I have to speak up. I must. We must.
Wednesday June 20th 2018, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Politics

Today was a Holly day, and it was so good to get to see her again. We live so close and so far: it can take several hours, depending on the traffic.

She had just enough time for a visit while her husband was at a meeting in town.

We found ourselves as mothers drawn again and again to the subject of the cruelty going on at our borders to children–babies, even–and their families, the damage the trauma is doing to their developing brains.

Our laws spell out how one can apply for asylum when one is in fear for one’s life. The approved crossing points for doing so have been closed, people have been directed to cross elsewhere and when they have complied with that order have been arrested as criminals.

Our President lies when he says others did this before him; they did not. They held families together, and even his own administration did too until this May. He lies when he says only Congress can change the law because there is no law saying they must do this, and in fact the administration is violating our laws as well as all human decency and compassion. They actually forbid the workers from hugging and comforting a crying child.

But the sad-funny part about it was Trump’s trying to blame Obama for it. What he’s saying then is that even out of office Obama has more power than Trump does right now and that Trump is too weak to do anything about it.

Actually, there’s a great deal of truth to that but not of a type Trump could ever fathom.

Yes he did sign an executive order this afternoon: but watch what he does, not what he says. The unmentioned fine print was that after 20 days families can still be torn apart. They will process children and adults at different rates. Deport the parents. Keep the kids. Already we have one woman who was released from custody–and they say they cannot tell her where her seven-year-old son is.  Who DOES this to people?!

We are better than this, we must be better than this, we must demand better than this. Every Republican Senator has the option to caucus with the Democrats on the issue, and all we need is one, just one, one with a conscience, and we could get a law passed right now forbidding these human rights violations and dare Trump to veto it. The man is a bully and bullies cave when you stand up to them.

And if you don’t–they only bully harder.

Tomorrow I may show off some knitting or some such. But for now I will leave you with this:

From the Kenyan-born Somali poet Warsan Shire:

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
pitied

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

the
go home blacks
refugees
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
savage
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
drown
save
be hunger
beg
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
saying-
leave,
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here

 



The consensus is…
Tuesday May 22nd 2018, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Knit,Politics

The Spartacus bulb opened up, and at 30″ high with a full display of leaves it is rocking this amaryllis thing.

The second cowl from the orange Piuma: done. (Note to self: 84 stitches, US 8 needles this time and it’s not small.)

Did anybody else get the annual Community Survey from the Census Bureau? Three million households randomly get chosen and this was our year.

After making sure I couldn’t get the info online, I called the city’s utilities department and said, I’m sure you’ve gotten a lot of people asking the annual total of their water+sewer and their electric and gas usage for the Census–and they said, Nope! You’re the first one.

I wonder how many people the Bureau chose out of any one town? And how much any answer of mine tilted the results.



The soap opera
Monday April 16th 2018, 10:40 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Politics,Wildlife

Winter cold, rain, hail, the now-daily appearance of a Cooper’s hawk impatient with young to feed (clearly), and an earthquake–3.9, just enough to be entertaining if you even feel it (I didn’t.)

And the disclosure in court over Trump’s lawyer’s lawyer’s objections that Trump’s lawyer of late had but three clients: Trump, Trump’s fellow rich friend who likewise had a woman he allegedly wanted paid off and silenced, and (drumroll) Sean Hannity of Fox News. Meaning any time Hannity has gone off on Mueller’s investigation it could well because of what Mueller might find in the files now seized from Cohen on Hannity.

I bet he’s finding the ground a bit shaky over there.



YouTube today
Tuesday April 03rd 2018, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life,Politics

She was going out to dinner near the airport with her best friend, who was then going to drop her off for her flight.

She glanced at her phone as we started out. Great, there’s been a shooting.

In San Bruno.

We were headed to San Bruno.

On some level, it just didn’t sink in; it just made no sense.

She read on. The shooter was already known to be dead; we didn’t think we were going to be too close to the scene anyway.

But after I got home I found out a friend had marked himself as Safe on Facebook (Oh is that where your new job is) and another had said that she was pinging her co-workers, hoping to hear that they were okay. She later deleted the post: no sense in letting the crazies know where she worked.

These are the times we’ve been allowing ourselves to live in and creating for our children to inherit.

Meantime, another friend had a small fender-bender near there and a witness waited with her for the police to come–and for friendly chat to pass the time he asked her, Did you hear about YouTube? When she said no, he (with expletives) said that they deserved it because they were threatening our Second Amendment rights.

