Happy Thanksgiving!
Thursday November 25th 2021, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

I hope everybody had/is having a wonderful Thanksgiving!

We were to go to a friend’s, whose kids we know from when they were growing up, and I had just pulled the promised cranberry pie bars out of the oven a few minutes before when I heard Richard calling me.

He wanted a barf bowl for the migraine that had suddenly walloped him upside the head and he needed to go lie down with an ice pack in as dark a room as he could get.

I sent Karen a note with my thanks and apologies. I offered to drop the cookies by.

He got up a few hours later and seemed to be doing better.

I sent Karen a note. I said we were hoping that that would last, but just please know that we were tentative and I’m so sorry. (While glad she had a big enough crew coming that two people would not make a difference on the food one way or another.)

But it looked for awhile there like we were good after all. I got the little things done like covering the mango tree for the night (we hit 36F last night) to be ready and then noted that it was about time to go.

And that was his moment of truth. He wanted to go, he really did–but his head just couldn’t manage it. He was only barely upright.

I sent Karen a note, and then I drove to her house and dropped off three strong paper plates’ worth of cookies, hoping they would be enough with all her kids and grandkids snarfing them down.

But the house was dark. There was a string of white Christmas lights on in front of the door, which had me hopeful for a moment and knocking again only louder this time, and the side yard seemed set up so as to be pretty ready–but there was not a soul around. Huh. So I left the cookies on the doorstep a little off to the side so they would have a chance to see them before they stepped in the corn-syruped stickiness and headed home, glad that it wasn’t quite dark yet.

I have somehow reached the official Old Lady status of not liking to drive at night. Richard’s cataracts have been operated on. But he wasn’t there.

Got home, searched through the piles of emails back and forth from this past week, and there it was: it was going to be at her son’s house on X street. She’d never told me the actual address because, as she told me later, Who looks at the numbers? You just go to the one you always go to. (While noting that yeah, that wouldn’t work for me would it.)

And that is how one friend who is deaf and texts or emails missed signals with one who apparently doesn’t own a cellphone and how do you reach someone when their only phone is their landline and they’re not home? She got not one of those messages today. I thought they were going to her phone. Nope. Her desktop.

She finally called me, wondering where we were. I apologized and explained and told her I hoped she wouldn’t find herself in the middle of a raccoon/skunk fight over those cranberry bars when she gets home. She hoped I at least would still come, and I explained about the night driving, and since she’s older than me she totally got that.

Coming home from dropping off those cookies at dusk, a woman I’d never seen before, dressed in dark clothes, had stepped out in the middle of the street in front of my silent Prius a few minutes before. I saw her in time–but what if someday I might not, and so no, I don’t take that chance.

Turns out that the person I’d stopped and waited for to either cross or notice me and that I’d waved hi to when she finally did was my new next-door neighbor’s mom, out for a walk after dinner.

Anyway. So that is how we had our first-ever (Costco) stuffed chicken breast Thanksgiving dinner.

Tradition-heretic that I am, I’d always wanted to ditch the turkey.



Can’t wait to meet her
Sunday November 14th 2021, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

There’s nothing like a new baby in the family to make the world feel like a beautiful place. Our niece’s new daughter Emma made Richard’s sister and her husband first-time grandparents on Wednesday.

At Emma’s parents’ wedding, the groom’s father told the tale of arriving at BYU as a freshman from Sweden with no plans for where he was going to live or what he was going to do. A man who had been a Mormon missionary in Sweden years before and knew his family from then happened to live near that campus now and invited him to come stay with his family.

Where he was taken in as if he were their own, to the point that when he eventually married, his benefactors helped him and his bride with the down payment on their first house. Everything, everything he had in his life now, he felt, had all grown from that good man’s generosity, and if only his friend had lived to see this day, how happy it would have made him. He’d recently passed, and the groom’s dad was both overwhelmed with joy for his son and grieving his friend.

He and I had already met by that point, but after hearing that I had to circle back.

“Let me re-introduce myself,” I said, and told him my unusual maiden name.

Which was Swedish.

And the same as his late friend, who was a second cousin to my dad.

He was stunned. He was thrilled. His son had just married into the family that included–!

Welcome to the whole world waiting for your discoveries, little Emma. You are greatly loved here.



