Being particlecular
Friday November 16th 2018, 11:31 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Life

We hit AQI 202, officially Very Unhealthy and purple on the map tonight.

It was about the time of that last big fire down south that he ordered it on a whim: he’s an engineer, he likes to measure things, to quantify. Turn the unknown into a known.

With the Camp Fire burning away, yesterday he remembered he had this thing. He almost apologized to me as he said it had cost about $45; it was a bit more than his usual little toy.

Hey. I’m a yarn enthusiast. Enjoy!

And so he took it to work today.

The construction people working on the building had been leaving the doors propped open: he showed the effects. This AQI reading here, this one here, this one here.

Wow.

Word got around, and people were asking him to read the particulate levels in their offices, too.

One colleague’s office was well above 100 and his boss was not happy.

The HVAC guy said yeah the filters are loading up and we’re having to order new ones.

The cafeteria! The official AQI scale is 0-500 and the machine stops at 500. 500. Could be anything above that. Now they know.

Yonder guy with the meter happened to be emailing the specifics as he went.

I’m wondering what percentage of those co-workers ordered their own meters on the spot.



The AQI is supposed to be worse tomorrow
Thursday November 15th 2018, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Knitting a Gift,Life,LYS

Malabrigo Mecha is my favorite for making a quick, warm, densely knit, beautiful hat out of, and my two brothers and the two local daughters of one of those brothers each ended up with one last weekend.

Which (thinking of the relatives we got to see while we were at the reunion) was just the start. But I was out of that yarn again other than a bag of ten dedicated to becoming an afghan.

There is only one local store that sells it and hey, twist my arm, so I headed out today towards Cottage Yarns.

North or south, whichever way you looked getting onto the freeway the instinct for self-preservation did not want to go there: if there’s that much smoke there could be a fire just beyond, and since the wind can pick up embers and toss them twenty miles down the road (but we’re two hundred from Paradise) maybe I should have checked the latest report first?

Stop it, I told the stupid little fear. Just go. You know it’s okay.

All the cars looked like a variant of spring fever: coated in fire pollen.

The air quality index in South San Francisco was even worse than ours at 211; we were at 179. I was told later that San Jose was nine times worse than Beijing today.

The door to the shop was open only just enough to let people know they could come in.

I talked to Kathryn a moment, being in no hurry to go back out into that, and she told me they’d had a sale last weekend and she’d figured it would be a bust because who would want to come out into the smoke.

What had happened instead is that people had shown up, lots of people: since officially nobody’s supposed to be outside they were buying yarn to have something new and happy to do inside and to create something good in the face of the firestorm, so much so that it turned out to be her best sale event ever. People came together before spending their time separated, and it was clear it meant a lot to her.

I headed home the longer way, through the hills rather than the heavier traffic of the valley floor.

There’s that stretched-out bridge with the reservoir below and the Flintstone House off to the left. The vivid orange beamed like a lighthouse against the smokey storm but to the right, you could not tell that there was water below. At 1:45 pm. It was that bad.

One of my nieces had requested an undyed white hat. If I get it done fast enough it’ll still be that color when she gets it. I think I’ll stay home tomorrow and knit.



Handknit warmth for the survivors and bereaved
Monday October 29th 2018, 11:00 pm
Filed under: History,Knit,Life

A yarn store not far from the Tree of Life synagogue that was attacked is collecting squares to be made into afghans, with a deadline of December 1st and a request that you not weave the ends in (I imagine they want to use them for sewing the squares together in yarns that match.) Note that there are three synagogues that meet in the same building and all were affected.

Yarns By Design got permission from Nickie Epstein to share her Tree of Life pattern and posted it here.

I’m hoping I can find enough people in my area for us to finish at least one afghan in full.

I’ll let the shop tell the details of what they want. I’d love to hear any other ideas on designs.

