Mascara fish
Wednesday October 21st 2020, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Politics

Cuttlefish quickly take on the colors of whatever is below them.

So just for fun I made a point of wearing colors that matched the yarns I wanted to play with while knitting mine.

They have prominent W-shaped eyelid-looking things that tend to have a lighter layer above, so after nine attempts at graphing out how to do that I finally got one I was happy with. But I did not swatch it. Maybe I should have.

I guffawed when I stopped to take a good look after the last eye stitches were actually done.

And then I had to explain to my millennial daughter what I meant by Tammy Faye Bakker’s eyelashes. My husband chimed in with, “She made Dolly Parton look not made up.”

Meantime, the ballots are good (I added a note to yesterday’s post to make it easy for me to find in four years should I need to remember re the signature question–the answer I got may be specific to my county, though), the ballots are in, and I can’t tell you how good it feels that we have done our part to make our beloved country a better and more hopeful place.

Watch those vote-by-mail envelopes
Tuesday October 20th 2020, 8:55 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Knit,Politics

Everybody in California gets mailed their ballots now as of this election. In our county, I think it’s our second time. 

My plan was to finish and show off the cuttlefish as well as the small blue jelly (which in this bad-lighting picture looks vaguely Star Wars-ish. Or like an enlarged dust mite.) I’m close, too, but then after dinner the daughter and husband pulled out the sample ballots, the phones, a laptop, and started going over the choices. With me running to the desktop in the other room from time to time.

For two hours. And this is with us having already individually read the state Voter’s Guide and various articles over time.

And then with a flourish, to make it official: the actual ballots.

No not that pen, I said, it smudges and we can’t.

Got it all done, signed the envelopes…

…And realized I’d given it my standard signature of name middle initial name.

The envelope said name name name.

Can I sign it both ways?

That got me a groan of, No! (Meaning, do NOT risk it!)

As Richard put it, you get to make someone’s day difficult tomorrow trying to talk to you on the phone while you find out if that’s how you’ve signed their book in the past. Left unspoken was, Or whether you have to wait till November 3 to hand it in in person covid or no covid so the envelope won’t matter. I said I could take it to the county office and ask for a new envelope and then hand it in right there–to be reminded that probably nobody would be there. Covid. Oh right.

So much for dropping them all off together at the official ballot box tonight. But they are filled out and they are ready and we are so ready.


Update Wednesday:

They looked it up for me. Name initial name is what’s on file for both of us, and they have both our signatures from way back when we registered to vote here in 1986 and our signatures from the most recent election, giving them both a range and any progression with age over time, and whether it was a full middle name or just the initial wouldn’t matter anyway, she said; what matters is that it looks like the same hand signed that new ballot.

We’re good.

Clicking her ruby slippers: there’s no place like home, so, show up, already
Sunday October 18th 2020, 7:56 pm
Filed under: Family

 A few more pictures while the babyhood lasts. Those are her big brother’s shoes, which is why she’s having so much fun walking around in them.

I love the funny faces they make when they’re trying to figure out how to say our words.

We FaceTimed with them yesterday, and Lillian abruptly decided she was going to settle this once and for all: she was done with that screen, she was coming to US. Now! Which made our day, and of course she was easily jollied out of her disappointment at our not picking her up from ~1000 miles away.

Meantime, there are a cuttlefish and a blue jelly on the needles with hopes that they’ll be done in a couple of days.

Fourteen months next week
Saturday October 17th 2020, 5:35 pm
Filed under: Family

An antidote and comfort for all that ails in a way that nothing else quite could. You know that old line, “Sleeping like a baby”? For utter contentment it should be, “Smiling like a baby.”

With thanks to the resident hero for restoring the photo function on the blog.


Cousin Jesse
Friday October 16th 2020, 8:51 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Politics

The knitting entirely eluded me so far today. It just… I mean…

My mother-in-law grew up on a dairy farm in the mountains beyond Salt Lake City; her dad, who was also the high school principal, retired by changing it to a cattle ranch.

My husband’s folks drove cross country several summers of his growing up for the kids to help out on the farm and have some of the experiences and chores their mother thought an essential part of their growing up–and she wanted them to know their Utah cousins well.

I got to know them a little, too, the first few years we were married, though in the last few decades it’s all been at weddings or funerals.

