One woman, under Dobbs, no liberty, no justice at all
Thursday February 29th 2024, 9:48 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

Wow. Linda Greenhouse nailed it.

When a woman wants an abortion, for medical reasons or social no matter how dire, it’s her fault and her problem.

When a couple is denied in vitro while trying to have a baby, there is a man being denied what he wants–and that is why Republicans in Alabama and the like are scrambling to affirm and reinstate in vitro in spite of their Supreme Court judge’s invocation of anti-Constitutional theocracy re zygotes.

I will say it again, the Mormon Church’s official stance on abortion is that it is between a woman, her doctor, and her God. Nobody else’s opinion should rule re pregnancy but the one who has to live it.

Wednesday February 28th 2024, 10:18 pm
Filed under: History,Life

He asked us, and nobody knew.

He asked them, and they knew who.

He grew up where I did and went to the same Cabin John Regional Park that we knew well.

They changed the subject (I remember that discussion and thinking, but that’s not what he’s asking, folks) and talked about climbing in the fighter jet or riding the train. I silently remembered being able to watch a beehive at work from inside the train building and being reassured the bees could only exit to outside.

Everybody remembered the Porky the Litter Eater‘s trash-mouthing: you push a button and you get to hear the recording of Porky telling you that he likes to eat trash. You put paper in his mouth and it whooshes away. I remember us kids standing in line to get a chance to feed him and listen to his loud Oink oink oink!

And there was a totem pole.

As a kid I wasn’t sure what to make of all those faces looking woodenly over us: did they approve? The grownups said it was carved by hand, and that was cool, so, okay.

So here’s this guy who paid more attention to it than I ever did, who now lives in Alaska and credits some of his interest in the place to that totem pole, and who had always wondered what the story was behind how a children’s park just outside Washington, DC got one installed. A genuine Native totem pole. What it had meant to–somebody, enough to get it there.

Fifty-eight years later the history of it seemed lost to time.

So he posted to a group in Alaska, and right away got, My father-in-law helped carve that! They had not only not forgotten there, they still had the program from the ceremony.

Alaska Public Media has the story. And a photo of the guy at Cabin John Park, and man does that take me back.

So then I found this description of why totem poles were built and what they represent. The art of creating them started making a comeback after it finally became illegal to loot them and sell them to museums out from under the communities.

The Cabin John one was commissioned and paid for and that father-in-law got to work on it as an 18-year-old apprentice. I hope he made many more. I just love that he was right there when his daughter-in-law got to tell him, Hey, Dad, people in Maryland want to know about that one you made them!

The sunflower
Tuesday February 27th 2024, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Garden

It…looked like maybe a sunflower plant was coming up in the fabric pot I’d cleared the dead ones out of? But in December?

It had its own take on that.

Huh. I was in the middle of emptying and getting rid of those pots; they do help plants grow great root structures as advertised but they dry out every day and we just can’t spend water like that here. But I decided that one stayed for now because I was curious–which was easy to do as I left it on its own. This rainy season was off to a worryingly slow start (even if it’s made up for it since.) But still, there it was, and in that fast-drying environment no less. I tried to move the pot under the safety of the awning–but even though it was not tall, the roots had grown through and into the soil, and they held. Ah. Now I understood. It stayed.

We had frosts, and of course the low light of winter. It survived.

According to The Internet That Thinks It Knows All, sunflowers can take 25F temps as long as it doesn’t stay that way too long; the flowers and buds won’t bloom nor produce seed, though.

And yet. The big bud on top, the one that took every frost, it’s even trying to seed, too. So we’ll see how it goes. But of all my summer plants, to see this one come up, to watch its uncommon and unexpected resilience against the coldness and the diminishing of light, it does me good to see that it is the flower of Ukraine that made it through the winter. Blooming, despite all that says it can’t now. Because that is simply what it’s going to do. 


Officially older
Monday February 26th 2024, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Life

Form signed, face normal, days’ worth of intermittent fever over, and back to the Social Security office at long last.

This time, a mom with two kids came in and the younger one was getting antsy. My specialty. A pink panda and a hippo and the mom and I made friends on the spot.

After weeks and weeks of carrying it around I finally got that purple cowl to the point where I just need to finish the repeat it’s on, bind it off and call it done.

They seemed better staffed this time and they had the thirteen people ahead of me out in less than an hour.

The woman who handed me that form to fill out last time was dour and efficient. The guy who took care of me this time was young, cheerful, helpful, and efficient.

I walked out of there so giddy at having the thing done done done! that it surprised me. I hadn’t realized it had been bugging me that much. One letter in the mail from them and the classic Medicare+supplement plan will officially be a go.

As my friend Donna marveled out loud to me yesterday, How did *we* get to be the older ones?

