Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Potato Fruit -- Don't Eat Them


Aren't those the cutest little tomatoes, you may think.

No, as a matter of fact, they aren't. They are poisonous fruits of a potato plant.

Potatoes are members of the plant family solanaceae, which includes tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and tomatillos. Those are the friendly solanaceae, but you have to remember that the family also includes deadly nightshade and datura, which are poisonous.

I'd never seen this on a potato plant, but an internet search suggests that potatoes will set fruit like this when growing conditions include long daylight hours and a cool temperature.

Well, that would certainly be here, in 2023, when we were still building a fire in the woodstove in May (ridiculous) when normally we'd have our last wood fire in February.

They say that if you let the fruit mature, and use their seeds to plant potatoes, that you can come up with some interesting new varieties. Maybe one day we'll fence off a fruit-producing potato and try that.

But for now, we trimmed the fruit off and put it in the city composting cans -- we have toddlers in the neighborhood who know that we grow sweet little Sun Gold tomatoes and are not above making expeditions to our front yard to view the goldfish pond and sample the veggies and fruits.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

NFL Football Season Will Motivate Me

There is a certain angle of sunlight that streams in the southern windows during NFL Football season. The windows are on either side of the 65-inch TV, and the glare from the bare upper part of the window makes it dreadful to watch anything, let alone a tiny image of a football doinking off a goal post to ruin a kicker's life. 

Some years ago, I made canvas panels from a dropcloth, thinking the custom window covers would reduce if not eliminate the glare. I don't remember what year it was -- I think it was pre-Covid, but it was the same year that someone had smeared some blue food coloring on one of my white dish towels in the kitchen -- that would have been somewhere around Easter -- and the blue stain was still there for autumn.

Long-lasting stain + natural canvas panel = Idea/Experiment/Creative Itch

I wet the canvas panels with a spray bottle, then painted a little scene of autumn leaves in colors of food coloring: red, yellow, green, and blue. It was cute, and did cut the glare.

Lo, these several years later, the greens and yellows had faded from the harsh California sun, but the blue and the red were still there. (Think about that the next time you eat red velvet cake.) And in these same several years, I've grown more bold with painting with color. 

Taking the old canvas panels outside, I wet them down with the spray bottle again, and then attacked with lots of food coloring, no more little cute dabs -- and then set them upright against a sawhorse for about two minutes. The colors ran together in a riot! I laid them flat again and let them dry. This is the result:


I asked Bernie if he wanted me to use a Sharpie and do something more representational with the design, but he liked it better as a more abstract image. I think I do, too.

More fun than making curtains.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Back Out Into the World

The summer after Covid hit, only businesses that were essential were open. Groceries, pharmacies, doctors' offices. By fall, there were limited openings for other things, and the number of Covid cases began to rise almost immediately.

It was still January of 2020 when I last had my hair cut. In August, I was using little clips to keep the hair out of my eyes and off my neck. I could have gone in for a "safe" haircut, but to me, getting my hair cut in a salon (when I'm not going anywhere anyway) is not an essential need.

Over the winter, the longer hair was kind of nice. Warm on cold nights, and when I washed it, I could dry it in front of the woodstove.

By the following spring, my hair was long enough to put up in a clip, and even looked nice.

But enough is enough. Warm weather in front of summer of 2022 found my hair too long for a clip. The same time period, Lillian's curly mop was getting too big to stuff under her uniform cap. She came striding through the house, calling, "That's it! I'm getting this junk shaved off!"

I grabbed my purse, my mask, and hitched a ride.

The hairdresser, when it came my turn, grabbed as much hair as she could and just scissored the whole clump off. She showed it to me -- looked like road kill -- and then tossed it in a heap on the floor and proceeded to shear.

What a relief!

I know I am a 68-year-old woman, and being a beauty isn't in the cards any more, but dang, this is much more madly me.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Seder 2022


The last time that tablecloth graced my table was in the spring of 2019. 

2020 rolled in, and the quarantine made celebrating Seder a thing of the past. We did an impromptu mini-Seder that year, and I cried through the whole thing, missing the camaraderie of the Table Friends, the Haverim. We did a family Seder in 2021, and I blubbered through most of that one, too. Would we ever be able to sit Seder with the table fellows again?

 This year, we were able to have a small Seder with our friends the Vierras, who are more like family than most of our families were. There were only nine of us, compared to the sometimes 27 there used to be; it was wonderful, and I only choked up once or twice. (I did my blubbering earlier in the day.)

