Yes you
Thursday February 01st 2018, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,History

A story I got to hear my dad tell last week.

When Reed Smoot arrived in DC from the then-new state of Utah, his fellow Senators challenged him and refused to seat or have anything to do with him. And not only was he ostracized for being a Mormon, his wife was shunned, too, and she found herself very, very lonely in their new town.

Note that my grandmother’s book tells of how, in the early 1950’s when she was the new Senator’s wife from that state, her husband being a freshman, she was expected to put on white gloves, a hat, and go from home to home in order of seniority of each of the other Senatorial wives bringing her calling card. One was to comply with longstanding tradition. My Western-raised grandmother found it all very strangely Victorian.

The Smoots arrived nearly fifty years earlier. I imagine there were no such getting-to-know-yous–Mrs. Smoot’s presence was not wanted.

My parents as newlyweds attended the same ward (Mormon congregation) in DC as the Smoots’ son.

And this is what he told Dad:

The President was throwing a party at the White House, and when the President threw a party, the protocol was that no one was to leave before he did.

He knew full well what was going on.

(I should let Dad tell this, and correct me if I got any details wrong, Dad.)

When the time was fully spent, Teddy Roosevelt announced that it was time for him to head upstairs to bed. He then turned to her and her alone and pronounced, “Good night, Mrs. Smoot!” Then away from the crowd and was gone.

And that act of acknowledgement and kindness changed everything for her.



Space X last month
Tuesday January 09th 2018, 11:28 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Life

I promised you guys and then forgot to post it after we got home–here’s Richard’s best picture of Elon Musk’s Space X. We were heading into a restaurant in La Jolla, 300 miles south of where this took off from, at the time we looked up to see why everybody else on the sidewalk was staring up into the sky. There was much speculation about what on earth that thing could be, till someone successfully Googled it.

Doesn’t it look like a fish that swallowed a fish?

Looks like you can embiggen the photo this time–scroll to the right. The bigger picture gives you a better sense of just how enormous this was in the sky to us.



Bags
Tuesday December 26th 2017, 11:51 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,History,Life

And we are home. So much to tell. This isn’t one of Richard’s shots of Elon Musk’s Space X launch, it’s the one I took several minutes later. We were 300 miles south of where it took off and it still took up a huge chunk of the sky (this was the small part).

We said goodbye to our son John at the airport as we went our separate ways tonight. Same airline, different gates, our baggage checked in by different agents.

Arriving home, my smaller bag (thankfully mostly empty) was AWOL. He called just a few minutes ago to say that while he was waiting and waiting and waiting for his big bag (just like we had just done), lo and behold, mine, with our tag and name and airport on it, had shown up instead and he’d recognized it. Had his shown up first of course he would have been long gone.

He needs his a lot more than I needed mine. We’re holding out hope–hey, it worked for the two of us; meantime, that’s one $50 Southwest voucher for us when we retrieve ours at the airport when it gets in instead of making them deliver it.

The most surprising moment of the trip happened at church: I saw an old friend who with his family (a few years younger than ours) had moved out of our ward probably twenty years ago.

I knew that his wife had been very ill of late. I knew she had been in a coma for some time with her survival by no means certain–but I had heard nothing since and I didn’t quite know how to ask.

I asked how she was–and he, beaming, motioned, She’s right here!

Oh. My. Goodness!!!

Hale and hearty and enjoying a family reunion, just like we were. I tell you. That was one great moment.

Of many.



Senator Jones
Tuesday December 12th 2017, 11:35 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

Alabama voted for Democrat Doug Jones, a good and decent man, over the demented, angry child molester.

I really thought they would, but I’m still trying to take in the reality that they actually did it. They did it! They gave themselves a future to be proud of! (As one person aptly put it after looking over the vote totals, African-Americans, especially African-American women there, saved the white population from its worst self.)

I get to open more presents tomorrow, but that was already the best one.



