Thank you, officers
What a long day.
It started with a phone call–and I heard the phone ring, without any aids in, as I stepped out of the shower, which is an exceedingly rare but turned out it was a needful thing–letting me know that our oldest had been in a car accident.Â I grabbed my old aids quick, wet hair and all: a teenager with pedal to the metal had hit her car hard enough to spin her out into a parked car that then was thrown into another parked car.
This is our kid with the autoimmune hemophilia. But after some time in the ER, she’s home and recovering. Thank heavens for airbags and attentive doctors and her good friend who came to get her. It was the guilty teenager himself who called 911 for her.
Then three of my cousins and their families were locked down in the Boston area as the whole world prayed for everybody’s safety, hoping hard for a good outcome. The one with young children had them visiting her parents in New Hampshire, where they did not have to see.
And then, as I’m sure you already know, the surviving bomber was captured and taken by ambulance to the ER and nobody else was hurt and he didn’t die either and the crowds poured out of everywhere and lined the streets to cheer all those officers, all those agents, all those long hours they’d put in to protect everybody, facing down their fears for us all, and it was a finish line of celebrating, joyous fans after the kind of marathon that nobody should ever have to go through.
My sweet husband this morning, wanting to see a way to forgive, wondered out loud if, like the DC sniper case, we had someone young and impressionable in thrall to an older, more evil man, and perhaps he might still be malleable enough to be able to come to see what he’d done should he survive being found. There was no doubt in our minds that he would be found. We had sat through a neuropsychologist’s lecture, years ago, where the man had said that in our youth our brains are not fully myelinated, and that what that means is that we physically cannot draw the mental line from A to B to mean C will happen; “So if your kids act brain damaged, it’s because they are,” he only half joked. Around 20-22 for men, a little earlier for women, that is when one can begin to see the future impacts of one’s actions.
That lecture has made it easier ever since for us to understand and forgive anything a teenager might say or do.
The New York Times and the Boston Globe have already run profiles of the two bomber brothers suggesting that very dynamic between them.
A cop said to one of the reporters as the ambulance drove the guy to the hospital, There will be justice, not revenge.
And in those words he represented the best of America in the face of what was done to us.
(And to clarify after Kelli’s comment: yes, absolutely. He must be held accountable to the full extent of the law for his actions.)
There are no words
This amaryllis is dedicated to the people in Boston. It’s supposed to have a good two feet of stem, but due to its exposure to red virus last year, wasn’t able to grow one. It refused to let that stop it from offering the blooming it was meant to give to the world.
Meantime, they caught the guy (and I’m sure that story will be updated by morning). He was arrested today and accused of sending ricin-laced and threatening letters: the President was sent one, as were five members of Congress, some of them hand-delivered, and what looked like a bomb was left at a Senate building entrance; thousands of staffers were locked down.
Those Congressmen’s peers still voted to make it so that, should this man get out of jail, on bail or for time served, he then can have access to any gun of any capacity he should so choose without submitting to a background check against his mental or criminal state. The Senate wasn’t even willing to say to Heller with you. (Paging Scalia.)
But I thank those those worked so hard at identifying and stopping this guy so fast and I pray for all the other investigators needing the help, as well as for the wounded and those tending to them.
Of whom there are now more. My heart goes out to everybody in the town of West, Texas tonight.
Today we celebrate our oldest: Happy Birthday, Sam! It snowed that day; today there was so much wind that I wondered, looking up through a skylight, whether a limb or two on that big tree might come down. (It held.) A finch leaving my feeder suddenly got thrown far sideways in the gust but recovered and made it to the safety of the trees to ride out the worst with some of its flock.
My cousin Tina had kids visiting and they decided that maybe watching the marathon with three grandkids in tow under age four would not be the best idea after all and so they went to the JFK library instead, figuring they would have it all to themselves while everybody else was at the race.
Which they pretty much did.
They left at 2:40. By the time they got home it was clear they needed to turn on the TV…
Ezra Klein wrote a beautiful, moving tribute from the point of view of a marathoner’s husband celebrating the cheering crowds and the history and the runners and the rescuers here. I highly recommend it.
We had recall work and then, it turned out, major warranty stuff as well being done on our car, and there came a phone call saying that a rental car was covered with that warranty. The Prius was going to be staying there for a few days.