Mummy, what do you think?
Sunday November 07th 2021, 9:37 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

We have a friend who lived here for a few years while doing very expensive work on a very rich man’s house in the hills, carefully never named (but at one point one mutual friend was pretty sure he’d figured it out); Troy’s a seventh-generation stone mason in the age-old European tradition of such. He does very careful, very exacting work. You want your 11th century castle restored? You call someone like him for that part.

He has since moved home to Montana.

But I instantly thought of him when my cousin pointed out this listing. Or at least at first.

Thirty-five million (down ten!) and they couldn’t keep the cats from playing a game of chase under the quilt on the badly made bed. Unless that’s a teenager who overslept going oh (bleep)! that the cameraman had arrived and pulling the pillow down over his face. Gotta love how the blanket beneath is throwing a wrench at the system.

Something about that wood floor entry makes me want to go bake a hazelnut torte.

The kitchen: as my cousin put it, Why is there a giant pepper mill holding it up?

Googling the Latin phrase built into the floor, it comes to “Ferocity in Heaven”–huh?–with–what are those? Sheep in wolves’ clothing?

Does Tutankhamen stay?

And was the whole thing supposed to be a set for a Monty Python reunion?



Tag-teamed
Sunday October 31st 2021, 9:13 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

We got our Moderna boosters yesterday (yay!) and figured today was going to be a day for taking it real easy.

I haven’t much minded the desert cottontail in the garden–as long as there was only one. Which had been the case. Yeah it seems to like pomegranates, though I’ve never quite caught it actually eating one, just, the lower ones have mostly disappeared and I’ve seen it by that tree; as long as it didn’t figure out how to get to my netting-protected mangoes we’re good.

Maybe.

But this morning….

And then I went into the kitchen. The dishwasher was flashing an error code. Not working.

He’ll get to it tomorrow. Today was just not the day. Yay for there still being Zoom church, that, we could manage, and then we crashed.

 

 



Honeybee Lane
Saturday October 30th 2021, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

I got an email from my sister.

I would never have expected a real estate listing, of all things, to make me nearly burst into tears. Ohmygosh that hideous yellow on a house designed to disappear and become one with the woods a la Frank Lloyd Wright (who built his youngest son a house three streets away.) More than half the trees are gone. It’s for sale! It’s pending. It’s all but sold. Oh if only. Look how Dad’s fruit trees have grown!

My grandparents thought my folks were crazy: not only was it farther out in the sticks than anyone should have to commute, not only was River Road, now a main artery, reduced to gravel before it got to their turnoff (and it was outside the Beltway, which hadn’t been built yet) but there was a government missile silo protecting Washington DC built into a rock quarry that George Washington had known–at the end of their new street! With warnings and signs and DO NOT TRESPASS on the gate, and c’mon, what do you think curious kids are going to do? It was the height of the Cold War, and the grandparents worried that it and we were going to be blown up. The Soviets surely knew where those were.

And yet.

There was a ten-mile-long watershed preserve with a trail built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Originally that park came right up to the back of the homes on our street, but another builder sweet-talked the county into swapping land so that his neighborhood could have that as a selling point just like ours had had. They required of him the playground equipment in clearings in the park that I remember playing on as a kid; you had to hike that trail a bit to get to them.

I did not quite make it the day I stepped on some leaves and a hiding snake leaped out of there towards the creek as I leaped away in the opposite direction and didn’t stop till I got home.

It was very much a Calvin and Hobbes’ woods kind of a place and a treasure to explore.

After the folks sold our childhood home in ’07 to, they found out afterwards, a woman who wanted to convert it into an assisted living place, I happened to be in town while the remodeling was happening and my brother drove down from New Jersey to see me while I was closer than California.

We drove by the old place. The contractor’s truck was in the driveway. We talked ourselves into it, and then went and knocked on the door.

He was delighted to be able to show off his work to folks who appreciated and really knew what he’d been able to accomplish. Watch your step–the iron railing around the stairs was gone and the new one wasn’t in yet.

There were tire tracks everywhere across the woods in back: the next door neighbors had planted ivy when we were kids for erosion control and that non-native had taken over the world, smothering out the jack-in-the-pulpits, killing the box turtles they fed, strangling the trees. I marveled at the scarred but now bare trunks and ground and told the guy I’d tried to do that as much as humanly possible one Christmas home from college and had found out just how hard it is to pull ivy off a tree.

