A breather
Saturday October 14th 2017, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Knitting a Gift,Life

A few days ago, the Mercury News ran a photo taken from the Mormon Temple up in the hills in Oakland, looking towards the San Francisco cityscape across the Bay. There was only the barest shadow of any of that visible in the smoke, and the nearby zoo said they could only see to the far end of their property.

Today, despite the fact that Santa Rosa had to expand its mandatory evacuation area and those fires are not yet out, we happened to stand about where that photo had been taken from. The Bay Bridge and the water were in the distance, the skyscrapers beyond, almost as they’re supposed to be. The water was a subdued blue. I’ll take it.

We returned home surprised/not surprised at how crowded the freeways were for a Saturday afternoon–southbound, anyway.

I wound yarn.

I knitted yarn.  Malabrigo’s celebratory Anniversario colorway in Arroyo, just a one-skein cowl to feel like I’m getting something done, and as my hands worked the softness I found myself looking forward to finding out who this one was for. So, so pretty. One cannot help but be cheered by it.

And typing that out, the strikingly obvious came to me: Duh. I have to knit for G’s daughter, who grew up with my kids. This cowl or another one and maybe I should wait to give it to her till she finds out if she still has a house, or, if not, maybe all the more quickly, but… Yeah. Her. Alright then, I’m on a mission here.

And finally I felt like I had found my footing again.



Burning issues
Wednesday October 11th 2017, 10:26 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Wildlife

The light coming through the windows during the day was yellow with a tinge of orange. Outside looked like sunset at  2 pm. We got a reverse-911 call telling us just how bad the air quality was and to stay indoors if possible and where to find out details; the recording repeated the URL.

Your city or county probably has a reverse-911 warning system but it might only go to landlines; check, and sign up your cellphone if you can. There were people in Napa and Sonoma who didn’t get warned of the fire in the middle of the night because they had VOIP and their old landline phones didn’t work when the power company cut the electricity to keep a substation from blowing up.

My neighbor has a dead tree limb hanging off the power line just across the fence, and with the news that the fires apparently started with trees downed by the winds sparking the PG&E lines I am suddenly much more aware that yes, I do need to bother the city about that.

Meantime, the breeze made the air suddenly and startlingly visible: little swirls and twirls blowing southerly while I tried to process seeing open air moving (and did it settle downwards a bit at the end of the puff?) Later a larger swoop again paintbrushed the pointillist ash particles. And just like that, they disappeared back into the jaundiced background and held still again.

I left the door half open while filling the bird feeder and that was really dumb.

A scattering of dove wings as the hawk appeared out of nowhere and across the roof and away and wow did he move fast. The power of nature!

An evening commute thrown off by a bomb scare, to which the only rational response was an Oh come ON in the direction of the perpetrator.

Meantime, I got three pounds and 2500 yards of merino yarn wound, scoured, spun out, and drying for the morrow, and I am looking forward to working with simple wool and wood of my choosing: nature, domesticated.



October skies
Tuesday October 10th 2017, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,History,Knitting a Gift,Life,Wildlife

We are about 75 miles south of the fires raging in California’s wine country, with San Pablo Bay as a large break of water between here and there.

But the firesky sunset was intense and the clear awning over the patio glowed a deep, unfamiliar bright yellow that was both novel and startling and I could only pray for the people who went to bed in a calm night and woke up to walls of flames coming right at them, neighborhood after neighborhood. Would I have the presence of mind to grab for my hearing aids and glasses before I ran?

It is smoky and thick and smells like burning plastic outside.

Yonder Cooper’s has a tail feather coming in in the center. Like its daddy, when I needed it, there it was and it let me enjoy its presence for several minutes. It is new at that, though, and I am mindful of its skitteriness. Then it lifted to the fence and stayed a bit longer but flinched that the camera had come out while its back was turned.

The second photo was taken trying to capture it taking off. Crouch, wings out, leap! Faster than a speeding iPhone 4S!

Re the Crohn’s, today was definitely going in the right direction. Grateful for that and hoping hard.

