Teach your children well
Monday October 19th 2020, 7:27 pm
Filed under: Life

A five year old made it into the news after his mommy was picking him up from daycare last week at a church in Daly City: Look, Mommy, there’s a lemur!

Maybe you saw a raccoon, honey.

The kid knew what a lemur was, he’d seen a lemur, and it was right there!

Which led to the daycare people closing the door on the little playhouse, calling the cops, the cops calling San Francisco Zoo five miles away, and the rescue of said lemur from inside that playhouse after it had gone missing. The person believed to have stolen it has been arrested and the five year old now has a lifetime free pass to the zoo with his family.

The daycare got the missing-lemur reward.

You never know when you’ll need to know what a lemur is.

Cousin Jesse
Friday October 16th 2020, 8:51 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Politics

The knitting entirely eluded me so far today. It just… I mean…

My mother-in-law grew up on a dairy farm in the mountains beyond Salt Lake City; her dad, who was also the high school principal, retired by changing it to a cattle ranch.

My husband’s folks drove cross country several summers of his growing up for the kids to help out on the farm and have some of the experiences and chores their mother thought an essential part of their growing up–and she wanted them to know their Utah cousins well.

I got to know them a little, too, the first few years we were married, though in the last few decades it’s all been at weddings or funerals.

One of them married and raised a son with Tim Birt.

I found myself nodding my head at the descriptions of what a nice person their son was; he sounds just like his mom.

Richard showed me the message she’d sent to his phone this morning.

A “well regulated militia” is not crazy people in the middle of the night waving guns at strangers who want to help.

The Zoom funeral is Saturday.

Who knows, maybe I’ll have time to do a second pandemic project after that, too
Wednesday October 14th 2020, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

I’ve almost finished the angelfish after knitting like crazy on it for three days. Deadlines are a wonderful thing. Huge thanks to Afton for the annual Aftober race to finish something, anything, before the end of this month.

So if I end it after this fourteenth critter it’ll be maybe 70″ long.

My rule of thumb is that you make it to the height of the person, because it needs to be long enough to cover their feet and come up to their chin. Note that I am married to someone who is 80″ tall and after all this work it ought to fit him, too.

So far I’m planning on keeping this as my pandemic reminder project, to serve as a template for how to do each fish right the next time if nothing else in this time when we’ve had so much time together. And to remind myself that even when it takes twenty minutes just to get past the colorwork part of the triggerfish every single row, it does get done (and it did), just keep at it, keep going.

A trio of small jellyfish? Another octopus, only smaller than the monster at the bottom? Um? Anybody got a favorite fish to suggest? What should swim at the top?

Or I could just finish it off right there, do the final edging, call it done and be able to finish something else for Aftober, too. I’m so tempted.

Oh, and just for fun (and so I can find it again.) Man, that bass has a great voice.

Zombie gene
Tuesday October 13th 2020, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Life

Biology is weirdly messy sometimes.

Yonder daughter and I were sitting talking after dinner. Her favorite undergrad class at BYU had been evolutionary biology.

She told me, Yeah, the difference between hair and spine? One gene. There was this family in history in Australia that for three generations had no hair–but grew fine spines all over instead, as she motioned towards the hair on, say, one’s arm.

I was gobsmacked. Did they crunch when they hugged?

She had no idea.

I tried to picture how one would style, much less cut, such “hair” and how long it might grow, especially if you couldn’t.

She had no idea. But she assured me it was, like, really fine.

I guffawed and said, You know that this is the perfect Halloween subject to be talking about.

The prof had been talking about the genes. I’m still dying to know how it would have been to live with that and what it would look like. It gives a cool wind through your hair a whole different take–you’d be your own wind chimes.

She was a long cool woman in a black dress
Saturday October 10th 2020, 4:38 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

(Sorry/not sorry for the earworm. I woke up with Frosty the Snowman nonstop in my head this morning, I figure that one’s an upgrade.)

“What’s a kangaroo pocket?” That was a new one on him. He definitely approves of pockets and can’t figure out why women’s clothes almost never have them or why we would buy ones that don’t, but yeah, he knows the answer to that is because they just don’t often make them. The fact that this one did is part of why I bought it.

I put my hands in and then pulled one arm through and out to this side and then the other through and out to the other to demonstrate. There’s this tube sewn on at the openings so it runs across on the inside, see?

It was this maxi cotton/modal black dress, pandemically priced down from $110 (which was ridiculous) to $15 that day (yeah we can definitely do that) and it definitely looked good on.

Machine washable. So I had run it through the laundry first, as I do.

And then I’d tried it on again just to, y’know, make sure it hadn’t shrunk any (but I think mostly because it was new and made me feel pretty and I wanted a dose of that again before putting it away.)

Holy cannoli what a tourniquet, but at least I got it–mostly–on. What happened?! I managed to scramble out again, perplexed and trying not to be upset.

