The hearings need the listenings
Thursday June 16th 2022, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Politics

The third January 6 hearing today: I missed part of the second due to the time zone difference–I was not getting up at  6 a.m., thanks. But listening to bits and snippets afterwards of what reporters thought were the main points just didn’t have the same effect as listening to the whole thing start to finish.

One of the things about being hearing impaired since my teens is a need to see someone’s face when they’re talking. It’s not just the words that matter, it’s how they feel about those words as they’re saying them and I wanted to know.

I remember the chapter in Dad’s book about the wealthy Texas oilman turned art collector who could never be fooled by frauds and fakes as long as his deaf wife was alive. She could always tell if the seller believed his own words–or not.

And man did he get swindled after she was gone.

There is such an enormity to the story of our first violent transfer of power in history, and it felt last time like a dereliction of democracy not to have paid attention to the entire hearing.

So today’s, I did. (With the quick exception of answering one email while the retired judge was choosing his words very carefully as history watched, and v e r y  slowly.)

I wanted to say to some of the people involved in this mess, Didn’t your parents teach you to make choices that you would always be glad to publicly acknowledge you’d made? Didn’t they tell you that cheaters always get caught–if not by anyone else then by their own consciences, and that feels even worse? How not putting that burden on yourself, much less others, is far more the way to go in life, hon?

“Get yourself an f’in good criminal defense attorney, John, because you’re going to need one.”

And not just him.

Man, am I grateful for my folks.


(Dad’s book, The Fabulous Frauds, got him and the publisher sued by one of the forgers who was still alive but hiding from the French authorities in South America. The book got republished without that chapter and another the publisher was antsy about, so if you’re interested in it at all, the purple Weybright and Talley imprint is the one you’d want. But in one of the other stories, someone did copy the Mona Lisa about a hundred years ago, stole the original and put their fake in its place and nobody noticed for a week or two. –edit: two years.–  No worries, the Louvre got the real deal back and held him accountable.

Wait. There’s an analogy lurking in there.)

A good life
Wednesday June 15th 2022, 8:30 pm
Filed under: Family

My mom says that back in the day, her mom was visiting Mom’s older sister while she was away at college when Gram slipped on the ice and broke her hip.

There she was, in a city where she didn’t know anybody, alone and laid up in a hospital bed. So that’s fun.

Someone stopped by to visit a moment and keep her company. She’d never met the woman.

Turns out it was Mrs. Harvey Fletcher (Mom doesn’t remember her first name.) Her husband co-invented the TV, he invented the audiometer for testing hearing (I’ve seen the original at Johns Hopkins–it is set in a beautiful piece of woodworking), and his PhD advisor got the Nobel Prize for Harvey’s oil drop experiment, crediting him only on the man’s deathbed while Harvey kept it to himself, grateful that a prominent scientist had taken a farm boy under his wing and taught him so much. By all accounts Harvey was as humble a man as you could ask for. But I digress.

My Aunt Rosemary was dating the Fletchers’ son and that was reason or excuse enough to stop by to see someone after hearing what she was going through, far from home.

As one does.

One of the Fletcher sons, Jim, would become head of NASA. And from his retirement, would get on the phone to say, You’ve got to scrub the flight. It’s too cold, the O-rings will freeze, you can’t…!

Another, Bob, would be a scientist at Bell Labs for decades. And was every bit as good a man as the example his parents set–he was the best. Low-key, asking questions but always listening, generous, just a love of a man. And ever the scientist.

My sweet Uncle Bob recently celebrated his 101st birthday. Last night, after my cousin flew in to say goodbye along with her siblings, he quietly slipped away in her arms, leaving us to reunite with his waiting bride after 13 years apart.

Ecru, Brute?
Tuesday June 14th 2022, 9:40 pm
Filed under: Knit

Colourmart, which deals in mill ends, sent an email. Things were a little slow, so they cut prices in half on a few silks and cashmeres for the week. (Note that you can pay them $5 per cone at checkout to twist the finer stuff into a thicker yarn.)

Thirteen dollars for 150g, and it still did the 22% discount for buying six. Now that was a deal. They say the US postal service now basically requires a tracking fee that they can’t afford to cover, but I could deal with that.

There are those who are even allergic to cashmere, but everyone I’ve ever known has been able to tolerate silk and I’ve worked with and know that yarn so I’m pretty pleased about it.

It’s been a goodly while since I added to my stash simply to have it on hand for when it’s needed. I have a feeling it will be. Because it’s too good to let it just sit there.

Morello tart cherry color?
Monday June 13th 2022, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,Knitting a Gift

English Morello tart cherries for a pie, second round of ripening.