Pattern: any and all designs and skill-levels are welcome
eg. Stars of David, trees, hearts, doves, plain, etc

Size: 9” horizontally by 8.5” vertically with a 5 row seed stitch edging
Yarn: Dk or sport weight (3 on the standard scale), super wash wool or other washable fibers only. Please make sure your yarn won’t felt!
Gauge: 6 stitches/in stockinette
Needle size: 5-7, or whatever you need to get gauge
Style: knit or crochet

All samples can be dropped off at the YBD boutique by December 1st, or mailed to us at:

Yarns By Design
622 Allegheny River Blvd
Oakmont PA 15139



For Pittsburgh
Sunday October 28th 2018, 9:43 pm
Filed under: History,Life

I wanted to say something yesterday but it was just too close. People I love knew people who were in the synagogue (link to their stories) where so many lives were taken and so many were hurt.

Here in our local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we have two wards that share the same building, switching off morning vs afternoon meeting times. We’re in the afternoon time slot this year.

Seats in the classrooms are set up by the morning crew for both wards to use and then put away by the afternoon one so that vacuuming can happen.

But there are not normally plastic chairs on the stand in the chapel. And they most especially are not left there for the second ward to deal with if there are–I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. It was startling to have a random set of them facing the audience that no one was using and that there seemed to be no reason nor plan for, at least as far as we were concerned.

And yet.

I have no idea if someone realized that this is what they were doing, and no mention was made of it.

But there they were, off to the side of the rise from where the choir sings and the speakers speak, some stacked, some single: somebody’s subconscious had apparently insisted they remain there.

Eleven empty chairs set before the congregation.

There could have been more below the table for the wounded, including the police who had tried to protect, but those eleven were the ones seen.

Eleven empty seats in that house of worship facing us, silently asking us throughout the meeting what we will do now, what we must do, so that someday there might be no more chairs emptied by hate.

Love and kindness, one simple human interaction at a time. We must.



Congressional hearing
Thursday September 27th 2018, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Knitting a Gift,Life

I promised myself I would use the time to knit. With the time zone difference and our morning schedule, I missed some of Dr. Ford’s testimony but what I saw was riveting and heartbreaking and as real as it gets.

Kavanaugh‘s Yale roommate said he was mean when he was drunk. Today we got to see the guy sober–and I wouldn’t want to be around him when he’s anything worse. Self-righteous, highly partisan, self-pitying, loud, angry, bombastic, rude, steamrollering, and over the top: this is the kind of man that women stay as far away from as they can.

Judy’s cowl is almost done.

I can’t change what the Senate might do tomorrow, but I can make a difference to one woman with it.



Slow down, take your time, do it right
Monday September 24th 2018, 11:21 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

My folks aren’t on Facebook so I’m going to put the statement from Mormon Women for Ethical Government here so they can see it, too:

 

“Given the seriousness of the allegations levied against Judge Kavanaugh, we call upon the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to immediately suspend the confirmation proceedings until a thorough independent investigation can be conducted.

We very specifically urge the four members of the committee who share our faith as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–Senator Hatch, Senator Lee, Senator Flake, and Senator Crapo–to ensure that these charges be taken seriously and that every attempt be made to ascertain the truth of the situation. Our mutual faith teaches that any sexual abuse or assault in any context is contemptible and worthy of the most severe condemnation.

If these accusations are proved false, an investigation will prevent harm to the court’s legitimacy. If they are true, then Judge Kavanaugh must not be confirmed.

As we have stated previously, sexual assault must not be normalized or condoned in any way or by anyone, especially those charged with political leadership. We boldly condemn any attempts to justify such inexcusable and reprehensible behavior and demand that our elected leaders set a morally sound example.

# # #

Mormon Women for Ethical Government (MWEG) is a nonpartisan group of over 6,000 women dedicated to the ideals of decency, honor, accountability, transparency, and justice in governing. MWEG is not formally affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We do, however, fully sustain the leaders and doctrines of the Church.”



While trees grow quietly
Friday September 21st 2018, 10:48 pm
Filed under: History,Mango tree,Politics

Thank you for the notes and comments. To my great relief, today was, cold? What cold?

New mango leaves and inflorescence–today they have stalks. This is new.

Meantime, I’ve been riveted by updates on Christine Blasey Ford’s case.

There is no statute of limitations for felony sexual assault in Maryland. Montgomery County’s chief of police just tweeted that all he needs is for her to file a criminal complaint and he’s prepared to investigate.

That would mean that Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge could be put under oath by the county, at a time when the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee are doing everything they can to stave that off and rush a vote before any truth squeezes out.

Go MoCo! (I grew up in that county.)



