New Swedish word: Solros
Friday September 16th 2022, 8:49 pm
Filed under: History

Meaning, sunflower.

This small handwoven woolen tapestry is my first ever purchase coming from the Kingdom of Sweden. I wondered if I was related to whoever made this. It was being sold as a fundraiser for a Ukrainian relief fund and the price was roughly postage times two.

I wanted to study how they used the various background shades of purple and blue and brightness/shadedness to enhance the colors within the flowers and highlight some areas; I wanted to study it to learn more of how to create the effects they did.

It was made in the 1970s. I think it could use a gentle hand washing for sheer age, is all, but I’m a little hesitant.

Anyone familiar with classic Swedish tapestry weaving? (It is definitely thicker than the French ones I grew up with.) Judging by the fringe, I’m guessing jute for the warp.

What would you do?



Summer breeze
Sunday July 31st 2022, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life

It was a good old-fashioned Bay Area summer day today–meaning, when the breeze blew it was actually a bit chilly. It’s how it used to be most of the time when we moved here thirty-five years ago.

The doors at church were open for the fresh air after a rash of covid cases last month.

I’d brought a Coolibar sun jacket to wear walking to and from the car; it doesn’t wrinkle and it easily stuffs down into a purse  and I really do need protection from even that much UV.

I’d almost brought a wool cardigan instead, though, and sitting there with that breeze coming right in at us I was wishing I had. Coolibar to the rescue near the beginning of the service.

When we broke for Sunday School, Suzie came up and told me she’d been wondering if I was wearing one of my Ukrainian shirts today. She hadn’t been able to tell from behind with that jacket on.

I was.

She was relieved: People forget, she told me, like it’s not still going on. She was really glad I wore those.

I was surprised and quite gratified. I’d bought them to make a difference to artists under siege trying to still make a living in the middle of the war. I’d had no idea it made one to her, too, but it did, it meant a lot, and her conveying that meant a lot to me in turn.

And I thought, we’re at the empty nester stage where I can afford to splurge on such things; she’s in the throes of the kids in college and soon to be in college stage. I remember how it was.

I would pronounce one a hand-me-down and share it if we were at all the same size.



Served cold
Thursday July 21st 2022, 9:58 pm
Filed under: History

Wow that Jan 6 Commission hearing tonight!

There was that little aside with the Capitol Police grousing that Josh Hawley’s infamous fist pump revving up the huge angry crowd about to break in was made possible by his being behind the line where those cops were protecting him.

The commission then played the security camera video from a few hours later of Hawley, and at a time when members of Congress were streams of humanity fleeing together for the safe room and looking out for one another, he was alone but for the cops watching him go, running down the hallway from the mob he’d helped incite. While again those cops were where they were to protect the likes of him.

They had it on repeat in slow motion the second time so that you could see just how high his feet rose as he was beating it out of there.

Yeah, I think he’s a one-termer now.



A mind of its own
Tuesday July 12th 2022, 9:30 pm
Filed under: History,Knit,Life

So I sent off that note. She sent me a sweet note back.

I decided to add a detail I hadn’t mentioned: that the consul’s American counterpart had taken my picture. That my hair was not having a good day at all but I still felt like I looked good because of how good her blouse looked on me.

She told me she’d laughed, and thanked me.

Which means I just spent the whole day (even through the Jan 6 committee hearing) quite delighted that I’d made someone in Ukraine have a good chuckle at the world.

Meantime, I was working on this. 



Reaping what she’d sewn
Monday July 11th 2022, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life

The obvious thought occurred to me today, and I sat down and wrote a note to the lovely woman who’d made and mailed this vyshyvanka in the middle of the war.

I cannot begin to imagine how that was for her, but I am grateful she did that for me.

I told her I’d worn it to the General Consul’s talk last night to quietly convey my support for Ukraine. To show good thoughts but also individual actions towards their country’s well-being.

Ukrainians are going through the worst and yet I find they’re just the nicest.

The second speaker put up a slide that stated that war intensifies and quickens deeper human connections.

That instantly rang true.

