Just the right colors
Sunday September 12th 2021, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

The teacher in Relief Society asked, How has some small act of kindness made a difference to you?

Heather raised her hand and said, When we were changing the ward boundaries, it was a two year process and there was a lot of feedback and pushback from people who didn’t want any changes, because who does. But it had to happen.

I nodded, remembering that time a few years ago: one ward using the building had had a lot of people move out and was sparsely populated. The other one, situated where the housing was cheaper (that would be ours) had way more people than could fit in there comfortably and they just plain needed to be balanced out, along with the others in the stake. I didn’t know that she had been one of the ones having to deal with it. All I knew about her was that I’d once asked her after a biannual stake meeting where she’d been one of the speakers if by wild chance with that unusual last name she was related to one of my husband’s old college professors.

She was stunned. She was thrilled. She sought him out, badly needing to talk to him: her dad had been diagnosed with cancer two years after we’d moved away and had died of it fairly quickly, and since she’d moved to California and that had been something like thirty years now, she needed to know someone here who had known him, someone she could talk to about her father. She missed him so much. It was a great comfort to her, and I can’t tell you how glad I was that I’d asked.

Richard had had no idea his memorable old professor was gone.

So here we are a few years later and she blew me away by saying, And I was one of the people who had to do that change to a new-to-me ward. And I wasn’t sure how (basically, how she would be received.)

And then here comes Alison on my very first day here and she’s giving me a hand knit cowl to welcome me. (Me, thinking: I did? Yeah, sounds like me.) Heather described the multiple colors and how much they were her favorites, and at that point I remembered thinking that this matches what she’s wearing–it’s definitely for her.

Heather: And she knit a scarf for every woman in the ward!

I was suddenly doing a little bit of a cringe there, because well yes I did but it took me almost two years and then so many new people moved in at the end of one summer–it’s a college town, after all–that, being in the middle of a baby blanket project and then another, I felt like I could never catch up and gave it up. Plus by that point I was so, so bored of making cowls.

My wanting to is starting to come back to me now, though, and I think it was seeing the one in my hands and needles before the meeting started that sparked her memory of that winter-friendly warmth on this hot day.

She showed me a picture of the baby hat she’s knitting for one of her colleagues who’s expecting and a sweater she’s looking forward to finishing before the weather turns.

She’s one of ours. But then I found that out the day I gave her her cowl.



Surf City!
Saturday September 11th 2021, 9:37 pm
Filed under: Life

And on a lighter note: Michelle is home!

Which means that a trip to Mutari Chocolate in Santa Cruz is in order.

So guess what I saw yesterday. And yes one of the bumper stickers does say Santa Cruz, because of course it does.



Arlo and Janis
Friday September 10th 2021, 8:03 pm
Filed under: History,Life

Twenty years ago today, this comic ran.

The author had no way to know when he sketched it out however many weeks in advance.

In my Mormon faith, we live with God as spiritual entities before this life: walking in the presence of that absolute Love and knowing nothing else.

Birth begins what is essentially the teenagerhood of our spirits: when we move out of the house and go explore the world on our own and figure out who we are. Life constantly throws things at us and, whether we know of God or not, it constantly demands that we choose how we’re going to respond–with love or by fear. We are to learn compassion. We are required to forgive, in order to be able to grow. That doesn’t mean justify, but it does sometimes mean putting it in God’s hands, saying, This is too much for me, here, You handle it. And please guide me to be able to because I need every bit of help I can get.

We are not alone: we are born with the Light of His divinity within us showing us forward if we choose to follow our consciences, that Love befriending and loving us when we come up short. As we do. As parents respond. Always present if we’re willing to see it; a little more visible every time we offer our gratitude.

Mormons believe that we will judge ourselves in the presence of that absolute Love by what we did with what we know, not by what anybody else knew. Those who chose to live by love will recognize that Love because it was always a part of them. Because they wanted it to be, they worked hard for it to be.

So many people that day.

