Monday October 31st 2022, 8:37 pm
Filed under: Friends,History

A few months ago I saw some handwoven blankets on Etsy from the Carpathian mountains and saved a few to my Favorites just so I’d be able to find them again–just to admire.

Knowing none of that, my friend Anne sent me a link yesterday to a video about those same craftspeople, and I loved getting to see who they are as they worked, the gorgeous hills they live in, so many details close up.

There–right there at the six minute mark, what I’d caught a small glimpse of was suddenly plainly visible: the woman was wearing the same vyshyvanka I was wearing right then as I watched her. (This one is very close.)

Mine had come from her part of their country.

I wondered if the needleworkers knew each other. Each region has traditional patterns and colors…

Should I ever buy a blanket of theirs (that would make me toasty-comfortable in winter and my husband way too hot), I’ll send those weavers a picture of me holding their blanket. Wearing our shirt.

Slava Ukraini.

Dress-up time
Sunday October 30th 2022, 9:05 pm
Filed under: Family

Three and five year olds wanting to FaceTime their grandparents to tell us in great excitement that they’re going to be unicorns!!! for Halloween is the best thing ever.

With the three year old wearing her Wonder Woman t-shirt as she tells you this.

From Ukraine with determination
Saturday October 29th 2022, 10:07 pm
Filed under: History,Life

Yesterday, the day after the gerdan arrived, the doorbell rang.

It was almost deja vue–if only the war had ended.

The mailman (the guy who shows up on our regular guy’s day off, which rotates forward one day of each week) had a package for me to sign for, and clearly he’d read the return address because he exclaimed, “Kherson?!”

“Yes, where the fighting’s been going on.” I told him; “It’s a dress for my granddaughter. They also sell t-shirts that are anti-Putin and anti-Russia.”

I didn’t have to say, Nerves of steel there, man; he felt it. We both looked at each other in amazement as I handed him back his little handheld and its pen, at the sheer determined ordinariness of commerce in the face of all that.

At least I have this one thing I can do for them, and the means to do it.

Same company the birds t-shirt had come from (in a completely random color but they got it out of there.) They’re still getting things mailed. (The dress only came in the one color.)

I think it’s actually too small and might have to be a gift to a niebling’s toddler, but I’d still really like one for Lillian.

We just might end up with a do-over on that conversation.

Friday October 28th 2022, 8:04 pm
Filed under: Politics

The mail came.

Rarely does a political flier at election season bother me enough to make me go, WHAAAAAT?

He claims our House Representative, a Democrat well known locally because she’s worked hard these many years at serving her constituents, is in cahoots with Kevin McCarthy to destroy Medicare.  And to back himself up he references his Mercury News op-ed, offering a link to–notice, not at the Merc but his website. Data harvesting R Us.

I’m on her mailing list. I know for a fact that if she’d had her way we’d have Medicare for all by now, but that she’s also a pragmatist who was thrilled to see Obamacare pass. She wrote part of it!

I searched every way I could think of on the Merc’s site, trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, but clearly there is no such op-ed there. Even just searching his name and the word Medicare–zero results. He’s lying again.

So having run against her before and lost, now he thinks he just wasn’t dishonest enough? Wow wow and wow.

I have friends who got audited year after year, who got told their quarterly tax payments hadn’t arrived even though they had the stamped registered mail proving they had and pictures of themselves handing the envelopes to the postal clerks. An offhand comment made it clear that one agent took great exception to the (completely innocuous) name of one of them, and they finally in desperation called our Rep’s office.

She promptly slapped an investigation on the local IRS office.

And suddenly everything was resolved and they were told that yes, in fact, they had indeed done everything correctly and on time. Then it happened again the next year. All they had to do was call our Rep and the problem vanished before the investigation even started that time. There was never a problem again.

And nobody knew about it except my very grateful friends, our Rep, and her staff. (And me, because the wife spilled the story one day.) Just part of the job.

Can you imagine, say, Ms. Jewish (sic) Space Lasers bothering with the likes of you if there’s not a camera involved?