He’d done it. He’d done it. He’d cleared it all. Amazing. Thank you. I hoped the turtles could come back.

The house is once again a residence, albeit with laundry facilities upstairs and down.

The bomb shelter (it was a thing in 1962) had a toilet but no door nor wall just a don’t come around that corner, I guess in case all eight of us had to dash downstairs fast in the event of an attack and all try to squeeze in there. Or something. It was there so we could if we had to but we never did. Except, really really fast, just once on my part at about ten years old to prove to myself that it actually worked and I was scared of having to say anything if it didn’t, but thankfully it did. Phew!

But now it’s an actual bathroom (hey look a sink too!) and the ugly gray cinderblocks are nowhere to be seen. Yay. The family room has been expanded into where the shelter was and a closet has been made out of part of it. It’s quite nice.

I marveled at the square footage in the listing, and Richard said, It’s a big house! It always was!

It didn’t seem all that big when there were six kids running around making noise in it…

But so yes: this is the house I grew up in. It had natural redwood siding then and Eichler-style windows with floor to ceiling glass looking out on the woods and the bird feeder. It was a neighborhood where everybody knew and cared about everybody.

If you go to street view in the listing, go to the right of the house and down the hill to the first driveway across the street: that siding is what ours looked like and that steep driveway is where I saw Little Stevie with his proud mom right behind him as he was taking some of his very first steps.

That was (shameless name dropping) Stephen Colbert. They moved away when he was four.

Next door to them, the gray house with the deck and the long driveway, I was riding my bike one summer evening on a day we’d gone peach picking and a new family had just moved in but nobody had laid eyes on them yet.

The young mom was out there gardening next to the house and her four year old had wandered down towards the street to see who this new person might be. Her eyes were on the huge ripe peach in my hand and all that juice. (Not a great idea to eat one while riding a bike and I knew it but I was doing it.)

I asked her if she would like one. YES. I asked her to wait while I peddled back to my house and got another one for her. I was back to her in a flash but carefully instructed her, Now, you don’t know me yet so I’m still a stranger. Go ask your mommy first if you can have this.

She ran so fast!

Which is how I got to be their favorite babysitter on the spot.

That listing. I finally got to see the remodeling contractor’s finished work. It’s gorgeous.

And then I sent a note to the realtor, who called me and put me on the line with the buyer’s agent.

I told her, Looking at the pictures, there’s a new-to-me fence around the property. I don’t know if you know but that’s not the property line. We owned past the gully it’s looking down on and to a large tree on the other side in the backyard of the people on Cindy Lane who were behind us, and I have memories that my dad one day went rushing out there as they were pounding nails into it, demanding, Stop. That is MY tree, it’s not yours.

Oh.

The gully wasn’t the property line?

No.

The buyer’s agent listened to that with much interest and thanked me. I added, Now it could be an adverse taking thing, except that my parents didn’t leave until 2008, I believe it was, and Dad would never have let them. (2007, says the listing. Close.)

She thanked me–and I knew the person who’d connected us now had my email address (their site required it) if the buyer has any other questions. And Mom’s still alive to help out, for that matter.

Whoever out there has fallen in love with where we loved growing up, thank you for choosing our home and our neighborhood. You’re really going to love it there. Oh and: when Dad shoveled the driveway after a huge storm even though the roads were still closed and thought he was having a heart attack at 3 a.m. and the ambulance got there in four minutes? They’d put a snowplow blade on so they could get through.

Mom got to, for days, watch people thinking they could cut through the neighborhood by coming down that long steep hill, around the blind corner (where I once got hit by a car on my bike because we couldn’t see each other coming), find that it ended in their driveway and there was not so much as turn around space and they had to back up all the way up that steep snowy icy hill to the main road.

And then the teens next door, when they found out, forever after shoveled the folks’ driveway when it snowed, hoping not to get caught at it and refusing payment when they were.

Good times.



Neanderthal
Friday October 29th 2021, 9:06 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

In July 2006 my husband said he wanted to replace my old minivan for me. I said maybe we should replace his first-generation Prius instead, not that it was so old but because he was so squeezed in there that his knees had cracked the dashboard(!) and it seemed a safety issue to me. I argued for not cutting him off at the knees in an accident.