The candy-cane-plied red and faintest beige yarn came out looking more brown the further you get from it (and when it’s wet. Which it is here.)

And… The smoke alarm just went off. Oh fun. That doesn’t mean the air is that bad…?

Six smoke alarms and a bit of teamwork later, we have new batteries and we have peace and quiet and we have a definite appreciation for how good we have it that they were not actually telling us to grab whatever we could and run.

 



What happened in Vegas stays in all of us
Monday October 02nd 2017, 10:41 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Politics

I know someone who loves someone who lost someone and I bet just about everybody else can say the same.

Clean, straighten, organize, laundry, clean sheets… When you can’t do anything you have to do something. One man. Nine rounds a second. Ten minutes.

Stanford Blood Center canceled a staff meeting and kept their doors open longer. Las Vegas didn’t need it from them yet but with over 500 people wounded it’s way too soon to tell. My thanks to all who have been the heroes–and Jimmy Kimmel is one.

I met one once…



Just about grown into it
Saturday September 09th 2017, 8:36 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Knit,Life

Start the day with pictures like this and then a FaceTime chat with a little one who wonders what you’re doing being a flat person interacting with him from a screen and everything else just goes right. (Hat done in 2×2 ribbing for stretch, Malabrigo Rios yarn.)

An article on American-made superwash wool: it’s a new thing as of the last half dozen years, and all because the military needed a good, fire-retardant material. An interesting read.



Houston
Wednesday August 30th 2017, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Life

My older son was a Mormon missionary in southern Florida, Haitian Creole-speaking, the year that area got hit with hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and the Church told the missionaries, the Red Cross needs you more than we do–go volunteer. They did. Alright then, boys, 1500 Salisbury steaks for the grill, have a spatula.

Copied and pasted from my sister-in-law on Facebook, please share with anyone you know affected by Hurricane Harvey so that we can expand the reach of this:

Houston Friends,
Here are hotline numbers to submit work orders for help from Mormon Helping Hands. FREE assistance regardless of religious affiliation.
FRIENDS, please pass this to anyone in Houston area or any that was affected. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints along with numerous others, currently have a hotline available to submit work orders for specific need requests related to the damages and for cleanup efforts. There is no charge for these services. They are mobilizing thousands to come and help muck out homes, cleaning etc. This has been done in many cities throughout the world. Last year 5000 were mobilized to Louisiana. It may take a week or two, but bishops in the area have already submitted an estimation of homes damaged and preparation is underway.
By calling the hotline number, a volunteer will take down the information you need and create a work order and then attempt to send a volunteer crew out to help. This includes removing carpet, cutting down tree limbs, etc.
Obviously there’s still difficulty getting crews into the neighborhoods but this will allow us to start the rebuilding process, and they will come as they are able. The volunteer groups will come from LDS Mormon Helping Hands, Catholic Charities, Etc.
Hotline numbers:
800-451-1954
844-965-1386



What William Mahone did
Wednesday August 23rd 2017, 10:58 pm
Filed under: History

Courtesy of my cousin, here’s a link to a story I’d never heard of. A man whose name and face will not be found among all those Confederate statues all over the South, even though he had been a Major General fighting for the Confederacy and Lee had considered him one of the best.

Because after the Civil War was over, William Mahone set up a political party in Virginia that abolished a poll tax, empowered freed slaves, got them educations, gave them political power and treated them as equals for four years, as long as he could–until political and physical violence stole it from them again.

There is, according to the article, a single monument to him, raised, as so many others were, by the Daughters of the Confederacy: with descriptions of a battle he’d won.

Not a word was to be spoken about the far larger one he later fought and, for a time and for the sake of every one of us then and now, won.



Cowlabundance
Sunday August 20th 2017, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Knitting a Gift,Life

1. Felt much better than yesterday.

2. Cowls: the navy merino/silk, the Malabrigo Mechita in Whales Road and in Pegoso, one of the two red/purple merino/cashmere with sparkles. (Hey, Sherry, your cashmere was well loved all over again.) Someone fairly new, whose story I don’t know but whom I don’t think I’d ever seen really smiling, broke out into all kinds of happiness at the latter–and that, I tell you, is what keeps those needles going.