And then it hit me.

So then I had to go show him, waiting for him to laugh. He did.

Oh yeah. It’s got pockets. Just don’t let the subject go over your head.

An answer
Sunday October 04th 2020, 8:04 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Garden,Life,Politics

Pence thought flying to Arizona would get the Mormon vote to turn the state their way.

And on a different note having nothing to do with that…

This was General Conference weekend for the Mormon Church, broadcast from Salt Lake. There was no in-person audience, the speakers were masked while not speaking and sat socially distant, and the Tabernacle Choir was pre-recorded songs from previous Conferences.

And the song they started out with (video link) was, “Oh Say What Is Truth”. The sheet music is in the link below.

31243, Hymns, Oh Say, What Is Truth?, no. 272

1. Oh say, what is truth? ‘Tis the fairest gem
That the riches of worlds can produce,
And priceless the value of truth will be when
The proud monarch’s costliest diadem
Is counted but dross and refuse.

2. Yes, say, what is truth? ‘Tis the brightest prize
To which mortals or Gods can aspire.
Go search in the depths where it glittering lies,
Or ascend in pursuit to the loftiest skies:
‘Tis an aim for the noblest desire.

3. The sceptre may fall from the despot’s grasp
When with winds of stern justice he copes.
But the pillar of truth will endure to the last,
And its firm-rooted bulwarks outstand the rude blast
And the wreck of the fell tyrant’s hopes.

4. Then say, what is truth? ‘Tis the last and the first,
For the limits of time it steps o’er.
Tho the heavens depart and the earth’s fountains burst,
Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst,
Eternal, unchanged, evermore.

Text: John Jaques, 1827-1900

Music: Ellen Knowles Melling, 1820-1905

There were messages of inclusivity for all and they meant all in order to measure up to the teachings of Jesus.

President Nelson said, “I grieve that our black brother and sisters the world over are enduring the pains of racism and prejudice. Today, I call upon our members everywhere to lead out in abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice. I plead with you to promote respect for all of God’s children.”

One of the other things he said leaped out just for me. “We can do hard things.”

I instantly decided to take it personally for my right here and now. My back has been so bad that I couldn’t roll over and get out of bed by myself, which wasn’t helping Richard’s iffy back any. Alright, consciously loosen those muscles. No tensing from fear it’s going to hurt that makes it hurt. You can do this. And yes it will still hurt some, but it won’t get better without doing that.

Richard five minutes ago, watching me rise from a chair and turn to go in the kitchen to get a glass of milk: “You ARE feeling better!”

Better being a relative term, but, yes I definitely am and I’m not afraid of it anymore.

I will add two things: I’m still not stupid, though, and, I have very good friends. Phyl and Lee walked over, watered my wilting veggies and a few trees that needed it most, harvested the four butternut squash that were ripe and at my previously-stated insistence, took one home. I waved thanks and goodbye through the window so as not to give them my flu.

Saturday October 03rd 2020, 7:20 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Husband and daughter negative for covid, just a bug, I finally caught it. Flu shots never entirely take with my immune system (they got theirs two weeks after mine) but they do ameliorate it; fever overnight, already much better but I wrenched my back hard. Ice helps. Tomorrow will be better.

Come up for air
Wednesday September 30th 2020, 6:23 pm
Filed under: Life,Politics

Mercifully, I no longer remember his name.

I woke up this morning with the thought that I now understood what last night’s debate reminded me of.

Back when my lupus was newly diagnosed, I was doing swim therapy at a pool where you had to have a doctor’s prescription to go there–so that everybody was dealing with something, everybody knew it, and people tended to look out for each other. At 31 when I showed up I was the baby of the morning group, which but for a few middle-aged car accident victims was all elderly. The pool was set up in a T shape for exercises on this side, with a wheelchair ramp going down into the water, and laps on that.

There was one notable exception to that camaraderie.

My hearing wasn’t as bad back then, but still, I left my hearing aids in my locker because you can’t get them wet so every conversation required my full attention on the person speaking to me from a near distance; having to put my glasses down next to the pool didn’t help. So I would be watching closely and hanging on every word.

There was this one guy old enough to be a WWII vet (he told me how sorry he was that he was too old to sign up for the Gulf War going on at the time, he liked being one of the boys) who really got off on that attention, and probably my relative youth. I couldn’t just catch a few words from a distance and brush him off and he caught me off guard the first time. The second time conveyed that that hadn’t been a one-off, it was the pattern: he was a full-on dirty old man who enjoyed making you squirm and when he tried the third time and it was more of the same I wasn’t going to be subjected to any more of that. We’re done here.

He took exception to that.

