of the trees in Karstula, my grandfather’s village.” That did the trick, the lights went out in their eyes. Boy do I know my trees.

Stephen Kuusisto

canyon report

salmonberry blossom against background of briars and evergreens

  • salmonberries are blooming and skunk cabbages are out! I’m sorry I missed that cute stage when just their snouts are emerging.
  • fresh beaver-work. You know, I think I saw the resident beaver in the water a few weeks ago, but I didn’t see tail or teeth so can’t be sure it wasn’t a nutria. I’ve only seen the beavers a few times; apparently when they’re around humans they shift to being nocturnal, to avoid the riffraff.
  • the bee tree was surprisingly active.
  • no beeps (of the duckling or gosling variety) yet, that I saw.
  • When sanguinity and I were students, everyone got a daffodil bulb in their campus mailbox in the springtime, to go plant wherever you thought best on campus. The canyon hardly had any trails then and wasn’t managed nearly as intensively. Pretty sure there’s no sanctioned planting of random non-native bulbs there now, so seeing the occasional daffodils gives me an Old Reed pleasure.

I’ve been really happy with my New Year’s protocol of everyday walking. I’m currently at two miles a day, which can be split into two unobtrusive walks but is also small enough to tack onto my evening commute without a fuss. It seems so modest, but my monthly Million Mile Ultra numbers are way up.

Bright Morning

cover of Bright Morning

I have been ILL-ing some Margery Williams Bianco, after snagging Winterbound from a Newbery Honor list awhile back and loving it. Kids managing without the grownups! Butch girl makes good!

Other People’s Houses was also good– another sensible teenager on her own, scrambling for temp and domestic jobs in New York City when Plan A has fallen through, and meeting up with her best buddy to commiserate over cheap spaghetti dinners once a week.

Not that I don’t like The Velveteen Rabbit fine, but so far I’ve tried to stay away from the toy-and-doll end of her work, and more toward YA, going by titles and page counts in the card catalog. So I was surprised when Bright Morning turned out to be a sort of “Little House in Victorian London,” stories from the daily lives of sisters age 6 and 8, in a well-to-do family in Kensington.

I assume the delicious domestic details come from the author’s childhood memories, as she was born in 1881 and moved to the U.S. when she was about nine. (The book was published in 1942.) One of my favorite chapters had Mama fretting about when to call the chimney-sweeps in, because once they’ve cleaned everything out, you don’t want to light any more fires that spring and mess it up again. If there’s a cold snap, you’ll just have to shiver. Anyway, once the fireplace is swept clean, it has to be filled for the summer with a cascade of decorative white horsehair with tinsel mixed in. But Papa keeps absent-mindedly continuing to flick his receipts and burnt matches into the fireplace, and they have to be picked out again. So Papa decides to get a WASTEPAPER BASKET, only he and Mama have different ideas about what a proper one is…

I ate it up! It all had the immediacy and detail with which I remember my own childhood. (Wait til you read what respectable bathing at the seashore was like.) The writing reminds me of Elizabeth Enright–maybe I just love 1940s prose?–and I think Betsy-Tacy fans would feel at home too. I’m eager to see what will come in for me next.