A modest proposal
Tuesday May 24th 2022, 9:21 pm
Filed under: History

Years ago, when our kids were young, we attended a talk by a neuropsychologist whose career was in brain rehab; his five kids were early elementary to late high school age, roughly ten years older than ours.

He described the growth of the myelin sheath around the nerves in the brain, and how that sheath played an essential part in its maturation process: it was the means by which kids became able, as they reached adulthood, to be able to intuit that if they do A towards B then C will happen as a result further out.

Lacking that, kids live in the moment and react to what’s around them.

He added, half-joking but also dead serious, and this is the direct quote we both remember, “So if your kids act brain damaged it’s because they are.”

One of us asked, So at what age…?

He answered, For girls, generally around 18, for boys, more often 21, some even 22 before they’re fully myelinated.

“Not fully myelinated” became our behind-the-scenes parental phrase to each other out of our kids’ earshot when we wanted to roll our eyes at some dumb thing or other.

All of this came rushing back as the news of Sandyhook 2.0 washed in today. Our hearts are crushed for the good people of Uvalde, Texas.

The shooter had waited for his 18th birthday to be able to buy his weaponry and then got right to it that day, according to one early report.

He was too young physically to have been able to grasp intuitively the enormity of what he was about to do. He certainly knew it was wrong and there’s absolutely no excusing his murderous rampage in any way whatsoever.

But maybe we can learn something from this: what if. Just what if we raise the age in every state whereby a kid can legally have  access to or ownership of a gun to when they’re able to begin to intuit what would happen if they succumb to the temptations of the illusions of power it conveys? To really get it? Case in point: in his diary, one of the Columbine high school shooters thought he was going to go to the prom after all this was over.

What if the kids had to be old enough to have a chance at being fully myelinated first?

So that other kids could grow up to be so, too.

Embroidered Shirt Day
Monday May 23rd 2022, 8:06 pm
Filed under: History,Life

I don’t usually lift other people’s pictures but I wanted to show you this one before it’s sold to show you what I’m talking about.

In the middle of the war, the Washington Post interviewed people and had an article, bless them, on the traditional embroidery and clothing of Ukraine and the women who create it. Vyshyvanka is the word but they said it carries memories of the Soviets’ efforts to erase the village-by-village patterns in order to basically de-Ukraine the country.

So President Zelenskyy simply called the traditional day of celebrating that part of their heritage National Embroidered Shirt day. Simple, to the point, and good marketing for his people.

One mention jumped out at me:

“The designs are often intricate and brightly colored. They represent scenes from Ukraine’s varied geography, which spans forests and steppe, prairies and river canyons.

Many of the keepers of Ukraine’s traditional clothing methods are older women, who receive little support for or income from their embroidering.”

The reporter talked to people who’d spent their time in the bunkers with floss and needle trying to declare beauty in the face of devastation.

In the comments, readers were mentioning their favorite Ukrainian shops on Etsy and assuring each other that yes they do ship, yes they can still get items out.

I wonder just how many people immediately went to Etsy. I know I did.

Some things immediately leaped into my cart Saturday, but I decided to let them sit there till Monday so I could step back from the impulse buying–although I did order a happily bright red jacquard toddler skirt for my younger granddaughter. At two, you can do that for them, and she has a birthday coming up this summer (and Etsy warns that shipping from Ukraine will likely not be speedy at all), while at seven, her cousin’s age, I’d have to check in with the kiddo or her mom first to get a feel for preferences before doing the grandma thing.

Some things learned: linen is the most traditional and common, cotton’s a close runner up–but if it says chiffon, it’s polyester, although the reviewers I saw liked the quality of it. Most work is machine embroidered, and when I was into embroidery as a kid I thought that was a total cheat.

Now, hey, anything that helps them out: you can make and sell a whole lot more in the same amount of time. One vendor proudly shows a video of a multi-needle industrial machine embroidering the design she’d created. Cool.

Not everything is traditional. This sure isn’t but it is stunning, and though I wouldn’t look great in it (nor is it in my budget) I sent the link to one of my daughters, who most definitely would.

This seller’s work is gorgeous. Lots of hand embroidery and traditional blouses there. Here, too.

You can even buy embroidered cotton t-shirts. I’d show you the more formal looking one from another shop but, um, oops, probably they’ll make more before mine gets here.

I really like this blue one. Maybe they’ll have one next month. Because this heavy cotton jacquard skirt (with pockets!) was the splurge I decided on, along with one of those hand-embroidered blouses to go with. (Not that one, but close; I picked one with a tighter neckline for lupus’s sake.)

A 17″ tie would be laughably short on my husband–but if you know someone who likes the one whose picture I swiped, here it is. That handwork definitely deserves a link.

