General Conference talk
Sunday April 05th 2020, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Life

Jeffrey R. Holland had a son working on his PhD at Stanford and so for several years we got to know the son and his wife and little boy and every now and then his folks would fly into town to visit, so we got to know them a little bit, too.

That toddler would be a young adult now, but at age two he had the biggest cutest jowls and a surprisingly deep voice–he was his grampa’s mini-me, and absolutely adorable.

All that aside, here’s what his grandfather, one of the twelve apostles serving in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, said at General Conference:

“When we have conquered COVID-19—and we will—may we be equally committed to freeing the world from the virus of hunger and freeing neighborhoods and nations from the virus of poverty.

May we hope for schools where students are taught, not terrified they will be shot, and for the gift of personal dignity for every child of God, unmarred by any form of racial, ethnic, or religious prejudice. The rising generation deserve so much more.
May we press forward with love in our hearts.”

Lockdown day 20 amidst words of wisdom
Saturday April 04th 2020, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

It’s the weekend of watching General Conference. Potato-chip knitting time, simple, mindless–definitely not for the distractions of the ocean afghan, and so a cashmere cowl is now most of the way done.

The Tabernacle Choir’s songs are from sessions recorded back when it was safe for them to all be together, and the leaders are meeting in a small theater with no audience and sitting six feet apart. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is currently being led by a former heart surgeon and he acted earlier than most religious leaders in shutting down the meetinghouses and taking the local services online, too.

Two more sessions tomorrow, so I need to choose another skein from the stash.

How do you pick just one?

Lockdown day 19: silver lining edition
Friday April 03rd 2020, 10:23 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Politics

(My Page orange tree.)

I’ve heard others marveling over the same thing I’d noticed: the sudden, stunning absence of spammers that had been calling relentlessly all day long for years.

Their greed apparently finally veered too close to political wounds. Their latest scam had been trying to monetize the coronavirus: the new pitches were for fake testing, fake cures, fake insurance, anything people would be desperate to have in the pandemic that they could make a quick buck over and run.

Which could make the administration look bad, and we can’t have that, so the FCC–you know, the same FCC that under Trump thought that it was peachy fine to let companies both sell and throttle our data, that killed net neutrality–told those guys’ providers that if all overseas robocalls weren’t stopped within two days those American companies that were enabling them would lose all access to American telecom systems. Period.

And in our social distancing isolation, when the phone rings now, it’s actually a call you want to take, and you answer.

It had been that easy all along; the FCC just had had to want to do it.

May we never go back.

Day 17: Don’t forget to do it
Wednesday April 01st 2020, 9:12 pm
Filed under: Life

Someone, somewhere out there had to have beaten me to it. Hey Google?

She did! Someone took John Denver’s song and changed it to You Fill Out My Census.

(We got the long form ten years ago; we got the short form this time and I couldn’t believe how quickly it was over and done.)

Sprung a little freer on day ten
Wednesday March 25th 2020, 7:23 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

We started the afternoon with a hailstorm but it let up.

Four o’clock is still working hours, from home or no, plus the driving time to get there. Only two other people had publicly responded to the idea. I had this small terrible fear that the whole thing was going to be a bust.

Park on the east side of the street right before where you turn onto ours, Catherine had said: no parking is allowed there, so there won’t be any other cars in your way.

I saw three other cars when I got there. And then another. And then another. Okay, good. So there we all were, just out of sight of their house but blatantly out of place to the older guy crossing the intersection in front of our line. Of which I was inadvertently at the head because I’d started to overshoot–I’d thought their street was a little further down.

So. No point in having his day be anything but better, I figured.

I had used a piece of cardboard as a backing, taped a piece of plain white paper on top, and Sharpied on it, Happy Birthsday J and J! Just the right size to hold up at a driver’s side window.

I held that sign up for the perplexed pedestrian and he broke into a big grin and gave me a thumbs-up. Alright then!

I don’t think he’d seen what was on the other cars. He’d just been looking at mine.

One, they’d spray-painted–on a sheet maybe?–and had affixed it somehow to the side of their car to make a really big banner. Another friend had used grocery bags to make paper-cut-out words. Someone else back there had–I dunno, I didn’t get a good look other than bright pink and sticking out. None of us had been able to go in to a store for anything you could buy, none of us had had quite 24 hours’ notice, we’d all kluged it from whatever we’d had, which made it all the sweeter. Or we’d simply come. Which is what mattered most.

The twins’ dad just happened to go for a little walk. It was 4:00. He waited a moment, checking his phone, and then waved us over.