We are family
Wednesday November 08th 2017, 11:46 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,History,Life

Two moments from the weekend:

At the 65th anniversary party. Was it the cane? My hearing impairment? Or her own age? She would later tell me her childhood memories of LA going black at night after Pearl Harbor–no street lights, no headlights, no house lights near windows, just a total darkness that was new and strange.

She had to ask me twice, even though I actually did hear it the first time–it’s just that it was so unexpected that I had no idea how to respond and I didn’t want to be rude by bursting out laughing.

Again: “Are you Frances’s younger sister?”

(Frances IS the younger sister.) “No, I’m her fourth child.” Alright, then! And the conversation moved cheerfully on, no harm done.

Thing the second. When we stopped by my uncle’s house, we surprised him by coming, even if for just ten minutes or so pre-airport–he didn’t know we were in town–and he surprised us with two bound copies of some essays he’d had printed. He needed a little help figuring out again just what the connection was to his late friends but he knew there was one.

He had been the mission secretary to our daughter-in-law’s great-grandfather. This guy, in the man’s youth. And then he was in the Army with Conway, the man’s son.

There were memories in those pages and he’d wanted his late friend Conway’s kids to have a copy and there we were. Probably the best Christmas present we could possibly pass along to them–not that we’ll wait that long. Uncle Wally is 94 and he’ll want to hear back.

Just let me finish fighting off this bug. It’s down to simple cold status today.



I don’t know how to do that yet
Monday October 30th 2017, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Knit

Mathias’s pumpkin hat will fit him next year, too, but for now, doubling over the wool on one’s head in Alaska is not a bad thing.

Meantime, some really cool art: it’s not knitting, it’s not crocheting, it’s not what I think of as tatting, it’s not weaving, it’s not macrame…  I would love to see her hands in action. Bobbin lace?

Her website says pillow lace. I’d never heard the term before. But apparently it helped support American Revolutionary War widows.



A breather
Saturday October 14th 2017, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Knitting a Gift,Life

A few days ago, the Mercury News ran a photo taken from the Mormon Temple up in the hills in Oakland, looking towards the San Francisco cityscape across the Bay. There was only the barest shadow of any of that visible in the smoke, and the nearby zoo said they could only see to the far end of their property.

Today, despite the fact that Santa Rosa had to expand its mandatory evacuation area and those fires are not yet out, we happened to stand about where that photo had been taken from. The Bay Bridge and the water were in the distance, the skyscrapers beyond, almost as they’re supposed to be. The water was a subdued blue. I’ll take it.

We returned home surprised/not surprised at how crowded the freeways were for a Saturday afternoon–southbound, anyway.

I wound yarn.

I knitted yarn.  Malabrigo’s celebratory Anniversario colorway in Arroyo, just a one-skein cowl to feel like I’m getting something done, and as my hands worked the softness I found myself looking forward to finding out who this one was for. So, so pretty. One cannot help but be cheered by it.

And typing that out, the strikingly obvious came to me: Duh. I have to knit for G’s daughter, who grew up with my kids. This cowl or another one and maybe I should wait to give it to her till she finds out if she still has a house, or, if not, maybe all the more quickly, but… Yeah. Her. Alright then, I’m on a mission here.

And finally I felt like I had found my footing again.



Burning issues
Wednesday October 11th 2017, 10:26 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Wildlife

The light coming through the windows during the day was yellow with a tinge of orange. Outside looked like sunset at  2 pm. We got a reverse-911 call telling us just how bad the air quality was and to stay indoors if possible and where to find out details; the recording repeated the URL.

Your city or county probably has a reverse-911 warning system but it might only go to landlines; check, and sign up your cellphone if you can. There were people in Napa and Sonoma who didn’t get warned of the fire in the middle of the night because they had VOIP and their old landline phones didn’t work when the power company cut the electricity to keep a substation from blowing up.

My neighbor has a dead tree limb hanging off the power line just across the fence, and with the news that the fires apparently started with trees downed by the winds sparking the PG&E lines I am suddenly much more aware that yes, I do need to bother the city about that.

