Arlo and Janis
Friday September 10th 2021, 8:03 pm
Filed under: History,Life

Twenty years ago today, this comic ran.

The author had no way to know when he sketched it out however many weeks in advance.

In my Mormon faith, we live with God as spiritual entities before this life: walking in the presence of that absolute Love and knowing nothing else.

Birth begins what is essentially the teenagerhood of our spirits: when we move out of the house and go explore the world on our own and figure out who we are. Life constantly throws things at us and, whether we know of God or not, it constantly demands that we choose how we’re going to respond–with love or by fear. We are to learn compassion. We are required to forgive, in order to be able to grow. That doesn’t mean justify, but it does sometimes mean putting it in God’s hands, saying, This is too much for me, here, You handle it. And please guide me to be able to because I need every bit of help I can get.

We are not alone: we are born with the Light of His divinity within us showing us forward if we choose to follow our consciences, that Love befriending and loving us when we come up short. As we do. As parents respond. Always present if we’re willing to see it; a little more visible every time we offer our gratitude.

Mormons believe that we will judge ourselves in the presence of that absolute Love by what we did with what we know, not by what anybody else knew. Those who chose to live by love will recognize that Love because it was always a part of them. Because they wanted it to be, they worked hard for it to be.

So many people that day.

And this one cartoonist, following a nudge whose source he could not have seen, wrote the words and drew the images so that some of those thousands or their loved ones might, in seeing them, feel it so hard that they got up and did something to prepare. For their loved ones. For what they could not know the morrow would bring. Or they said something. Or, simply, they loved a little more fully, not knowing the depth of the importance of those last few kind words and deeds.

They could not have known. He could not have known. We who know now, may we love a little more, show it a little more.

A lot more. For the gift of still being here, we owe it to each other.



Lopard print
Tuesday September 07th 2021, 7:57 pm
Filed under: Friends,History

It’s a weird day when you lose a battle of strength with an iris leaf.

I have special skills like that.

I was walking away from the apple tree and didn’t realize fast enough that I’d caught my foot at the edge of the iris patch and that an unknown number of leaves–possibly even just one–had wrapped around my ankle and it was not giving way, no sir.

My brain flashed the warning from my doctor: hand bones heal faster than hips. I stopped trying to twist around to see what that was that was doing that and put my hands out front and center as I fell.

So as I try to ice all the everythings, with my brain acting a little sleepy and me telling it shut up and quit complaining that was nothing and you know it brain, let me just type real fast what a friend with an interest in linguistics made me laugh over: in the 16th century, Meg says, everybody in Europe knew what a giraffe was. France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, they all had close to the same word for it, essentially the Arabic word with the z changed to a g plus whatever word ending suited.

Except England.

Because come on. EVERYBODY knows those are, as they spelled it, Camelopards. What else could they be?!



Roberts dissented
Wednesday September 01st 2021, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life,Politics

Texas passed the intended death of Roe v. Wade and Trump’s appointees allowed it to stand today. Meaning it is now in effect, arguments and lawsuits to come or not, and every woman there who might ever need an abortion for any reason must have it done no more than two weeks after her period is late. And if you drive her to another state for it even a day later, anyone can sue you and collect a bounty.

And then there’s Katy.

Katy is a friend of mine of 34 years whose second, much-wanted, much-anticipated pregnancy years ago turned into a molar pregnancy: meaning, it stopped developing into a baby at all and started growing wildly, randomly, and at the speed of fetal cells was rapidly turning into what was going to be a cancer taking over her body. Her blood pressure skyrocketed.

She spent sixteen days in a coma. Having been a professional flutist, she had to relearn how to play. She had to relearn a lot of things. She had a major seizure as she was finally coming to, so she spent years on seizure meds, and that medical history in this state means being unable to drive. When they finally eased her off them many years later there was a risk of sparking another grand mal. But she lucked out and she finally got to feel like herself again.

She was devastated at losing the pregnancy but the doctors told her it had no longer been one and they had had no choice but to remove it to save her life–it had been a very very near thing as it was. It was not and could not ever have become a baby.