And so our parade began.

There were easily a dozen cars by then.

Now, I’d never done any such thing before and I was kind of winging it there but I drove at pretty much walking speed and held up my sign and Happy Birthdayed from inside my car.

They’re thirteen. They did what new teens do: they smiled back, they got all embarrassed, and they headed for the front door to escape with their mom calling after them.

Parked cars on both sides keep it a tight line driving down that street so, eyes back to straight ahead for me.

It’s a cul-de-sac, and as I got to the bulb at the bottom of it another elderly man stepped forward–right into the middle of it, quite deliberately in front of me. He didn’t know who I was or all those other cars way up there but none of them looked familiar, this was not our neighborhood, and he wasn’t having this intrusion. Didn’t we see the No Thru Street sign? Hello? The lockdown? Whether he was saving space for his grandkids to come out and play dodgeball or what, who knows–but I again held up that Happy Birthsday! sign.

Ah, okay. He gave a little smile back, waved like the other guy had, and stepped out of the way.

Coming back the other way, making space for the ones still coming meant I was really going slow this time.

Catherine was just joyful as she recorded video of our going by. Her girls were closer to the street now, by the twin flowering trees that had been planted out front when they were born; they were looking out at all the cars and people with a look now of, Wow. Cool. Thank you.

They’ll be telling the story of their 13th birthday to their grandkids someday. It was great fun.

Lockdown day nine looking forward to day ten
Tuesday March 24th 2020, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

(Actually, this was Sunday’s rain but it gave us an encore this afternoon.)

Someone on the church chat asked for ideas on keeping kids amused.

I mentioned that my sister-in-law’s granddaughter turned four and there was supposed to have been a birthday party. Oh well.

What ended up happening instead is that her daughter-in-law took said granddaughter out to the front lawn–and a parade of cars went by! Each with a parent at the wheel and a friend holding up a Happy Birthday sign enhanced with preschooler artwork, the kids waving and cheering at each other.

One kid rolled down her window before her mom could stop her, but then the wheels on the bus went round and round and kept on slowly going, so, not too much exposure there.

Catherine read that.

And that’s why I get to be one of the ones surprising her birthday-girl twins tomorrow. Quick, I need me some cardboard. This generation seeketh a sign.

Gauging the squirrelocity
Monday March 23rd 2020, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

About this time every year the next door neighbors work outside picking the last of their oranges with their telescoping fruit picker.

They were our kids’ semi-adopted grandparents, their own having gone off to college when we moved in on our oldest’s fifth birthday. We went to their 50th anniversary party enough years ago that I can no longer put a date to it.

They have been active and with it and engaged in the community for so long. But this year, at long last, the oranges, at least the ones facing this side of the fence, have stayed.

Well, until those moments where they don’t.

Lockdown day seven
Sunday March 22nd 2020, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Church by Zoom for the first time today, and it was odd and wonderful and distant and intimate all at once. The pretty background music? Agonizingly distorted for us, wonderful for someone else, yay for the chat function on the side–it got turned off.

I wished out loud for closed captions and someone said, There’s got to be a way to do that. Someone else said, That’s okay, I’ll type them! And he did. Wow. (So then I lean forward to read the words I miss and I look way weird to the camera’s eye.) We’re getting the hang of this.

Meantime, Lillian is somehow seven months old come the morning and we know how blessed we are to have her.

(p.s. Nope, I didn’t: I bought the owl hat at a craft fair last Fall.)


Forever after
Friday March 20th 2020, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

It took me a day to find the words.

For those in the knitting community who may not have heard yet. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka YarnHarlot, friend to all, welcomed her second grandchild and first granddaughter this week.

Two days later Elliot’s baby sister was gone from them.

My younger sister lost a baby at birth, with the scant consolation that she knew she likely would. His older brothers insisted still on a birth-day cake and blowing out the candles in his honor and memory.

Charlotte Bonnie.


Part of who we love and are, they are with us forever.

Itching to go
Friday March 13th 2020, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Today they said it may be that one is still contagious with COVID-19 as much as five weeks after feeling better. Maybe. Only testing could tell if you’re good to go.

If that’s what either of us even had, but who knows when we’ll get to know.

I couldn’t do anything about that so I ran the last end in anyway and sewed the label on with it. It’s ready whenever I am.

Oh right. Oops.
Wednesday March 11th 2020, 9:23 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Politics

“Well, that’s risky,” opined my fellow quarantinee.

And yet, any gangway off the cruise ship, right?

Plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients to save the lives of those critically ill with it–that’s what China’s trying right now, with some success.

But first you have to have tested the earlier patients and documented they have it.

From here to there and back
Saturday March 07th 2020, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

She called. Then she came over. She was insistent.

Mom, you haven’t gotten out of the house in three weeks. We need to give you a change of scenery.

And with that we took a drive through the mountains and redwoods, in and out of fog and intermittent rain (at long long last, rain today!), with views of the reservoir below and hawks in the skies above. And one peregrine falcon watching the traffic pass below.

It was glorious. (With one brief backup here.)

Not yet
Thursday March 05th 2020, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

You can when you feel better, she’d said. So I washed the afghan and laid it out to dry and made tentative plans to myself.

I sent off a note today to be sure before I did anything, though, and got the same young nurse practitioner calling back on the phone: no worries, she soothed, you don’t have the flu.

(Yeah I knew that.) Well then does that mean… (the obvious)

You were not a person of interest so we didn’t test you for that.

(First time I’ve ever had THAT phrase applied to me!)

Everything was wonderful, everything was fine, nice to hear I was doing better, I said something about a couple more episodes and it went right past her other than her making sure I’d filled the rescue inhaler prescription, mine having expired. Yes I had.

Me: We’ve been self-quarantining. So if I feel fine is it okay to go to church on Sunday?

Boy did that change her tune fast. NO! No, don’t, not for another week or two. At least. You don’t want to expose other people who might not be as able to fight it off! People with compromised immune systems, the elderly.

And I hung up the phone thinking, you didn’t want me to panic but you finally almost said what we both now knew you were thinking.

So I took pretty pictures of the world coming back to life, marveled at all those blossoms on the one-year-old Frost in the corner, and tried not to have cabin fever.

Last year my Indian Free, the only peach that has to have a pollinator, bloomed just as the last few flowers on the last other tree were fading away. We still got a few fruits from it but one could only wonder whether this was how it was going to be.

Nope. Just Mother Nature playing fifty-two-card pickup. This year, all five peach trees are overlapping at least somewhat and there should be a good crop across the yard all summer long.

Blueberries in the last photo. Last year we were picking those in January, this year it waited till now to start.

Here, let me go pick up those scattered cards. Come time to plant my tomato seedlings I plan to be the queen of spades.

A hacking cough
Tuesday March 03rd 2020, 7:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

That was a long week.

To play catch up: I messaged my doctor Thursday, heard back from her nurse, answered, and then the doctor took over and emailed me to get in there. Yes I’d had some serious breathing problems with my flu that had been scary a few times but I told her I was doing better than I had been and I didn’t quite see the point.

The phone rang, with the question: what time would you like your appointment to be? They were not messing around.

The time when I knew I could have a ride there was when I could only get a physician’s assistant.

Who had my chest x-rayed (scarring in the lungs, didn’t seem to be new) gave me several minutes of an Albuterol treatment and swabbed up my nose to test for the flu. But when I asked about The Virus I got a sharp rueful snort: Only the health department runs those, she told me with a serious case of If Only in her voice.

At that time, the entirety of California was allotted 500 tests for COVID-19, although that had doubled by the time I got home. They were clearly reserving them for those needing hospitalization–where the medical teams would need to know what they were dealing with so as not to contract it nor pass it on to more patients.

Our county has the most cases in the state and two are of kids that go to the schools ours went to, and the numbers go up every single day. It’s definitely here.

The test results were negative for influenza types A and B and that’s all I know.

Richard started coming down ill himself on Thursday, though thankfully never as bad as mine was; Friday morning the blog was out-of-the-blue dead and he was too sick to deal with it.

He took a stab at it a few times yesterday, waiting for call-backs or messages, and today he overdid it trying to get both his work work done and the blog working again, and hey! Look!

If you see anything wonky let me know. For now, it looks like we’re good. Yay. Thanks for sticking it out with me.

Always did like a good autobiography
Sunday February 23rd 2020, 7:52 pm
Filed under: Food,Life

Knitting? Not up to it. Reading? I’ve finished Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” and I’m halfway through a Jimmy Carter memoir that I was always going to get around to. Wow has the world changed over his 95 years. He’s not forging steel hoops to put around his dad’s wagon wheels anymore.

Edited to add, both noted their surprise at being handed a large bill at the end of the first month in: the President is responsible for the food bill of his family and guests at the White House. Any idle mention of a favorite or wished-for food ends in that food happening on their table no matter the cost if they don’t say anything different.

They learned fast.