And then, just before getting in my car, I told the middle-aged guy who was struggling with a walker and trying to get his dad out that the door to the building was a long way down on the other side and the parking over there was open now, including handicapped spaces. He might want to drive over there instead.

He thanked me very much and was putting the walker back in the trunk with his dad’s door closed again as I turned my wheel and out onto the street.

She always brought people together
Sunday February 25th 2024, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Eleven years. So she was 79 when she drove here from Woodside.

Mary (her website) was a musician, a composer, and a woman much admired for her gentle graciousness. She was also a knitter. That post is about the day we got the call that my mother-in-law’s cancer had finally taken her, and Mary’s showing up for us, having no idea, meant so much.

She was 90. Her funeral yesterday was overflowing with people come to pay their respects. I went, but there were so many stories to be told by the speakers that I just could not wait to mingle afterwards; I absolutely had to get home and take my next antibiotics dose. I’m not messing up on those, and I didn’t have it with me.

Thus my surprise at church today when I did a double take, stopped dead in my tracks in astonishment, and then threw myself into Kim’s arms. Then Karl’s. Thirty-two years since they’d moved to Colorado, thirty-two, our kids were babies together! But they had come. Because of Mary and all the love she had brought into their lives, all these years later, they had to come.

We’d lived here about six months when Karl had mentioned to someone that the person they were talking about was actually his great-grandfather. Richard heard that and went, wait–that’s my wife’s great grandfather! And that’s how we found out we were second cousins.

And old friends too, catching up. Man, it felt so good.

One last gift from our Mary, and you could just see her smiling up there over it.

Nature does it best
Saturday February 24th 2024, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit

Mid-afternoon we found ourselves having the first warm day of the year along with our first peach blossoms. It was 75F.

I celebrated by knitting a few more of my own on the left after snapping this picture (a bit scrunched together on the 40″ needles.) Side edges to be added later.


Eye contact
Friday February 23rd 2024, 9:17 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

Since I wasn’t the first patient of the day this time and I happened to be at a point in the afghan where it had fewer strands than usual, I decided to take it with me. I figured there would be more waiting time. (There was.) I don’t usually consider it a portable project but I wanted to–show off, yes, but also to sort of introduce myself with it now that we were seeing each other for the third time: this is who I am. This is what I do.

The lab report had come in this morning. Staph.

I am really lucky it responded to those antibiotics. I promised I absolutely was going to continue to follow through to the end on them.

She worked on the site some more and I’m to come back next week and the next and to wear this tape over my eyebrow for a month. It absorbs the topical antibiotic for you while protecting the incision.

I have wondered if she’s blamed herself for my picking up that infection three weeks after that biopsy. But it was in no way her fault. She had prescribed that same ointment then and I’d thought, A, it’s just a pinprick, B, antibiotic overuse is not something I want to contribute to, and C, I’m allergic to so many of those that it would just blow up and itch and we wouldn’t know for sure if it was an allergy or what and why go through all that.

Actually, in normal life I’m really good at following doctor’s orders or speaking up with questions but wow did I blow it on that one. I’m using the stuff now, that’s for sure.

Given how much she had exclaimed over the afghan when she walked in, I totally had my confirmation re knitworthiness.

So as she was getting ready to go, trying not to take too much extra of her time I told her that I’d finished this one this morning (I’d finally run the ends in) and then offered her a choice: a soft Mecha hat in earthy oranges and purples with an Arrows lace pattern to it or a leaf lace infinity scarf in a soft off-white. That one was cashmere. (I didn’t say the secret-knitter’s-word cowl because I’d had to explain that an afghan meant a blanket. Her accent is slight but that meaning for that word had escaped her education to that point. And that was okay.)

She chose the cashmere, as I was sure she would, swooning over the both of them and in disbelief that I was sharing it with her.

And now she will never have to wonder how I feel about her work. She cares and she’s good at what she does and man did it feel great to be able to offer that view of herself back to her.

More reassurance
Thursday February 22nd 2024, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Life

I thought about it for about a nanosecond, but, nah, you don’t want to see a picture.

In the morning I’ll be back at the doctor’s who did that little bit of surgery. I’m hoping to get a little less Frankensteined.

She sent me the new biopsy results in great detail, some of which I will have to run past the family microbiologist for translation. Basically, it was a benign tumor of a hair follicle with the complications we already pretty much figured out–inflammation and infection, as I read that. But she made sure I knew that that particular one was never going to turn cancerous. Even though, rarely, that general type can.

Having had a squamous-celled growth removed from that same eyelid decades ago, that was very good to hear.

Upside-down pie
Wednesday February 21st 2024, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

I’m knitting all these peach and apricot trees and wishing for summer fruit.