Meantime, the breeze made the air suddenly and startlingly visible: little swirls and twirls blowing southerly while I tried to process seeing open air moving (and did it settle downwards a bit at the end of the puff?) Later a larger swoop again paintbrushed the pointillist ash particles. And just like that, they disappeared back into the jaundiced background and held still again.

I left the door half open while filling the bird feeder and that was really dumb.

A scattering of dove wings as the hawk appeared out of nowhere and across the roof and away and wow did he move fast. The power of nature!

An evening commute thrown off by a bomb scare, to which the only rational response was an Oh come ON in the direction of the perpetrator.

Meantime, I got three pounds and 2500 yards of merino yarn wound, scoured, spun out, and drying for the morrow, and I am looking forward to working with simple wool and wood of my choosing: nature, domesticated.



October skies
Tuesday October 10th 2017, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,History,Knitting a Gift,Life,Wildlife

We are about 75 miles south of the fires raging in California’s wine country, with San Pablo Bay as a large break of water between here and there.

But the firesky sunset was intense and the clear awning over the patio glowed a deep, unfamiliar bright yellow that was both novel and startling and I could only pray for the people who went to bed in a calm night and woke up to walls of flames coming right at them, neighborhood after neighborhood. Would I have the presence of mind to grab for my hearing aids and glasses before I ran?

It is smoky and thick and smells like burning plastic outside.

Yonder Cooper’s has a tail feather coming in in the center. Like its daddy, when I needed it, there it was and it let me enjoy its presence for several minutes. It is new at that, though, and I am mindful of its skitteriness. Then it lifted to the fence and stayed a bit longer but flinched that the camera had come out while its back was turned.

The second photo was taken trying to capture it taking off. Crouch, wings out, leap! Faster than a speeding iPhone 4S!

Re the Crohn’s, today was definitely going in the right direction. Grateful for that and hoping hard.

The candy-cane-plied red and faintest beige yarn came out looking more brown the further you get from it (and when it’s wet. Which it is here.)

And… The smoke alarm just went off. Oh fun. That doesn’t mean the air is that bad…?

Six smoke alarms and a bit of teamwork later, we have new batteries and we have peace and quiet and we have a definite appreciation for how good we have it that they were not actually telling us to grab whatever we could and run.

 



What happened in Vegas stays in all of us
Monday October 02nd 2017, 10:41 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Politics

I know someone who loves someone who lost someone and I bet just about everybody else can say the same.

Clean, straighten, organize, laundry, clean sheets… When you can’t do anything you have to do something. One man. Nine rounds a second. Ten minutes.

Stanford Blood Center canceled a staff meeting and kept their doors open longer. Las Vegas didn’t need it from them yet but with over 500 people wounded it’s way too soon to tell. My thanks to all who have been the heroes–and Jimmy Kimmel is one.

I met one once…



Just about grown into it
Saturday September 09th 2017, 8:36 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Knit,Life

Start the day with pictures like this and then a FaceTime chat with a little one who wonders what you’re doing being a flat person interacting with him from a screen and everything else just goes right. (Hat done in 2×2 ribbing for stretch, Malabrigo Rios yarn.)

An article on American-made superwash wool: it’s a new thing as of the last half dozen years, and all because the military needed a good, fire-retardant material. An interesting read.



Houston
Wednesday August 30th 2017, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Life

My older son was a Mormon missionary in southern Florida, Haitian Creole-speaking, the year that area got hit with hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and the Church told the missionaries, the Red Cross needs you more than we do–go volunteer. They did. Alright then, boys, 1500 Salisbury steaks for the grill, have a spatula.

