Take a flying Leap
Wednesday February 29th 2012, 11:46 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

My son John was due Feb. 29th. He chose to wait a week so his sister could have her surgery she needed. Happy due-iversary, John!

And today is the 15th anniversary of my parents’ engagement–although, yes, Dad did the asking. Happy engage-iversary, Mom and Dad!

And what I did on their date…

Squirrels don’t learn by fear or they could never sustain themselves. But they just didn’t like that flashy flying box under the feeder. It was just me and the birds since setting it up.

Unable to stand being left out any longer, this morning a black squirrel decided at last to head for the patio to graze underneath it. If it’s safe enough for a chickadee…

But. As soon as he took the first few happy bouncy steps off that tree, Alpha, the black one with reddish highlights who fought off that big gray fox squirrel a few months ago and claimed his dominion over my yard, appeared suddenly from the base of another tree and took after him at a flat-out screaming run, out for blood. They zigged this way. They zagged that way. FAST!

And out of sight and gone.

That’s when I knew the porch was still under their surveillance. Alpha came by a little later for sustenance after that marathon, and a few nuts were tossed his way; I figure, if the place is his (add a little more motivation), he’ll keep the numbers down.

What intrigued me is that two weeks ago he couldn’t follow a line of sight of a tidbit flying past his nose; now he can. Not only that, but he’s figured out that what my finger way over here inside is doing is being his personal food GPS, and he can turn to follow as it turns.

I tested him. He was  happy to be tested. A walnut this time! He wasn’t perfect, but he was far from the hopeless nut case he was before.

Object constancy happens for his species at maturity. Happy Spring.

A big gray came by in the afternoon and made it clear that, okay, he wasn’t going near that weird swingy thing up there but that’s fine, he’d picked up a taste for the expensive peanut-and-suet I like to set out for the wrens. And they’re ground birds. It was right there waiting for him near the door.

Not! I was surprised; the squirrels all used to turn up their noses at it.

He got good at gauging how long it took me to pump the squirter, open the door and then raise the thing and actually start to squirt, how long he could ignore me before he had to make a dash for it.

That’s too aggressive-urban-squirrel for my taste. This would not do.

I got it. I took an old keyboard and leaned it against the wooden box there. Ran the cord to inside. Shut the door. Waited.

Here he swaggered. Definitely some fox-type in him, even if his ears are a bit big for it. He gradually worked his way towards that suet as if I wouldn’t notice because, you know, he was being all subtle about it, and the strangeness of that new object hadn’t kept him away long at all. But carefully, before he got close enough that it could possibly hurt him–

–I yanked his chain.

And as that electric cord flipped up and the keyboard came crashing noisily down on the concrete, you never saw any animal run like that one ran.

He did not come back.

But then, there’s a difference between fear and a dead-certain knowledge of a monster lurking waiting to pounce.


Tuesday February 28th 2012, 11:33 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

The story popped up today on the local feed that a burglary trio had just been arrested with the tools of their trade, hopefully accounting for the rash of daylight break-ins last week.

Which had given me extra cause for concern. That does help me feel a little better about yesterday’s guy.


You know how little kids like the box better than the toy? My husband saved a nifty little one from Christmas (thanks, Sam!) that a descendant of a Rubik’s cube had come in, and the best way I could describe it is that it looked like the upper part of a jazzed-up lighthouse, complete with a mirror on one of the sides and opening at the opposite. (Actually, that box in the link is the right-looking box, but Richard glancing at my screen mentions that his was a more complicated toy and, checking, Amazon doesn’t have it.)

Whichever. It is colorful and quite light. So. Yesterday (before All That) I got the bright idea to hang it by laceweight from the bottom of the birdfeeder: there would not be enough weight to set off the closing mechanism.

It took awhile for the birds to get used to it. It would be still, and they would fly tentatively in. Add momentum from lots of birds coming in for a landing and the thing would start swinging wildly below and they would all dash away.