And now under the charming Governor Abbott and his collaborators, anyone, anyone at all, would have the right to violate HIPAA over the medical history of someone they don’t even know and to collect $10,000 from Katy’s husband for driving her to the hospital to save her life. Because, technically, since that mess was in her womb that was an abortion.

Had he not, their oldest would have grown up without his mom.

Had he not, the two children who came along later, giving great comfort to both of them, would never have come to be and let me tell you, the world would have been a lesser place without those great kids and their mom.

Biology is messy. Life is imperfect. You have to allow people to make choices you disagree with–and I am no great fan of abortion, let me be clear–in order to save those choices for those who would die without the right to make them.

To the men in Texas who think requiring a face mask is a violation of one’s rights but dictating medical and lifetime outcomes to women is not, we have a Constitution that protects all religions from the adherents of any other one, and as I understand it, under Jewish law, the life and health of the mother come first. And–here I’m less sure of myself, please correct me if I’m wrong–the spirit is thought to enter the body at the first breath of life. Before that it’s just parental happy anticipation.

Texas’s law cannot stand. It must not. The only thing it accomplishes is punishing women and those who love them for the sake of the political aspirations of a few men who don’t give a damn about anybody but themselves. They are the biblical Pharisees passing by on the other side of the road from the wounded, punishing any Good Samaritan in sight.



Left high and dry
Wednesday August 25th 2021, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Life

It is amazing how good kids so young can be at a sport. Sink it sink it sink it with all those arms flailing away at them (but somehow almost never fouling.) Score 23-54, with Parker, zooming in from the right, scoring the final basket for that winning number from a goodly distance away.

Meantime, back to normal life if a bit wistfully, the Indian Free peach is going to town to a degree it never has before and I’ve noticed since we got home that the critters have, for the first time, been abandoning the ripe figs to go after those peaches that aren’t yet.

And the thing I learned today: it’s not just a pandemic chip shortage. It’s not just a new car shortage and resulting inflated used-car prices, nor of furniture held up in shipping backlogs.

It’s hitting the washers and dryers made right here in the good old USA. Did they have one in stock? The man laughed ruefully. Three to four weeks for a new Speed Queen to arrive, and I could almost hear an implied ‘if you’re lucky’ in his tone. The next store said the same thing.

It was so bad that I could smell our 15-year-old dryer trying to burn the house down (he couldn’t. That could be dangerous) and came running across the house to stop it.

Check the outtake, Richard said between meetings. I did–it was clear, and it wasn’t a burning lint smell anyway. At all.

That makes three major appliances that have thrown a fiery temper tantrum in the last few years, even if only the Maytag dishwasher actually succeeded in scorching the floor. Are we just that lucky or does everybody eventually go through this?

The top of the neighbor’s clothesline partly shows across the top of the fence and I’ve been wishing all day I had one. It could be a long month.

So: anyone have anything they particularly like or dislike about their dryer? Have you had one that’s lasted a long time? One that flamed out fast? Would you recommend what you have?



And the sky! No smoke!
Monday August 23rd 2021, 10:20 am
Filed under: Family,History,Life

I’ve never been so glad we parked the car at the airport.

We spent the weekend visiting the San Diego grands, a trip planned before Delta was really a thing yet. Since it certainly is now, we had to decide, but being healthy and vaccinated there was just no way we were going to cancel.

Hudson and his cousin Hayes had turned eight and were being baptized, which the Mormon church does when children are old enough to start to discern and choose right from wrong for themselves and not just react to the world around them. It’s a joyful time, and there was a mini-reunion for our daughter-in-law’s family in the process. I adore her family.

I told them that between their late father’s book and one my mom had, I’d found out that their Swedish ancestor and mine had arrived on the same boat. It just took 150 years or so for them to arrange a marriage from up there. They laughed.

One uncle who’s a doctor asked me quietly if we drove or flew, and I knew what he was asking and explained that with my husband’s job he just couldn’t take off the extra two days, meaning, yes, we risked the plane. (Sorry!)

