Hey, Dani, look!
Tuesday November 06th 2018, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Friends,Mango tree,Politics

Glued to the election returns, glad there will be some checking and balancing–always a good thing.

Meantime, the heat is working in the mango tree’s enclosure but, um, not so much in ours. Brrr. Hoping I can reach our HVAC guy in the morning.

So I thought I’d chill out by posting a bunch of tropical-tree pictures so Dani could see how what he instigated into being four years ago is doing. (Don’t worry about that dusting of cinnamon, that’s just anti-ant.)

I need to ask: are you supposed to let them ripen on the tree? (Why the traditional store-it-in-camel-dung method? All my camel comes in yarn form only.) I know pears have to be picked unripe or they’ll go mushy first, and every reference to Alphonso mangoes I’ve found (that would probably be two) said to let them ripen in warm temps, picked. How do you know it’s time to?

I love that I finally get to need to ask.



Double-checking
Monday November 05th 2018, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Politics

Going over the voters guide, newspaper articles, etc tonight. Again. To be absolutely sure on each choice.

VOTE!



More than a blurb on the ballot
Wednesday October 24th 2018, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Politics

A friend threw a potluck tonight to go over the ballot issues via a lively 15-way discussion.

And…voices stayed understated, everyone was a grownup, but it definitely felt lively there for a few minutes after one person quietly texted her friend the candidate, who showed up and was promptly peppered with questions. (The hostess was, um, a tad surprised, but invited her in and took it in stride very graciously.)

Turns out another woman there was dead set against her (I was a bit stunned at finding out why)–and after hearing the three of them each speak their piece, that candidate very much has my vote. She’s the equivalent of Christine Blasey Ford’s mom’s friend, who in our local case spoke up for the raped 14-year-old for 18 months, hounding school board members and the superintendent, telling that other woman’s kid on the school newspaper that using the defendant’s lawyer as your source for saying it was consensual and not interviewing anyone who said otherwise is so not cool and you must publish a retraction. This is a criminal case and you are contributing to the continuing victimization of the victim.

There was a second assault.

She kept on pushing until she got justice and the school instituted some changes. And now she’s running to be on that board.

The principal who kept trying to brush her off, who put consequences on the victim alone and none on the perpetrator, no support whatsoever for the girl, ended up fired.

Yeah. You bet I’m voting for this woman. She’s got nerves of steel and she will do the right thing no matter who or what power stands in her way.

I’d been debating doing early voting but had wanted to hold off till that dinner was over, and I can’t tell you how glad I am that I did.



Greens and blues, Sara said
Friday September 28th 2018, 8:40 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life,Politics

The last few days prompted a conversation wherein an old high school friend opened up yesterday and told me about her being a survivor.

I asked her her favorite color.

(Solis colorway. I had knit up all I had of that. I was actually out. I had to do something about that.)

Today I kept feeling like, go to Green Planet.

Cottage Yarns in the opposite direction has a better inventory on all things Malabrigo.

Go to Green Planet.

I finally said a little prayer, and felt like, yes already fer cryin’ out loud, honey, Green Planet.

Well alright then.

I brought the pair of needles I would be using, went there, found just the thing, waited while they wound it and dove right in, both the knitting and the conversation at the table.

Some old Purlescence friends happened to be there, and one of them asked me how I was doing. I told her the last few days had been pretty intense.

And with that everybody felt permission to talk about it and the conversation got going. Of the five of us sitting at that table, four had followed every hearing and every update.

The fifth, a younger woman, had not; she wanted to know but she’d shied away from finding out and was not even sure what the story was, and it hit me: we’re talking to a survivor and it’s still all too close to home for her. But we did not pry and we did not ask.

The woman across from me started talking about Jeff Flake and the woman in the elevator confronting him, demanding, Look in my eyes! We come to the courts for justice! We who are hurt, who have suffered injustice, we look to the courts and you want to put a rapist on the court! There are many of us and you ought to be ashamed! We come to the courts for healing, for justice!

I chimed in that Flake had gone back to that hearing room and had still voted yes–if. If the FBI were given a week to investigate, then yes, move the nomination to the floor. If.

Something changed in the room.

The witnesses will be interviewed after all.

The fifth woman gathered up her things now and said she had to go, but she had one request: could she give me a hug?

Yes! (Oh honey yes. Yes of course.)

She thanked me and then headed out the door into the waiting daylight.



Slow down, take your time, do it right
Monday September 24th 2018, 11:21 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

My folks aren’t on Facebook so I’m going to put the statement from Mormon Women for Ethical Government here so they can see it, too:

 

“Given the seriousness of the allegations levied against Judge Kavanaugh, we call upon the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to immediately suspend the confirmation proceedings until a thorough independent investigation can be conducted.

We very specifically urge the four members of the committee who share our faith as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–Senator Hatch, Senator Lee, Senator Flake, and Senator Crapo–to ensure that these charges be taken seriously and that every attempt be made to ascertain the truth of the situation. Our mutual faith teaches that any sexual abuse or assault in any context is contemptible and worthy of the most severe condemnation.

If these accusations are proved false, an investigation will prevent harm to the court’s legitimacy. If they are true, then Judge Kavanaugh must not be confirmed.

As we have stated previously, sexual assault must not be normalized or condoned in any way or by anyone, especially those charged with political leadership. We boldly condemn any attempts to justify such inexcusable and reprehensible behavior and demand that our elected leaders set a morally sound example.