Today they were less skittish about it. A junco even took a turn up there.

What I was hoping to do was to interrupt the squirrels’ path in their leap to the feeder.

What I hadn’t anticipated was the lack of squirrels. Not in the yard, much less on the patio. It felt oddly empty with no squirrels playing flip-flops with their tails or watching me to see what they could get away with. A gray one appeared on the fence and considered a moment but dove down towards the neighbors’ garden.

Today, a black one did finally graze a bit below the feeder when he got hungry enough, but he wasn’t having anything to do with the things he used to leap from. Wouldn’t even look up.

Like the rained-on-and-gone Margaret Thatcher cover, only with flashing light and sudden movements.

I think I’m on to something here.

Good cop, good cop, and good cop
Monday February 27th 2012, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

My neighbor had hired someone to do a day job on her trees.

My husband is a ham radio operator, and though it hasn’t happened in a long time, he’s been known to leave a radio on that will suddenly cackle out a man’s voice randomly in the middle of the day and throw me for a minute.

Which is what I thought it must be. Had to be.  (Which began growing into, it did have to, didn’t it?..!) I was doing laundry at the back of the house and I ignored it.

Till I couldn’t.

There it was again. And louder. And too clear of radio static–what on earth?! I started walking down the hallway, wondering if somehow Richard had come home in the middle of the afternoon without calling first–this doesn’t happen–and it wasn’t his voice–and wondering if I should grab a phone on my way past the one near the door in his office. Seemed way too paranoid. Didn’t.

Which was really, really, really stupid.


That one was clear as a bell.  As I came around the corner to my kitchen, there he was. Standing in the middle of my locked house in the middle of the day with me inside with him. I had never seen the man before in my life.

“How did you get IN here?!” was the only thing that could come out of my stunned mouth. I looked at the door: it was indeed still locked. And the door was wide open.

“Your car alarm is going off.” And so it was. Then he told me he knocked and it just, kinda, you know, came open when he knocked harder.

“Let me go get my keys,” as he turned and walked away down the sidewalk. While I was hoping I actually still had some, panicking when I didn’t immediately find them. I had taken them out of my purse–my purse! My purse in the other room was somehow still there, I guess he didn’t see it!–for some reason a few minutes before all this started, but do you think I remembered that now? (And yes, I was abruptly as scattered as that paragraph sounds.)

My first reaction after he left was to turn to my husband: I called him at work to ask him to be more careful about shutting the door tightly on his way out in the morning; I knew *I* hadn’t gone through that door all day. I was surprised at how shaky my voice sounded. But then, I had no idea how many strange men might still be there inside my house and how much of it this guy might have just cased.

“Alison. CALL THE COPS.”

Oh. Right. Cops. Duh. But the car alarm really was going off… (And so nicely turned itself back off before I could even get outside with those keys. This was quite a relief.)



I was on the phone with the dispatcher, watching out the window, when, a few minutes into the call, I confirmed to her, “That’s him” as the man walked down the street towards a patrol car with two officers, everything casual. Next thing I knew he seemed to be resisting and suddenly one cop had crouched straight into a ‘Freeze or I’ll shoot!’ mode and the other was putting handcuffs on the guy’s hands behind his back.

All they knew about him was that he had walked into a locked house in the middle of the day with someone home. Not exactly the social norm. They had to respond to his body language (and I have no idea what words might have been said). They had to be careful and they had to establish who was in charge.

But watching from inside, I thought I was about to see someone die because my car alarm had gone off, whatever the man’s intentions, and I turned away, unable to bear it.  At some point I looked again, and the handcuffs were off; they had talked the guy down to where things needed to be. They moved out of my line of sight towards that car.

The dispatcher had hung up and a third cop came to my door. After what seemed like forever, one of the others did too, and repeated what the first had asked me: did I want to press trespassing charges?

I asked, Was he someone on the lam with other charges pending, or was he really that much of an idiot?