There was another shop that I’d picked a few things out of to debate over today before buying what I ended up with. But between Saturday and today that vendor in Ukraine, with beautiful work and lots of glowing feedback and a number of items for sale–


Um, maybe they simply sold everything? I can wish. Things are being snapped up quickly, though.

But that is another reason why I went ahead and bought what I did: because I could. Because they’re there, now, doing their best while I’m here where it’s safe. I want them to know they have the whole world supporting their every single day in what they create to bless this world of ours.

And because they just plain make beautiful things.

Fury flurry
Monday May 16th 2022, 7:43 pm
Filed under: History,Wildlife

The crows and ravens do not fly over my yard. They clearly still have institutional memory of the fake dead crow that was out there at harvest times a few years running, and crows do not go where another crow died. Which is why I put it out there. Ravens ain’t dumb either.

So it was quite the surprise that there was this big flash of black wings beating it hard across the back yard this afternoon.

With a mockingbird right at its back just in front of its tail, divebombing harassing right there on it and calling for the death of a thousand exploding suns on its enemy and I’ll rip your tail feathers off get out get out get OUT! as the raven dove down on the neighbor’s side of the fence and up on the other side of their yard, trying to escape its fury. AND STAY OUT! as the defender swooped up to the phone line.

Clearly the raven had earned that.

The size difference between the two was just astonishing.

I think my mockingbird pair just earned themselves names: Zelenskyy, and Ukraine. (Not, you: crane. Wrong bird.)


Edited to add, before I forget: I have been told this is verified as having actually happened, and now you know as much about that as I do. Watch out for hurling pineapples. To Mom: to read the story all the way through, click on See Replies each time and his next posts will show.

A bit hairy
Saturday May 14th 2022, 9:36 pm
Filed under: History

Ron at Buffalo Wool Co (whose buffalo/silk socks are the only ones my husband wears now, and they made it through over two years of him walking around in his socks while working from home. I finally just replaced them) mentioned today that they’d donated a bunch of buffalo hair to a group gathering any kind they could get to felt and use for cleaning up the BP oil spill and he’d never heard what came of it.

Till now.

And if you pay attention to the NOAA guy in that video, they quit using the stuffed tubes of hair because then it got waterlogged and fell to the bottom of the ocean, and then how do you get it out, so they switched to a chemical method of dispersing the oil, which he acknowledged wasn’t great for the environment but better than oil and now it’s sitting out of the way at the bottom of the ocean. Cue to a picture of a mass of oil down there.

Um, wait…

Protesting can cut both ways
Tuesday April 26th 2022, 9:55 pm
Filed under: History

It’s not funny, my husband insisted. You can’t condone doing bad things just because someone else is doing bad things.

He’s right. But… I still laughed. I’d only read a description of it and it sounded hilarious. I told him, Bullies only understand being stood up to and some form of that has needed to happen.

And now there’s video.

There’s an Assemblywoman in the East Bay who proposed a bill that would protect women so they couldn’t be charged for having a stillbirth, a miscarriage, or even, for that matter, an abortion. Roe v Wade is still the law of the land and will continue to be in our state.

My older sister and I have had miscarriages, mine at the 12-week mark. My younger sister had a stillborn son. All of those potential children were very wanted, but biology is messy and uneven and sometimes just plain random. The idea that going to the hospital for the 20 hours labor I went through for mine could put me in jail for something I didn’t want to have happen to me–and that happened to someone in Missouri and would it surprise anyone that she was Latina?–I mean, what are you going to do, slap handcuffs on G_d?

So. The truckers’ convoy that ran out of their mask mandate to protest against decided to drive all the way from DC to honk their horns here for hours, first in my town last week to try to intimidate our county public health leader who was receiving an award for having kept the covid rate the lowest in the country with her early lockdown despite our having some of the earliest cases and dense population; conveniently, that ceremony was happening at the local Jewish Community Center. Anti-Semitism! A two-fer! Then across the Bay to threaten and intimidate that Assemblywoman. I don’t think they would have done it to a man, but a woman, now, she needed to know her place–and her, too.

They actually had My Body My Choice written on some of their trucks. Because wearing a mask is so much more intrusive than a state telling you you have to die of an ectopic pregnancy.

Daily Kos says their reporter managed to snag a copy of the requirements on the participating truckers: they get reimbursed for all this gas they’re wasting but only if they turn the receipt for it in right away and in person, not by mail. Whoever’s funding them is determined to control them by keeping them together.

I wonder if they realize they have become the Westboro Baptist Trucks.

Now, anyone who knows anything about Oakland knows the traffic is terrible.

School let out.

There was a Safeway right where the truckers were being obnoxious and tying up traffic even worse and blowing their stupid horns. The police were not ticketing them for that horn use, they were not ticketing them for driving in residential areas, but they also didn’t ticket the pedestrian who walked in front of a truck and stood there in the street, basically a you block us we’ll block you.