Wait. YouTube said they would no longer allow videos that made them a party to gun sales. They didn’t say you couldn’t sell, they didn’t say you couldn’t speak, they didn’t outlaw your guns, they’re not the government nor are they a public utility nor are they censoring speech, they simply said that on the platform that they own and pay people to manage, on the machines and electricity bills that they pay for, these were some of the rules for participating.

Anybody can still make their own video and host it on their own server.

This man actually thought it was okay to wish a death sentence on innocent people out loud to a total stranger–and he assumed she would agree with him!–for YouTube’s unwillingness to be a party to what they felt was promoting gun violence. This afternoon that issue was forced into their very workplace and I imagine their decision gained both clarity and a deep-seated sense of righteousness.

If people like him think that they’re a majority, then clearly that would suggest he could strike it rich with his own startup: video hosting for people who think like him. Literally nothing right now is stopping him. Venture capitalists in Silicon Valley constantly chase the next big money-maker, go make your pitch to them.

You see? That First Amendment: and it came first for a reason.

But it does not include the right to force someone else to pay to issue your speech for you.



Passing the baton
Thursday March 15th 2018, 10:41 pm
Filed under: History,Knitting a Gift,Politics

The first of the two skeins of Debbie Bliss Rialto in butter is done. The knitting is dense, the yarnovers are few so as not to give baby fingers much to snag and pull on, and I could almost stop here. Nah, it needs that second one, I don’t get off that easy.

Meantime, I didn’t say yesterday because I was still trying to process the experience into words: around ten a.m. Wednesday, I happened to be driving past a school that’s on the main drag and it looked like the entire student body was out there on the sidewalk protesting.

I gave them a huge smile and thumbs-up from the other side of the road and they all cheered and waved their homemade signs. It felt very much like a celebration of the right of the people peaceably to assemble to petition the government. Their civics and history teachers aced this.

I remembered the day my mom was driving me from near DC to Baltimore for the Maryland State Piano Competition when the March on Washington to protest the Vietnam War had been the day before. There were hikers with backpacks along the freeway, where pedestrians were never supposed to be, and every now and then they would turn and hold up a cardboard sign at the oncoming traffic naming the city or town they eventually hoped to get back to. Some of them had a very long way to go.

Hitchhiking was common in those days and on that hour’s drive and back I saw no sign of any cops hassling those kids: they had come together to change history for the better for all of us by demanding their voices be heard–and they succeeded.

Those just older in my generation didn’t want to shoot at other people’s kids in Vietnam. Our kids want the shootings of kids and others here to stop. They are in the right, and they are making themselves heard.

Right here and all across the country. I am so very proud of them all.



Workaround
Tuesday January 02nd 2018, 11:38 pm
Filed under: Politics

So the new tax bill was written to deliberately mess over the states that lean Democrat. Particularly California and New York.

We have an ambitious politician here who’s challenging Diane Feinstein’s Senate seat who just came up with an answer to that: we can’t deduct state taxes now? Fine–what if we offer opting out of paying state taxes. Charitable contributions are still deductible, we’ll just set this up so… Quote: “Our hard-earned tax dollars should not be subject to double-taxation, especially not to line the pockets of the Trump family, hedge fund managers and private jet owners.” Alright then, he says. We’ll just finish writing up this bill, and then, you can donate to a state fund instead. We’ll make the contribution to the state funds 100% deductible on your state taxes–which means you can deduct it from your Federal.

Which will mess up their numbers. So sad.



Speed wreck
Thursday December 21st 2017, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life,Politics

Washing machines. So here’s what I’ve found so far.

There’s a reason the newer HE machines take an hour to clean your clothes: the enzymes in their detergents take up to an hour to clean away the soiled bits. If the machines work faster than that and your clothes come out still dirty, guess who gets the blame? Manufacturers don’t believe consumers pre-treat anything anymore and they build them on that assumption and if that means you get stuck waiting forever, oh well.

Speed Queen is the only brand still making machines with all-metal parts built to last decades; they wash the clothes, as the name implies, fairly quickly–and well–and with no electronics to go bad.

For about one more week. If you can find them. I found myself reading through pages and pages of discussion on the subject and stumbled across the statement by one reviewer that the government was requiring electronics by the end of the year.

Say what? How did that make sense?

So I called Speed Queen and got tossed to a technical-side guy there with a charming Midwestern accent who talked up the new model coming out and the electric parts behind the knobs now.

Electric? Are we meaning electronics here? I had to pin him down a bit: So are there going to be motherboards? (Having been quoted over $800 plus labor on a stove, on an oven, then on the other oven, all in upper-end major appliances under six years old. I am so done with that.)