The cop who’d been talking to the guy responded that he thought the guy was definitely a few screws loose, but he thought the guy did simply mean well. He did enter a stranger’s house and that is seriously not cool; the cop told the guy, You could have been blown away by someone defending their home!

I pointed out, And he did lie to you when he told you my door was unlocked.

I showed them that door. See: it is still locked. I haven’t touched it.

We decided to let him go as a well-meaning idiot. He went back to work on those trees. You know they’ve got his truck’s license carefully taken down (and that it must have come up clear.)

Richard came home early. I was so glad.

Monday February 27th 2012, 12:12 am
Filed under: Friends,Knit

It was an odd little thing. I fairly often wear black skirts to church: not for any particular reason other than the laziness of knowing they go with everything and I can choose any top and shawl or scarf I feel like without stressing over it. They let the knitting stand out.

After all the intense color overload of the last two days, something in me rebelled. I pulled out a crazy-busy paisley that I’d bought on sale on impulse in vibrant, autumny reds and golds. The loudest skirt I own. I rarely wear it.

I had a shawl knitted in Malabrigo’s Botticelli Red tucked away, unworn, waiting for me to finally declare that long-suffering second book project done. Just sitting in a bag. Well now come on. I’d been wishing I’d stuffed it in my tote and shown it off to the folks at Malabrigo, so today I wore it to church to quietly show it off there, at least.

And then here’s the killer: the other knitter in our ward sat down next to me and was exclaiming over this shawl she hadn’t seen before. I said something about Stitches–

–and she went, What’s that?

Oh. My. Goodness. Knitters, I have failed. I am so sorry. She knows now, and we are looking forward together to next year’s. Let the impatient anticipation commence.

Stitches West day two
Saturday February 25th 2012, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life,Lupus

(For those coming here for the first time, Purlescence has copies of my book at the cover price, plus I assume shipping and tax; you’d have to ask them the details. I come in Thursdays if you want yours signed.)

I was coming down Highway 101 just past NASA Ames on my way to Stitches when I saw it: kiting on the wind, unusually close to the ground and to the road so that I was able to make out actual details in that brief moment–an adult peregrine falcon. I tell you. The day would go well.

And overall yes it most definitely did.

I had several people who had offered to lift the scooter out of the car when I got there–but down is easy, right? I just went ahead and did it.

That got me my comeuppance: I had found what was as far as I saw the last spot and it was on level B at Santa Clara Convention Center, not far from the elevator.  I thought, score! I found one without having to ride a long way in in the sun from the Great America lot!

There was a step of goodly height surrounding that elevator. No curb cutouts. Nada. A flight of stairs was the other option (yeah that works, uh huh). Had I ridden around the garage to the next level, I knew there would be cars coming at me going from bright sun to dark shadows and possibly being unable to see something they would never expect down in the roadway. Not an option.

At that point I could have called for help, but I was outside. The sun time I had had to spend yesterday had already caused some lupus flare warnings; my choice was, back or heart. Or autonomic nervous system damage. No contest. I did it, but I paid for it.

Okay, enough of that, on with the Stitches report.

Antonio and the rest of the crew at Malabrigo loved the shawlette made from their Sock, loved the two-colorway lined hat, and I loved that they loved seeing a little of what they create becomes. They are such nice folks, and their yarns are so soft.

Susan and crew at Abstract Fibers loved the shawlette I’d made down to the last two yards of a skein of their Picasso baby alpaca. (I’m the daughter of an art dealer; I had to knit a yarn called Picasso.)

And I got to hug Dianne at Creatively Dyed.  Karen and Barbara at Royale Hare. And so many more.

And… A few years ago, I bought some silk from Lisa Souza in her Earth Birth colorway, (glancing at her site) Max looks like the right one. It was a Friday at Stitches; I took it home, knit straight till bedtime, rinsed it and laid it to dry having used up the whole thing and then I showed it off to her the next day. There you go–done! (There may have been some ego involved. Just a tad.)