We have to pay attention in this election. We have to do our homework. We *have* to vote!

The guy is right about one thing: McCarthy has said outright that he wants to do away with Medicare and Social Security and that if the House goes Republican he will do everything he can to make that happen. Not to expand healthcare to all but to yank it away from all. The rich can live but the rest of you, die, suckers, and women, especially. That’s. What. That. Means.

Roe Roe Roe your vote. And remember that every office matters.

Sunflower sized
Thursday October 27th 2022, 9:25 pm
Filed under: History,Life

The little globetrotter finally showed up after its second trip from Kiev: the beaded sunflower necklace with an upper flower split like falcon wings raised triumphantly to the sky.

It’s big. It definitely announces its presence.

Oleksandra went through so much to make this and get it safely here. I put it on in great glee. (Not pictured: the sunflower ponytail holder she added as a surprise.)

The war, however, did not end, no matter how much I told it to. Darn it.

Not yet.

But it will. And Ukraine will win.

As one person put it today, the US and Russia both believe in freedom of speech: the difference is the US believes in freedom after speech.

And Ukraine is quite willing to give voice to its opinion about which of those two outcomes it chooses.

How long had that been there?
Wednesday October 26th 2022, 9:23 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

There was a small flock. That was the tell.

Given the water restrictions, I only planted one tomato this year, and a Costco plant at that–meaning you take what they’ve got, and all they had was a determinate-type: they grow, they produce all at once, they die.

Personally, I’d prefer a few at a time across the summer, but lazy is as lazy buys.

It gave it its all, though it did space the ripening out just enough. See those dead yellow and brown leaves hanging down?

But since it was right there by the apricot pots I gave a little water to it each time, too. It was still alive. You never know.

It started with the surprise of a small new leaf after weeks without change. Then a few more.

And now it’s a whole plant full of bright little yellow blossoms dressed up for Halloween. Cool! (Let’s see if I can protect it from frost for the winter, but my back isn’t moving that thing quite yet.)

The flowers attracted the attention of a house finch, which clearly hopped in under a wobbly lower edge but couldn’t fly out at bird level but just bounced into the netting, and the more it panicked the more it wanted to go upwards to be safe.

None of which I noticed until I was surprised to see a bunch of finches out there where there was no particular reason for any of them to be–so I stood up and walked to the window to get a better look.

Ah, I see it, yes, they do that. Okay.

I walked outside and lifted the cage. Escape at last.

I came back in grateful once again for the example of simple birds, and at that, a type that’s famous for squabbling at birdfeeders.

But they are unwilling to see their fellow suffer alone. They feel compelled to be with it in its extremity. For as long as it takes.

Rocks and roll
Tuesday October 25th 2022, 4:03 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Why I didn’t drive to Andy’s Orchard today (in retrospect, not that I could have known it at the time.) I would have been driving right past the spot with my tires all bouncing around on a crowded part of the freeway. I somehow decided this morning that, nah, I’ll go Thursday or Friday.

And then the conversation went something like this, as my husband came around the corner:

Did you feel it?

Feel what?

Yeah, I didn’t either.

What? How did we miss it?

Turns out he’d been talking to someone in south San Jose when the 5.1 hit, nice and shallow and close at four miles deep. (Note that he was also on the phone with someone in San Jose when the Loma Prieta hit in ’89 and before the shock waves made it to here, got up and stood in the doorway of his office to prepare for it. Suddenly he heard a colleague down the hall yelling his name, he being the biggest guy on the second floor: Hey! Quit jumping up and down!

Oh wait…

Today’s means, the USGS warns, that there’s a high chance of aftershocks in the next 24 hours. And if we get something stronger then they’ll change the classification to a foreshock. This was on the Calaveras line, which connects to the Hayward fault, which is problematical because in the post-War boom of the 1950’s the fault line was the cheap land and they simply bulldozed it and developed it. Every single hospital on that side of the Bay is within yards of where the earth wants to spit and split.