I figured I was typing away in the middle of the night the seller’s time and that she would get to wake up in the morning to that, and the thought of her happy surprise she had coming just made my day. She had so earned it.



Well okay
Sunday July 10th 2022, 9:58 pm
Filed under: History,Life

The General Consul of Ukraine in San Francisco was speaking at the Mormon church the next town over at 7 pm tonight, followed by a woman who had done humanitarian work there. For ten years, if I heard right.

He came in at the beginning with an older gentleman who sat down at the opposite end of the second row from me as the Consul went up on the stand.

He came back down and sat by his friend during the woman’s presentation as she talked about ways to help Ukraine and mentioned how important supporting their businesses is to the war effort as well as their daily lives.

I quietly hoped my dark blue vyshyvanka from Sumy was helping her point. It’s one of the prettiest things I’ve ever bought.

At about 8:00 pm, the two men conferred quietly with each other and the Consul left for another engagement.

There were snacks and time to visit afterwards–there’s an old joke about needing six Mormons to change a lightbulb because there have to be five to serve refreshments–and I took a friend aside and said, I have a mild case of face blindness. Do you see him? Is he still here?

I was sure of the answer, I just didn’t want it to be the answer, but no, the Consul wasn’t there.

I started to head out but by the entryway were two chairs and in one of them was a friend I hadn’t seen in ages.

After the initial exclamations of delight, I told her my disappointment.

She knows about my deafness, and she said, But the guy he was with works with him. He could take care of it for you, and he’s right there, she said, pointing him out.

So I turned back that way and waited for the man to be done with whom he was speaking with, and then explained: When the war started, my reaction was to find as close to the colors of the Ukrainian flag as I could find and knit a hat and then as soon as it was done I immediately made another one. I did not know who they were for, just that I felt compelled to make them. Could you get one to him?

He was surprised and very happy.

And, I added, could I give you the other one? Or the two of you can decide together who it’s for, I leave it in your hands.

His eyes were shining now. Yes. Thank you!

Wait, he said–you can’t just walk off. You have to tell me your name. You have to let us know where to thank you!

But he just had… That’s all I needed, since clearly there was no question he would get the one to where it most needed to go and both were going to be appreciated. Already were.

I looked, though, and finally told him, I had a book published 15 years ago and used to always have a card in my purse but, um, I don’t anymore. (An aside as I type this: well now there are! Fixed that! Still had a few left.)

He was not to be deterred. He handed me a pen with a smile. I had nothing to write on.

Wait, I did, I had the very crumpled instructions for the Flame Chevron baby afghan project in my purse. I didn’t need those directions, they were kind of a just-in-case mental crutch, but I did suddenly need that paper and there you go.

I wanted to protest, But I didn’t do it to be thanked!

The thought that it might be an unkindness not to let them is how he got what he’d found himself suddenly hoping for after all.



no words
Thursday July 07th 2022, 9:51 pm
Filed under: History,Life

One of my relatives was once at a dinner that included Shinzo Abe, an old friend of the hosts.

The shock feels personal.

It should. We are all in this life together.



The tantrum
Thursday June 30th 2022, 9:37 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

Curious. So, reading this, the Trumps’ effort at adding their chosen White House china to the history books failed even though there’s a group that that’s what they do, they assist The First Spouse in designing, ordering, and stocking a set for each new incoming administration.

Because what they wanted cost too much (I remember when Laura Bush was criticized for spending nearly half a mil) and was taking too long for the couple to bother with anymore.

The Obamas’ set? With its Pacific rim? (How did the reporter miss that pun just begging to leap onto the page after they said the blue was for the waters of Hawaii?) Or any slightest suggestion of blue states? No way.

But Hilary Clinton’s included “ornate, shiny gold plates” and it even matched a certain someone’s favorite commode. Well there you go.

Puts a new angle on the former guy’s smashing the porcelain against the wall, doesn’t it? He was trying to dish it to Hilary’s place at the table.

I think if she’d had any idea who would be coming later she’d have picked something with blue, too.

It’s not hard to think he must have wanted solid gold or at least gold-plated plates, and that if he’d gotten them, they’d be at Mar-a-Lago now even though they would have been White House property.