I was doing laps, wrapped in my own thoughts, and was just coming up for the next breath when I suddenly found myself grabbed by the arm hard and held underwater. I couldn’t believe that old man had that much strength. I tried to fight him off but was totally overpowered. He held, and held, and the lifeguard was derelict and oblivious just then. (It was not Jonathan. Just wanted to add that. And I did reconnect with him after I wrote that post, which he got to read.)

Finally, at the desperate moment when I was sure I was going to drown the guy let go and I came up spluttering and furious and he finally got the attention he’d been craving.

He wasn’t the one I had words to say to though because I wasn’t going to give him that satisfaction–although I’m rather sorry I didn’t scream for the benefit of everybody there. But I was just working too hard on gasping in the blessed air to be able to.

The lifeguard’s boss apologized over the incident and told me they’d pulled the guy aside after my complaint and told him that if he ever touched anyone there again he would be banned for life.

Word didn’t need to get around–the old ladies all already knew about him.

Then management told me that I didn’t have to do laps in a lane next to him anymore–which started out sounding good, till they added, if there’s an empty lane next to you when he wants one you’re the one who’ll have to come out. Or you can stay. If he’s already swimming laps and a lane opens up next to him you can wait till there’s another one but we’re not going to make him get out.

But he nearly killed me!

No consequences. I could not believe my ears. They said, Well, we didn’t witness it happening.

I debated calling the cops and saying I’d been assaulted but a friend who had been a cop told me that without the pool backing me up it would go nowhere. The Me, Too era was a long way off. It wasn’t till years later that I wondered if he was part of the non-profit’s funding.

Meantime, the guy complained to me in the whine of bullies everywhere, “Can’t you take a joke!?”

I moved over to the Y after that and never came back.

A few years later one of my old swim friends let me know that Dirty Old Man had moved away and I never had to worry about running into him in the grocery store again. It was an intense, immense relief.

And that’s how we’re going to feel when those votes are counted and in January if we do our part. Let’s be done with this ugly dirty cheating controlling hateful old man. We don’t have to drown our democracy in his lies anymore.

And on a completely different note, since we could all use a bit of relief after that, it’s Fat Bear week at Katmai National Park in Alaska. Vote for the biggest bruin!

Going postal
Monday September 28th 2020, 4:48 pm
Filed under: Life

A few months ago, I placed an online grocery order that came with frozen water bottles to help keep chilled things chilled during delivery. They were cheap ones that threatened to break open, not helped by having been frozen, but they did the job the sender had intended.

I’m not a fan of non-reusable plastic water bottles, but there they were, so I put two in the cabinet and one in my car because you never know–hoping it wouldn’t split and spill.

We’re having another freakishly hot spell in northern California. It is 103 out there.

I have an old high school friend who lives in New York City who’s been fighting cancer and, along with her husband, a bad bout of covid that started some months ago. She explained long hauler syndrome before I’d heard anyone else describing it.

Saturday, she was talking about mailing a ballot to avoid the crowds, given everything.

I asked her if she was allergic to wool and what was her favorite color? Thinking, that, at least, I can do something about.

When she answered, I sent her a link to some Malabrigo Mecha and told her to scroll down to the Teal Feather color. She thought it was exquisite. She loved blue greens.

It was nothing fancy but it was very soft and warm and already done and all I had to do was run the ends in and that hat could go off in the mail today–even if it’s not cold here now, it will be sooner there.

She gave me her address and I did that.

But first, I thought about something else I maybe should mail or maybe should wait on and there were reasons for both and why make two trips but really, you should first do… I found myself spending way too much time not putting on my shoes and getting out that door with that one package all ready to go and what was up with all this anyway? Rush hour is coming. Just, go!

I debated at the corner: this post office or that one? Right or left? I started to pull right and then somehow decisively wheeled back the other way and went left and didn’t think much of it.

The air conditioner was very slow to kick in but it had a lot to deal with. Man, it was hot.

I got there, mailed my package, got in my car, and waited as several other cars ahead of me pulled away and out of the parking lot.

There was an older man sitting on the curb over there in front of his old minivan. It looked like he’d had a breakdown. He pulled out his cellphone as I waited for the cars in front of me to pull out, then as I rolled up to the road beside him his shoulders slumped. Whatever answer he’d gotten, it was clear he was going to be sitting there awhile. No tow truck comes fast. Friends might, but the look on his face described his day.

Someone was coming up behind me and I was blocking them. I pulled onto the road.

And thought at myself, Are you KIDDING me?? Is this even a question?!

I swung back into the entrance just ahead, stopped the car, reached into the back seat, got back in, pulled around and back to that point, window rolled down.


There was no way that stranger white lady was talking to him and he glanced the opposite direction so as not to embarrass himself thinking I would.

Nevertheless I persisted, water bottle held straight out.

Sir? Would you like some water?

The thought hung in the air between us a moment as he tried to take it in.