This is why California decreed in 1994 that by 2020 every hospital in the state had to be seismically able to stay standing in a bigger quake than we’ve ever had. And by 2030 any acute-care facility has to not only be standing but still functional.

We have a friend who was operating on a patient at the VA when the Loma Prieta hit and his unconscious patient was suddenly trying to shoot across the room while all medical personel present grabbed at the guy and held on.

Fun times.

So. What do you do when you have an actual timestamp on that particular possibility? Where the power and even the water could get disrupted, even on this side of the Bay?

You quick run and go do all the laundry so that at least you’ll have clean clothes for as long as possible.

And you don’t wait till evening to hit post on this.

Maybe it will work
Monday October 24th 2022, 9:37 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,History

The best of my Anya apricot attempts. This was a kernel in my fridge two years ago. And now I know it’s going to be glorious to have in the Fall as well as at harvest.

Last night I was talking to my knitting zoom group friends and mentioned that the hat I was working on was the overall gist of the various patterns that someone in Ukraine had embroidered onto three blouses for me; that I wondered how, especially given current circumstances, I could get it to her in Kiev. I wanted to be able to thank her beyond words for all the hours she’d put in on my behalf.

But it had to be a small enough package that she wouldn’t get hit with customs duties. So, a hat.

Note that this is the same soft ball of Mecha that my granddaughter knitted herself a finger puppet out of.

We brainstormed ideas, with one person saying what about going through the embassy?

I have no idea. But I like that one, and I can try. That does make me want all the more to make one for every vendor there I’ve done business with; I can’t imagine what they’ve had to go through.

But only one of them embroidered by hand to order and knew who the recipient would be as she did so.

And I want her to have this.

They only come out at night
Sunday October 23rd 2022, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

While all we’ve seen on our property is possums and a skunk at the front door. Oh and the bunnies.

It does help that we’re not up in the hills.

Beyond words
Saturday October 22nd 2022, 9:33 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

There was a woman’s conference at church. They were holding the first half of it in the room with the worst acoustics in the building by far and I knew I wouldn’t hear a word. Everybody would be part of a shared experience except the woman in the back who doesn’t laugh or gasp or whatever sympathetic thing along with the crowd and how awkward is that for the speaker who doesn’t know. I didn’t want to go.

But when I considered the thing last night, I realized I felt kind of starved for some people time and the very fact that they were finally holding this again was like the Before Times. And that was a privilege. Besides, you can’t do anything for anybody if you don’t show up. I would wear a mask anyway, so my face wouldn’t cause much of a problem, right?

I made very sure I had some knitting with me.

And man, that room was as bad as ever.

And man, did I mess up that pattern and had to just stop about 45 minutes in and put it down; after I got home I tinked back 2/3, but never mind, I fixed it–and messed it up again and ripped it again and fixed it again and that time it actually was fixed and stayed fixed but the whole thing was not one of my more shining moments with a ball of yarn. But at least, in public, it made it look to anyone else like I could do fancy lacy things with yarn–just don’t squint.


When I walked in, I was waved over and invited to a table by some very kind soul I wasn’t sure I’d ever laid eyes on. Who turned out to be a friend of my daughter’s. I started to feel rescued from myself. We found ourselves seated for a breakfast that I’d thought was going to be a lunch at the end so I’d already eaten and I don’t normally like breakfast much in the first place and looking at that lovely fruit plate, I certainly wasn’t going to explain Crohn’s to strangers. But I didn’t dare touch it.

Across from me was a young mom with a small baby, about four months old. Those right around her apparently knew her and chatted with her.

But she was struggling harder than I was to cheer up.  Sleepless nights of early babyhood are hard–or maybe it was postpartum depression, I worried. If I’d thought I was isolated these past few days with no car, remember what it’s like to be at that stage, I told myself.

I ran into a friend after that and we caught up a bit and were late heading into a classroom and tiptoed quietly in at the back.

Right behind that mom.