We went to the Toyota dealership. We looked at cars we could fit the kids into.

But what really grabbed us both was the new generation Prius that had enough room for his legs, even if we would have to give up our quirky pregnant-mouse-look one that proclaimed us as early adopters. (It’s a Silicon Valley thing.)

But it really was the time to do so, if we were going to, because it had some of the rare carpool lane stickers that only went to the first so-many-thousand hybrids; those stickers were going to expire in under two years but such cars were still going for, on average, an extra $4400 at the time. Count dollars against hours saved on commuting and being with your kids and if you could afford it of course you would.

In two years of course the value would be zero.

Richard did not commute on the freeway so the stickers were of no great matter to him personally.

The salesman was surprisingly, exceptionally rude to me. From the moment we walked on the lot he would not acknowledge my existence. I was the one who had done the research, I was the one we’d come to buy for, but anytime I said anything he immediately started talking to Richard over me, every time, while avoiding all eye contact with me, and he never, ever responded to me in any way. Only the man of the house mattered to him. I was utterly invisible.

Excuse me?!

I finally got sufficiently ticked off that I told him I was leaving and they could talk about whatever they wanted. Have a nice day.

I got myself home, got in the other car, and went off to my then-LYS, Purlescence, on that bright summer Saturday afternoon where there would be nice people and I could quietly calm down surrounded by wool fumes.

LYSO Nathania’s then-husband was there, and quite sympathetic when I described that salesman. Yes car dealerships were notorious but since women buy most of the cars in this country, supposedly most of the salesmen had learned or had at least been coached to show some respect. Man, not that one.

I was not expecting it to turn into plotting–but it did: Kevin invited me over to the shop’s classroom space in a separate room in the back, logged onto the computer there, and we tag-teamed for Richard against that salesman over my cellphone. We had decided on replacing the Prius after all and negotiations were just starting.

The guy said the list price was X.

Kevin, googling, which was a slower process back then, said It is not, it’s Y.

The guy said the value of the carpool lane sticker was Z.

Kevin, looking: He’s full of it again, it’s W, like you guys thought.

He said the Blue Book value of the trade-in overall was B.

We told Richard, No, it’s A.

We were going to pay cash so the whole interest rate thing didn’t apply. No padding there.

We were having the time of our lives and that salesman could not argue with someone he could not see nor hear and he had to wait on Richard while Richard did. So there.

Richard came home chuckling. The guy was still willing to make the sale, however grudgingly, to get his sales numbers up for his boss. We got that second Prius for $11k and the 2001 trade-in.

One of his co-workers later told him, License plate so-and-so–is that your old car? That guy tried to tell me some old lady only drove it to church.

Our reaction was, Oh come ON, the oldest cliche in a car salesman’s book?!

So. Our car’s a 2007 bought in 2006. Used it for a 3.5 mile commute, which doubled when the van at last bit the dust and I was doing the drop off/pick up thing just about every day.

This was the year we were finally going to replace it, what with all the safety features of the new ones out there and so many more options to choose from; after years of 40-50 mpg, we’re never going back to bad mileage. Our grandkids only get one planet.

And then of course the house, and the sizes of those reroof/repair contracts, and this isn’t the year.

But you know? We really don’t need to. It works peachy fine. Yeah the fabric’s stained and the seats sag but it’s reliable.

Today, at long last, it answered a question I’d had for a long time as to whether it would start over at 0 the way the cars of my youth did or if it had one more digit hiding in there.

Answer: yes it did. (Picture taken just after I pulled into the driveway and stopped.) Go little car go.



Raising the stakes
Thursday October 28th 2021, 11:06 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

In case you’ve ever wondered about a hawk’s carrying capacity re pets. (The short answer: unless you have a favorite rat running around outside unattended, basically, no worries.)

Meantime, my husband came around the corner this afternoon after a work meeting that I had not realized was a Halloween party by Zoom. I looked up to see my favorite 6’8″er bouncing off the ceiling.

Literally. At the end of the hall where it comes down a bit. I kind of stared a moment, having expected none of this.

Three got kind of squished together in the process, but there were seven of them, and he was looking quite pleased with himself. That costume was so him.