One of them married and raised a son with Tim Birt.

I found myself nodding my head at the descriptions of what a nice person their son was; he sounds just like his mom.

Richard showed me the message she’d sent to his phone this morning.

A “well regulated militia” is not crazy people in the middle of the night waving guns at strangers who want to help.

The Zoom funeral is Saturday.

Who knows, maybe I’ll have time to do a second pandemic project after that, too
Wednesday October 14th 2020, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

I’ve almost finished the angelfish after knitting like crazy on it for three days. Deadlines are a wonderful thing. Huge thanks to Afton for the annual Aftober race to finish something, anything, before the end of this month.

So if I end it after this fourteenth critter it’ll be maybe 70″ long.

My rule of thumb is that you make it to the height of the person, because it needs to be long enough to cover their feet and come up to their chin. Note that I am married to someone who is 80″ tall and after all this work it ought to fit him, too.

So far I’m planning on keeping this as my pandemic reminder project, to serve as a template for how to do each fish right the next time if nothing else in this time when we’ve had so much time together. And to remind myself that even when it takes twenty minutes just to get past the colorwork part of the triggerfish every single row, it does get done (and it did), just keep at it, keep going.

A trio of small jellyfish? Another octopus, only smaller than the monster at the bottom? Um? Anybody got a favorite fish to suggest? What should swim at the top?

Or I could just finish it off right there, do the final edging, call it done and be able to finish something else for Aftober, too. I’m so tempted.

Oh, and just for fun (and so I can find it again.) Man, that bass has a great voice.

Zombie gene
Tuesday October 13th 2020, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Life

Biology is weirdly messy sometimes.

Yonder daughter and I were sitting talking after dinner. Her favorite undergrad class at BYU had been evolutionary biology.

She told me, Yeah, the difference between hair and spine? One gene. There was this family in history in Australia that for three generations had no hair–but grew fine spines all over instead, as she motioned towards the hair on, say, one’s arm.

I was gobsmacked. Did they crunch when they hugged?

She had no idea.

I tried to picture how one would style, much less cut, such “hair” and how long it might grow, especially if you couldn’t.

She had no idea. But she assured me it was, like, really fine.

I guffawed and said, You know that this is the perfect Halloween subject to be talking about.

The prof had been talking about the genes. I’m still dying to know how it would have been to live with that and what it would look like. It gives a cool wind through your hair a whole different take–you’d be your own wind chimes.

So new, so perfect
Sunday October 11th 2020, 9:32 pm
Filed under: Family

The news came in that our new grandniece arrived at 4:44 a.m. on 10/10/2020. Welcome to the world, Carolyn!

She was a long cool woman in a black dress
Saturday October 10th 2020, 4:38 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

(Sorry/not sorry for the earworm. I woke up with Frosty the Snowman nonstop in my head this morning, I figure that one’s an upgrade.)

“What’s a kangaroo pocket?” That was a new one on him. He definitely approves of pockets and can’t figure out why women’s clothes almost never have them or why we would buy ones that don’t, but yeah, he knows the answer to that is because they just don’t often make them. The fact that this one did is part of why I bought it.

I put my hands in and then pulled one arm through and out to this side and then the other through and out to the other to demonstrate. There’s this tube sewn on at the openings so it runs across on the inside, see?

It was this maxi cotton/modal black dress, pandemically priced down from $110 (which was ridiculous) to $15 that day (yeah we can definitely do that) and it definitely looked good on.

Machine washable. So I had run it through the laundry first, as I do.

And then I’d tried it on again just to, y’know, make sure it hadn’t shrunk any (but I think mostly because it was new and made me feel pretty and I wanted a dose of that again before putting it away.)

Holy cannoli what a tourniquet, but at least I got it–mostly–on. What happened?! I managed to scramble out again, perplexed and trying not to be upset.

And then it hit me.

So then I had to go show him, waiting for him to laugh. He did.

Oh yeah. It’s got pockets. Just don’t let the subject go over your head.

An answer
Sunday October 04th 2020, 8:04 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Garden,Life,Politics

Pence thought flying to Arizona would get the Mormon vote to turn the state their way.

And on a different note having nothing to do with that…

This was General Conference weekend for the Mormon Church, broadcast from Salt Lake. There was no in-person audience, the speakers were masked while not speaking and sat socially distant, and the Tabernacle Choir was pre-recorded songs from previous Conferences.