The dealership that used to drive me nuts, this afternoon, sales and service people alike on the floor wanted only to make life easier for every single person who walked in those doors. There was a genuineness, a quietly shared vulnerability, a need to reach out. Sit, sit, (while I waited for the rental to be delivered) may we…Â I don’t drink coffee or tea, and they were keenly disappointed not to be able to give me that small gesture, wanting to be able to Do Something; I regret not having asked for a simple cup of water, for their sakes’ and my own.
Note all the runners and first responders and average people alike who ran TO the fire and the smoke in the bombings today, their need to help others instinctively and instantly more important than their very lives. That, that is who we are as Americans and as human beings and we will never forget those who by doing so ran against the force of the wind to rescue us all.
My dad and his two brothers served in WWII, and my grandmother headed her county’s Red Cross knitting for the troops effort, knitting as much as twelve hours a day to try to bring her boys somehow safely home. She had rheumatoid arthritis. I don’t know how she did it.
One of them assured her the war would end after he got overseas. He could not tell her he was one of Oppenheimer’s men and would be the physicist on the Enola Gay. So many lives were lost–but so many more, in the end, were not.
My thanks to all who serve and who have served, and my gratitude for all those who’ve been able to come home.
He’s totally having a ball with this one
Friday November 09th 2012, 10:29 pm
Filed under: History
Rather than whining about the flu…
I love this New York Times piece. I know the NYT will only let non-subscribers read 10 articles online a month before making them pay, so let me give the gist of it.
There was a man with a vision: Tim Jahnigen wanted to make a decent ball for kids in poor countries to play with after finding out that children in Rwanda were creating balls out of trash and string. It shouldn’t be a luxury for a kid to be able to simply go outside and play. Your average internationally-donated ball dies in a day in harsh environments–pretty useless. (I nodded, reading that, thinking of how many times when my kids were little I wished I could find a ball that would last a whole week. Was that too much to ask.) He wanted to figure out how to build a better ball.
He thought he had it. But the cost of development was well out of his reach. (An aside from my husband: Kickstarter! But maybe Kickstarter didn’t quite exist yet when he was starting out. Dunno.)
And then he shared a meal with his old friend Sting, yes that Sting, who said hey–*I’ll* fund it!
Lions in the zoo played with the new ball. Former child soldiers in Rwanda gave it their best. You could drive over one and it would bounce back–they’re estimating a lifetime of 30 years, and they do bounce. Haiti, Iraq, his balls have gone to Afghanistan, Doctors Without Borders has brought them along.
And Chevrolet has agreed to buy one and a half million to give to poor children. They’re really going to have to crank up production. For the rest of us, there’s a buy one give one program.
How often does a really great idea get to do so much good and be so much fun?
In the mix
My laptop is alive! Turns out it was the charger that was not and there was a spare in the house.
My sister offered a link to a James Taylor song that turned out to be a whole series of videos of him, of JoniÂ Mitchell, the Kinks, etc, concerts broken up into individual songs each. I got needed hours of knitting done while watching this afternoon, although it is safe to say that the chance to watch Louie Louie performed (second down) did not really charm my daughter, tired after a very long day at work. (Richard loved it, I did too.) She said something about my generation and I said, Hey. 1964? I was six. (Five, actually, till the end of the year.)
Watching kids rock out in black and white with the boys dressed up in suits and ties. Amazing. I’m curious; when was the last time you saw a guy in a ruffled tux?
On a definitely more serious note, my cousin Tina said her son was interning with a newspaper and had written an article she wanted to share. The writing was indeed very good, but the subject, superb.
I knew there were refugee camps in Jordan; I did not know that Jordan was actively seeking to take in those fleeing Syria’s civil war, and I most definitely did not know that there was a 60-something couple who had volunteered to serve a mission for the Mormon Church, wherever they might be sent, who, where they were asked to go was on a humanitarian mission–to Jordan. To help take care of the people in those refugee camps, where the needs are so great. Who knew.
Wait. Did I really just put 60′s concerts and Syrian refugees in the same post? We do have it so easy in this country.
The cellist’s son
Wednesday September 12th 2012, 10:43 pm
Filed under: History
Learning to play an instrument across one’s childhood teaches discipline and perseverance, the practice of patience towards what will at long last come.
From Karen Bentley Pollick, this: the mother of Ambassador Chris Stevens played in the Marin symphony and he was part of the local classical music world, growing up.
From my friend Diana I grew up with: she served with Ambassador Stevens in Damascus and knew him very well. He was a great man and a dear friend.