We sang, we prayed, we recounted the Exodus from Egypt, we laughed, we lamented Haverim who have died since the last Seder. We broke matza, dipped it in horseradish and haroset, munched parsley from my garden, and thanked God for our fellowship and our freedom. 

It was beautiful, and most deeply appreciated once again.

On a silly ending note, it was the first time that Ep and Kermit were allowed to be out in the company. For the most part, they were two gentlemanly dogs, even during the singing. 

Thank you, God Most High.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Eagerly Awaited Beauty


It's that time of year again, one I used to dread long ago before my body adjusted to the fragrance and pollen of almond blossoms. Now, I begin to long for it in January, watching the buds on my almond tree swell, then show tiny white tips, then turn pink, and voila! open in luscious splendor.

The scent from the blossoms is incomparable, better than any perfume. The sound of the bees working the tree is a natural music that gives my heart rest. Knowing that a wild bird planted the tree in exactly the right spot is a prayer meditation on the providence of God.

Yesterday I planted my tomato seeds. Six little pots of Summer Girl (delicious flavor) and nine of Bush Early Girl, (abundant yield). Oh, I'm sure I'll find places for a few more weirdo tomatoes in the next month or so, I always do. But for now, I'll wait and see if the seeds sprout, and feel like a new young mother if they do.

Life is nice, and I'm still masking up any time I go to the store. When the weather was chilly, the mask was pleasant. I have not been sick EVEN. ONE. DAY. since the beginning of the quarantine, and I'm hoping my masks will keep it like that. 

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Milestone Weekend with Dog


Recently, Kermit has become camera-shy, for no particular reason. He'd been lying in the light of the back door, watching the birds, but when I raised the phone to take a picture, he gave me this sidelong look that has more annoyance in it than I would have thought he had in his whole body.

But that's not what this post is about.

Last weekend, Kermit and I went for a walk around the block. The very first time we've done this since the broken wrist episode.

The day of the broken wrist peccadillo, I'd begun training Kermit to walk in a Gentle Leader headstall, and was taking him out on a walk (on a regular collar and leash) as a reward for how well he did with it. Well, we know how that reward turned out. Seven weeks later ... maybe more ... I revisited the headstall training, walking through the house with him in it, rewarding him with kibble, then walking in and out the back door, then back and forth through the side and back yard, then out the gate and onto the driveway, etcetera.

I had to think we were both ready to move out into the world again. He was eager to have the headstall put on his face, and I chanted a mantra in my head that went, "If something comes up, drop the leash. Drop the leash if something comes up," over and over again. We went out the front door, and I suddenly realized that I had on the same shoes, the same clothing, the same sunglasses as I had when we went out and broke my wrist. Briefly, I considered going back in and changing clothes, but instead, cast superstition aside, and down the street we went.

At first, Kermit tugged a little. But by the time we'd rounded the second corner, he relaxed and accepted the limitations. By the time we were two-thirds of the way home, there was no pressure on the leash at all. 

Both of us have been unhealthily inactive since the Wrist Wreck, so it will take a while for us to get back up to the daily 40 minute hike we used to do. But we're getting there.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021



Gorgeous sunset the other evening. If I'm out and about in the house, and see the light change, I rush outside to see what's happening in the sky. We don't often get the spectacular colors like this; more often than not, we have creeping fog occluding the sky at this time of day and season. 

It's very pleasant not to have my hand in a brace or splint. For a while yesterday, I even wore my watch. The freedom of movement has made my hand swell a little, so I left the watch on my bedside table today. But nothing hurts. I like that.

I talked to a woman who was at Radiology in the hospital yesterday when I was. I encountered her first in the waiting area; she tried to rearrange her body in the (very uncomfortable) chair, and yelped in pain as her left wrist contacted the arm of the chair. "Careful," I warned her, knowing just how a damaged wrist can hurt.

Encountering her again in the line for x-rays (more uncomfortable chairs in a different area), I queried, "Did you have a fall?" and held up my left arm with its stiff black brace. At her nod, I told her, "Me, too."

She told me she had just had her cast removed from her arm, and that it still hurt like hell. I didn't tell her it was going to hurt like hell for a couple more weeks, but we chatted about falls and breaks and getting older until I got called in for my x-rays.

That was the first stranger I've talked to since the start of the quarantine in February 2020. 

Her story was so important to me -- I would have gladly had the wait in line go longer to hear about her life. It's why the Piker Press is something I don't want to give up. What people's lives are all about -- that's the most precious thing I get to experience.

Tell me your dreams, tell me what last week was about. Tell me about the things you lie awake at night and imagine (skip the porn, though) about the world. 


Tell me the story of Who You Are.