The friend who’d hoped for aqua exclaimed over her Pegoso and when I said the yarn was handpainted, held it out a moment in wonder and asked, How?

I explained that they (or at least some dyers, I shouldn’t speak for all of them) lay the racetrack-shaped hank out and paint sideways.

She was fascinated by the repeats and the way adjacent stitches in different rows held the same color and just wanted to hold still and absorb it a moment.

3. Re the eclipse tomorrow, from an optometrist: https://stellasplace1.com/2017/08/13/caution-the-solar-eclipse/ There won’t be enough sun to hurt your eyes and force you to turn away to warn you that you’re still looking long enough to do permanent damage. She recommends you watch it on TV.

Me, what I find most interesting is watching the effects of an eclipse: how the light changes, how the shadows turn all sharp-angled, how the wildlife reacts. And, come to think of it, how much I’ll need a sweater on.

Also, hopefully, how empty the freeway will be (hey, everyone’s in Oregon, right?) while I go make a peach run to Andy’s.

Although–maybe after 11:37 when it’s over.



For J and A with love
Monday August 14th 2017, 10:44 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Lupus,Politics

There are times when I really, passionately regret and even resent that my lupus does not allow me to spend time in the sun, not even five minutes in the middle of a summer day.

Because I want to be one of the counter-protesters when they come here. They intend to come this weekend, these evil men who are trying to out-Westboro the Westboro idiots. Maybe they’ll see how many of their peers are being identified and arrested or fired after Charlottesville and do like Westboro does half the time these days: make lots of noise and threats and then stay home.


With so much going on that is so beyond words, I took comfort in reading accounts of good people who took care of others in Virginia, and in finishing this today, one of the softest things I have ever knit. In looking forward to seeing my friend’s face when I get to give it to her.

Knitting it was also my way of conveying to her immigrant husband how glad I am that he is here and that he is married to her: he’s a deeply good man. We are fortunate to have him here.



Mark her words
Sunday August 13th 2017, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life,Politics

Let me put the knitting down for a moment and show you where to see a photo.

Of first responders.

In Charlottesville. (Washington Post video. Warning: includes that car.)

The one overcome by grief, sunk down on his knee in the grass with a friend’s steadying hand on his shoulder, is the husband of my friend Chan, and that is her blog.

What happened in their town should never happen anywhere. Especially, absolutely, never in America. The actions of these few are a terrorist threat against everything our country aspires towards.

As Orrin Hatch put it, “My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”



Healthcare bill
Tuesday July 25th 2017, 10:55 pm
Filed under: History,Knitting a Gift,Lupus,Politics

Being the political junkie that I am, I got some good knitting time in while watching the Senate vote 50-50 today with Pence tipping the scales. Watched John McCain give the speech of his life after casting the vote that utterly mocked everything he would say immediately thereafter. He could have put a stop to it all right there, and it would have been over for good just like the version in April was. This was a vote to allow the bill to continue to the floor, and he promised not to vote in the future for that bill as it now stands. (Knowing full well that after amendments and arguments it would not be as it now stands, for better but also for worse.)

But that is pure hubris anyway. He might be in the hospital then, he might not even be alive.

I don’t know how many people know that the current Republican bill, among its many other problems, would allow employer-based health insurance to reach in and deny coverage to the chronically ill—lupus is specifically targeted, hey, it was nice knowing you all–coverage that the employees are paying for out of their paychecks, and with the ACA gone we patients would be unable to buy any anywhere else, either.

But hey, I got a lot of blanket knitted!

I called McConnell’s office, got through on the first ring, and told whichever intern answered the phone that McConnell is only pushing on that bill because my uncle the late and generally-right-wing Senator Bob Bennett of Utah is dead. Because McConnell wouldn’t have been able to look Bob in the eye.

Bob was a Republican, but he also believed American businesses could not compete as long as their workers knew they were one medical crisis away from losing everything. He had lived through losing his job and his insurance when he’d had a young family to support. He knew.