As if having to duck through standard doorframes might not be enough.



No more monitor
Friday October 22nd 2021, 11:16 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

This is long and meandering but it’s late and I don’t have time to edit it.

My cousin Virginia cut her beautiful shoulder-length hair very short and posted pictures on Facebook and got lots of compliments over her new look.

And then she quietly sent out a note to her cousins that she’d had cancer nine years ago, had long since beaten it… and the haircut was to make it seem less abrupt when it starts falling out again.

All those hats knitted as carry-around projects, a moment here, a row there, they were ready.

She said she had a blue one from me from years ago but yes, she’d like a soft white one, very much, thank you.

And so today, I–

Waited till 3 pm. On the nose at the two week mark, off with the heart monitor and into its box to ship back to its manufacturer so they can report to my cardiologist. My skin had a fierce enough reaction to the adhesive that I’m amazed it stayed on. I hope I don’t have to do that again for awhile.

So that got mailed and the white hat, and also one in purples and another in greens. She hadn’t wanted to ask for too much. I had wanted to give her all.the.hats. I compromised.

Andy’s dried slab Blenheim apricots in another box for my mom, the ones picked so ripe they go smush when cut. The best.

And a warm winter outfit to my niece’s baby girl.

But before I headed out for the post office, one last note on the diary notebook to return with the monitor: yes I pushed the button at 3 a.m. this morning but, um, ignore that. I was asleep. Pushing it woke me up that wait, I did what? No. Nothing to see there. I was dreaming.

If only we could solve all health problems that easily.

And then at the end of the day, finally, I knit and got past the tree.

And then said, But what I really want is to go make a batch of chocolate, darn it. We’re out, and the pre-pandemic Trader Joe’s bar doesn’t count.

Wild Bolivian Mix, in the melanger now.

I said to Richard, I calculated wrong so I didn’t put in all the sugar I measured and now I don’t know how much I did and is this sweet enough?

He took a taste and considered thoughtfully: it was good, and yet, “Seems a little too sweet to me.”

And it’s not enough to me, even though I like mine quite dark. Good. Right in between. That means we hit the sweet spot.



When they’re little
Wednesday October 20th 2021, 9:35 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

There was a baby shower by Zoom Sunday for two nieces who are expecting: the idea was, order baby books mailed to them in advance and then let’s all celebrate and talk about our favorites!

I sent Sandra Boynton board books. As one does.

One cousin, whose youngest is about five now, told them, There’s always some lady at a grocery store who will tell you, Oh! They grow up SO fast!

I think that’s a pretty universal experience for young moms, often when the kids are not being their stage-presence best and so trying to get the simplest things done takes forever; I remember when, for a month, I had four kids under age six.

I answered, The days are years and the years are days.



Castle
Monday October 11th 2021, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Meantime, last week the afghan was all of 5.5″ long and I was glad that at least I’d started the thing. I wondered if I would finish it this year. Seriously.

Sitting working on it today the thought occurred to me that since that divine towel snap culminating in the heart monitor Friday, well, it’s 20″ now by roughly 52+” wide.

Remember how I said I ordered all that white and was going to wait for it to arrive? Not only was it not going to arrive today, it hadn’t even been picked up from the shop in San Francisco yet because of the Federal holiday.

So I picked up the two I had, one to each side of the trunk, and ran for it. Will the new match? It’s going to be what it’s going to be, I was not going to lose  days of working time over it. The new will coincide with the start of the green branches, and colors interact with each other and change our perception of them and I’m going to blame any differences on that, or actually, I’m not going to say a word. Any difference will make it match with how the piece changes from the ground up with the three different colorways there.

Forty-eight rows in two days at the easy part. About 225 of the hard part to go.

Meantime, my cousin and her husband bought the house next door to them. (Their daughter showed a before video on Facebook: some of the walls looked like high piles of random snowballs as you walked in, they were crumbling that badly.) But they had always loved that grand old home–my 90 year old mother grew up in that neighborhood, in a house that was not new when her folks bought it–and my cousin’s husband, a doctor, promised the old man living in the basement of his childhood home whom he had looked out for that they would take good care of it.

And wow, look at it now.

