Back to school
Friday August 31st 2012, 11:49 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

Showed up on a doorstep this afternoon. Someone’s flying off for college in the morning and I knew it’s cold where she’s going. It was just a little extra something.

They invited me in, we chatted a bit; I explained a little about Great Northern Yarns’ mink cashmere yarn (they’re sold out of the laceweight I used).

She asked me the name of the lace pattern as she petted her new cowl; she loved it. Then, since it was the last day her mom got to have with her till break, I got the heck out of their way.

But she was so sweet and so appreciative that it totally recharged my desire to get to work to do that for someone else. She’s a good one.

Conventional wisdom
Thursday August 30th 2012, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Family,Politics

My cousin Grant Bennett spoke at the Republican Convention tonight about his neighbor and did a fine job of it: straight from the heart.

Then he introduced a few people, and I ended up emailing a friend from our ward here: was that your mom?!

It was. The mother of this child, if you want more of the woman’s story.

I still have no intention of voting for Romney, but I read a comment on the Washington Post today by a fellow Obama supporter who said that clearly the man loves his wife and she loves him: you can’t fake that look he saw between them.

Much though I dislike that Paul Ryan last night repeated outright lies that have been exposed again and again and he didn’t care–like that Janesville plant that closed not under Obama but while Bush was in office, that that debt commission report didn’t get acted on because he voted not to let it out of committee, and on and on–but his little boys stole the show by hamming it up every time the camera landed on them last night and tonight. I laughed as it got snatched away again and again, trying to find that right moment while the youngest especially was simply being a cheerful little boy cooped up too long in cooped-up clothes. Bring on the balloons!

I think it was his sister that caught one almost as big as her at the end and was wobbling with it, exit, stage right.

Political junkie
Wednesday August 29th 2012, 11:54 pm
Filed under: Family,Politics

A quote in the Washington Post today about the GOP: “ “The demographics race we’re losing badly,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.). “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”

Generating. Angry. Okay…  CNN itself did not report what happened at the convention today until other outlets started asking them why, since they certainly should have had photographic evidence; finally, Wolf Blitzer made a statement re his camerawoman: a couple of abusive, racist people had gone, literally, nuts. “This is how we feed the animals!” as they threw peanuts at her.

Do I need to mention she was black and female? Did they realize how much shame the whole country would feel that they would think of such a thing, much less do it before the watching world?

Well, there you go, Graham. But at least those two got thrown out. Who they were or whether they were banned completely or snuck back in later, nobody seems to know. And if they’re actual elected representatives (or future ones), their constituents need to know.

A little calm fact-checking and setting in order after the speeches.

Richard, horrified at what that woman had been put through, hoped hard that Blitzer had told her that she didn’t have to stay there, that she didn’t have to take that, telling me he once counseled a fellow employee to just get up and walk out on a harasser and not ever worry about her job for it. He would stand up for her: her job was the one that was safe.

Boy did that bring back memories.  In the year after my college graduation, I had a boss who harangued and demeaned everybody. The car she was in was stuck? It happened to need the one and only thing I knew how to fix, I totally won as it started right up, and right there as the others on our shift were cheering me on she dissed me for it: only stupid people were mechanics.

And so much more. I needed that job but I hit the point of no return and all I could do was quit. Unbeknownst to me, every single one of my fell0w co-workers under her (there were about eight of us) did the same thing the same week; I was just the first. Then, at last, she was sent packing.

Thank heavens for good bosses who stand by their employees. We moved across the country for a good boss. A good boss is worth everything.

And you know we’re the bosses in this election. Be good ones. Vote!

Territorial claim
Tuesday August 28th 2012, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Knit,Politics,Wildlife

I got tired of the squirrel scrums. So I changed the birdseed to safflower a few weeks ago and the suet cakes to ones with chili peppers as the second ingredient.