# # #

Mormon Women for Ethical Government (MWEG) is a nonpartisan group of over 6,000 women dedicated to the ideals of decency, honor, accountability, transparency, and justice in governing. MWEG is not formally affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We do, however, fully sustain the leaders and doctrines of the Church.”



While trees grow quietly
Friday September 21st 2018, 10:48 pm
Filed under: History,Mango tree,Politics

Thank you for the notes and comments. To my great relief, today was, cold? What cold?

New mango leaves and inflorescence–today they have stalks. This is new.

Meantime, I’ve been riveted by updates on Christine Blasey Ford’s case.

There is no statute of limitations for felony sexual assault in Maryland. Montgomery County’s chief of police just tweeted that all he needs is for her to file a criminal complaint and he’s prepared to investigate.

That would mean that Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge could be put under oath by the county, at a time when the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee are doing everything they can to stave that off and rush a vote before any truth squeezes out.

Go MoCo! (I grew up in that county.)



The sounds of their voices
Thursday September 06th 2018, 10:59 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

I picked up a cowl project that had been abandoned early on in the push to get the baby blanket done and sat down to watch the Kavanaugh hearings, a little yesterday, more so, today.

When he said he grew up “around here,” with drugs and gangs and so he professed empathy for gun violence victims, I went, wait…what? Turns out he grew up in Bethesda. So did I. Let me tell you, no, he did not grow up in a violent neighborhood, not by a very long, well, shot, and there are no bad neighborhoods in my hometown. Gary Hart, one-time presidential contender, lived in the neighborhood. So did Neil Armstrong for two years. Frank Lloyd Wright’s grandson, in a house his grandfather had designed for his dad. Stephen Colbert’s family was across the street and in the house next to that, (a little later) Steve Rosenberg, Ronald Reagan’s cancer surgeon, whose kids I used to babysit on Friday nights. I’m name-dropping shamelessly to make a point: the house my folks built way out in the woods in the middle of, at the time, nowhere, turned out to be a town where you wanted to live if you could.

But here’s where it got interesting: the split screen was gone by the late afternoon and one could only hear the Senators now. The camera did not pan to them. So I don’t know who it was, although I’m guessing Richard Blumenthal? But after all the speechifying and talking at Kavanaugh, here was the quiet, calm voice of what sounded like a father figure of a man talking *to* him.

About what it was like to stand in Sandy Hook Elementary. To see the pictures. To see what such a weapon does to a child’s body, and why there is no place for it in a civil society. To grieve those first-graders who would never get to grow up, to stand in that place with and for their parents. The speaker understood Kavanaugh’s idealistic take on the Second Amendment, but there was this real life side of things, too, and real consequences to people, people who mean everything to other people.

He spoke with the respect that he clearly hoped Kavanaugh would grab onto and live up to from this moment on.

It was a moment of clarity offered amidst the bombast. I was impressed.

Kavanaugh, for his part, after nearly three days of being challenged and judged, clearly had not expected this. The issue, yes. Presented in a way that could not be argued against because it was offered with understanding of his point of view at the same time, no.

That’s when he used his hometown as his “so I get it, I know,” which, I’m sorry, was so far out in left field that one could only shake one’s head.

His questioner gently continued along the same lines.

At the end, Sen. Grassley puffed about how great a man sat before us and how much he had satisfied the inquiries of these last two (he later said three–maybe someone slipped him a note) days.

With the camera only on Kavanaugh, there it was: his eyes darted hard to the side and back when Grassley called him a good man. His jaw twitched and his face clenched when told he was a great judge. It was clear: he didn’t believe it.

Whether that was imposter syndrome or the tell of an actual imposter, I guess we’ll have to find out one way or another. But he did not look comfortable in his own skin in that moment when the praises were the most effusive.

Only when–Blumenthal?–treated him with not fawning but actual respect even in disagreement, that, his body language and voice responded to in kind. It was the only time I’ve seen it in him.



Fighting fire with…!
Wednesday August 22nd 2018, 10:05 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

One way to make net neutrality personal:

In early July, Verizon downgraded the governmental-user data plan subscribed to by my county’s fire department and started throttling their data. They told them they had to upgrade to the 39.99 plan. The county fire chief did so.

Then the biggest fire in California history got going. The thousands of firefighters from all over were coordinating teams, keeping tabs on where all those edges of the fire were going and on each other, when Verizon–again throttled the data. The same person who’d told our fire chief he had to upgrade to 39.99 was telling him about two weeks later that oh no, now it’s 99.99 for what you want.

The fire chief who was in the middle of battling to save lives and homes while trying not to lose any of his firefighters and suddenly found himself flying blind.

He begged them to lift the throttling. Their real-time information-sharing was almost completely killed.

They. Refused.

Government regulations are the boogeyman to so many Republicans, but consider this: had net neutrality still existed, had Verizon been required to do the right thing, Verizon would not now have the potential liability for every property lost to the Mendocino fire from the moment that throttling began. If the firefighter from Utah who died was found to have died because of those communications being hampered, if the plane that dropped the fire retardant that broke the tree that killed him didn’t know he was underneath because of that throttling…

All to extort $60 out of a major public safety crisis.

It’ll be interesting to hear how many other fire departments had the same thing happening to them just then. I’m sure we’ll soon find out.



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.)