Did I get them pitted yet? I did not. But I did knit a good start of a cashmere cowl and two and a half rows on the coral reef, which goes so slowly that I have committed myself to a row a day. Minimum. Even if that row takes an hour. That way I don’t get discouraged and I do get to see progress.

The colors themselves say hey come play with me! That brilliant Matisse blue is toned down somewhat by what’s within it and they’re brightened by the Matisse.

Meantime, I have suddenly and in great delight been requested to make a baby blanket for the best-friend-of. So now I know what my plain-knitting respite project from the craziness of the colorwork is going to be after I finish that cowl; I just have to pick which yarn it’s going to be.

How do you ask someone what various colors might mean to them culturally when you want it to be a surprise?

To be continued.

That took dedication
Sunday June 12th 2022, 9:48 pm
Filed under: Life

The summer I was ten, we drove around the country, coast to coast, Mexico for an afternoon and Canada for, inadvertently, two weeks while we waited for a part to be shipped in to repair our family’s camping trailer while we were stuck at Moose Mountain Provincial Park.

We played volleyball over the little camping-friendly net we’d packed until someone mis-bopped the ball into the campfire. It did a slow zzzzzzzleflop.

There was a radio station that was holding a contest and first place prize was a week’s vacation in Regina, Saskatchewan. Second place prize? Was two weeks’ vacation in Regina.

Not quite sure how Regina felt about that.

But anyway.

At some point in–I want to guess Colorado?–we stopped by a cousin of my dad’s.

She was older. She lived in a stone house. It was perfect. I had never seen anything like it and I completely fell in love and promised myself that someday I, too, would live in a stone house. I’d still like to, to the point of having priced out adding such a facade to the front of ours and noping out.

My cousin Heidi sent this link. And yay verily it is indeed a stone house. And then some. I mean, I mean, just…wow.

In hot water now
Saturday June 11th 2022, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Life

Having to call on a Saturday you know is never going to be good. I asked Richard if we should just wait till Monday, because it wasn’t actually cold yet, but he insisted on getting it done because I like me a comfy warm shower. I love that man.

I went looking. The contractor whom we’d spent $2000 on a weekend hot water heater replacement call, a company that only did water heaters but also the ones who were available when no plumbers we knew were, had emailed me the receipt. Hunting at the speed of Gmail is definitely the way to go–there it was. March last year. Date, amount, phone number, name of the company, everything. Yes it’s past a year, but one can hope.

It turns out the warranty was for six years on parts, which no plumber has ever offered us before, and given how we’ve gone through water heaters, that extra amount paid for itself today.

It turns out the reason the shower was barely lukewarm the last two days was not that the thing was failing–it already had. It was that it’s been so hot the last two days that that’s how our water got warmed enough to still be tolerable in the morning. Barely, but it was. The water heater is in kind of its own little cubby and the only access to it is from outside; protected, temp wise, but not much. So, yeah, the guy said the gas had been cut off altogether and that it was an expensive part. But it was covered.

$179 worth of labor later, not only is it fixed, he said this was a new model that turned out to be having lots of problems with that part so not only did he replace it, he replaced it with an older type that was more reliable.

I think that was the cheapest fix-it call we’ve ever had.

He emailed me the receipt.

Checking the apricots after it hit 96F
Friday June 10th 2022, 9:39 pm
Filed under: Garden

The two survivors of this year’s apricot plantings. The really nice one promised to Eric and Aubrie, front and center here with the new reddish leaves coming in at the top.

And then there’s this one. It is actually still alive, marginally, but all it’s done since its first five leaves came out is to lose two of them. We could call it an inch tall if it stood on its tippy toes. It was going to go to some friends, back when it was sprouting and showing promise, but… Good thing I decided to make it prove it was worthy of them first.

Basically, this is going to be my year for saving Anya kernels rather than giving seedlings other than the one.

Two people that I know of got two baby trees each from kernels I mailed them last fall and theirs are actually growing. Good. They got the right seeds, then.

Thursday June 09th 2022, 9:57 pm
Filed under: History

The first January 6th committee public hearing. Covered by every news network except the Murdochian one that just lost its last claim on the word.

I saw some of that day as it was happening, riveted in fear on our Constitutional self-911. But this. The video that punctuated points of testimony, the visceral reminder again and again of just how bad it was. Officer Edwards’ testimony and hug afterwards with Officer Sicknick’s widow.

Cheney laid out the case like a gifted prosecutor.

She only named one particular Pennsylvania Congressman who went to Trump seeking a pardon for what he’d done on Trump’s behalf (of course Trump blew him off because the cruelty was always the point with him) but it was clear there were going to be more names to come.

It felt like Justice Herself walked into that room tonight and took a seat. We’ve waited so long. But as the old K-Tel ads used to say in my childhood, But wait–there’s more!

(On a side note: my email works again! Yay Richard!)