This means the juncos and towhees only stop by when a little suet hits the ground, but it’s so much more peaceful out there. With the coming of fall and the need to fatten up, the bushytails have finally started coming by, but never more than one at a time, they don’t eat much when they do come, and they’re certainly not about to make any effort to get at the stuff. It’s like offering a kid boiled brussels sprouts.

This also means my supersoaker got shelved. I wonder if that’s why the Cooper’s hawk has come back.

I looked up this evening in time to see–wait, was he trying to land on the birdfeeder?!  Or did he just brush it while trying to flush out a potential finch on the other side that he couldn’t see through the seed (only, there wasn’t one).


Then he flew to the barbecue grill and watched us for awhile and Richard got to see him too.  A bit late of a hunt; it was definitely dusk. Beautiful, beautiful bird. We communed, with his permission. And then he was off.

Meantime, in the political world, a cousin here said a cousin there was going to be speaking at the Republican convention–and so I sat with a project that had needed justthismuchmore for so long and finally finished it off while I listened. Okay, lady from Oklahoma, you forgot your ninth grade history, but whatever. The woman who yelled about too many regulations–she paused for applause and had to wait for it. Oh. Right. Clap. Not everybody did, and I wondered how many spills and polluting incidents had come to the audience’s minds: 14,000 people would not have gone to the hospital this month had the Chevron refinery that blew up in the East Bay here been better regulated. Fourteen. Thousand. It looks like it will be now.

About an hour into it, I went back and doublechecked the messages: oh. Today’s not the day. And then I looked at the list of speakers for the right day and did a doubletake–wait! That name from–! I *knitted* for her once!

If you see a red scarf…

Monday August 27th 2012, 11:28 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

The birdfeeders and patio were still deserted. It had been something like half an hour. And so I was  sort of paying attention, because that silence means all the songbirds know something’s up.

I looked up again to see that magnificent striped tail and wide wingspan sailing easily, breezily across right in front of the awning across from where I sat, swooping up at the last near the redwood tree.

The best sighting of my Cooper’s hawk (scroll down slightly) I’ve had in months.

Tree truck
Sunday August 26th 2012, 11:40 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Friends,Life

Phyl and Lee wanted us to see their photos from their recent diving trip to Bali. We love Lee’s  underwater photography; we’d been looking forward to it.

And so they had us over tonight. (Again, yes.)

Walking in from the parking lot, there was something odd in that tree… I walked over the grass to it and looked up.

Some young child had thrown his yellow Tonka truck up in there.

It wasn’t that tall a tree. Canes can be handy sometimes, and I ducked out of the way as it came down and left it waiting at the trunk for its owner to find it in the morning (I hope!)

As we later thanked them for the evening, I reminded them that the last time we’d seen their fish pictures after one of their diving trips, I was in the hospital shortly after, totally tripping out on morphine with bright Indonesian fishyfish swimming through my hallucinations all night, keeping me entertained.

We laughed. And, let’s not.

Teach’em young
Saturday August 25th 2012, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

(Note on the kestrel: I have been told by a birder friend that my sweeping out where a mouse had set up shop on the patio is probably what attracted the kestrel; they tend to eat rodents more than small birds.)


She has that classic first-grader look with that missing front tooth.

Her mommy was in the freshman dorms with my daughter Sam.

Her daddy went to the med school that just happened to be where Sam’s lab was while she was doing her PhD–so Sam got to see her old dorm friend again while they were there. Cool.

And then they moved here. Small world.

Our friends Phyl and Lee invited a whole whack of people over this afternoon and evening to celebrate the end of summer at their condo’s pool and pool house. Pot luck, barbecue, swim if you want, come!

The sun was low, the fog was rolling in, the breeze was getting chilly, things were winding down, and–let’s call her Jane for now–Jane’s folks were laughing at themselves for what seemed cold to them now after two years here after having lived in Vermont for awhile.

Next thing, her daddy was walking with her to their car as we were coming up behind.

There was a big wide puddle on the concrete next to the pool where splashing and shivery dripping had happened. They were steering around it. Total waste of a good set of flipflops.