Thank you, Dana Millbank at the Washington Post. Thank you John McCain for your tribute.
Thank you to these people of Libya for this.
It was a day for reading all I could, wishing that all the grieving loved ones might know that we grieve their loss along with them, and then I sat down with my silk project and created long rows of stitches to bring a little more peace into someone else’s world. To look forward to that. The day demanded it.
May the memory of Ambassador Stevens and the good people that were with him spur us on to make the world–right here in front of us and the whole of it as well, a better, not worse place. They deserve that. They gave their lives for that.
Time was when
My brother sent me a link to a video wherein our uncle’s name was mentioned, their story told with the pictures and reels of the day. Wow.
My parents will be celebrating their 60th anniversary this fall and it occurs to me after watching that that we their children need to do what was done back when Mom’s dad turned 90: come armed with cameras and recorders and a list of questions and get them reminiscing for us. I know that Dad’s mom headed her county’s Red Cross knitting for the troops–how did she knit ten hours a day, as her letter said she did, with rheumatoid arthritis? Did it come later?
A nephew once had a school assignment to ask family members to write in his booklet about some memory of some day in history and then mail it to the next person and the next and finally back to him by the end of the school year. Dad wrote that he had been a teenager cutting Christmas trees with the Boy Scouts as a fundraiser and was in the back of a pickup with 49 trees piled high around him when his dad came up the road to their surprise and stopped them: Pearl Harbor had just been bombed!
I remember watching Neil Armstrong on TV walking on the moon in grainy black and white. That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. Later, my dad, my little sister and I got to watch the last of the Apollo flights take off in person, sitting on bleachers in the Florida heat at Cape Kennedy and wondering afterwards how much of the sunburn on our faces might be from the rocket boosters.
What day in history do you remember?
Snoozed with the fishies
Note: my email program updated Friday night and crashed. Seems to be working now; my apologies to all who didn’t hear back from me. And thank you to all who are supporting Sam’s walk.
Tonight, our friend Phyllis had us celebrating her birthday at an Indonesian restaurant.Â She and her husband like to go scuba diving in Bali, this place was new, and they had great hopes for it. They wanted to share a little more of a country they love.
The food was quite good–I could definitely do salmon in a banana leaf again.
After one of their trips about four years ago, they came over to our place and Lee showed us the absolutely fabulous underwater photography he’d just done there. I had a particular interest, not just for the fish (though there was definitely that) but also for the fact that when I was growing up in DC, our next-door neighbors had just been in Indonesia with the State Department and the dad was later made ambassador there. I was told stories by the kid my age about what it was like to live there then.
So. Go fish. When I ended up in the hospital a few months after that photo show, between the meds the doctors had me on and the condition I was in I was hallucinating Lee’s fish varieties in vivid color. It kept me much amused, reminded that there was life out there at a time I needed the diversion. No Indo-amnesia there. I loved it.
Meantime. Thomas Edison did a silent movie of Mark Twain. Hey, Lee? Obvious statement number one: photography has come a long way.
And yet–sometime you just can’t beat the old stuff. If you scroll down the videos you get the best thing since sliced bread. Have fun.
Wednesday August 01st 2012, 11:24 pm
Filed under: History
In June, with the story told July 27, a New York Times reporter accompanied a Navajo shepherdess taking her Churro sheep on the traditional summer migration into the mountains. He doesn’t quite get that spinning and weaving are the words for the parts of the process with the wool he’s trying to describe, but he does pretty well overall. He gives the history of the breed and the people and respects her request to only tell so much.
I’ve read of Navajos and their Churros before but have never been given so close a view.
On a trivial aside, I know I know the brand of spinning wheel hers is or at least that it looks like, but it’s not coming to me. Anyone?
Anyway. If you click on his link on the word Churro, you get a beautiful picture of one in full coat. I love his observation that the older sheep knew what the day meant and the route and led the way.
Bridging the years
An article in the New York Times about the construction of the new Bay Bridge prompts this post. It says that the old span was built in the 1930′s and was not designed to withstand a big quake, with a picture of the short fallen section from October 1989 to prove their point.
I am here to take issue with that for Brother Brossard’s sake. (I’m not sure I’m spelling his last name right.) He knew.
You may remember my occasional posts about the December Club, the once-a-year potluck brunch certain members of my ward (congregation) throw ourselves in celebration of having a birthday at the time that everybody else is worrying about Christmas.