The sounds of their voices
Thursday September 06th 2018, 10:59 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

I picked up a cowl project that had been abandoned early on in the push to get the baby blanket done and sat down to watch the Kavanaugh hearings, a little yesterday, more so, today.

When he said he grew up “around here,” with drugs and gangs and so he professed empathy for gun violence victims, I went, wait…what? Turns out he grew up in Bethesda. So did I. Let me tell you, no, he did not grow up in a violent neighborhood, not by a very long, well, shot, and there are no bad neighborhoods in my hometown. Gary Hart, one-time presidential contender, lived in the neighborhood. So did Neil Armstrong for two years. Frank Lloyd Wright’s grandson, in a house his grandfather had designed for his dad. Stephen Colbert’s family was across the street and in the house next to that, (a little later) Steve Rosenberg, Ronald Reagan’s cancer surgeon, whose kids I used to babysit on Friday nights. I’m name-dropping shamelessly to make a point: the house my folks built way out in the woods in the middle of, at the time, nowhere, turned out to be a town where you wanted to live if you could.

But here’s where it got interesting: the split screen was gone by the late afternoon and one could only hear the Senators now. The camera did not pan to them. So I don’t know who it was, although I’m guessing Richard Blumenthal? But after all the speechifying and talking at Kavanaugh, here was the quiet, calm voice of what sounded like a father figure of a man talking *to* him.

About what it was like to stand in Sandy Hook Elementary. To see the pictures. To see what such a weapon does to a child’s body, and why there is no place for it in a civil society. To grieve those first-graders who would never get to grow up, to stand in that place with and for their parents. The speaker understood Kavanaugh’s idealistic take on the Second Amendment, but there was this real life side of things, too, and real consequences to people, people who mean everything to other people.

He spoke with the respect that he clearly hoped Kavanaugh would grab onto and live up to from this moment on.

It was a moment of clarity offered amidst the bombast. I was impressed.

Kavanaugh, for his part, after nearly three days of being challenged and judged, clearly had not expected this. The issue, yes. Presented in a way that could not be argued against because it was offered with understanding of his point of view at the same time, no.

That’s when he used his hometown as his “so I get it, I know,” which, I’m sorry, was so far out in left field that one could only shake one’s head.

His questioner gently continued along the same lines.

At the end, Sen. Grassley puffed about how great a man sat before us and how much he had satisfied the inquiries of these last two (he later said three–maybe someone slipped him a note) days.

With the camera only on Kavanaugh, there it was: his eyes darted hard to the side and back when Grassley called him a good man. His jaw twitched and his face clenched when told he was a great judge. It was clear: he didn’t believe it.

Whether that was imposter syndrome or the tell of an actual imposter, I guess we’ll have to find out one way or another. But he did not look comfortable in his own skin in that moment when the praises were the most effusive.

Only when–Blumenthal?–treated him with not fawning but actual respect even in disagreement, that, his body language and voice responded to in kind. It was the only time I’ve seen it in him.



Fighting fire with…!
Wednesday August 22nd 2018, 10:05 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

One way to make net neutrality personal:

In early July, Verizon downgraded the governmental-user data plan subscribed to by my county’s fire department and started throttling their data. They told them they had to upgrade to the 39.99 plan. The county fire chief did so.

Then the biggest fire in California history got going. The thousands of firefighters from all over were coordinating teams, keeping tabs on where all those edges of the fire were going and on each other, when Verizon–again throttled the data. The same person who’d told our fire chief he had to upgrade to 39.99 was telling him about two weeks later that oh no, now it’s 99.99 for what you want.

The fire chief who was in the middle of battling to save lives and homes while trying not to lose any of his firefighters and suddenly found himself flying blind.

He begged them to lift the throttling. Their real-time information-sharing was almost completely killed.

They. Refused.

Government regulations are the boogeyman to so many Republicans, but consider this: had net neutrality still existed, had Verizon been required to do the right thing, Verizon would not now have the potential liability for every property lost to the Mendocino fire from the moment that throttling began. If the firefighter from Utah who died was found to have died because of those communications being hampered, if the plane that dropped the fire retardant that broke the tree that killed him didn’t know he was underneath because of that throttling…

All to extort $60 out of a major public safety crisis.