But he couldn’t have it, and he was no longer going to be invited to dinner, so he broke hers.

Well. He did say he was going to beat china.

 

(Props to an unknown person on FB for that last sentence.)



A soldier for democracy
Tuesday June 28th 2022, 9:18 pm
Filed under: Friends,History

The Jan. 6 Committee’s emergency hearing ended. The phone rang.

It was Anne: “Wow.”

Yes, and I Wowed back. That was absolutely the word for it.

All those men who said all those things because, though she never put it this way, a 25-year-old beautiful woman is invisible in the room against their power–until she speaks truth to that power.

Wow.

Trump yanking the tablecloth and dumping everything, more than once? Yelling and shattering porcelain against the far wall when Barr thwarted him? His hands on the throat of his Secret Service driver? His unmet demand at the Ellipse that the magnetometers be taken down so that people not allowed into the rally because they’d have to give up their illegal-in-DC guns could come in and swell his crowd size? They were hanging around the edges, some up in trees with a good line of sight, flagrant in their numbers, awaiting the word.

Trump wanted to lead them to the Capitol (by car of course, he wasn’t going to walk) and the Secret Service wasn’t having it.

Those are visceral images that even the most far-right voter would recoil from after today’s revelations.

Every late member of my father’s generation who went to war to defend the free world has got to be up there cheering, You GO, girl!



Needles and threads, too
Monday June 27th 2022, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,History,Life,Politics

I got a message.

San Diego Jennifer, whom we adore from when she was in law school at Stanford, said she was flying into town for a wedding but there was a problem with her bridesmaid dress and did I have or did I know who had a sewing machine she could use for a few minutes and could we hopefully possibly get to see each other?

It’s been about ten years. I miss her. YES!

When she said what time she’d be getting off the plane I mentioned that it was our anniversary and what time our dinner was set for. She said she could come tomorrow.

Oh what the heck, she came today and when she ran out of time she borrowed the sewing machine, but not till we’d had a great time catching up for far too short a time. Her friend who’d picked her up from the airport got invited in too because of course.

I offered them peaches from Andy’s.

I got to see the complete surprise on Jennifer’s face as her eyes flew open and then closed in ecstasy at that first bite. Her friend’s reaction to her own was simply, Wow. When I offered a second peach, the friend hadn’t been going to ask by any means but she was sure glad to take me up on it.

I sent them off with another two for the road. Those peaches are at their very most perfect today and they should be enjoyed just like that.

Our dinner arrived minutes later. I’d ordered it delivered so that there wouldn’t be any last minute tension or scramble, it would just come, and turns out Richard’s meeting, the real wild card in all this, had gone over. So it was just as well we weren’t wrecking a restaurant’s reservation schedule.

So: 42: Life, the Universe, and he’s my Everything.

Richard’s family had served all the raspberries anybody could eat at our wedding breakfast. His grandfather had a quarter acre berry patch in Northwest Washington, DC in what’s now the Obamas’ neighborhood, where in the 1930s he’d bought the plot next door as well as the one he built his house on and forever after refused to sell it because that was his garden and his raspberry patch. He was born a farm boy and wanted to work some land. (Even if he was the lawyer who wrote the laws governing the new Federal Radio Commission, which became the FCC with him as chairman at one point and–I need to ask my sister-in-law to be absolutely sure, but our memory is that he was the author of the Fairness Doctrine.)

Yesterday’s recipe? We ate it for breakfast. It had to be raspberries. Go Grampa H.

And I get a second visit with Jennifer when she brings the sewing machine back. We’ve made an appointment to go out to lunch.

—-

Before I forget, for those who missed the announcement. The January 6 committee said today that they had new information and were holding an emergency hearing at 1:00 Eastern Tuesday, with some of them flying back to DC for it after having gone home for the Congressional recess.

It should be interesting.



The hearings need the listenings
Thursday June 16th 2022, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Politics

The third January 6 hearing today: I missed part of the second due to the time zone difference–I was not getting up at  6 a.m., thanks. But listening to bits and snippets afterwards of what reporters thought were the main points just didn’t have the same effect as listening to the whole thing start to finish.