When we first moved here twenty-five years ago, Louis Brossard was the elder of the group; I remember him as a sweet man, frail and old and kind. I remember him playing a bit on a harmonica year to year.
When the Loma Prieta quake happened, I found out at that year’s party that he had been one of the engineers working on the original Bay Bridge. He said it was designed not to fall into the Bay in hard shaking and that it did exactly what it was supposed to do–just one short segment took the brunt of it and went down while the rest stayed up, saving countless lives at rush hour. He also noted with definite pride that *his* section of the bridge had not fallen!
The last time he came to our group, he lifted that harmonica to his lips, looking almost too tired to from the effort of getting ready to come join us that morning, and he could not summon the breath to sound that first note. He was crushed. He tried again; there was just not enough wind in him to share the music only he could hear now.
I knew then, but so much didn’t want to know.
Very soon after, he was moved from the home he’d lived in forever to an assisted living place. We talked on the phone a few times; he so missed his garden, his passion in his widowed retirement.
I immediately resolved to bring him flowers to tend.
I went to the local nursery, trying to find something not too heavy, not needing too heavy a cup of water, and bought a small potted plant of bright, happy color, the first few flowers ready and blooming to cheer him as he watched the rest open up. A perennial, to make a statement that I wanted him to enjoy them the next year, too, and the next, and the next, and. I called and arranged a time to come over.
But an assistant had gotten him into the shower (I’m guessing on their schedule rather than his) at the time I arrived and then the person had left him for a moment. I knew he knew I was coming, but he didn’t answer the door. I was hearing impaired, he was more so; I knocked louder. I waited, wondering what to do; there was no one in sight to ask for help. At last I left the little pot in front of his door, praying it would be seen and not tripped over.
When I got home, I called again to make sure the little blossoms might cause no harm, knowing how frail he was. He told me he had called out to me, but there was nothing he could do on his own to get to that door just then; he’d gotten those flowers, though, loved them, loved the thought behind them, and wanted very much to thank me.
He was a gem.
And I never got to see him again.Â Those flowers outlasted him.
Whenever I see the Bay Bridge, all these years later, always, I think of Louis Brossard.
The old eastern span will be totally gone when the new work is all done.
And I wish I knew how to play Taps on a harmonica.
Done in reel time
I almost could have sworn that was Richard’s dad in the other room: the voice. The cadences.Â The chuckles. The song of it.
The words themselves were completely lost to me at that distance, though they did seem more garbled than my hearing might account for and I wondered if the speaker had had a small stroke I didn’t know about.
Was that his grandfather on the reel-to-reel, I asked? I actually would have guessed his father if it hadn’t been for the distortion; it sounded that much like his dad.
No–it was Richard’s great grandfather, recorded in 1957 or ’58 by his grandfather, who also recorded his mother-in-law during a trip back to where he grew up; her voice was next.
I tried to grok how a man whose father had been preached to by Joseph Smith in 1834, a man who had lived his life on a farm in Idaho, could sound so much across the years like how his grandson, who grew up surrounded by all that is official Washington DC, does now in 2012. That easy-going easily-laughing voice. Twins.
The generations are closer together than we know.
Shaped up that they didn’t ship out
Listened to Conference today again; it’s a two-day multi-session thing. (The Sea Silk project got finished.)
Quentin Cook, one of the last speakers, started to tell a story.
Okay, back up: he first made the point that bad things happen to good and bad people alike and those who would judge the ones that bad things happen to, just don’t get it.
But it is amazing how all the personal tributaries that flow into the Mississipi River of the lives of all of us eddy and tumble together. As soon as he started into his tale, I knew exactly who he was talking about: I’d read the biography by the man’s son about his father. Then he named the name. Yup.
There were six young Mormon missionaries nearly 100 years ago whose missions to Great Britain were ending at the same time and they were going to return to the US together. With much hype going on about the world’s greatest ship, the fellow named Alma booked passage for them all on that one.
And then one missionary simply could not make it that day and was going to have to ship out a day later alone. The chance at a trip of a lifetime, gone.
Alma said no way no how are we leaving you doing that long trip by yourself; you’re going with us. We’re just going to have to re-book our tickets and that’s that.
No buts, we’re going together.
Which is why they weren’t on the Titanic.
Which is why, nearly 100 years later… I have the best daughter-in-law anybody could ever ask for and an adorable little grandson who has totally stolen our hearts.