And the song they started out with (video link) was, “Oh Say What Is Truth”. The sheet music is in the link below.

31243, Hymns, Oh Say, What Is Truth?, no. 272

1. Oh say, what is truth? ‘Tis the fairest gem
That the riches of worlds can produce,
And priceless the value of truth will be when
The proud monarch’s costliest diadem
Is counted but dross and refuse.

2. Yes, say, what is truth? ‘Tis the brightest prize
To which mortals or Gods can aspire.
Go search in the depths where it glittering lies,
Or ascend in pursuit to the loftiest skies:
‘Tis an aim for the noblest desire.

3. The sceptre may fall from the despot’s grasp
When with winds of stern justice he copes.
But the pillar of truth will endure to the last,
And its firm-rooted bulwarks outstand the rude blast
And the wreck of the fell tyrant’s hopes.

4. Then say, what is truth? ‘Tis the last and the first,
For the limits of time it steps o’er.
Tho the heavens depart and the earth’s fountains burst,
Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst,
Eternal, unchanged, evermore.

Text: John Jaques, 1827-1900

Music: Ellen Knowles Melling, 1820-1905

There were messages of inclusivity for all and they meant all in order to measure up to the teachings of Jesus.

President Nelson said, “I grieve that our black brother and sisters the world over are enduring the pains of racism and prejudice. Today, I call upon our members everywhere to lead out in abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice. I plead with you to promote respect for all of God’s children.”

One of the other things he said leaped out just for me. “We can do hard things.”

I instantly decided to take it personally for my right here and now. My back has been so bad that I couldn’t roll over and get out of bed by myself, which wasn’t helping Richard’s iffy back any. Alright, consciously loosen those muscles. No tensing from fear it’s going to hurt that makes it hurt. You can do this. And yes it will still hurt some, but it won’t get better without doing that.

Richard five minutes ago, watching me rise from a chair and turn to go in the kitchen to get a glass of milk: “You ARE feeling better!”

Better being a relative term, but, yes I definitely am and I’m not afraid of it anymore.

I will add two things: I’m still not stupid, though, and, I have very good friends. Phyl and Lee walked over, watered my wilting veggies and a few trees that needed it most, harvested the four butternut squash that were ripe and at my previously-stated insistence, took one home. I waved thanks and goodbye through the window so as not to give them my flu.

Saturday October 03rd 2020, 7:20 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Husband and daughter negative for covid, just a bug, I finally caught it. Flu shots never entirely take with my immune system (they got theirs two weeks after mine) but they do ameliorate it; fever overnight, already much better but I wrenched my back hard. Ice helps. Tomorrow will be better.

Big green water balloon
Thursday October 01st 2020, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden

Four years after I bought the seeds, I finally planted and harvested a Bradford watermelon, once the most popular in America. But the coming of the railroads pushed them almost to extinction: their rinds were too soft to stack, they didn’t ship well, their market fell apart. Cue Bob Dylan singing, “It’s a hard rind…is going to falllll…”

This article shows you what watermelons looked like in Renaissance paintings; mine with its thick white inner portion isn’t too far off from that.

I’m told my oldest uses watermelon rind in curry but I wouldn’t have a clue how or for that matter why one would, so for the moment there’s a lot of flavor-free melon part that I can’t see what to do with. The actual part you do eat as, y’know, watermelon, is okay but frankly ordinary.

But I can see how it would once have been a very practical thing to have around when you’re at work on a farm on a hot summer day.

There’s a book in the Wizard of Oz series where a little girl (Betsy, I think?) and a man she called Cap’n are shipwrecked at the start of the story. There were melons growing on the island they found themselves on, and Cap’n took satisfaction in that: melons were both food and water, he said; however long it might take to be rescued, they were going to be okay.

That stuck with me because I couldn’t see how you could think of a melon that way. Any melon. Forever after I wondered what the author knew that I didn’t.

Now, I think I do, and I realize that L. Frank Baum was much closer to the time of melons like mine than today’s. And I finally see where the name water-melon comes from.

So much fluid suspended in those cells. Just picking seeds out of one slice I was able to pour off a bit and sample how the juice tasted.