He didn’t quite want to say yes, but, yes–and then he explained. You can set the machine to the size load you want, but the government doesn’t believe you won’t do anything but set it at extra large every time so they’re requiring sensors that automatically set the water level to match the level of the clothes. So, yes, he said, that reviewer was right: the old mechanical-only knob machines are only allowed to be sold through the end of this year.

If you can find one, he warned.

Suddenly my ability to face shelling out the kind of money those cost just shot way up. There’s a reason washing-machine sales are up so high and it ain’t quality in the other brands.

The rest of it is all still all-metal parts, he assured me.

I had one other question, the big sticking point for me: I needed a machine that could spin out hand washed woolens without spraying water on them; could theirs do that?

Only on one of the cycles, he said.

I only need one. Cool. Thank you so much.

Since I hung up the phone, I’ve had to wonder: Speed Queen had a twenty-year warranty on those all-mechanical machines a few years ago, while other manufacturers were cutting more and more corners and designing theirs to die at five or six years so you’d have to replace them. They were even discontinuing parts, said another person on that same thread, for not-much-older machines so you couldn’t keep fixing them.

I live in California. I know how to conserve water. Speed Queens were dunned for using too much, but someone in that thread actually measured the water going into the spray function of an HE machine and found it used about the same amount.

What I’m thinking is, someone doesn’t like the competition that comes when lots of people like me (and that’s probably most of us by now) want a machine without the stinking failing motherboards anymore. I wonder how much their CEOs donated to which members of Congress to shut down their competition?*

Because you know this Congress is absolutely capable of doing that.

Meantime, Speed Queen is putting their electronic ones through the ringer to try to make them as reliable as the old reliable. They have a reputation to maintain.

A klieg-light heads-up to the other major-appliance makers: you, too, could grab away a fanatically grateful share of the market if you made things that didn’t break down constantly. Like you used to.

 

*(Edited to add, turns out Rep. Upton of Michigan is an heir to the Whirlpool fortune. No surprise.)



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.



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…



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.



Mark her words
Sunday August 13th 2017, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life,Politics

Let me put the knitting down for a moment and show you where to see a photo.

Of first responders.

In Charlottesville. (Washington Post video. Warning: includes that car.)

The one overcome by grief, sunk down on his knee in the grass with a friend’s steadying hand on his shoulder, is the husband of my friend Chan, and that is her blog.

What happened in their town should never happen anywhere. Especially, absolutely, never in America. The actions of these few are a terrorist threat against everything our country aspires towards.

As Orrin Hatch put it, “My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”



Healthcare bill
Tuesday July 25th 2017, 10:55 pm
Filed under: History,Knitting a Gift,Lupus,Politics

Being the political junkie that I am, I got some good knitting time in while watching the Senate vote 50-50 today with Pence tipping the scales. Watched John McCain give the speech of his life after casting the vote that utterly mocked everything he would say immediately thereafter. He could have put a stop to it all right there, and it would have been over for good just like the version in April was. This was a vote to allow the bill to continue to the floor, and he promised not to vote in the future for that bill as it now stands. (Knowing full well that after amendments and arguments it would not be as it now stands, for better but also for worse.)

But that is pure hubris anyway. He might be in the hospital then, he might not even be alive.

I don’t know how many people know that the current Republican bill, among its many other problems, would allow employer-based health insurance to reach in and deny coverage to the chronically ill—lupus is specifically targeted, hey, it was nice knowing you all–coverage that the employees are paying for out of their paychecks, and with the ACA gone we patients would be unable to buy any anywhere else, either.

But hey, I got a lot of blanket knitted!

I called McConnell’s office, got through on the first ring, and told whichever intern answered the phone that McConnell is only pushing on that bill because my uncle the late and generally-right-wing Senator Bob Bennett of Utah is dead. Because McConnell wouldn’t have been able to look Bob in the eye.

Bob was a Republican, but he also believed American businesses could not compete as long as their workers knew they were one medical crisis away from losing everything. He had lived through losing his job and his insurance when he’d had a young family to support. He knew.

So he wrote, with Ron Wyden, a Democrat, the first draft of a bill. Romneycare had worked in Massachusetts, so…



You gotta hand it to those mannequins
Monday July 03rd 2017, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Life,Politics

Blowing up mannequins on the Mall in DC as the traffic continues on by without a blink. Someone at the Consumer Products Safety Commission has a job that gets to be fun once a year: showing how not to be stupid with fireworks.