It’ll be interesting to hear how many other fire departments had the same thing happening to them just then. I’m sure we’ll soon find out.



Do the Twist
Sunday August 19th 2018, 9:57 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Spinning

I laughed out loud when I read it: it was like the Smithsonian guide all over again.

I can’t believe I haven’t blogged this before but I’m not finding it, so here goes.

We were in DC visiting family back when the kids were growing up and took them to the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

Where I noted that they had a walking wheel and a jacquard loom but no gossip wheels, no treadle wheels at all for that matter, no knowledge of what distaffs were used for, just a complete lack of information on what a part of our history those all played in colonial America.

The book “No Idle Hands” relates the story of Old Ma Rinker during the Revolutionary War. Her family owned a tavern the British thought was loyal to the Crown, so their officers would gather there to discuss strategy. The word would be passed on to her in a note, she would wind a ball of yarn around it, then take her flax up the hill for the day to lay it out to rett, waiting for George Washington’s soldiers to ride on by below while she sat and knitted. She would toss the ball of yarn down to them (not the one she was knitting from) and helped save the day at Valley Forge. (Where other women delivering supplies nearly got shot at because as they rode in on their horses, their petticoats showed. And petticoats were always dyed red in those days. Redcoats! The British! Shuddup, Fred, it’s me, Irma.)

A distaff is what you attach to your spinning wheel to hold the retted flax while you turn it into linen yarn.

So here we are at the museum, and a man walks by holding what looked like a small glass aquarium. Inside was white fluff and–chaff?–and some kind of mechanical something and a handle. He told us that it was Eli Whitney’s actual cotton gin; did we want to try it?

I would never in a million years have pictured it as being something that small. Tractor sized, or rather horse-pulling-sized, but look at that!

I asked him, May I?

Sure!

I picked up some of the ginned cotton and began to draw it: hold the wad in the left hand, pull slowly, steadily but firmly with the right hand, twisting as the left lets a little out and a little more and a little more, twist, twist, twist. Voila! A single-spun yarn! Not very long, but hey. (Hope that doesn’t wreck your exhibit, sorry, as I handed it back to him.)

The docent was dumbfounded. “How did you do that?! I’ve been trying to do that for years!”

You can’t just twist, I told him, then it just untwists back to the way it was. You have to draw and twist both. Pressure with the twisting.

You ply going one way, spin another strand going the same way when you’re done, then ply them together twisting the other way to create a balanced yarn that hangs flat so the fabric you make from it doesn’t skew sideways.

(With an unspoken, Hey, buddy, you want more info for your exhibit? Call me.)

So. Someone got an Ig Noble prize for figuring out why dry spaghetti noodles always break the characteristic way they do and someone else was intrigued and wanted to know: is it actually possible, then, to break dry spaghetti into two equal halves?

And the answer turned out to be yes.

But you have to twist it just so as the pressure is applied for it to work.



This one, yes, that one, pass
Tuesday August 07th 2018, 10:47 pm
Filed under: History,Life

I finished Red Notice and I wanted to start right back at page one again. Read it, if you get a chance. Make the chance. This one’s important.

John McCain of all people made me cry, in a good way. He’d been there. He knew. He did something about it.

“What are you going to read next?” I was asked this evening.

And so a shorter book that had been on my to-do list is also finished.

Well, huh.

For the author’s sake I am not going to name it here. Let’s just say it definitely suffered by the comparison and some books make me glad I like to knit.



Change of fortune
Monday August 06th 2018, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Family,History

Before he died, my uncle, the late Senator Bob Bennett of Utah, told all his kids to read, “Red Notice,” by Bill Browder.

Which one of them happened to mention on Facebook the other day in memory of her dad.

I picked it up today and I finally made myself put it down just now with a third to go because there simply is no more time in the day.

The man can definitely write. And Uncle Bob was right: everybody should definitely read this.



I have to speak up. I must. We must.
Wednesday June 20th 2018, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Politics

Today was a Holly day, and it was so good to get to see her again. We live so close and so far: it can take several hours, depending on the traffic.

She had just enough time for a visit while her husband was at a meeting in town.

We found ourselves as mothers drawn again and again to the subject of the cruelty going on at our borders to children–babies, even–and their families, the damage the trauma is doing to their developing brains.