Wednesday June 08th 2022, 9:21 pm
Filed under: Life

I did a quick grocery run and walking into Trader Joe’s, some random tall guy with a square face and fading blond hair just ahead of me took one look and his face instantly lit up into the biggest smile.

I…like most women, don’t go around encouraging strange men to maybe follow me around, so I gave a polite nod back and went about my business. That’s just how it is, and that was fine.

Our paths crossed again coming out and he hesitated just a moment with that radiant smile again, like he’d found a friend and it made him so happy and he wanted somehow to share that, and this time I slowed down to give him a good smile back (with my eyes and inside the mask) to let him know I was definitely acknowledging him and appreciating the greeting and the moment.

Because it had finally hit me: what he’d seen. It wasn’t me.

It was the vyshyvanka. The Ukrainian embroidered blouse with the traditional little tassel tied at the front and more embroidery down the sleeves. He knew what that was and he knew it conveyed solidarity, whatever my own background might be.

I wonder how many people back home he told about it.

It’s perfect
Tuesday June 07th 2022, 9:43 pm
Filed under: History,Life

It came!

No bought article of clothing has ever brought me to tears before, nor was I expecting it to.

I hadn’t been at all sure it would arrive at all; I’d thought of it more as a donation on a personal level to someone in an area of the world where–well, there was one guy there who told a reporter he’d found a phone number in the glove box and called it and confessed, I’m so sorry. I’ve stolen your car. I watched it for two hours and the key was in and my family was under fire and we had to get out and I’ve taken them to relatives in the east.

Basically, along with the profound apology it was, How do I get your car back to you now? Is it even possible? Are you okay?

The man who answered the call exclaimed, Thank G_d!  He owned four cars, he told him, he’d evacuated his own family in one and he’d filled and parked the other three in areas where it seemed people were most going to need that help to get out. He couldn’t know who they were going to be but he knew he could do something about it.

Every single car had now saved people, and in every single one, they’d found the number and had called him to let him know where his car was and to apologize.

And every one heard that same grateful response.

Good people looking out for each other.

Quite a few people in Ukraine are artists doing beautiful work.

Zelensky had pleaded with people to keep paying their taxes if at all possible so that the infrastructure, the utilities, things could be kept running for the people and be repaired after shelling.

Which is a very good reason to help a small business from abroad.

No photo can convey how beautiful this soft shirt is with its radiant viscose cross-stitched embroidery and how beautiful it instantly made me feel when I put it on. (I turned one sleeve slightly sideways so you could see the pattern better.) It deserves a far better photographer than I. Whoever Marina is out there, thank you so much, and I pray every day for you and for your country.

I knew she’d wanted to. I’m thrilled she was able to: it came!

(A side note: the address that is the name of this blog at gmail is still working. Work’s been intense for the resident geek and my main one is still on the fritz.)

Come to the library
Monday June 06th 2022, 9:32 pm
Filed under: History

The first cherry pie of the season, even if it was 1/3 store-bought Rainier sweet cherries to augment my early sour ones. We celebrated with a slice after coming home from dropping off our ballots at the local 24 hour box.

Seven states are having primaries Tuesday, including California. Vote!

Man, it felt good walking away from that box, and even more so that car after car was pulling in with people getting out and doing the same, that sense of community, that sense of coming together as Americans, that sense of purpose, whatever our politics. It felt sacred.

I sent a note to the county afterwards to let them know that box was full. It’s a good problem to have, but they needed to service it pronto.

Dad’s buddy
Sunday June 05th 2022, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life

Random and then suddenly it wasn’t anymore:

A friend made a comment out of the blue yesterday, and it took me straight back to when the folks were visiting when the kids were young and Dad hoped out loud that he could get to see his old Army buddy while they were in California; when he told me the town I said that was near the Monterey Bay Aquarium, about 100 minutes away, so we could make a day trip of it all. So we did.

That moment when the two of them laid eyes on each other for the first time in 30 years. Good memories. I had been wishing for several years that I could remember the guy’s name so I could let him know his old friend had passed, if he was still around himself.

So then my inbox clogs when it has no right to and I was vacuuming up old emails and tossing them to make space (and then it jammed like an antique typewriter anyway and won’t even let me do that and I’m sorry and the resident geek will work on it tomorrow) and one of those old emails…had Dad mentioning Walt.

I had his name.

I kept that email.

I went looking for an obituary. There wasn’t one. He’s still alive. Hit by a car at 95 at the start of the year and had a long recovery ahead of him at the time.

Someone had interviewed him in spring 2020 for an oral history project, by Zoom because of Covid, and it seems almost quaint now that they were hoping that by the fall this pandemic thing would be over with.

I knew Walt had done a lot of children’s theater in Carmel and some children’s cartoons back in the day.