That bird (I’m guessing a pigeon) streaking past that blue canopy a split second early enough must have thought it had broken the sound barrier. Take *that*, raptors!

The full version beyond the gifs, here, from 2016. Watching the 2015 and 2017 versions (same demos), it’s amusing to watch the demo kitchen setup go from curtains on the window and potholders to potholders to, this year, oh forget it. Just the paper window.

Budget cuts.

Happy and safe Fourth-ing, everybody!



What a day
Wednesday June 14th 2017, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Politics

My thanks to the Muslims in Grenfell Tower who, observant of Ramadan, got up early to eat before the day’s fast and so were awake to alert their neighbors in that tower last night–which had no building-wide fire alarm and no sprinkler system–and saved many lives.

One building inspector in the US marveled that that place would have been out of code here as of 1920. (I confess I haven’t yet searched to see if his date holds up.)

Praying for a full recovery for Steve Scalise and the others shot at the Congressional Republicans’ baseball warmup this morning, and I am in awe of those who ran to stop the gunman who was far better armed than they. They are heroes, too.

I love that Steny Hoyer from my home state of Maryland told the cameras that Scalise was his good friend and he was praying for him. Full stop. There was no mention of how very different their politics are. That had no place.

In California, as of a few years ago, there is a law and a process whereby one can petition a court to have someone not be able to have a gun: someone convicted of domestic violence, someone who has proven a danger to others or themselves; there has to be a good reason. That petition if successful kicks in the equivalent of a restraining order against the person’s having a gun in their possession for a limited period of time. I believe it passed after the Santa Barbara mass shooter, who was mentally ill and whose parents begged everybody they could think of to intervene, to help them keep their kid from doing what he planned on doing but were told no because he hadn’t actually committed any crimes yet–he just wanted to. They were frantically driving up from LA to try to stop him but they were too late.

The new law has held up in court. It can be done. If you want this to be true in your state, too, you know what to do.

On a more cheerful note: I took a deep breath and took in my happy place a moment. Apple tree to the left, peach to the right, lemon out of sight to the far right, plum tree straight ahead. and all the others around.

And baby pictures. The Little Hunk. They change so fast.

 



Blink and you’ll miss it
Thursday June 08th 2017, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life,Lupus,Politics,Wildlife

While I watched the Comey hearing…(full YouTube video.) There is nothing like observing their faces along with their words and intonations. (What on earth was Cornyn doing with his hands the whole time he was talking?) I kept half-hoping someone would call John McCain an ambulance–he   s  p  o  k  e    in slow motion, made no sense, (the ex-FBI chief is not addressed as President) and looked like he was having a serious medical event like a transient ischemic attack or a diabetic crash.

So. Five (!) hawk sightings today, including one I got to see coming straight towards me, its neck not so white, its chest solid and buff: an adult.

However many there are in its young family, it rules, and the crows and ravens have disappeared from my end of the block as of late.

What’s completely new is a mockingbird that has suddenly decided that the larger scrub jay has no right to my back yard–and the surprise that the bossy overdressed blue corvid loses every time. After being the bully of the bird feeder forever, threatening the songbirds while stealing far more than it needs to or even can eat, it was quite surprised at getting its comeuppance and having to run for it, not casually but for real, with the smaller mocker twirling around in serious chase above the elephant ears. Not learning a thing, the jay had to dash for cover again and again, the other right at its back. A brilliantly-colored tanager on the other side of the fence took courage for the first time and gave it its own “And STAY out!” over there.

Tempted to name the mocker Comey.

Meantime, two days ago when the sun was safely low–the lupus/UV exposure thing–I knocked on the door of the little kids across the street so they could get a chance to come see the doves in the nest. I was sure if we waited a few more days the fledging would be over and I remember how much my kids loved to be lifted up to see the baby birds back in the day.

But the family was probably out in the back yard and didn’t hear me.

Yesterday we had those two doves side-by-side up there, the one no longer attempting to hide from me under momma’s wing, but again no one was home across the street till the sun had sunk altogether.

Today there was no one home on top of that ladder and no dove in sight.

Oh well. Next year.

I looked again shortly after, though, and there the two were, fluttering upwards in no particular alarm at my coming around the corner, rather as a matter of teaching the young What One Does while telling each other about me. (Old enough to fly: check. Good.) One stayed in sight about six feet past the young pear tree and I took its graduation portrait.

And when I blinked, like all good mourning doves it felt compelled to blink back. It’s one of the most charming things about them.