Our laws spell out how one can apply for asylum when one is in fear for one’s life. The approved crossing points for doing so have been closed, people have been directed to cross elsewhere and when they have complied with that order have been arrested as criminals.

Our President lies when he says others did this before him; they did not. They held families together, and even his own administration did too until this May. He lies when he says only Congress can change the law because there is no law saying they must do this, and in fact the administration is violating our laws as well as all human decency and compassion. They actually forbid the workers from hugging and comforting a crying child.

But the sad-funny part about it was Trump’s trying to blame Obama for it. What he’s saying then is that even out of office Obama has more power than Trump does right now and that Trump is too weak to do anything about it.

Actually, there’s a great deal of truth to that but not of a type Trump could ever fathom.

Yes he did sign an executive order this afternoon: but watch what he does, not what he says. The unmentioned fine print was that after 20 days families can still be torn apart. They will process children and adults at different rates. Deport the parents. Keep the kids. Already we have one woman who was released from custody–and they say they cannot tell her where her seven-year-old son is.  Who DOES this to people?!

We are better than this, we must be better than this, we must demand better than this. Every Republican Senator has the option to caucus with the Democrats on the issue, and all we need is one, just one, one with a conscience, and we could get a law passed right now forbidding these human rights violations and dare Trump to veto it. The man is a bully and bullies cave when you stand up to them.

And if you don’t–they only bully harder.

Tomorrow I may show off some knitting or some such. But for now I will leave you with this:

From the Kenyan-born Somali poet Warsan Shire:

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
pitied

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

the
go home blacks
refugees
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
savage
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
drown
save
be hunger
beg
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
saying-
leave,
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here

 



Go. Do this right now.
Wednesday April 18th 2018, 6:15 pm
Filed under: History,LYS

Did you use Turbo Tax? Go check right now to see if you got confirmation that your returns have been received by the state and feds. You have till midnight tonight.

I had a particular yarn errand in mind and found myself heading to Cottage Yarns today (So. Much. Malabrigo there!), where Kathryn’s husband and daughter were minding the shop. As they were winding my wool I found myself mentioning to him the phone call that had dragged on and on and on and had had us falling into bed at long last at 1 a.m.

He was suddenly very concerned. We compared notes. Had he gotten any confirmation of having filed? He didn’t think so. I told him we had only gotten confirmation from Turbo Tax that I’d paid the $25 to have the state return e-filed.

Yeah, I got that, he said. But he was suddenly pretty sure that that’s all he’d gotten, too.

I told him that it had bugged me till I’d finally decided I had to find out. The tech person we finally got connected to was overwhelmed, tired, and was chasing down every idea she could think of.

I saved him from the endless circular screens followed by nearly two hours on the phone that we’d had to go through to make sure we were doing the right thing. And it is this: check every email address and text message. Did you get those confirmations from the state and feds? No? Go submit those returns again. Right now. A known computer glitch somewhere between Turbo Tax and the IRS is why the deadline was extended to tonight, and clearly we tripped over it.

I have to admit it was highly gratifying to find that I was not the only one. I’d been told by them that I must just have missed clicking that submit button, when I knew I hadn’t. I’d seen that page before that congratulated me for being done.

He knew he’d done his right, too.

We got our confirmations today. But there is still no sign that we ever did it the first time.

I am so very glad that today I felt that it was imperative that I buy that particular shade of red Russ said his wife loves that I didn’t have in my stash–and that I felt I had to go to buy it from them.

Many happy returns of the day to all.



The soap opera
Monday April 16th 2018, 10:40 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Politics,Wildlife

Winter cold, rain, hail, the now-daily appearance of a Cooper’s hawk impatient with young to feed (clearly), and an earthquake–3.9, just enough to be entertaining if you even feel it (I didn’t.)

And the disclosure in court over Trump’s lawyer’s lawyer’s objections that Trump’s lawyer of late had but three clients: Trump, Trump’s fellow rich friend who likewise had a woman he allegedly wanted paid off and silenced, and (drumroll) Sean Hannity of Fox News. Meaning any time Hannity has gone off on Mueller’s investigation it could well because of what Mueller might find in the files now seized from Cohen on Hannity.

I bet he’s finding the ground a bit shaky over there.