And this one cartoonist, following a nudge whose source he could not have seen, wrote the words and drew the images so that some of those thousands or their loved ones might, in seeing them, feel it so hard that they got up and did something to prepare. For their loved ones. For what they could not know the morrow would bring. Or they said something. Or, simply, they loved a little more fully, not knowing the depth of the importance of those last few kind words and deeds.

They could not have known. He could not have known. We who know now, may we love a little more, show it a little more.

A lot more. For the gift of still being here, we owe it to each other.



Old and soft
Thursday September 09th 2021, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

(Trying to get the house ready before our daughter gets here.)

Huh! Those are still around. Who knew? But then, with all the history to it, of course it is.

It’s this yarn. That I rescued from the moths and dyed to boil any remaining eggs or larvae and knit up into seven small scarves, three of which got put into the header on my blog years ago. Yellow is the easiest color to overdye (red is the hardest) and, well, you can see what I got out of it. The yarn is from a post-War trip my folks made to France: hand-brushed pure angora.

There was still just a bit left. And still just a bit chewed up. Same as it ever was.

I put it away so that I could stumble across it again in another ten or twelve years or so and again get to remember that moment when I found that box with all those little balls of bunnytudinousness tucked away in a black cardboard box in my folks’ basement eons ago, in great delight that the great angora yarn story of yore–it still existed!

Probably should have added another layer of ziplock.



Bark patterns
Wednesday September 08th 2021, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Tonight: 9:36. He’s early. The small dog that barks every night around ten. And only a quick few arfs tonight; maybe he’s done for the night. Or, I thought, maybe we’ll be smelling the skunk in a minute. They only have so many times they can defend themselves though before they have to recharge for about a week, which of course would teach a dog that it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay to keep barking–Whoa! Hey you can’t do that to me!

Yesterday I was out working in the yard a bit near sundown and heard him–and was surprised, and not just because it was way early. I came inside and told Richard, Y’know how X’s dog barks every night? (X’s dog being known to try to chase me out of my own driveway at the top of his lungs, frustrated that I just chuckle and ignore him or, worse, bend down to his level to let him decide if he wants to come on over to sniff my hand. The nerve of me. Sometimes he even does it, too, wagging his tail and then barking again because that’s his job in his mind.)

Yeah?

It’s not X’s dog after all. Turns out there’s one over the fence from next door. That’s where it’s coming from.

He was as surprised as I was. There are two?

Their voices are very similar.

It’s always quiet by bedtime, for us, at least.

Skunk spray is more effective than inhalers for compromised lungs and it would actually help amid all this smoke, but nope, no such luck tonight.

I’m sure the neighbors don’t mind.

(Update: and of course just because I wrote about them, it is now 11:09 p.m. and it sounds like the two of them are having a bark-off out there. Perfect comedic timing, guys. 11:12–And… they stopped.)



Lopard print
Tuesday September 07th 2021, 7:57 pm
Filed under: Friends,History

It’s a weird day when you lose a battle of strength with an iris leaf.

I have special skills like that.

I was walking away from the apple tree and didn’t realize fast enough that I’d caught my foot at the edge of the iris patch and that an unknown number of leaves–possibly even just one–had wrapped around my ankle and it was not giving way, no sir.

My brain flashed the warning from my doctor: hand bones heal faster than hips. I stopped trying to twist around to see what that was that was doing that and put my hands out front and center as I fell.

So as I try to ice all the everythings, with my brain acting a little sleepy and me telling it shut up and quit complaining that was nothing and you know it brain, let me just type real fast what a friend with an interest in linguistics made me laugh over: in the 16th century, Meg says, everybody in Europe knew what a giraffe was. France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, they all had close to the same word for it, essentially the Arabic word with the z changed to a g plus whatever word ending suited.

Except England.

Because come on. EVERYBODY knows those are, as they spelled it, Camelopards. What else could they be?!