So, yesterday I was remembering that story out loud to Lisa and Rod as I pounced on the perfect silk in the perfect color: Blackbewwie, a deep shade maroon with a bit of plum to it. 750 yards.

Today. I roll up to their booth. I reach into my tote bag. I pull out: the  Blackbewwie.

“It’s BEAUTIFUL, Alison!” Lisa exclaimed. (While her face went, Buh buh buh but *how*?!) She loved the pattern, she loved how it had come out, but, (holding this full circular shawl up, looking at it, looking at me)…!

Totally set her up. It was her Sock Merino and I’d bought it last year.


I just happened to have someone else I needed to knit that color for now.

DebbieR, Carol, Katrina, Jasmin, and Kevin all offered to help get the scooter back in later; Kevin got to do the honors. We stepped off that elevator at level B–

–he could not believe it. He pointed out where a curb cut should have started from and tried to fathom how the center had been built with such a stupid mistake or how it could have been allowed to have been left that way. No handicapped slots there was not an excuse.

Preach it, brother.

Then he made it look absolutely effortless as he got that scooter down there and then lifted the whole thing back up into my car.

I spent careful, slow time on the treadmill that Ruth gave me, last night and again today; it helped my back more than anything else has. This cheers me greatly. It will be over soon.

Stitches for me was over far too soon. I have a whole collection of super heroes and I love them all.

Oh snap
Friday February 24th 2012, 9:39 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

So. Here was the plan this morning: I ride the scooter out to the car, take it apart, put it in, go to Stitches.

Here’s what happened: rode the scooter out to the car, took it apart, got the seat and the battery pack, which is the heaviest part, into the car. Carefully sized up how to get the base in: bend the knees, correct angle, etc, reached for it–

–and as I lifted it something felt like it snapped in my back. I managed to get the base safely down to the ground without dropping it, so it couldn’t have been too bad–but then it did drop me and I sat there on the sidewalk in intense pain, going, NOW what am I going to do?!

And I had to lift that battery pack back out again in order to get the thing back into the house. I did; I thought that was it, my day was over, I’m done.

Becca to the rescue. “I’m a nurse, I lift patients heavier than that all the time.”

“Are you sure?! I mean, it’s heavy!”

And not only did she do that, she drove me the ten miles to Stitches and she did it all over again to pick me up in the evening and she took me home.

Wow.  Someone definitely needs a chocolate torte.

But here I go again: Richard remembered this evening that he has a commitment tomorrow starting early in the morning till late afternoon. He can get the scooter in my car but not out again at Stitches; he can pick me up in the evening and deal with it going home if I can get there without him.


But in the meantime, as I waited for Becca at closing time, my old friend Warren happened to come out the same door. We had been looking for each other all day. I had knit him a hat, while second-guessing myself and wondering how much a knitter needed a hat.

He surprised me by saying wow–he’d been needing a hat! He said you’d think he would have one, but he was always giving his knitting away and he didn’t have one and he just never knit for himself.

And there you go. Perfect.

(As for the scooter, we’ve got it worked out to where I just have to lift the pieces out of the car at the event. Okay; down is the easy part.)

Disneyland for knitters
Thursday February 23rd 2012, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Knit

I practiced taking the scooter apart. The battery pack is the heaviest piece at 40 lbs–bad, but I can do it. I tested the battery over the last several weeks; it seems to be holding its charge. I zipped around the house again and again and didn’t clip any wall edges.

It made me remember my late friend Lynda Lowe, who once was fumbling for her keys with a grocery bag in her lap, and having forgotten to turn her heavy chair off, suddenly hit the switch she couldn’t see and lurched straight through the frame of her front door, leaving it in splinters.  Oops.

But my scooter is a little thing.