One of the things about being hearing impaired since my teens is a need to see someone’s face when they’re talking. It’s not just the words that matter, it’s how they feel about those words as they’re saying them and I wanted to know.

I remember the chapter in Dad’s book about the wealthy Texas oilman turned art collector who could never be fooled by frauds and fakes as long as his deaf wife was alive. She could always tell if the seller believed his own words–or not.

And man did he get swindled after she was gone.

There is such an enormity to the story of our first violent transfer of power in history, and it felt last time like a dereliction of democracy not to have paid attention to the entire hearing.

So today’s, I did. (With the quick exception of answering one email while the retired judge was choosing his words very carefully as history watched, and v e r y  slowly.)

I wanted to say to some of the people involved in this mess, Didn’t your parents teach you to make choices that you would always be glad to publicly acknowledge you’d made? Didn’t they tell you that cheaters always get caught–if not by anyone else then by their own consciences, and that feels even worse? How not putting that burden on yourself, much less others, is far more the way to go in life, hon?

“Get yourself an f’in good criminal defense attorney, John, because you’re going to need one.”

And not just him.

Man, am I grateful for my folks.

——-

(Dad’s book, The Fabulous Frauds, got him and the publisher sued by one of the forgers who was still alive but hiding from the French authorities in South America. The book got republished without that chapter and another the publisher was antsy about, so if you’re interested in it at all, the purple Weybright and Talley imprint is the one you’d want. But in one of the other stories, someone did copy the Mona Lisa about a hundred years ago, stole the original and put their fake in its place and nobody noticed for a week or two. –edit: two years.–  No worries, the Louvre got the real deal back and held him accountable.

Wait. There’s an analogy lurking in there.)



Honor
Thursday June 09th 2022, 9:57 pm
Filed under: History

The first January 6th committee public hearing. Covered by every news network except the Murdochian one that just lost its last claim on the word.

I saw some of that day as it was happening, riveted in fear on our Constitutional self-911. But this. The video that punctuated points of testimony, the visceral reminder again and again of just how bad it was. Officer Edwards’ testimony and hug afterwards with Officer Sicknick’s widow.

Cheney laid out the case like a gifted prosecutor.

She only named one particular Pennsylvania Congressman who went to Trump seeking a pardon for what he’d done on Trump’s behalf (of course Trump blew him off because the cruelty was always the point with him) but it was clear there were going to be more names to come.

It felt like Justice Herself walked into that room tonight and took a seat. We’ve waited so long. But as the old K-Tel ads used to say in my childhood, But wait–there’s more!

(On a side note: my email works again! Yay Richard!)



It’s perfect
Tuesday June 07th 2022, 9:43 pm
Filed under: History,Life

It came!

No bought article of clothing has ever brought me to tears before, nor was I expecting it to.

I hadn’t been at all sure it would arrive at all; I’d thought of it more as a donation on a personal level to someone in an area of the world where–well, there was one guy there who told a reporter he’d found a phone number in the glove box and called it and confessed, I’m so sorry. I’ve stolen your car. I watched it for two hours and the key was in and my family was under fire and we had to get out and I’ve taken them to relatives in the east.

Basically, along with the profound apology it was, How do I get your car back to you now? Is it even possible? Are you okay?

The man who answered the call exclaimed, Thank G_d!  He owned four cars, he told him, he’d evacuated his own family in one and he’d filled and parked the other three in areas where it seemed people were most going to need that help to get out. He couldn’t know who they were going to be but he knew he could do something about it.

Every single car had now saved people, and in every single one, they’d found the number and had called him to let him know where his car was and to apologize.

And every one heard that same grateful response.

Good people looking out for each other.

Quite a few people in Ukraine are artists doing beautiful work.

Zelensky had pleaded with people to keep paying their taxes if at all possible so that the infrastructure, the utilities, things could be kept running for the people and be repaired after shelling.

Which is a very good reason to help a small business from abroad.