Michelle’s flash of brilliance was that, rather than try to pick all those seeds out, how about using a potato masher on the slices–since there are only three of us to eat all of that and fridge space was at a premium.

I got out one very large bowl and one barely-fitting slice at a time and proceeded to do just that. The Bradford was crisp but collapsed almost without resistance. The interior became little pink icebergs floating in the sea; the seeds rose to the surface and were easy to pick out.

I did it. I grew it. I don’t think I’d ever seen a watermelon growing before. I hadn’t even eaten a watermelon in years. It was fun.

And, curiosity satisfied, I am not spending hundreds of Californian gallons to grow one again.

Blessed be the peacemakers
Tuesday September 29th 2020, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Politics

1. Happy Birthday to Spencer! Who, like Little Cindy Lou Who, is no more than two. A soccergame-type bag full of toddler-sized balls of various sports like his older siblings play with started the little guy’s day off in just his style.

2. The phone finally rang.

They want you *where* in twenty minutes?! (Mentally counting the number of cities away.) Did they know where we live?! C’mon, let’s go! I have never dropped my knitting so fast. He was actually only three minutes late, but I got him there before they closed and that was the important part. Yay for pandemic rush hours, I guess?

3. And then there was the debate.

Trump tried to badmouth his way through the entire thing, loudly, angrily, nonstop, utterly bulldozing Chris Wallace and thinking he could shake Joe Biden that way, who at last said, “Will you shut up, man?” It’s already been made into a t-shirt. Except that you’d have to wear that face.

Kudos to the caption writers who managed to get most of both men’s words even when both were talking, one’s lines in line above the other’s. I don’t know how even people with normal hearing made out what they were saying otherwise. Biden was not going to let Trump simply steal all his time–he wanted to be polite, y’know, have a debate, take turns, be respectful, do it normal, but that just wasn’t possible.

So. We learned that when asked directly, repeatedly, even by someone from Fox that no, Trump will not renounce racism. Instead, he called on the violent militia men like in Charlottesville and Portland to “Stand Back and Stand By,” and to (illegally intimidate) at polling stations (one guess as to which ones). It was a clear call to arms and not as a metaphor. When asked if he would abide by the election results he would not answer but instead called on the Supreme Court to, clearly, call it for him.

Biden, meantime, was trying to put out a firestorm of lies with a single garden hose: “That’s not true,” again and again. A couple of times he simply laughed, because, what are you going to do? You can’t change this guy and get him to abide by the rules or even plain decency.

Biden talked directly to the American people. He said he would not defund the police as Trump claimed but rather would give them actually more resources, not less–so that they could hire mental health professionals to help deal on scene with those who could be helped that way, and so that the police could get better training. He proposed bringing people together in the White House, Black Lives Matters activists and police activists, for them to see that much of what they want is the same thing. More justice. More awareness of how it is to walk in each other’s shoes.

More peacemaking.

You’re only going to get that from one of these guys.

Every vote matters.

Gig case
Friday September 25th 2020, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Musings during the ongoing toss-and-organize and a wow, do we still have that.

Way back when my kids were in band I bought a seriously padded trumpet case. It’s big, because it was the most protective one I could find, because, kids.

It was in the back seat twenty years ago when my youngest and I were rear-ended into another car so hard that the car crumpled up to the back window, the glove compartment spewed open and all over us, the rearview mirror twisted sideways, I lost my sense of balance for life hitting the headrest so hard and the trumpet went flying into the backs of our seats hard enough to seriously damage the bell despite all that padding. West Valley Music spent a month repairing it. But that case helped keep that trumpet from doing worse to us and to it.

So it holds a lot of memories and it has taken a hit, but all you can see is that one side curves inward somewhat. The trumpet continued to be in it till the younger son lost interest after middle school and the older son, who’d had it first and had always done more with it and wanted it more, took it home for his own kids and let it live happily ever after.

In a different case that fits better in their space.

I just offered the padded one (which came from West Valley) to one group, and if that doesn’t work I’ll ask the school district’s music department.

Might as well run with it
Saturday September 05th 2020, 5:42 pm
Filed under: Family

Him, looking at CalFire pictures of where his friend lives up in the mountains and finding things mostly okay in that area: “There’s the poultry farm.”

Me, being deaf: “Upholstery farm? Is that where they tan the naugahides?”