I once knitted her a cream-colored Aran cardigan, with sleeves of slightly different lengths the way she needed, in the same yarn and the same combination of cable stitches as the sweater I’d made my husband. He is 6’8″, a large man. She was, if memory serves, 4’8″, and a hundred pounds was a weight she aspired to. I always wanted a picture of the two of them side-by-side in their matching sweaters so I could say, And THIS is why we do gauge swatches!

Stitches West is this weekend. The kind of event where you want to have finished everything you ever imagined knitting and the once-a-year chance to be with knitting friends you only get to see then. It is wonderful, it is intense, it is exhausting, it utterly fries my sense of balance in the visual overload and I can only do it sitting down.

My chocolate is packed. I’m ready to go.

Spin knit dye. Yeah, that’s backwards.
Wednesday February 22nd 2012, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Spinning,To dye for

Hey, Don, you got your new computer working yet?

And over here…  Once upon a time there was some yarn at Colourmart.  Really nice yarn, in a very thin laceweight, finer than I wanted to work with but very nice yarn of very nice content and very cheap. (Their prices include shipping, too.)

They had a free twisting service to hold multiple strands together. I did not look around their site to notice that if you want the strands actually plied the way a mill would do, you have to pay an extra $5–which is super reasonable, actually.

So I bought 450 g of the stuff and asked them to twist it by threes for me.

Being me, when it came, I immediately hanked it off that cone into a big loop  and scoured it in hot water to get the mill oils out that their stuff tends to come with; I don’t like to spend hours upon hours knitting with something that’s only going to feel supersoft for someone else later–I’m paying for me to be able to enjoy it, too. The mill oils feel like dried hair mousse, so, out!

Hitchcock music time: over a thousand yards of strands only barely held together, all felting randomly with other parts of the skein in that sink. I hung it to dry and saw it and it hit me. All. That. Yarn. The only thing that saved it was the fact that there were cashmere and silk in there as well as that felting merino.

Help Cecil Help!

I’m a-comin’, Beanie Boy! I spent a long time gently pulling it back apart. I didn’t dare risk dyeing it then for fear of having to do that again.

At each stage of this I threw it in the back of the closet till what the stuff was made of refused to be ignored.

So on the next time looking it over, I was afraid that that bit of twisting they did would put torque into whatever I knit. There were a few places where it had left one strand loopy and uneven with the other two, with me trying to ease the ease back in.

There was only one way out I could see.

I ran it through my spinning wheel. Clockwise. Two bobbins’ worth, let’s try this much out first before I do more. I plied those two on each other counterclockwise, treadle, treadle, treadle.

Now I had a good, balanced yarn–and it was a worsted-weight-ish 6-ply. Um, who wants a white hat? (I know, I know, all the good guys do.)

And so that’s exactly what I knit, finishing it today without even using all the one doubled bobbin’s worth. The 6-ply was splitty as all get-out and a nuisance to knit, but after I pulled that hat out of my dyepot in the afternoon, the felting action helping me out this time, it was a deep deep indigo, the silk just slightly lighter and dancing in the background to its own happy tune.  When it is dry it will do so even more.

Wow.  Gorgeous.  And so, so soft! It was worth every minute and every angst and every stitch and every stir of that pot. This is what it aspired to be all along. I almost put it on for a moment in celebration, still wet–and had a sudden vision of being an old blue-haired grandma before my time. (No, it’s not crocking dye. Even so.) Let’s not.

Only 136 more grams to spin (maybe) , 196 to knit. Be still my heart.

Got the birds part, no bees seen yet
Tuesday February 21st 2012, 11:52 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

The first on-camera red peregrine falcon egg of the season arrived in San Francisco yesterday, to much celebration and hope.  San Jose’s Clara and EC have been getting their nestbox ready, scooping out depressions in the gravel just so, and EC has been bringing prey to his mate.

But nope, no synchronized laying this year between the two cities. (They did last year.)

I’ve been watching the male house finches’ feathers growing in a deeper and brighter red, changing quickly from the drab of winter to the intensity of courtship.