First it was just middle fingers and yelling against the honking. (The guy in the middle of the street simply plugged his ears.)

Then someone bought that first carton of eggs.

Safeway had lots of eggs.

A woman walking by with a pizza she’d clearly just picked up took in the scene, went, yeah. Yeah I’d like an egg for those guys, thanks, and waited for the right moment because the truckers had sped up a bit now and clearly she didn’t want to waste this on bad aim. She nailed it.

And for the protection of those drivers’ good health she kept her mask on, as a polite person does.

At one or two points it was like a fireworks of exploding egg shells rising above the tops of the trucks. One guy rolled his window down so they could hear him better while he was yelling at them. Right on his shirt. He got out of his truck like an earlier guy had done to intimidate a woman, but there were a lot more people now and all those teens had joined in–he saw those arms drawn back to have a second go at him and quickly thought the better of it.

It worked. They hightailed it out of here. Wonder if their hidden source will reimburse them for those paint repair jobs.

Alternatives, energetically
Friday April 22nd 2022, 8:43 pm
Filed under: History,Life

I do not remember which TV show from when I was a kid had it as a tagline but I do remember “Here in beautiful downtown Burbank!” as the audience applauded and the show host waved his arm to the stage. I always wanted to know what did Burbank actually look like? Were they being proud? Ironic? Sharing a good day?

Okay, I just googled the phrase and apparently a bunch of shows and businesses there have now adopted it as their own. But–Price is Right, maybe? Who did it first?

Well, anyway, Southwest Air wanted hundreds of extra dollars each for the only nonstop return flight three weeks ago, so we flew Salt Lake to Burbank to San Jose instead.

The Bob Hope Airport at Burbank.

Which looked like it was straight out of the 1950’s. That had to be the original signage. Possibly the carpeting, too. Roll the metal steps up to the plane and cross the tarmac and should you want a wheelchair, the people working on the ground urgently requested a strong complaint to Southwest to finally provide them because they don’t.

But what I actually sat down to write about was what I saw on the way there, that I would never have on any other route nor even from the other side of the plane: a solar farm, sure, that was cool, but also another one that I had to figure out how to even search for it to learn more about the giant cobweb.

A solar tower that runs on melted salt. Including up to ten hours at night.

Melted. Salt.

What I can tell you is that the very top of that thing is brilliantly, painfully bright, so you know it’s doing its job.

It was very expensive to build and it was apparently a proof-of-concept endeavor.

But I figure (with admittedly limited knowledge) that once you build it you have it so why wouldn’t you and why aren’t there hundreds of these already.

Just make sure the pilots have sunglasses.

The museum, continued
Friday April 01st 2022, 9:40 pm
Filed under: History,Life

While we were at the Church History Museum, these are the two pieces that had me fighting sudden completely unexpected tears. Click to embiggen.

A crown of thorns made by olive leaves dipped in metal, and hanging from it, a thousand paper cranes, each one created with a person in mind, each paper printed with that person’s digital skin tone, the cranes separated by gold and suspended in the air and held in place only by the tension between the support from above and gravity from below.

I wondered if its creator had cared for Covid patients these past two years.

And this one. He Who Is Without Sin. It took a heartbeat to see the four (edit: five–making its point) bruises, none of them fully revealed to the viewer, where the stones had struck. The intensity of color and life above the ground in contrast to the stones returned to the dirt of the desert from which they’d come.

I came out of there wanting to be a better, kinder person: ‘First, do no harm.’

Whether they deserve it or not
Sunday March 20th 2022, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life

By way of introduction: Dave, who’s lived here most of his adult life, was a teenager whom we knew when we lived in New Hampshire 35 years ago. His oldest is in college now. His grandfather was a rabbi who fled the pograms in Russia.

He’s a lawyer.

So he prefaced his remark in Sunday School by saying that when you think of pardons, we generally think of a Presidential pardon. The difference between a pardon and forgiveness?

You don’t deserve a pardon.

You deserve forgiveness.

The person forgiving you deserves that they do so.

To which I would add, and of course forgiveness doesn’t mean condoning, it means I recognize the humanity in you in spite of what you did. If nothing else, to keep from pulling me down to your level.

Dang. I wrote all that out because his words sounded so brilliant at the time and, Sunday School lesson or no, I still can’t find it in me to forgive the murdering little warmonger over there. I am willing to turn that job over to Christ because it’s frankly well beyond me. I just want him stopped.

I am so glad Dave got to be born here.

The hat
Monday March 07th 2022, 10:59 pm
Filed under: History,Knit

It has the usual ribbing at the bottom but I tried it on like this and instantly loved it.