I did do a double take and laughed on seeing that wallpaper: I saw it photographed in a mid-century modern in Portland. Circa 1915 is a much better fit.



62
Wednesday October 06th 2021, 8:46 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Lupus

It’s just costochondritis, I told myself. Michelle’s driving to her sister’s in a few hours and I cannot have her wake up in the morning to us being at the hospital over nothing. Inflammation of the lining of the heart sounds terrible but it almost never actually is. All it is is a familiar nuisance.

It’s just a little bit of food poisoning, I thought out loud, wanting to get out of bed and toss that leftover that only I had touched, but I wasn’t going anywhere right then and I knew it.

Awhile later: “Would you google ‘women heart attack symptoms’?”

Turns out I’m not the only one who doesn’t hear well in the dark in the bed at night half asleep, especially when someone’s not talking very loud.

I rolled over on my side and my ribs roared. A silent, Oh, so you *can* do real pain here, not just hints. I rolled back. See? Costochondritis. Had it a million times, you’re just out of practice because it’s been awhile. No real chest pains until you mess with the position of the ribs. Okay, so we can stop worrying about that one.

That sense of–tightness? I think I’d picture it more as my insides being pleated and the stitches pulled tight–I don’t think it had ever been quite like that though. I don’t remember being fitted for a corset. And you don’t get nausea with it–must be the Crohn’s joining in on the autoimmune party. I knew I’d done too much sun time. Right?

Richard asked if he should take me to the hospital and I said I don’t know. Okay, so he did catch on to the gist of it! Just knowing that helped a lot, and very slowly, gradually, a good three hours after it had started during my walking time before it all hit hard at once, it receded enough that I finally fell asleep.

And woke up feeling fine. I threw out that leftover. I forgot about it. Life was normal, just like I wanted it to be. To stay being. Because I said so.

It was 3:30 pm before I finally told myself to stop being stupid and messaged my cardiologist and the response was surprisingly quick and it was obvious and it was quite to the point: “If you have those symptoms again please go to the emergency room.”

The nurse managed not to add, You idiot!

It’s all the costochondritis fake-outs over the last thirty years that are going to trip me up in the end. But, like anticipating earthquakes, the big one is forever not today.

So far so good.

By way of explanation: after having been told from age 13 to age 31 that any of what turned out to be lupus symptoms were, essentially, all in my head, leaving me with a profound sense that I will not be believed by a doctor who doesn’t know me if I complain so I don’t, I now have official permission from one of their own to complain. “Because my cardiologist said so” is what will get me to show up at the ER next time.

I promise to go.

And now excuse me, I’m going to go do my fast-walk thing early so that it hopefully won’t be the middle of the freaking night should anything go wonky.

But maybe not quite as fast. I confess to being slightly spooked.



Screen grab
Sunday October 03rd 2021, 8:11 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

When little ones who’ve been sick (negative for covid, thank heavens) need some cheering up and their parents discover that Trader Joe’s sells kits for Halloween gingerbread houses. Then they add in grandparent and auntie time via the phone to have them watch you break off whatever you want to eat and to cheer you on and it doesn’t get better than that.

Snack! proclaimed Lillian, holding a piece of candy out to the camera for us to see.

Snack! agreed Mathias, with who knows what part of it in his hand (was it the door?) and then he told us a little bit more about it all that I didn’t hear but that’s okay. The smiles and giggles came through loud and clear.



It’s the little things
Monday September 27th 2021, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Lillian was tired and not feeling well tonight so she went running up the stairs to look for her aunt, determined that this time she was going to be there, darnit, because she was the baby and she said so.

Except that Auntie’s at our house.

Mathias just really never did like soccer: other kids would take the ball away from him *without saying please*! No manners! (Never mind that he’d snatch it back in a heartbeat if he could. Still. When you’re four, it’s the principle of the thing.)

So they signed him up for gymnastics. And he loves it.

And so with Lillian needing her auntie time, suddenly a phone buzzed in the kitchen. Grampa was still working, but Auntie and Grammy had a great time giggling with Lillian and cheering Mathias on as he demonstrated again and again how he could now roll over head first. With the occasional splat to the side. Lillian tried doing it, too, got a good clap out of us and then, fading fast, climbed onto a parental lap, content to make faces and watch ours.