A goldfinch facing me today caught the sunlight just so across its chest: vivid yellow, with a slightly green sheen to it.

A woodpecker, I think a Hairy, has been tapping the tree outside my window, testing, testing, one two three days now. The more noise he can make the better his chances.

The little Bewick’s wrens are showing up in pairs frequently now and sharing the peanut-suet mix together as they skitter and flit by flick of tail. One is slightly rounder of belly and seems to occasionally get lost in a daydream, as expectant mothers do.  I dare not touch the old lawnmower they seem to have claimed for their coming chicks, darting underneath it: they are gone from so much of their part of the Earth now, but we have them here.

And the season begins anew.

Below a rock and a cold place
Tuesday February 21st 2012, 12:21 am
Filed under: Family,Life

I love this one. The picture of the little white flower on the plant looks so much like something you’d see growing around here; they did say it’s a very adaptable species.

Somewhere still in my brain is the formula for figuring out how old something is by the half life of the amount of carbon still left in it.

Thirty thousand years in carbon-dated rock sediment ago, a squirrel dug down and tucked away seeds and fruit in its burrow in Siberia. I love that they described the little den as the size of a soccer ball; when I was a kid, I had one of those hamster balls and the pet to match bumping into the furniture while I kept it away from the stairs.

I can just picture my own squirrels strutting around proudly, tails high, to say they always knew their work was important. See, there’s a reason they steal every apple from my two trees! Just helping future researchers do their work.

But I rather wondered if the original article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences actually mentioned soccer balls and put its measurements in the colloquial like that. The Washington Post doesn’t say the scientists sprouted a seed; it says they produced the fertile plant from the fruit, in ways the reporter didn’t try to describe.

I can just picture the reporter thumbing through their copy trying to figure out the jargon and how on earth to talk about it.

I’ve done likewise. The scientific articles presented in that top-rated journal are well beyond my expertise. They offer the culmination of many years’ studying and learning and hard work. Not to mention the joy of having discovered something new.

Which I know, because they also published our Sam.

Sit at the end of the row, repeat
Sunday February 19th 2012, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis

A few months ago, someone recommended a mail-order nursery to me. They were selling jumbo amaryllis bulbs? Those are hard to come by, and they grow and bloom forever in my experience–cool!

I have no idea if it was a one-person, one-family, or one-big-corporation business. But it is safe to say we were not a good fit.

I just wanted them to send me what we’d paid for.  Whether it was intentional or not, they did a bait-and-switch repeatedly. I got smaller bulbs of the wrong variety, and on the second try smaller again but also with root damage and a highly-infectious red virus that a reputable dealer would never knowingly sell.  My emails kept being answered by the same person, who was  supposedly helpful (but that promised third shipment never happened) and finally shrill.

They brought it to an end Thursday on terms I feel quite favorable to them.

It is safe to say I was annoyed.

I walked into church today, saw the fresh flowers, and suddenly caught myself in a flash of feeling peeved all over again. Oh come ON, Alison–let it go.

Our friend Jim, a gifted artist who has toured worldwide, started playing that beautiful pipe organ.

A prayer was offered.

And I found myself sitting at last in that woman’s chair, whoever she was, in front of her computer, trying perhaps to get those people in shipping with marginal reading or attention skills to fill a simple order the way it came in.

Or who knows what the deal was. But I knew this: she was a child of God. I will never know her–but He does, and that should be enough for me. And as He forgave me, how could I hold anything against her, or whoever there…? I found myself saying an inner prayer for them all.

Eh. I got some amaryllis bulbs. They’ll bloom.  And that is enough.

But just to help me hold onto that thought, I’ll be at church next week too.

Saturday February 18th 2012, 11:49 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

And on a happier note: Sam‘s platelet counts have come up at last and out of the danger zone. My thanks to all who have offered love and prayers her way; the support of others means everything when things are rough.