Alma, Kim’s great-grandfather, was generous to the one who was disappointed.
Small choices matter.
Monday August 29th 2011, 11:19 pm
Filed under: History
Triggered by Stephanie’s very kind post, this is how my baby alpaca fixation got started. (With a half-a-pie photo for Don that I took this morning.)
Years ago, a shop owner showed me some very soft yarn new to her stock that she was quite excited about.
“Baby alpaca” as one of the fiber components was something I had never heard of, but I definitely liked it: all the scratchiness and guard hairs I associated with the word alpaca, gone.
It was about time someone did this. I’d always wondered why there were alpaca rugs that were just the softest fur you could hope to snuggle your toes into, but somehow alpaca yarns and sweaters, alpaca for wearing, were always a weird combination of soft and ick, keep that away from me!
I later read an article by a man who helped change the market. He had flown to Peru to try to convince the local mill ownersÂ that paying alpaca farmers by the pound was resulting in the worst quality fiber going to market, because coarser hairs weighed more, while (he didn’t quite put it this way) the softer-haired animals were being Darwin-ed out by being turned into rugs.
First World knitters would pay a premium to be able to have those softer fibers to work with.
Many didn’t believe him. One mill finally took the leap and gave the idea a chance and did so well that others followed their lead, and in the end, one man and the people who listened to him changed the fiber world.
I must have found some of the very earliest out there. I looked for more over the next year or two and didn’t find it. The one had been a baby alpaca/angora/merino blend; was it possible to find pure baby alpaca? And if I did, how would the fabric I made with it behave?
The younger knitters may not remember when we had a list of web searchers to choose from and had to guess which one would be best at answering a particular type of question. Ask Jeeves?
Google was still new, but we had switched over to it entirely. It didn’t have a lot of pages out there online to search from yet, but my techie husband was sure this one was going to beat the others out totally, he said they’d done their homework with their algorithm.
“Baby alpaca yarn”. Two results. Hard to imagine now. One was not helpful, but the other: a link to a wholesaler who had imported a lot of cones of the stuff in fingering weight and I guess since nobody had heard of it, nobody bought it, and they were selling it on sale, eventually down to at or near cost and closing down their shop altogether.
I bought, I was quite surprised to count up later, over month after month while they sold it at $20, then $15, and even $8 I think on one of the colors PER POUND, three dozen pounds. It was cheaper than any good wool I could find.
As I bought it while I knew I could get it I was also knitting as fast as my needles could fly. I had found the yarn of my dreams. My four tall (or eventually tall) children all got soft afghans knit triple-stranded, long enough to pull up to their chins and curl around their reclining toes and down to the floor, the way my mother says an afghan should be. I made dozens of shawls.
And the light blue baby alpaca, of which there was much and it was cheap, I overdyed into a number of other colors. There’s a picture in my book of a stack of balls of yarn, the original light blue those others all came from at front and center to encourage others to look at the yarns in the closeout bins in a new way: if it’s soft, if it’s animal or silk fiber, if you love the feel but the color, not so much, you can go play with watercolors and do something about it. You will make it all the more uniquely your own in the process.
I was quite surprised to find, while stash diving last week, that I still had a little of that light blue left after all this time. It grabbed my eyes and my memories. I cast on. I’m 2/3 of the way through a lace stole.
I had long forgotten I had gifted Stephanie with some.
Of quartz she could do it
Friday August 26th 2011, 10:41 pm
Filed under: History
Some people have just the most perfect names… Lilly Stone wouldn’t take That’s gneiss, dear for an answer when she was between a rock and a hard place.
Tina at Blue Moon, this link is for you: a little of back home for us both and, for me, the memory of once, just once as a kid, letting the older neighbor kids’ peer pressure goad me into crossing over the fence (completely forbidden by both my parents and the signs) to come just close enough to the top of that quarry way over there to see some of the brown dirt of the rough sides and to know that no way was I going to get one inch nearer that drop off. Get me out of here!
My in-laws’ house in Kensington, MD had a beautiful stone hearth and fireplace, and the house I grew up in a half mile up Seven Locks from that scary cliff had a sturdy slate entryway in shades of gray, hewn just close enough to evenness to satisfy but that no snowman-building mud on the boots could ever make it past. The rocks for both surely came from Lilly’s quarry.
But I especially like that it was a woman born in 1862 who, beginning when she was 60, dug deep in the earth and crafted in stone.
Now there’s your original Earth Mother type.