Amazing how much of a difference five minutes via a screen can make to all of us.



The plane people
Sunday September 19th 2021, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Today, it turns out, was the day David was giving a talk in our ward. The mask resister guy. I got a quick heads-up early this morning and so we stayed home and watched by Zoom.

This time he was fully on board with wearing one and wearing it correctly, other than when he took it off to speak. Maybe it helped that his parents were visiting and in the audience and in their 80s, but whatever, all my hopes for him to prove to be a good man and worthy of the bishop’s longtime friendship were fully realized as he spoke. It was such a relief.

He talked about living in New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy, and of the goodness of their neighbors who’d helped them out when they’d had no power for eight days and had been flooded out.

About people looking out for the kids of those who lost parents on 9/11.

My sister-in-law was a schoolteacher in that state on that day and many of her kids lost one or both. Her school was put on information lockdown from above: no TVs on, no radio, no kids were to be told anything until the end of the school day, when the ones whose parents worked at the World Trade Centers were to be gathered and told then. They were trying to give the kids one last normal school day in their lives. My SIL had issues with not informing them when they had a right to know.

I wondered if she and he knew anyone in common.

He talked about all kinds of ways people come together and how much it means and how important it is to each of us to actively be a part of that, and also to be willing to receive that goodwill and effort from each other.

He did make one mention in an aside of the pandemic’s passing (Delta? Hello?) that had me rolling my eyes: he’s still got some perseveration on his favorite blind spot, but the rest of his talk had me forgiving him and so very grateful and relieved to be able to get to see this other side of him. I’d so wanted him to be like this in the rest of his life.

And I wanted more of how that felt. So this afternoon I curled up with my newly arrived, updated copy of “The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland.” The author, Jim DeFede, interviewed the townsfolk and the passengers at length in the months after that day and then simply told their stories.

I’m hoping I’ll find an epilogue saying that that cute couple that met there among the thousands of stranded passengers got married, but we’ll see. (No spoilers!)

A book about people being their best to each other in the worst of circumstances.

That couple met because one new friend said to another woman who was the only single in their immediate group, We need to set you up with someone. She stood up, pointed to another plane person dining across the room, made lasso motions at him because she was from Texas so of course she did and told him and her new friend to introduce themselves to each other.

So of course they did. And of course yes he did turn out to be single, too.

So far it’s working out really well! Okay, back to my book.

And the young girl from the town who was staring at probably the only black woman she’d ever seen in her life, to the woman’s serious discomfort. The girl’s mom told her to go ahead, so she did: she went up to the woman and blew her away by asking in great hope, Can I have your autograph?

Making her feel like she was the most special person in the room and looked up to rather than the so out of place foreigner she’d been feeling like up to that second.

So many people who went so out of their way for complete strangers–that’s a very healing book. Thank you, Canada. I highly recommend it.



Dairy-free, too
Thursday September 16th 2021, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Dandelion Chocolates in San Francisco sent out a newsletter a month ago that, among other things, talked about a new bar they’re coming out with in the new year from Hawaiian-grown beans that they’d swooned over and bought 300 kg of. How often do you get to buy American-grown chocolate? But the flavor! That’s what had really grabbed them.

Then they said if you don’t want to wait that long to try it out, here’s our friends’ start-up over there and they’re using the same beans in their Mililani bar.

So of course I was tempted. How could I not be. I looked up Manoa Chocolate. I put that bar in my cart, I took it out of my cart, I told myself this was silly, I can make my own chocolate, I tried to forget about it. I ground up two pounds of stashed nibs to distract myself away from temptation: the tempering was total amateur level but the flavor made up for it and several weeks later we’ve slowly nibbled through a good bit of it.

And then Michelle was coming home, which meant a trip to Mutari’s in Santa Cruz would be coming up, and I wondered how Manoa’s would compare.

Science. You can’t learn if you don’t experiment. Right?

But I did not expect it to arrive in a box inside a zippered chocolate-decorated tote. Beautiful packaging that one would be quite happy to put to use.

Michelle tasted their chocolate hazelnut spread and pronounced it *the* best. Less sugar than Dandelion’s, more hazelnuts. Definitely this one. And the bar! This and this, she said, these are what she wants for Christmas.

Me, too.

Best pre-made chocolate splurge ever.