Twenty-three months since we’d seen any of them. The kids have grown and grown up so much. Hudson in particular seems so much more contemplative. Wise for his age. From age six to age eight is such a leap in development.

Maddy asked me why I can’t go out in the sun. I gave a very simplified explanation of lupus. She wanted to know, what does the disease do? I thought, let’s not freak the poor kid out, and put it in terms a six year old could understand: “It makes me hurt all over.” (Kidney failure, temporary blindness on one side, Crohn’s as a side effect, cardiac inflammation, central and autonomic nervous system–oh be quiet, brain.)

She considered that, and that’s the way it is and it didn’t bother me so she was okay with that. And then we ran to the other room and played some more.

The whole weekend had this inner songtrack on endless loop and I found myself humming it more than once with the kids. “I can sing this song, and you can sing this song… We’re gonna have a good time…” And we did, at long last we did.

It was over far too soon and our planned last-flight-home got delayed and delayed. Our son dropped us off at the airport with an emphatic, Call if they cancel, okay?

Thankfully they didn’t. We fell into bed at 1:11 a.m.



Try a little harder, sir
Sunday August 15th 2021, 10:34 pm
Filed under: History,Life

Sitting in the otherwise-empty choir seats up on the stand and staring down into his phone, since he’d done this the last time he’d visited and I knew what we were in for, he didn’t see me as I quietly snapped his picture before church started. His mask was covering his lips.

He knows our ward’s bishop is a virology and immunology researcher at Stanford, and if he somehow didn’t know that, one of the speakers during the meeting mentioned that very thing in gratitude that we have someone right here who’s always been glad to answer any question anybody asks about covid or the vaccines. Which he’d helped study.

The man surely had gotten the same email notification that the rest of us did.

He knew that the First Presidency of the Church, the stake president whom he answers to, the bishop, the state of California, and the county health department had all said that masks are to be worn indoors in the face of Delta.

Okay, so he was wearing one this time, just not how they meant, and the expression on his face was, Yawannamakesomethingofit? He looked like a defiant teenager. This was not a good look.

He made me live my religion right there in my seat, trying to be understanding and forgiving–but that doesn’t mean you let someone continue doing something wrong without calling them on it in the kindest way you can. Except that I didn’t want to go anywhere nearer his germs.

We always sit at the front so I can lipread and we’d arrived before he had so there we were right there, close enough as it was.

He caught my eye looking steadily up at his, as one does when waiting for a teenager to come to their senses, and turned away, his face softened to a sadness. Mask still down.

I decided to take that as progress.

When it was his time to speak, he quickly pulled it up properly before walking forward to where the bishop could see his face.

And pulled it back down once he was a few rows behind him again.

It’s like he had to keep face, literally, to the leaders–but not the rest of us.

I quietly sent that picture to the bishop after we got home, then deleted it from my phone. It came with a note saying, With my deafness I may not always get what you’re saying–but nobody can hide from me how they feel about it. (Basically, that’s one of the perks that makes it as close to worth it as anything will ever get.) And that was not a happy man.

Since this was not the first time, either, I said, please let me know in advance if at all possible when he’s going to come so that I can stay home that day. Yay Zoom.

So in case anyone’s curious what the official stance of the Mormon Church is: here is the email that was sent out to all this week. Note that the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a retired heart surgeon. Who wore a face mask for long hours throughout his career because that’s just what you do for those you’re caring for.

And I quote:

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

We find ourselves fighting a war against the ravages of COVID-19 and its variants, an unrelenting pandemic. We want to do all we can to limit the spread of these viruses. We know that protection from the diseases they cause can only be achieved by immunizing a very high percentage of the population.

To limit exposure to these viruses, we urge the use of face masks in public meetings whenever social distancing is not possible. To provide personal protection from such severe infections, we urge individuals to be vaccinated. Available vaccines have proven to be both safe and effective.
We can win this war if everyone will follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders. Please know of our sincere love and great concern for all of God’s children.
The First Presidency
Russell M. Nelson
Dallin H. Oaks
Henry B. Eyring


Forensics
Thursday August 12th 2021, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Garden,History,Wildlife

I would have thought squirrel claw marks–but then I saw that beak jab. This one just wasn’t ripe enough yet to be dislodged from the tree that way like the last one was.