And the bee-eat goes onnnn…
Monday September 06th 2021, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Food

I always thought I should try this but I wondered just how many squirrels would suddenly show up if I put a jar of honey out in the yard. Even with the lid on. I could just see them trying to wrestle or chew it open.

None, turns out, although it was only one afternoon. I did have a fair amount of smoke dust to wipe off it at the end of the day, which shouldn’t have surprised me but it did.

They say not to microwave it. They say a pot of hot but not boiling water will do it, and for me it’s never done it. Putting it right next to a pot of soup boiling away for hours? Not that either.

But by golly a black lid, direct sunlight, an unseasonably 93F day in September, and that crystalized year-old honey was now as runny as the day the hive was rather sorry to see it go.



C’mon, guy, it’s just not this hard to understand
Sunday September 05th 2021, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

That guy again. From the stake. The one who’s been openly contemptuous of the mask requirement. The one that I have to work so hard at forgiving while he keeps on doing what he needs to be forgiven for. He always has one on now because legally he has to, not to mention the very President of the Church has said to do so as well as the County, but it doesn’t do his chin much good.

He was going to be helping the young men in our ward with the Sacrament. They wore masks and gloves and I knew would be carrying around an extra tray: each small torn piece of bread was to be distributed in its own tiny paper cup rather than piled up in a heap so that no hands touched anybody else’s; each paper cup went into the second tray when done. No mingling. Same with the water in those tiny cups. Two trays, no cross contamination. What you take, only you have touched.

Even if one visiting adult thought this was overwrought nonsense.

I said quietly to Richard before the meeting as it hit me, “It’s September! They said he was going to give a talk in September, and they were going to warn me so I could stay home and watch on Zoom.” And then it hit me further that, wait?!–it was Fast Sunday. There were no set speakers. Huh.

I am guessing he must have heard me because he yanked his mask up over his nose for the few steps that he was walking past us, eyes straight ahead. Well, I’m glad he was willing to do that, at least. There is hope yet.

And then clearly it came right back down again. The bishop, who had just sat down on the stand, stood up and hurried past us.

And texted me an apologetic note: he was surprised, too, or he would have notified me per my request. He told me he’d asked the councilman to keep his mask fully on and that he was now doing so.

I would say, having that gentle of a soul (our bishop truly is) make a request of you when you know that renowned virologist will then be able to look you in the eye throughout the meeting to come has to have been the most benign earned comeuppance ever.

Maybe he’ll learn yet.



Another big pandemic afghan
Saturday September 04th 2021, 8:40 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

I was most of the way there before the seven and a half miles of stop-and-go between here and Morgan Hill. A platform tow truck went speeding by on the shoulder. By the time I got to the damaged bus on the left, whatever the truck had come for was long gone but the cops and firemen were hands on hips at the scene.

Made it to Andy’s.

They told me people celebrating the holiday had picked his shelves clean of peaches two hours before, meaning they must have been there right when he opened, but when one can get green gauge plums and his nectarines one really cannot complain. And his slab Blenheims! Best dried apricots ever.

Turning off his road at the T on the way back, there was a wide straight length with no side streets and nobody around but me.

Along with a magnificent red-shouldered hawk on the light pole above, guarding the far edges of Andy’s trees.

I double checked in case anyone had turned back there, nope, and then simply stopped to observe for a moment. I never do that. But there was nobody, and a great deal of room to go around me: a road built for development that hasn’t happened yet. (And yes that breaks my heart. I want that farm to stay so bad.)

The hawk turned in no particular hurry and looked back over its shoulder down below at me with a bird’s best impression of a cocked eyebrow, like, Uh, okay? Tell me what’s so interesting here?

But at that, someone did turn onto the road back there a ways and I nodded good day to it and moved on.

On the freeway, two identical privately owned buses now, moving stranded passengers over.