So: take a bag of frozen fruit, berry mix, peaches, cherries, whatever grabs you. A typical one here is 12 ounces. Mix about a tablespoon of cornstarch (depending on preference, size of the bag, juiciness of the fruit after thawing–it’s all a guess anyway) with sugar. A quarter cup sugar with 12 ounces of tart berries begged for ice cream, a generous third cup sugar was too sweet for me and he thought it was great. But I interrupt. Sugar+cornstarch, then pour in your bag of frozen fruit and mix it all up really well in that two quart bowl made by Mel and Kris since you want to do visual justice to the goodness to come.

Cover with a plate and microwave. Stop and stir every few minutes, especially at the beginning. Remember that the cornstarch will thicken as it cools, especially if you put enough in but the amount really doesn’t matter all that much, you just want to make sure you get that fruit good and cooked.

Spoon it into pretty bowls. Mentally thank friends Kris and Mel again.

Take the good excuse you have right there for buying those Trader Joe’s cinnamon graham crackers that are so crunchy they shatter: break them up over the top of your bowl of what’s essentially now pie filling. Eat it before they get soggy.

The kind of side effect you want
Tuesday February 20th 2024, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Life

7:20, right on time even though my alarm hadn’t gone off (the sound, yes, the vibrations I needed to know that it was sounding, no) and it was a mad scramble.

The antibiotics, started Friday evening, had helped some. Not quickly and not entirely but most of the swelling, which by Sunday had gone from a half inch above the eyebrow to most of my cheek, was gone on Monday. Just the upper eyelid still. Yay.

She had wanted to see it.

And so bright and early she was physically removing that persistent infectious thumbprint’s worth. A new, topical antibiotic (but continue with the oral one.) Come back Friday.

And hopefully that will end that.

But you know what? Back in–October I think? October’s when my sister got her afghan. But just before I sent it off I found the big metal yarn needle I’d dropped by getting up from the floor and putting my knee on it.

Two or three weeks later that knee started being achey and a little stiff–but on the side now, not where I’d skewered it, which was healing. The pattern of hurting in the morning and then easing off was typical of lupus, so, eh. It wasn’t terrible.

Still, I’ve thought for months now that I really ought to drag myself to the doctor over it just in case something was going on because none of my other joints were doing that.

Those antibiotics that are only mostly-helping on my eye socket seem to have completely cured my knee. All that time and it was that easy to fix? At long long last all that is entirely gone and it is wonderful.

Monday February 19th 2024, 9:04 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit

 There are a lot of palm products out there these days, which means there’s a lot of coconut coir looking for a market. It’s being sold as a substitute for peat pots for gardeners, among other things.

But according to one gardening forum, it removes potassium from the soil, which keeps your plants from being able to create leaves. They’ll be stunted at best.

Which is why this apricot seedling grew all of three inches last year and looked like this.

Once I’d read that warning, I peeled the coir away from the two apricots so afflicted and hoped for the best. (Most of my vegetable sprouts in those pots simply died.)

It also explained why nothing ever grew within five feet of the trunk of the date palm we used to have and not a blade of grass grew there for five years after it was gone. Bare dirt. Even Californian weeds couldn’t take it on.

In its first day of the new season this Anya descendant grew leaves that are about as big as last year’s ever were and it was such a treat to see the first sign of spring–and from that particular plant. I think it’s going to be fine.

The history
Sunday February 18th 2024, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Years ago, San Jose had a new city hall with an HVAC ledge with a half-wall eighteen stories up. (And every time I look at it I think of whoever didn’t bother to smooth that sloppy upper surface down because surely nobody would ever lay eyes on it. Hah!)

A yearling female peregrine falcon spotted it, decided that cliff would make a great and well-protected territory, and claimed it. A male peregrine spotted her and it and decided that was a deal worth waiting around for a year for while she grew up. Peregrines were still vanishingly rare then as the species recovered, and who knew if he might ever get another chance at a mate and a territory.

Remote-control cameras were set up, and by the time they were actually ready to nest a biologist had put a wooden box with gravel in it for them to lay their eggs into. Wildlike.

And thus began the San Jose City Hall peregrines. Some may remember that I was on that camera crew for a season.

Last year with the avian flu decimating local populations we had a pair and expectations of egg laying any day–and then the female was found on the ground dying. Positive for flu. The male apparently did, too.

Another pair came in. Courtship ensued. The male vanished.

A yearling male found the place and a female who gave him the side-eye at first. But sometimes yearlings can pull it off and there were no adults around fending him off or trying to take over so she let him stay, and the one viable egg she laid may have been his or may have been the previous male’s–but whatever, they were an established pair with a territory now and they raised young together.

He’s an adult now and they’ve been having a good start to the season.

Today a yearling female found this great place to claim!