His sun-worn brown face broke into relief, gratitude, love, joy, even–and he stood and, hunched and walking like someone with a bad back and aching hips, he made it over to my outstretched arm and received that bottle. As I knew in that moment he would have offered me had we been reversed. “Thank you!” he smiled, thick with emotion.

He’s someone’s grampa out there.

I figured he could deal with his car and his phone better than I could with my hearing, and the people in the post office were right over there if need be, he just needed to get through this part right now in that heat.

It wasn’t till I got past the next light that it hit me that all that indecisiveness and dithering over whether to leave yet and the string of cars leaving the post office in front of me and every step along the way had landed me at that spot and seeing what I needed to see exactly when I needed to be there to see it for his sake.

I went home and put the rest of those water bottles in the car. And added a coconut water for good measure.

He is so right
Sunday September 27th 2020, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Life

One last note that I saw him busy typing into his phone at the curb, so he didn’t see me waving hi and I let him be.


I just picked it up. It is fabulous.  Thank you so much!

    Have a great day!
I hope that your son continues to enjoy and to play his trumpet.  He will get many fabulous memories from the joy and the stories that it brings to his kids and others. Once music is part of your life, it’s always a part.

Glad to help a musician out
Saturday September 26th 2020, 7:59 pm
Filed under: Life

This put a big smile on my face:

“If this is still available, I could really use it. My trumpet case is
held together with tire tubes, staple gun staples and duct tape.


And so it is off to a good place and Joe’s note made me feel like, okay, that’s what it’s been waiting here to find. Go Joe.

Gig case
Friday September 25th 2020, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Musings during the ongoing toss-and-organize and a wow, do we still have that.

Way back when my kids were in band I bought a seriously padded trumpet case. It’s big, because it was the most protective one I could find, because, kids.

It was in the back seat twenty years ago when my youngest and I were rear-ended into another car so hard that the car crumpled up to the back window, the glove compartment spewed open and all over us, the rearview mirror twisted sideways, I lost my sense of balance for life hitting the headrest so hard and the trumpet went flying into the backs of our seats hard enough to seriously damage the bell despite all that padding. West Valley Music spent a month repairing it. But that case helped keep that trumpet from doing worse to us and to it.

So it holds a lot of memories and it has taken a hit, but all you can see is that one side curves inward somewhat. The trumpet continued to be in it till the younger son lost interest after middle school and the older son, who’d had it first and had always done more with it and wanted it more, took it home for his own kids and let it live happily ever after.

In a different case that fits better in their space.

I just offered the padded one (which came from West Valley) to one group, and if that doesn’t work I’ll ask the school district’s music department.

Hot cocoa for the win
Thursday September 24th 2020, 3:07 pm
Filed under: Life

Couldn’t hurt to mention to Panasonic that their microwave died just outside of warranty and left a customer unhappy, right? So I sent them a message and it was answered today with a link.

Which showed that a new inverter part, which might or might not be enough, was $118.95, probably plus shipping plus the time spent waiting for it to come. And then the next part. And the next. And the hassle of playing repairman, although, he could do it.

A new microwave that was essentially identical to the one we had, was, it turns out, $119.99 if you bought it inside the local Costco so they didn’t have to ship it.

I debated spending five times the price to get a fancier brand–not that I wanted to spend that kind of money at all but it would be so nice to have something dependable. Doesn’t exist. At least this way I’d get five years of warranty with five microwaves.

And so I blew that extra $1.04. Call me the last of the big spenders. First time I’ve been inside a Costco in seven months, but tomorrow’s hot cocoa made me do it.

Getting to be a pattern
Wednesday September 23rd 2020, 9:18 pm
Filed under: Life

I just spent over two hours researching microwaves. My Panasonic started heating slower and slower at 14 months and after two weeks of that, today it’s cold hot chocolate for you. It’s done.

I want a smaller footprint than 20″, as long as it’s 1100 watts. Can’t have it. I want easy to clean. You can have that. I want it not to die while it still feels new, I was very careful to keep it spotless to prolong its life but no go, and for ~10% of every single brand across Consumer Reports, expensive or cheap, it will die early–take your chances.

I want to like how it looks. Well then.

So, Costco has at a very good price the same machine that’s died on me twice now, so at least the next time I break the glass turntable I’ll have a backup one. (Again.) So I can drop it. (Again.)

Big red truck
Tuesday September 22nd 2020, 8:12 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Taking the recycling bins to the curb, my neighbor was returning home. It was good to see he’s still getting his daily walk in.

He stopped a moment, wanting to explain that the firefighters had been in front of our house because his wife had fallen and he had not been able to pick her up. But it’s okay, she is fine; that’s just something they do when you need them, he told me gratefully.

I came away thinking, we went to their 50th anniversary party long enough ago that I cannot be sure how many years it’s been. Fifteen, easily.

They still have each other, and that is something to celebrate for awhile yet.