Her baby fussed a little. I distracted his attention. He smiled. I wiggled a finger puppet on my hand.

She offered silently, Did I want to hold him?

My face lit up. And how!

Oh I tell you. All that pent-up grandmotherhood came pouring out for that sweet little face, and the best thing you can do for the mother of a baby is to adore her child like he’s the most beautiful human being you’ve ever seen. Because he is, every one of them is. Even when they’re fussy. They just are. And so he and I made friends and she–

–she started laughing quietly. At his antics, mine, for sheer joy, and when he finally decided okay, I want my mommy now and started reaching her way I handed him right back and thanked her profusely (quietly) for the great privilege.

She walked out of there happy.

So did I.

Friends forever.

Tell me her name again? I didn’t quite catch it.

Texting, texting, one, two, three
Friday October 21st 2022, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Life

That spammer stopped calling, in fact there have been none the last day or two.

No car repair shops told me, You clicked! on their link that seemed not to do anything so I tried another one and apparently when they’re closed for the night the insurance company’s link to them doesn’t respond. But I half-expected them to know I’d tried and for the phone by the computer to ring endlessly. Nope. The silence has been lovely.

Oh that’s right.

It’s really nice when your handset stops working.

Car stuff
Thursday October 20th 2022, 9:06 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Grateful that the worst hassle of the day was filling out insurance forms together, with both of us proofreading as we went. Did we read his handwriting wrong on the other guy’s phone number? Doesn’t matter, we have the same insurance company, they’ll know who he is.

Daylight offered me a better look and I had to laugh ruefully at the curved stamped-out line of the SUV’s wheel well right above our Prius’s–you could just imagine the sign at Disney: Must be THIS big for this ride.

Well, we did used to call our old first-year model the Maus.

Higher cars are definitely more visible.

Just in case they total ours out simply for old age, (bought summer 2006, finally hit 100k miles a couple of months ago) I’ve been looking at front seat head and leg room on various offerings for what a 6’8″er might be able to fit into.

Having routinely gotten 40 to 50 mpg, we’re not going to go back to worse than that.

Toyota so far has the most safety upgrades as standard equipment for 2023. Bring on the mass-market electrics!

Wednesday October 19th 2022, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

He actually had to go in to the office today, a goodly commute that leaves us glad that that’s a rare thing.

I smooched him goodbye at the door and said cheerfully, Drive carefully!

Somehow that second word just-perceptibly caught at us both and he stopped there a moment, looked me in the eyes, and pronounced, Yes.

I found myself musing afterwards, like, did I really feel that? as he headed down the sidewalk. Said a little prayer for him like I always do and then forgot about the whole thing.

I got the text about an hour later with the pictures of the license and face of the guy who’d sideswiped him at freeway speed at his driver’s door. He’d seen him coming at him but had had a truck right at his other side.

Both men are okay. That’s what matters.

Get ready to be healthy
Tuesday October 18th 2022, 8:16 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Kidney donor Nate is awake and making jokes and his wife and kidney recipient Heather, whose operation started later and went longer, was just awake enough at last cousin check-in (with her sister reporting to the family) that now all they have to do is heal from it all.

Along with a lifetime of her being immunosuppressed now, but hey, a lifetime, now.

To all who Thought Good Thoughts their way or said prayers, I am grateful. Thank you. To life!

275F ~30 min at a guess
Monday October 17th 2022, 9:14 pm
Filed under: Family

Scene: 60-something couple, married ‘life, the universe, and everything’ years.

Him, coming into the kitchen: What’s in the oven?

Her, from the other room: A sweater. (Like, what else do you put in an oven? Does not say that part out loud.) Oh and the last of the raspberry muffins on the counter’s for you.

Him, reaching to munch muffin: A sweater.

Her: Yes.

Him: You are so weird.

Her, beaming in the glow of the compliment: Thank you! It’s to kill the little buggies.

He pops the last of the muffin in his mouth as he walks away shaking his head but gets caught cracking that impish grin.

And scene.