Citrus thorns alone hadn’t been enough to keep them off either of them.

So I tried plan B. And this time I succeeded in getting the clamshells to snap shut on both sides. In past years raccoons have pried those open, but since they haven’t been out there till now, whereas with my Fuji apples in previous years I had them out the whole season long, I guess the current critter crop hasn’t figured them out yet.

Which means I got to share a ripe fig with my husband this morning. It was delicious.

On a side note, the breaking news tonight at the Washington Post is that the FDA just okayed booster Moderna and Pfizer doses for the immunocompromised. My cardiologist has already told me he wants me to get one as soon as they okay it.

 



Do the right thing
Monday August 09th 2021, 10:11 pm
Filed under: History,Life

Man, they’re not messing around. Finally.

Sutter Health sent out an email: all their healthcare employees must be vaccinated by the end of September.

Meaning, since it takes a month to become fully vaccinated with the more effective two-shot types, knock it off and get started now, and if you don’t, well, the state has decided the same thing, too, so you won’t find any another healthcare job in California unless you do right by your patients. Just do it.

And: all hospital visitors/people helping patients must show proof of vaccination to enter any of their hospitals or have had a negative test within the previous 72 hours, with documentation in hand. They specifically say they do not do the rapid test. And their clinics have outpatient surgery centers and are legally hospitals.

There may be limited exceptions but you’d better have a really really good reason and you will not bluff your way past. If your partner is having a baby and you haven’t been vaxxed or tested? Sorry, Dad, you’re not coming in the doors, it doesn’t matter if you don’t like having a swab scrape the inside of your head repeatedly–remember, babies sometimes come late. Or early. They specifically call out expectant parents and tell them what the deal is. You won’t see your wife and baby till they get checked out of the hospital if you haven’t done due diligence to prepare for their safety and well-being, not to mention the hospital staff’s.

About time. Overdue, but at long last they’re making the irresponsible more responsible for their choices.



Bar none
Sunday August 01st 2021, 10:14 pm
Filed under: History,Knit,Life

Another plain hat waiting for the moment when I’ll want the ends to already be run in. Soft and warm and wool and washable.

I woke up feeling fine this morning but church by Zoom was clearly the only way to go, just to be sure.

And then we got an email: the (unnamed) unvaccinated boy who was reported last week to have tested positive after going to Scout camp had carpooled there with another unvaccinated kid, who is now sick with covid.

Between them they’d exposed a whole lot of people. (The email didn’t say that. It didn’t need to.)

It asked that, of the kids who’d attended that camp, only the vaccinated ones come to in-person church.

Those two would have been old enough to have gotten at least their first shots–I do not understand why vaccination was not a requirement, although, on second thought, it may well be that it was.

I read a comment today where someone saw a long line of young people and went around the block out of curiosity to see what it was they were lining up for.

It was a pop-up vaccination clinic.

They noted that the bars in town had with one accord decreed that you must now be vaccinated to enter.



Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Tuesday July 27th 2021, 9:59 pm
Filed under: History

I went to school with family members of these guys. If only the Dove kid my age had lived to see this.

So good to see those Confederate General street signs coming down and being replaced with their families’ names. So long overdue.

Long ago there was some land near a creek that emptied into the Potomac River a few miles further down that was thought not to be worth anything because it was too hilly and rocky to make good farmland out of–so the owner was willing to sell it to an African American man, who brought in family. Their descendants have carried on a strong sense of community for generations now.

So glad to see the signs that convey their joy and love replacing the ones that, when they were put up, inflicted pain deliberately, quite possibly in backlash to that very community’s landownership and pride.

So much better now.