I put aside the project on my needles (this is rare for me) and dove into some of the softest yarn in my stash in happy celebration today. Suddenly nothing else would do.

Warning: women speaking up
Friday February 17th 2012, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Life,Politics

A certain subject in the news seems to me to show that certain people need a wider perspective. Rep. Joe Walsh says, “This is about religious freedom.” But there is also freedom from someone else’s religion that pertains, especially re an employer that accepts government money.

And so I share this memory:

Thirty years ago, we were living in a married grad student apartment complex, a set of four buildings facing each other with playground equipment for small children in the middle. There were several of these.

And quite a few of the women in our courtyard started getting hang up phone calls that summer. So many that it began to become a subject mentioned and oh yeah me too and talked about around our little playground.

What we did not know is that he apparently wanted to know who was home when: the one single mom who lived there (just one; doesn’t that sound quaint?) was being stalked. Till the day he broke into her ground-floor apartment through her window and threatened to kill her young daughter sleeping in the other bedroom if she didn’t cooperate. She was raped by a man she had never seen before.

She called the police after he was gone and was transported to the local hospital, where they examined her–

–and then refused to do anything to make sure she hadn’t gotten pregnant in the last half hour or so. The ambulance had taken her to the local Catholic hospital.

She had to find her own transport from there in the middle of the night to the other one in town to clean off that man’s filth.

That could have been any one of us at any time and we women knew it.

There was no way she wanted a child of hers to have to accept how it had been conceived. Or to be from that man’s gene pool, and on into the generations to come. No way she wanted to have to tell her small daughter why she was going to be a big sister now–can you imagine trying to explain that one to a four-year-old?! And no way she was going to let a violent rapist dictate the rest of her life and her child’s and possible future children’s.

“A bad man hurt my mommy” –I have never forgotten that phrase–and in their own home is a heavy enough burden for a young girl to grow up with.

Now. I am not a Catholic, granted, and my own church calls abortion not murder but rather “like unto it,” to be avoided if at all possible. There are times when that is not possible–you cannot grow and produce a living baby from a mother who has died of the pregnancy.  But in a situation like this one, when there isn’t even a single cell dividing into two yet, to me there is no question she did what she had to do.

But whatever choice a woman may make or may have to make, that woman is to be loved and supported unconditionally, as are we all.

I understand where people like Rick Santorum are coming from, believing that all life is sacred. I feel that yes; yes, it is. But it is also messy, and I feel that must be taken into account.

I guess I am still incensed that a half hour later, when conception probably hadn’t even taken place yet… (And yes, the ambulance driver totally blew that one.) She had to find her own way across town alone in the middle of the night while knowing that man was out there somewhere to get to the other hospital. Thank goodness there was one.

I want to tell all those men who testified in Congress on the subject of contraception–this wasn’t even about abortion but contraception!–allowing no woman to give any opposing viewpoint, that I will do everything I can to vote them out of power and out of office.

The other part of my neighbor’s story? Her bike was stolen, too. Another neighbor reassured her that some men are good and kind by giving her his, a good one, even though we were all grad students living on nearly nothing and that was his main transportation. It was what he could do.

Earlier, someone had given us their window air conditioning unit when they’d moved away; our baby had had heat rash, it being 108 humid degrees in our upstairs apartment, and they wanted to make our lives easier, since theirs were immediately about to be so with their graduation and new job to go to. Here. Take this.

About a week after that event that devastated us all, and just before we ourselves moved away, we gave that AC unit to that single mom. Not only were she and her daughter going to be far more physically comfortable with it: nobody was going to be able to break through that window again without first making enough noise for her to be able to call for help.

It was what we could do.

Who knew
Thursday February 16th 2012, 11:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Somehow a conversation this afternoon meandered to a random point that seems to have been exactly the right thing.

I had some friends over. I happened to mention that I’d learned, oh, decades ago, about a study done in California where the researchers wanted to find out who married whom and why. They tested many couples for all kinds of abilities and quizzed them on what kinds of things they liked, how they saw the world.