Turns out the early Charlie Brown TV specials? The kids’ voices? Those were his kids. Till they got too old for it while new specials were being made. Turns out his were not made in Hollywood–they were made in Burlingame, ie between my favorite yarn store I went to yesterday and here. That was a surprise.

Turns out not only was he in the Army with Dad and I was nodding my head at some of the places he got assigned to–yup, yup, Dad, too. Having never made it into any actual war zone for having been too young when it all started, he re-enlisted for Korea out of a sense of duty and ended up sent to a desk in the Pentagon. Writing he was good at. Soldiering, no way to know.

And I quote:

“And he (a Marine Corp Colonel) took me under his arm cause he knew Washington, I didn’t. So he would take

me to meetings and places where—you know—my most memorable, if want to call it that, was—he said one night to me, I want you to hear this guy, he’s gonna give a little lecture— are you busy tonight. No, I’m not busy—okay good, come with me. So we went to this place and there was a whole group of people in the room and a guy comes out and—before he’s going to speak, and this Colonel looks at me and said, I like you to meet Joe McCarthy [laughs]. And I said—and by then I already had an impression of him. And I almost—it was everything I could take to shake his hand. And I had to sit and listen to his lecture—it was like—and literally in that meeting he waived a piece of paper and said—I have a list of the communists that are in Washington. So, that I never forgot [laughs]. And—well that’s one of the memories—that’s the shocker. Eventually they got rid of me because the war ended.”

I read that and it struck me that the angry power-hungry extremists of his youth who had briefly had everybody kowtowing to them had been shamed into political oblivion not long after that infamous night.

It can be done again.

And I suddenly wonder as I type this whether a certain talented writer who witnessed it and who worked in the Pentagon played a bigger part than he said in exposing McCarthy’s words to the world.

Every reporter matters.

They had just the right ones
Saturday June 04th 2022, 7:42 pm
Filed under: Knit

So the answer is, a week ago I wasn’t ready to go to Cottage Yarns because I hadn’t done enough yet to know what I needed. Now I do. And so I went. (Quick, before I run out of the aptly-named Whales Road colorway.)

No Brownian motion
Friday June 03rd 2022, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Knit

The hardest part of a super-ambitious project is getting it off the ground and past that initial bit of self-doubt.

But if you didn’t, how else how would you ever come to discover that–okay, how long in my life did this take me–that the way to manage all those random balls of color (since I’m not doing it Kaffe Fassett each-strand-only-as-long-as-your-arms style) is to take one of those big sturdy zipped plastic bags that blankets come in, put all the balls in it as you’re working, do the usual double-yoyos process with each pair as you switch strands along the row–

–and then when you’re done knitting for now, just flip the flap over them all, zip it up, and DON’T MOVE IT. Don’t let those roll all over in there. Don’t pick it up. Just keep it flat right there hogging half the couch with everything staying right as you left it so you can unzip and just get right to the fun part the next time. Knowing you’ll have all the more incentive to.

For the next six months. Right. Yeah, that’ll be popular. But man it was so easy to just pick up right where I left off without having to spend any, much less serious knitting time untangling first.

Mr. Post would have loved this
Thursday June 02nd 2022, 9:20 pm
Filed under: Life
There was a Washington Post article today on a twelve year old kid being bullied, and how when they found out, about a hundred of the older kids at his school showed up at his homeroom to sign his yearbook. They even took him out for ice cream. They made being his friend the cool thing to do, and they showed him what it was like to have learned empathy from having been through that themselves at his age–and that they’d come out the other side where nobody was bullying them anymore.
It reminded me of a favorite English teacher in my junior high school, the tall, gentle, nearing-retirement Mr. Post, who told us he loved teaching seventh grade. He loved us. But eighth? He wouldn’t do it. Keep him in seventh, thanks. In that moment he taught me to pay attention to when people were being nice–to when *I* was being kind to others, and should always be.
(Sorry for the blog glitch with the messed-up paragraphs.)
There was a comment to the article from someone named Ted Champ that really needs highlighting and that I wish every middle-school teacher and parent out there could see.
He wrote:
“When I had a similar incident in an 8th grade class one year, I sent the student being bullied to the library and had a very honest talk with the remaining students about their behavior (all 30 of whom were involved. Peer pressure is huge at that age). I expressed my deep disappointment, and then I sat at my desk for the remaining 20 minutes, not saying a word. Just looking at them.
Without an assignment or task, the students didn’t know what to do. But eventually a few pulled out sheets of paper and began to write letters to the bullied student, then more did the same thing. When he returned at the end of the period, many were there greeting him with those apologies both in writing and in words. There were lots of tears and hugs.
There are tears as I’m writing this now, and this happened nearly 30 years ago. A powerful moment.”