Came home, crashed a moment (wait. That might not be the best word today), ate a bite, revived–and, looking at the calendar and the idea of not being able to get that project off the ground before Tuesday, got back in the car and headed north this time. Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco. And yes Katherine does mail order. She recently got a big shipment of Malabrigo everything and is well stocked, but says they warned her that with the pandemic it could be months before they could get big shipments out again.

The great wool apocalypse that knitters tease each other about? This right now is what a good stash has been for all along.

And mine was lacking in that particular washable version.

Now, at long last, I think I have enough Mecha colors and enough variations on those colors to knit what my eyes need to make it come to be.



Figs and peaches
Friday September 03rd 2021, 8:37 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden

About this many a day now. Early September in the garden.

Which reminds me, I ought to be opening up the first pomegranate soon to see how the little geodes are coming along.



To a better company
Thursday September 02nd 2021, 9:54 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

I’d been asking for weeks, but there was only one person running the office: the others were out sick. “Not with covid,” I was reassured by the woman trying to hold down the fort. Well, that could be a relief or, given the length of time at that point, for their sakes I was in no way sure that it was.

But deadlines help with the business at hand and mine was next week.

And so the agent sat down and by appointment, she at her computer and me at home at mine, we figured out how much coverage and how much I wanted to have to pay, in endless detail, with the occasional this-okay-by-you? in Richard’s direction.

Earthquake coverage with a $166,000 deductible? We’d seriously have to fork over that much cash first before they’d pay a dime? I, I, just, no. Ok, so, this much more a month even if it’s a truckload.

She told me the companies are all expecting The Big One and prices have risen accordingly. Well then. The rest of you heard that here first, right? You cannot buy earthquake insurance for so many months after we have one–they’re not paying for aftershock damage to people who didn’t come on board earlier, which makes sense. I remember lying in bed after the 7.1 Loma Prieta with it feeling like we’d somehow gone back to having that terrible waterbed from early in our marriage back when those were a big thing: endless, endless ripples passing through underneath. The earth playing skipping stones from here to there across the surface.

I knew I was very fortunate to even be having today’s conversation as the fires rage a few hours north. But we are in the only part of the state whose statistical chance of wildfire was pegged at zero last year, though I’m less sure they would say so this year.

Any other customers emailing or calling, she had to deal with them, too, any lags in the insurance company passing on my questions, that was another wait that had to happen. Gold and silver? I laughed. We got married when gold and silver hit the highest in history (at the time). There is no silver. We have no gold. We were students. Our wedding bands were a bunch of my father-in-law’s melted-down 22k tooth fillings that had fallen out and been saved–he’d always wanted to see if he could recast them and so he and his dentist friend did. Jewelry? Does a little bit of turquoise count? We do have stainless steel cutlery.

She had blocked out two hours in her day to get this account done.

I had no problem sitting quietly waiting for, looking up and noticing, and answering each new email as it came in. Potato-chip knitting is good for that.

Yarnloveyarn.com’s Magic Forest color way in dk merino. Bought from the yarn-stocked delivery truck that was driven right onto the convention center floor at Stitches West two and a half years ago. Choosing that skein was a declaration that next year’s event, moved to Sacramento or no, was going to happen and I intend to go. Clearing out my Stitches stash, one skein at a time, is my insurance plan for that.



Roberts dissented
Wednesday September 01st 2021, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life,Politics

Texas passed the intended death of Roe v. Wade and Trump’s appointees allowed it to stand today. Meaning it is now in effect, arguments and lawsuits to come or not, and every woman there who might ever need an abortion for any reason must have it done no more than two weeks after her period is late. And if you drive her to another state for it even a day later, anyone can sue you and collect a bounty.

And then there’s Katy.

Katy is a friend of mine of 34 years whose second, much-wanted, much-anticipated pregnancy years ago turned into a molar pregnancy: meaning, it stopped developing into a baby at all and started growing wildly, randomly, and at the speed of fetal cells was rapidly turning into what was going to be a cancer taking over her body. Her blood pressure skyrocketed.