Unto the littlest of these thy brethren
Sunday July 11th 2021, 9:37 pm
Filed under: History,Life

Another possible way of tackling covid-19: a novel application of an older treatment for something entirely different that looks like it will decrease covid sickness markedly. That would be great.

We attended church today, noting that there were fewer people there in person than our last time and more on Zoom and I didn’t see any small children at all–and the majority of adults were not wearing masks. I don’t know what they announced last week while we were out of town but clearly others got the message. It felt so strange.

And then someone said to me, I see you’re still wearing a mask.

I explained that someone in my lupus group had been fully vaccinated and then tested–and her antibody level to the virus was a flat zero. I’m not on the chemo drug she’s on but even fully vaccinated, I can’t risk transmitting anything.

My friend certainly understood that, leaving me thinking, so then why aren’t you… I mean, you live in the world that has such people too and did you know there was a cancer patient on that side of the room? She hasn’t lost her hair yet (and you’d likely never know if she did because that’s one person who’d get a wig no matter what the heat waves say.)

I mentioned it to Richard and his immediate response was the obvious, “When everyone under twelve is vaccinated I’ll take my mask off but not before.”

Yes. Exactly.

Now, if that new treatment that has so few side effects turns out to work for covid illness, that would be wonderful.

But nobody’s been absolved of responsibility towards their fellow man. We’re not done with this virus yet.



Island
Friday July 09th 2021, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Garden,History

Anya apricot seedling planted in January, 21.5″ high now. Picture taken when it was too bright for the upper side branches to show up well but they’re there. It’s taller than the one on its second year and much much taller than the others planted this year, one of which is still stuck at about 5″ high. Clearly, planting this one in a mix that was mostly that Quoddy blend of composted lobster shells was successful; it’s the only one that was, but then, I chose the best-looking specimen for that in the first place. I wanted to try something totally different from what last year’s baby tree got.

Clearly, the older one should be repotted in the good stuff too come the winter.

Today this one got voted most likely to end up planted permanently in the yard. Helped by the fact that someone else said the fastest and tallest of his was the one whose fruit came out most like the hoped-for Anya parent.

(Don’t mind me, I’m trying to keep a record of what worked where I’ll know where to find it.)

Meantime, this woman was a kick to read about. I’d never heard this WWII story from the Channel Islands. It was the upper-crust Germans who were sent to that post during her island’s occupation, and because they were who they were it was they who were able to be cowed again and again before someone who so outranked them socially–a weapon she was happy to put to use at a time when there was no other available to her.

The rent for her fief to the Queen has not been updated since, apparently, 1565, at 1.79 pounds. I assume there were no late fees for any interruption caused by the war.



Heroes
Sunday May 02nd 2021, 11:09 pm
Filed under: History

Our friend who is a virology researcher at Stanford mentioned today a meeting he’d had with the chief technical officer at Moderna. Who told him that when the covid-19 virus was discovered and sequenced and it became clear what this was quickly becoming, (she, I think he said) vowed that the lights would never go off at night till they had this beat. And they did not. Round the clock, they were on it and they stayed on it.

“And they are not a big company,” he told us.

But they knew they could do something about it and that every day fewer that it took to test and then get those vaccines out there could be thousands upon thousands of lives saved around the world.

And then there was Dolly Parton, who jump-started the effort with a million dollars in seed money while they waited for the Federal grants to come through.



The arc of the universe…
Tuesday April 20th 2021, 10:34 pm
Filed under: History

The Washington Post put out a Breaking News banner that the verdict had been reached and would be announced within the hour.

I pulled out my knitting and was glued to my seat for that hour. Please please let it be what it just has to be. Please let justice be achieved. We all saw what he did.

The various reporters talked and interviewed and switched back and forth, trying to use the time well but everybody knowing it was filler while we waited.

Six afghan rows later, the judge appeared, acknowledged those present, and began.

The first count. Guilty. The second count. Guilty. The third count. Guilty. The judge asked the jurors, not by name but by their number, whether they were in full agreement with this verdict. Eleven times the answer was a decisive yes; one time, a man was barely able to express it for the emotion in the word. Yes.