No photo can convey how beautiful this soft shirt is with its radiant viscose cross-stitched embroidery and how beautiful it instantly made me feel when I put it on. (I turned one sleeve slightly sideways so you could see the pattern better.) It deserves a far better photographer than I. Whoever Marina is out there, thank you so much, and I pray every day for you and for your country.

I knew she’d wanted to. I’m thrilled she was able to: it came!

(A side note: the address that is the name of this blog at gmail is still working. Work’s been intense for the resident geek and my main one is still on the fritz.)



Come to the library
Monday June 06th 2022, 9:32 pm
Filed under: History

The first cherry pie of the season, even if it was 1/3 store-bought Rainier sweet cherries to augment my early sour ones. We celebrated with a slice after coming home from dropping off our ballots at the local 24 hour box.

Seven states are having primaries Tuesday, including California. Vote!

Man, it felt good walking away from that box, and even more so that car after car was pulling in with people getting out and doing the same, that sense of community, that sense of coming together as Americans, that sense of purpose, whatever our politics. It felt sacred.

I sent a note to the county afterwards to let them know that box was full. It’s a good problem to have, but they needed to service it pronto.



Dad’s buddy
Sunday June 05th 2022, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life

Random and then suddenly it wasn’t anymore:

A friend made a comment out of the blue yesterday, and it took me straight back to when the folks were visiting when the kids were young and Dad hoped out loud that he could get to see his old Army buddy while they were in California; when he told me the town I said that was near the Monterey Bay Aquarium, about 100 minutes away, so we could make a day trip of it all. So we did.

That moment when the two of them laid eyes on each other for the first time in 30 years. Good memories. I had been wishing for several years that I could remember the guy’s name so I could let him know his old friend had passed, if he was still around himself.

So then my inbox clogs when it has no right to and I was vacuuming up old emails and tossing them to make space (and then it jammed like an antique typewriter anyway and won’t even let me do that and I’m sorry and the resident geek will work on it tomorrow) and one of those old emails…had Dad mentioning Walt.

I had his name.

I kept that email.

I went looking for an obituary. There wasn’t one. He’s still alive. Hit by a car at 95 at the start of the year and had a long recovery ahead of him at the time.

Someone had interviewed him in spring 2020 for an oral history project, by Zoom because of Covid, and it seems almost quaint now that they were hoping that by the fall this pandemic thing would be over with.

I knew Walt had done a lot of children’s theater in Carmel and some children’s cartoons back in the day.

Turns out the early Charlie Brown TV specials? The kids’ voices? Those were his kids. Till they got too old for it while new specials were being made. Turns out his were not made in Hollywood–they were made in Burlingame, ie between my favorite yarn store I went to yesterday and here. That was a surprise.

Turns out not only was he in the Army with Dad and I was nodding my head at some of the places he got assigned to–yup, yup, Dad, too. Having never made it into any actual war zone for having been too young when it all started, he re-enlisted for Korea out of a sense of duty and ended up sent to a desk in the Pentagon. Writing he was good at. Soldiering, no way to know.

And I quote:

“And he (a Marine Corp Colonel) took me under his arm cause he knew Washington, I didn’t. So he would take

me to meetings and places where—you know—my most memorable, if want to call it that, was—he said one night to me, I want you to hear this guy, he’s gonna give a little lecture— are you busy tonight. No, I’m not busy—okay good, come with me. So we went to this place and there was a whole group of people in the room and a guy comes out and—before he’s going to speak, and this Colonel looks at me and said, I like you to meet Joe McCarthy [laughs]. And I said—and by then I already had an impression of him. And I almost—it was everything I could take to shake his hand. And I had to sit and listen to his lecture—it was like—and literally in that meeting he waived a piece of paper and said—I have a list of the communists that are in Washington. So, that I never forgot [laughs]. And—well that’s one of the memories—that’s the shocker. Eventually they got rid of me because the war ended.”

I read that and it struck me that the angry power-hungry extremists of his youth who had briefly had everybody kowtowing to them had been shamed into political oblivion not long after that infamous night.

It can be done again.

And I suddenly wonder as I type this whether a certain talented writer who witnessed it and who worked in the Pentagon played a bigger part than he said in exposing McCarthy’s words to the world.

Every reporter matters.