I’m debating whether to create a sunflower to tack onto the blue or whether just to go make another one and do it to that one.

(Yarn: Malabrigo Rios, left over from my ocean afghan.)


Where have all the flowers gone
Sunday March 06th 2022, 10:46 pm
Filed under: History,Knit

So, being curious after last night’s post, I googled Arlo Guthrie today.

Turns out the word “massacree” is actually a word, not just Arlo playing verbal Dr. Seuss.

From Vox: ‘A massacree is a series of absurd events, so the Alice’s Restaurant Movement is against absurdity and in favor of reason. It is against arresting someone for littering and in favor of ending wars.’

Meantime, I’d told my Zoom knitting group last week that I was working on a yellow and blue hat, and everybody thoroughly approved. Then I spent the week feeling like no matter how much I wanted to, I just couldn’t knit, between being glued to the news updates and the message from my sister-in-law that she was flying to California in three days to visit a childhood friend who was quite ill and could she come see us?

It wasn’t till the next Zoom meeting tonight that I got back to it. That’s right, I was up to the blue part already, oh good. Knitknitknitknitknit.

At the end, they asked if anyone wanted to show off their work.

It just needed the top decreases. I brought it out from below the camera’s view and onto my head needles and all.

The entire group gasped, it sounded like.

We have all felt like Ukrainians these past two weeks. We can make our support visible to those in our communities who are. I know there are a lot of them in this area.

I imagine there will be more hats like that made in the coming week.

I suddenly realized yesterday that I have a silicone cake pan that I’d wondered a year ago why I’d bought it (BakeDeco was the source.) I mean, it’s nice, but I hadn’t needed another pan, given how much I love my yarn-ball one from the same company.

Wait. It is.

It’s a mold in the shape of a sunflower.

She can really dish it out
Saturday March 05th 2022, 9:25 pm
Filed under: Family,History

Yesterday, Mathias, who will unfathomably somehow be five next month, found this song outrageous–that’s not how you do language! So his mommy and daddy sat down with him and his little sister to have fun playing them some Arlo Guthrie: I don’t want a pickle, I just want to ride on my motor sickle… And IIIIIIII don’t want to diiiiiiiie, I just want to ride on my motor cyyyyyyyy….. cle.

Which I’m sure is why I instantly thought of that song when social media shared the story today of a woman who decided that, you know what? She didn’t need a pickle so much either.

A Ukrainian woman. She saw a Russian drone, went out on her balcony, and beaned it out of the sky with a jar of cucumbers. Nailed it.

Sometimes a queue requires being interrupted
Sunday February 27th 2022, 8:55 pm
Filed under: History,Knit

I’ve spent the last two days wishing I had some yellow yarn, but since I never wear yellow I don’t buy it either.

I was thinking about that again this evening as a purple beanie went slowly round and round in my hands during my Zoom knitting meeting as people were talking about the attack on Ukraine: where we could donate. Where we could hope to do the most good from so far away.


Moments after it ended, I suddenly remembered back when I bought way more than I used and what a mistake and a waste I’d thought it was at the time (and I gave some of it away) but… I went running to look.

I did still. There you go. The octopus leftovers. That blue, a bit darker in a different dye lot, for the sky, a yellow with a slight peach to it for the sunflower national flower. Superwash merino. I can dive right in after all.

You know if I walk around with their flag on my head a lot of people are going to ask for one.

Let me just finish off the top of that other beanie to get it off my needles and out of the way.

An interesting Thanksgiving table
Friday February 25th 2022, 10:07 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

This made a good metaphor for the moment–sometimes you *do* have to push the bear away that’s threatening your loved ones, even when it has claws and you don’t. (BBCnews link.)

Meantime, Pres. Biden’s Supreme Court pick for the Supreme Court, Ketanji Brown Jackson, is married to a man whose twin is married to the sister of former House Speaker Paul Ryan’s wife. Ryan praised her intellect, her character, and her integrity (his description) today.

We’re going to have a great Justice on the Court.

Such a strong, strange-feeling mixture in the headlines this week.

A modest proposal
Thursday February 24th 2022, 10:57 pm
Filed under: History

A rueful laugh/if only/and yet, and yet, maybe: I read someone’s comment that the way to stop the war is to offer UK, US, or European citizenship to every Russian soldier who defects.

As the world prays for the innocent on both sides.

For their own good
Monday January 24th 2022, 10:06 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Politics

They can’t say it out loud, but Fox and the like have got to be really really hoping the unvaxxed Sarah Palin’s defamation lawsuit against the New York Times, thrown out by one court and reinstated by another, fails.

The trial was delayed by her Covid diagnosis. Of course.

With thanks to Lee Ann Dalton for the link, I can only wish that others who’ve been persuaded by such might read all the love in these words.