So he wrote, with Ron Wyden, a Democrat, the first draft of a bill. Romneycare had worked in Massachusetts, so…



They grow up so fast
Monday June 26th 2017, 9:23 pm
Filed under: History,Wildlife

Mathias is two months old today.

In downtown San Francisco this year, they had a pair of peregrines at the usual nest box on the 33d floor of PG&E and an egg with a second expected momentarily.

But then another pair thought that–hey look! That was the best cliff around. Gravel (they like gravel) in a protective box to keep any eagles from seeing the babies, and it’s out of the rain, even! They tussled the two earlier falcons out of there and took over. After more courting, they laid four eggs of their own and scooted the one that had been sitting there for two weeks in with theirs.

Brooding five eggs was a big job.

It had turned dark so it was easy for the watchers to tell it apart from the later ones. It did not hatch, nor did one of theirs.

But note that it’s been over a hundred years since we had enough peregrine falcons alive to fight over territory like that–they were called chicken hawks and hunted mercilessly long before DDT nearly finished them off. Those nests represent the life’s work of some very good biologists.

The site’s videographer compressed the eyases’ first three weeks into 68 seconds, here, if you’re interested. Unlike San Jose’s nest, their cameras let you hear the birds, too.



London
Tuesday June 13th 2017, 10:38 pm
Filed under: History

Prayers for the people in Grenfell Tower and those trying to rescue them.



45*
Tuesday May 16th 2017, 11:08 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

Y’know, I really tried to come up with a good blog post for today, but President Trainwreck just kinda–I mean–every day he tops what he did the day before, but, wow.

Ross Douthat, a Republican writer at the New York Times and certainly no liberal, says it’s time for Article 25. Yes. Yes it is.



Turn a route is fare, pay
Tuesday April 11th 2017, 10:32 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Lupus,Politics

If you can stand another United story to go with all the others out there after they beat up a doctor for refusing to be bounced from a flight because he said he needed to see his patients in the hospital in the morning. Two days later he was still in the hospital himself. (United’s own carrier contract I am told says that once you’re boarded in your reserved seat it’s yours.)

“Because it arrived at the time you wanted.”

That was the excuse United gave me for what they’d done.

Remember that bit of a whine over the price of the airfare to San Diego for this past weekend? When I was booking tickets a month ago, I blinked at Southwest’s cheapest “Wanna Get Away” fare that was over twice the usual and googled to see what else might be out there.

United’s fare was better. Huh. Okay, so I typed in the specific airports I wanted to leave from and go to, SJC to SAN, and what time I wanted to get to San Diego by: the kids had wanted Grampa to see Parker’s 9:00 game. (Grandma here crashed on the couch for that, safely out of the sun and needing that nap and everybody understood.)

Top of the page their site took me to, it said San Jose to San Diego in big letters, with a list of flights below. Alright, then. Did I want to buy insurance against having to change or cancel my tickets? $40, but with my health, I had to say yes. (Southwest doesn’t charge you for changes or cancellations; they apply your fare to future flights if you’ve gone with the cheapest, non-refundable option. United stiffs you while reselling your seat unless you’ve shelled out that extra.)

I hit confirm to both and only then did it say I was booked for SNA. Orange County. Two hours away. That’s the same thing, right?

I got on the phone immediately and made them deal with my deafness and demanded that they refund that ticket instantly. This was so deceptive. This was an unbelievably bad user interface and why in this day and age hadn’t they fixed it? Right there at the top of the page in bold, it said I was booking for San Diego. Unbelievable.

They did refund me instantly but said I’d have to undo the insurance through a separate company. They, too, said they’d make good on it. Okay, but this should never have happened.

“Because it arrived at the time you wanted.” Never mind that the time to get set up with a rental car and then drive it south for two hours meant that there was no physical chance of getting off that flight and getting ourselves to San Diego by, y’know, the time we said we wanted to be there. I asked again why it offered me the wrong flight and they said because they didn’t have one directly to there at that time so they redirected me to one that did land at that time.

The mind, it boggles.

We flew Southwest.