She spent sixteen days in a coma. Having been a professional flutist, she had to relearn how to play. She had to relearn a lot of things. She had a major seizure as she was finally coming to, so she spent years on seizure meds, and that medical history in this state means being unable to drive. When they finally eased her off them many years later there was a risk of sparking another grand mal. But she lucked out and she finally got to feel like herself again.

She was devastated at losing the pregnancy but the doctors told her it had no longer been one and they had had no choice but to remove it to save her life–it had been a very very near thing as it was. It was not and could not ever have become a baby.

And now under the charming Governor Abbott and his collaborators, anyone, anyone at all, would have the right to violate HIPAA over the medical history of someone they don’t even know and to collect $10,000 from Katy’s husband for driving her to the hospital to save her life. Because, technically, since that mess was in her womb that was an abortion.

Had he not, their oldest would have grown up without his mom.

Had he not, the two children who came along later, giving great comfort to both of them, would never have come to be and let me tell you, the world would have been a lesser place without those great kids and their mom.

Biology is messy. Life is imperfect. You have to allow people to make choices you disagree with–and I am no great fan of abortion, let me be clear–in order to save those choices for those who would die without the right to make them.

To the men in Texas who think requiring a face mask is a violation of one’s rights but dictating medical and lifetime outcomes to women is not, we have a Constitution that protects all religions from the adherents of any other one, and as I understand it, under Jewish law, the life and health of the mother come first. And–here I’m less sure of myself, please correct me if I’m wrong–the spirit is thought to enter the body at the first breath of life. Before that it’s just parental happy anticipation.

Texas’s law cannot stand. It must not. The only thing it accomplishes is punishing women and those who love them for the sake of the political aspirations of a few men who don’t give a damn about anybody but themselves. They are the biblical Pharisees passing by on the other side of the road from the wounded, punishing any Good Samaritan in sight.



A ride home
Tuesday August 31st 2021, 9:27 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I walked in the door and told my very tall husband, That was bizarre. And if you had come with me I don’t think it would have happened.

I’d gone to do a quick run to Trader Joe’s, and while I was loading up my car, there was a woman I’d say in her early 20s standing nearby, looking around, with a backpack that I registered as being full of groceries she’d just bought. She was wearing the sweatshirt of one of the local universities.

She stepped forward and asked me a question. Since one wears masks in public here, I couldn’t lipread: it took her three if not four tries.

Turns out she needed a ride home. Near the high school my kids went to? Sure, that wasn’t very far, I’d be glad to. (It would have been a very long walk, but in a car, no big deal.) But I made it clear that I’m quite deaf and I was really going to need help getting her to the right place and she would have to be loud to help me navigate it right.

She asked me where I lived and I waved offhandedly in the opposite direction and said it didn’t matter.

She was from a demographic that has not been treated well the last few years in particular, and she was young and female–I have no doubt I looked safe and it was probably a relief to her to find me, and indeed, I was feeling protective of her, given that it was going to get dark soon.

We made conversation as best we could as I drove.

She asked me how many grandchildren I had, then couldn’t help but exclaim, Six?!

She asked me what I did before I retired. I smiled at that. I told her I had always planned to go back to work after my kids were in school and the first day my youngest was, I was rear-ended and it took me several years to recover from that accident. (I didn’t say, or the worse one half a dozen years later.) And I was hit with a major autoimmune disease. (Two, but one only inflicts so much information on acquaintances.) I had plans, I told her, but life kept happening to me–and it’s okay that it did.

I told her my one claim to fame was that I wrote a knitting book that was #1 on Amazon in its category for awhile.

She thought that was so cool and immediately looked it up.

I told her, You don’t have to do that, no worries!

She wanted to. As I pulled over, she wanted to pay me for the ride, and I said, You needed help and I could do it, so, that’s what you do when you can. You’ll find someone who will need your help later.

And then.

She tried to open up and tell me a little more of her own history.