Behind his pandemic mask, Derek Chauvin’s eyebrows had a you can’t do this to me expression.

Eighteen times there had been complaints filed against him with the police department, never had he been held accountable.

Guilty. Bond revoked, sent to jail on the spot, and he was taken away with his hands in cuffs behind his back. Standing upright now, being escorted out, not face down on the pavement with someone’s knee grinding hard into his neck while he pleads for mercy and breath and at the last, as he was dying, for his mama–but alive.

My cousin-in-law the cardiologist once told me he’d learned over the years that he was going to lose his elderly patients when they started telling him about seeing their loved ones who’d gone on before. George’s mother had died a few years previous. Mama.

It hit me then like a wave in a storm: all the grief for George Floyd’s family, for his little girl who needed her daddy, for all the black lives taken too soon who should still be with us, for all the accomplishments and achievements that the world never got to see and that never came to be because of how too many in our society and our police all too often see people whose skin is darker than theirs.

Back when I was a kid, the epithet for a bad cop of course (and too often all cops) was ‘pig.’

It was deeply gratifying in all the sorrow to see that male Chauvin-ist pig handcuffed and walking towards the jail time he’d so defiantly, brutally, hatefully earned. Away with him.



A five hour tour
Thursday April 01st 2021, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Family,History

Whoah! Suddenly there were green boxes. All in the same two places. Did we want to go (I looked them up) 317 miles round trip or 146? We actually finally had choices, but only at those two.

Was this a trick question?

Wait. Maybe it kind of was. On 24 hours’ notice, too. I asked him if he was serious and I looked up distances and I basically twiddled my fingers a few minutes to let anybody closer snatch all those slots in Antioch. The 7:30 one did vanish, but none of the others.

We had had appointment slots get claimed while we did the required repeated hoop-jumping so many times.

A few years ago, Sutter Health scooped up our formerly independent medical clinic in a trend of providers consolidating to lower their administrative costs and fight insurance companies.

Well, there’s finally an upside for us: Sutter lets their patients schedule a covid vaccine at any of their facilities they’re willing to get to. The drugstores go by the county you live in. Sutter goes by Sutter.

He’d been okayed by his doctor a week ago, who was surprised that that hadn’t happened yet, and both of us have been looking multiple times a day every day since. With everyone 50 on up eligible as of today, and everyone over 16 in two weeks, and the medical officer of our more-populous county having sued the state in a fit over the fine points of the law re distribution, ending with us being dead last to receive vaccines, (gee thanks) all the sites said three months and we figured that’s just how it was going to probably end up being.

Green boxes! Tomorrow! When the screen said Confirmed Appointment I nearly burst into tears for sheer disbelief and gratitude.

Road trip road trip!

He couldn’t change his schedule at work that fast and had to be in meetings concentrating in the noisy environment, so that meant me at the wheel and, as is normal for me, not hearing the GPS. His co-workers on the phone were cheering him on. The traffic was relentless. Google said 75 minutes to three hours; it was nearly the latter (so much for the idea that nobody’s commuting by car right now), but we tried for a good hour early just in case which got whittled down greatly but not quite entirely. We made it. We were good. The staff said of course I could use the restroom!

A stop at an In’N’Out drive-through for burgers to minimize contact, eating in their parking lot (which also meant we didn’t have to drive into the sunset); he spelled me at the wheel for the long road home.

He got. His shot. He got it! Moderna. Four weeks till the second. Neither of us wants to make that trek again but the appointment’s on the books and his if he wants it and if we have to we will in a heartbeat. We want to see our grandkids! And we so want not to get nor give Covid-19 to anyone.

As we rounded the bottom of the San Francisco Bay on the return, I mused out loud that, if we’d ever driven alongside what looked like the end (it wasn’t quite) of the Suisun Bay before, I couldn’t remember it at all.

He couldn’t either; maybe on our way to Yellowstone when the kids were little? Maybe?

So strange to see a whole beautiful wide Bay–that wasn’t ours and whose contours we did not really know. But it welcomed us anyway, and we are grateful.