Now, a good reason why juvenile raptors have different plumage from the adults is so that the adults won’t attack them, just give them notice that this is taken, mosey on along now, young’un, shoo.

But she didn’t want to.


(She’s a teenager.) No! Not gonna! You can’t make me!

At first it was just the male swooping at her; then the female joined in. They didn’t go talon-to-talon attacking, they just dive-bombed close enough that she ducked again and again and again, her feathers a-kimbo, nearly falling off the ledge but determined. It was quite the show.

But at last she went on her way.

Which means, if anything happens to the current female, there will be a new one likely watching and waiting to step right in. And peregrine falcons, even juveniles, will adopt and raise any nestlings if they don’t have any of their own to watch over.

That male’s got a pretty sweet deal going.

And our nest just got a bit of an insurance policy.

Barking up the wrong tree
Saturday February 17th 2024, 9:00 pm
Filed under: Knit

Actually, the bark part is fine.

The left side of the (creek–East Coast description, river–West Coast description) has peach trees, with two strands of orange for the fruit, while the right side has one strand of that orange and one strand of a lighter shimmery silk/cashmere for the apricots.

The distractions of pain and feeling unwell played into this (they’ve put me on antibiotics now after all), but, when I started in on some new branches this morning I used both oranges and didn’t notice till after three rows.


Well that felt dumb.

I could spend five or six hours ripping and redoing it; intarsia is slow, frogging intarsia with fragile yarns is even slower.

Or not. I decided early on with this project that there would be no mistakes here, just new ways of looking at things.

One of my kids did a semester abroad living on the Left Bank in Paris. Now it’s your turn, little apricot!

Check’s mate
Friday February 16th 2024, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Friends,Knit,Life

(I’ve never seen an amaryllis quite like this before. I was going to take its picture outside but this is as far as it got.)

So it turns out the rules have been changed re those phytosanitary certificates: credit cards only. Which was the opposite of the previous rule and it surprised me because usually government entities in California don’t want the surcharges from the banks. If I could come back down, I was asked–or, she offered very generously, she could drive to my house for it.

It seemed a very small amount of money to waste that much of her time over and they were busy; I could come, no problem.

So there I was again.

I waited till she was done and then said, I don’t know if you’re allowed to accept it in your job. But I like to spend my Zoom meetings making simple hats that I don’t have to look at my hands for, and then find people to give them to. I’d love to offer you one.

I’d brought four to choose from, and she oohed and aahed over how pretty they were.

It looked like a work-from-home day for everybody else I’d seen the previous time. As we chatted briefly I bragged a little on my afghan project; she considered that a moment and said, It’s like a quilt, only in knitting.

I thought that was a really cool way to look at it.

But she said reluctantly that I was right, she wasn’t allowed to accept one. I tucked the hats away and said that I was going to think of her, then, when I looked at them.

With great fondness, too. I was glad I’d not only gotten to meet her but that life had offered us that little encore. All the best to her. And Ellen had gotten her tree safe and sound!

Making faces
Thursday February 15th 2024, 9:26 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

(Medical stuff. Sorry. Here, let me throw an afghan picture in there. Wait. Does that creek look like a top-down sock with the toe needing kitchenering to anybody other than me?)


It’s weird, I said.

It IS weird, the doctor answered.

The lump started growing back last week. At first I thought it, nah, couldn’t be, that’s just from the biopsy.

But then it grew by the day, quite a bit faster than the first time (which was Thanksgiving to Jan. 9), going from a hard little round thing hidden under the skin to a large swollen angry red spot that someone in a lupus group Zoom meeting yesterday commented on–she could see it.

The original had never gotten to that point.

I messaged the eye doctor two days ago. This time it wasn’t an occasional small twinge, either, it was definitely painful and itchy. I got an appointment for next Friday.

By yesterday the only reason I wasn’t running to the clinic to see any doctor, anybody! was that I had a long-scheduled dermatology check today. And dermatology seemed a logical place anyway.

So there I was.

She looked at the pathology report to reassure herself of the biopsy having been negative. But then how–?

So. The lump is gone, the lump is back, it’s thumbnail sized and the eyelid is red and puffy. I picked up a prescription for a steroid cream and came home exhausted and starting to feel a little feverish.

After about an hour with my feet up, without even having done or taken anything yet, there was the most unexpected sensation: like it was receding. A little, but, hey! I got up and looked in the mirror and my eyelid did look less puffy and it hurt less. Huh! Yay! I’ll take it!

But now my upper cheek was. And it wasn’t when she snapped a picture for the other doctor. Doesn’t hurt, though.

So weird.

At least everything’s still working fine.

The dermatologist is going to keep close tabs on this with the eye doctor. She made sure I knew I was to call if I needed it for anything, any time.

It’s surely a complete non-sequitur, but I am so glad I got both my Shingrix shots!