After sifting through thousands of results, there was one thing and only one thing that was true nearly across the board. Not religion, not race, not background.  The answer was so striking that I have never forgotten it.

Klutzes tended to marry klutzes. Coordinated people tended to marry coordinated people.

And in the couples where one was one way and the other the other, there tended to be accusations of Why can’t you be more careful! Responded to with Why are you being so judgmental? Can’t you tell I’m doing my best!

And somehow my saying that was exactly what one of the two women I was talking to needed to hear: Yes! Finally! It all made sense! She was the klutz in her marriage, and she was grateful to hear me say I very much was one too, though in my case I did marry a fellow klutz. It does make it easier.

Those researchers shared their results with at least some of their participants, as I remember, and were gratified at finding that quite a few mixed couples thereby came to a much better understanding of each other at last, where in some cases there had been great friction. Peace was created and in one case a marriage was actually saved.

Now if only I could go tell those people who spent the time to participate and those researchers back in I think the 1970’s that now, in 2012, their work continues to help others.

Understanding ourselves and one another clears the path for love.

Becca’s neighbors
Wednesday February 15th 2012, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

“What is your name?” she asked me.

My friend Becca had put out the word to a few of us that her neighbors were halfway across the world from home and were having their first baby. We had all been first-time parents ourselves; we knew everybody needs their mom when they’re coping with a newborn for the first time. You love them more than life itself and it is so very sweet an experience–but it is all so totally new for you and for the baby itself, who is learning to adjust to this day/night thing, needing to be held, fed, changed, bathed, wrapped, sung to, held some more, the parents needing time simply to take in the wonder that is this brand new human being who sometimes manages to get both eyes to look in unison straight into your own and into your whole soul.

We weren’t the grandmother. But at least we could help. Being a bunch of Mormons, we did the Mormon cultural thing: we signed up on Becca’s list to take turns bringing dinner for the new mom and dad to help them not have to worry about spending time buying or preparing food (or at least, not so much) while needing to hold their baby. Let the parents just be parents for a little while.

It occurs to me that this is our version of sitting shiva, at the start of life rather than the end, although both are so needed in their own times.

For me this was also a chance to make food that Richard loves and I do too but that I can’t risk eating much of anymore since my colectomy. Split pea soup? A favorite, although I substituted out the ham for chicken (rotisseried by Costco, gotta have a little salt to it) for cultural if not religious dietary reasons for the couple.  It simmered away for two hours, filling the house with the peas and the carrots and the big onion.

Into a disposable/reusable snap container.

Blackberry cobbler. Got about a third of the 13×9’s worth onto a sturdy paper plate, covered with plastic wrap.

Now the question was how to walk from my car carrying this in one hand with a cane in the other and my funky balance and not dropping anything–and I had just seen a perfectly able-bodied man dropping his 18 ounces of blackberries across the floor earlier when I was buying mine. The only big box around was–well, here, I could slide the items in sideways since this two-milk-jug one seems to be all there is. And then close up the box in case I stumble. And then carefully open the box once I get there so that she doesn’t put it upright like it looks like it ought to be and scramble the cobbler all over.

I got there. I rang the bell. A beautiful new mom with her dark-haired newborn over her shoulder answered, apologizing for her dog’s barking, saying it had become protective of the new baby.

Protective is good! I affirmed, hooking my cane over my arm to get it out of the way and getting that box open to show her what was inside, along with my card tucked in there: if she needed to ask any questions about what was in the food I wanted her to be able to reach me.

The dog was not convinced I was friendly. It helped keep the visit short; I put the food down where the woman asked, just inside the door. The baby was SO cute. (And so tiny! You forget how small they start…)

Such a short moment in our lives. And so important. Welcome to the world, little one! Welcome to motherhood, to the mom: we’re all here for you. We understand.

I am so glad I didn’t let the chance run away from me undone.