While I sat there wholly inadequate because I couldn’t hear, when this time she clearly really needed me to. She tried, she got frustrated, I immediately sympathized with her and said I was so sorry. She was immediately sympathetic back and glad I wanted to hear her out even if I couldn’t–she was a good soul, whoever she was, and I hope life turns out really well for her. But I got enough to know that it’s been rough of late and she didn’t know where to turn.

I tried to think fast of the best way to tell her where to find whatever kind of help it was that she needed, but in the end all I knew for sure was how to be the deaf grandmother who went out of her way and wished her the best and was glad to offer a stranger a ride home. To show her that other people cared.

She had me move forward a bit more and stop in front of a different house, and I said I always wait to see women get safely inside their homes–but then I figured out pretty fast she wasn’t sure she wanted a stranger to know where she lives. And that’s okay. And so I let her be and drove on.

My sweetie considered all this and had some concerns; I told him, I did, too–and yet: I’d do it again. Someone needed help, I could help, so you do.



Because who doesn’t want a free band-aid? Right?
Monday August 30th 2021, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I gave him a quick heads-up when he had a moment’s break in his work day with, “I’m off to go get my flu shot.”

He did a double take. “A flu shot,” he answered, with recognition dawning in his voice in slow motion: like, Oh yeah. That type. I remember those. (We’d discussed covid boosters at length but we can’t do anything about them yet.)

To be fair, I’d interrupted his train of thought.

I wonder: how on earth did they decide what strains would be running rampant this winter, traveling east to west as they track them, when everybody stayed inside and most people in the world wore masks like they should and just about nobody was getting the flu?

Just covid. So much covid here.

Okay, well, whatever, I did it, which means he’ll get around to it soon, too. September 9 one year I was sent to the ER with serious flu complications and I’m never waiting that long again.



Post-op get-well basket
Sunday August 29th 2021, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

The elementary-school-age son of friends had had to have his appendix out, they told us; he was home now.

This is the family I gave Anya apricots to just before we left town to see the Washington grands and they’d carefully saved all the seeds for me. At the insistence of one of the boys, the pits from the rare-variety cherries he’d eaten, too. I was charmed and quietly told the parents that when the dad finishes his PhD I’m hoping to send them off into the world with a potted cherry tree grown from their son’s thoughtful gesture.

I couldn’t make their younger son’s stitches heal faster but I know they love a good fruit, so I could at least distract him a bit. I offered peaches bought yesterday at Andy’s; they said, Yes please!

I put just a couple from my tree in there with them. I confess the ones I’d tasted so far were drops (so many drops) and they weren’t great, but I figure when it falls off the tree into your hands as you walk by then it’s pretty much trying to claim it’s as ripe as it’s going to get and I hoped those would live up to my memory of them. It’s been so dry and the smoke blocks the UV and interferes with the sweetening of the fruit.

Walking up the stairs to their apartment, box in one hand, cane in the other, I watched in dismay as an Andy’s slipped out and bounced down to a story below. I pointed that one out as needing to be eaten first.

They’d once brought over their orange Flemish Giant for us to pet, the easiest-going rabbit you could ever hope to meet. And big!

I did not know they had two bunnies. Nor had I ever heard of a Lionhead. It looked just like the cute little gray fluffball at the top of that page, with A. explaining that she’d just clipped its fur around its forehead so it could see. It was adorable.

It was willing to let me pet it for a little while but only a little while and it was not willing to accept a walnut from me yet. I was a stranger. It was going to take more than one in-person time. It did not believe in instantly trusting all big things like its housemate, and that’s okay.

As we adults were talking, the younger son slipped away to the other room, reappearing a few times with a bounce (man, I never looked that good after surgery. Kids are amazing. But he’s too young for the covid vaccines and I kept my mask on.) The twelve-year-old stuck around a bit longer.

I said something to him about my Indian Free peaches not comparing to Andy’s and he looked at me steadily, munching away on one of mine, and pronounced, “It’s better.”

I don’t know if he was being sweet or if he just lucked out on a really good one but he most certainly made my day.