Copied and pasted from my sister-in-law on Facebook, please share with anyone you know affected by Hurricane Harvey so that we can expand the reach of this:

Houston Friends,
Here are hotline numbers to submit work orders for help from Mormon Helping Hands. FREE assistance regardless of religious affiliation.
FRIENDS, please pass this to anyone in Houston area or any that was affected. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints along with numerous others, currently have a hotline available to submit work orders for specific need requests related to the damages and for cleanup efforts. There is no charge for these services. They are mobilizing thousands to come and help muck out homes, cleaning etc. This has been done in many cities throughout the world. Last year 5000 were mobilized to Louisiana. It may take a week or two, but bishops in the area have already submitted an estimation of homes damaged and preparation is underway.
By calling the hotline number, a volunteer will take down the information you need and create a work order and then attempt to send a volunteer crew out to help. This includes removing carpet, cutting down tree limbs, etc.
Obviously there’s still difficulty getting crews into the neighborhoods but this will allow us to start the rebuilding process, and they will come as they are able. The volunteer groups will come from LDS Mormon Helping Hands, Catholic Charities, Etc.
Hotline numbers:
800-451-1954
844-965-1386



What William Mahone did
Wednesday August 23rd 2017, 10:58 pm
Filed under: History

Courtesy of my cousin, here’s a link to a story I’d never heard of. A man whose name and face will not be found among all those Confederate statues all over the South, even though he had been a Major General fighting for the Confederacy and Lee had considered him one of the best.

Because after the Civil War was over, William Mahone set up a political party in Virginia that abolished a poll tax, empowered freed slaves, got them educations, gave them political power and treated them as equals for four years, as long as he could–until political and physical violence stole it from them again.

There is, according to the article, a single monument to him, raised, as so many others were, by the Daughters of the Confederacy: with descriptions of a battle he’d won.

Not a word was to be spoken about the far larger one he later fought and, for a time and for the sake of every one of us then and now, won.



Cowlabundance
Sunday August 20th 2017, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Knitting a Gift,Life

1. Felt much better than yesterday.

2. Cowls: the navy merino/silk, the Malabrigo Mechita in Whales Road and in Pegoso, one of the two red/purple merino/cashmere with sparkles. (Hey, Sherry, your cashmere was well loved all over again.) Someone fairly new, whose story I don’t know but whom I don’t think I’d ever seen really smiling, broke out into all kinds of happiness at the latter–and that, I tell you, is what keeps those needles going.

The friend who’d hoped for aqua exclaimed over her Pegoso and when I said the yarn was handpainted, held it out a moment in wonder and asked, How?

I explained that they (or at least some dyers, I shouldn’t speak for all of them) lay the racetrack-shaped hank out and paint sideways.

She was fascinated by the repeats and the way adjacent stitches in different rows held the same color and just wanted to hold still and absorb it a moment.

3. Re the eclipse tomorrow, from an optometrist: https://stellasplace1.com/2017/08/13/caution-the-solar-eclipse/ There won’t be enough sun to hurt your eyes and force you to turn away to warn you that you’re still looking long enough to do permanent damage. She recommends you watch it on TV.

Me, what I find most interesting is watching the effects of an eclipse: how the light changes, how the shadows turn all sharp-angled, how the wildlife reacts. And, come to think of it, how much I’ll need a sweater on.

Also, hopefully, how empty the freeway will be (hey, everyone’s in Oregon, right?) while I go make a peach run to Andy’s.

Although–maybe after 11:37 when it’s over.



For J and A with love
Monday August 14th 2017, 10:44 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Lupus,Politics

There are times when I really, passionately regret and even resent that my lupus does not allow me to spend time in the sun, not even five minutes in the middle of a summer day.

Because I want to be one of the counter-protesters when they come here. They intend to come this weekend, these evil men who are trying to out-Westboro the Westboro idiots. Maybe they’ll see how many of their peers are being identified and arrested or fired after Charlottesville and do like Westboro does half the time these days: make lots of noise and threats and then stay home.


With so much going on that is so beyond words, I took comfort in reading accounts of good people who took care of others in Virginia, and in finishing this today, one of the softest things I have ever knit. In looking forward to seeing my friend’s face when I get to give it to her.

Knitting it was also my way of conveying to her immigrant husband how glad I am that he is here and that he is married to her: he’s a deeply good man. We are fortunate to have him here.