“California kids don’t get that you have to splash in puddles, puddles are for splashing in!” Drought year–when had any of those kids tonight last seen water on the ground? I totally jumped in, feet and cane and all, soaking the hem of my skirt; they laughed happily.

But she didn’t quite drag her daddy’s hand back over there to go do that too.

That gleam in her eye said, next time, though. There will be more puddles. Next time.

Friday August 24th 2012, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Politics,Wildlife

Re Debbi’s comment Tuesday: she was right. See here.

Now, total change of subject.

Picture your hand with your fingers splayed out as far apart as they go–okay, maybe mine, then, I’ve got small hands. That’s about what I saw diving up and over the other side of the fence Wednesday, clearly in pursuit of a smaller bird even if I only caught the tail end of the scene.

I wondered if that might have been…

Then last night Richard called out to me in great excitement and I didn’t come fast enough: he had seen a hawk! But not our Cooper’s, it was really small, and it had a brown back, and it was yay big, and it was a hawk! And not the Cooper’s!

It was great fun to see him so excited. He said it was bigger than a mourning dove but not by much. I flipped through Sibley’s with him, but he wasn’t sure.

So while at the bird center today I mentioned it.

Sounds like a Kestrel, Linda thought.

Exactly! That was my guess. I googled Kestrel images and, scrolling through them with him just now, he said that definitely could have been it. They are a falcon species.

I have never seen a Kestrel in the wild in my life, or at least not in full yet. I have a whole new raptor to look forward to. Cool!

One last, and then knit stuff
Thursday August 23rd 2012, 10:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

I’m going to say one last thing on the topic of a woman’s right to make her own decision. There’s more to this. Our local Jackie Speier stood up in the House last year, angry, and described what she personally had had to go through: she had lost a baby and had had to go through “that procedure,” a D&C.

I know that she and her husband had long struggled with fertility issues, that that baby was dearly wanted. She did have I think two kids afterwards–and then her husband was killed in a car accident while they were little.

What I did not know until that speech hit the paper was that the men trying to push all the personhood and anti-Planned Parenthood bills were also trying to make it so that new doctors would not be taught how to do D&Cs because those are used in abortions, and were even wanting to criminalize the procedure itself.

I want to scream every time I think about that, Do you know what that means?!

When I miscarried my first pregnancy at almost four months and the fetus was dead, the doctor who did the D&C told me that I had to have that done in order to protect me from scarring, from having leftover tissue that could cause infections, that if it were not done I might never be able to have children. I had that D&C; I went on to have two daughters and two sons.

Do we outlaw all guns everywhere because some are used to kill living people? Did a bullet ever help a body heal?


Okay, enough of that. So. I took my baby dress project to Purlescence tonight, the one I’m working on to match little Eden Alison’s hat. Except, I was stumped. All these years of knitting and I just haven’t done baby clothes–the first sweater I made Parker when he was a few months old fit his three-year-old cousin.

So I asked Pamela, who knits for her little grandchildren all the time, and Danette, who has a toddler. The bottom hem seemed to be coming out too big. We talked fit and the whys and hows of it. (I know I linked to that chart the other day but I needed knitters around me to tell me in person.)

That did it. I sat down and got going, and I am really pleased now with how it’s coming out. Like I so wanted to be all along.

A parliament of owls
Wednesday August 22nd 2012, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

Re last night’s post: I’ve been there.

I was pregnant, my lupus diagnosis that explained so much was years in the future, and things were not going well for me.  At all. The obstetrician decided it was time to spell out the options.


If you don’t survive the pregnancy then we lose both of you.


I prayed really hard to know whether I was just having the knee-jerk reaction of a mother protecting her child–as well she should want to; what should I do. Richard prayed too. Hard.

And, deep breath, I felt, I really felt, it would turn out okay. I went ahead with it and we both survived.

But I had that choice. No one but absolutely no one had the moral authority to make it but me alone with my God. No one. Not even my husband, much though I love him. This was my ordeal as the mother of my children and the wife to my husband and as me myself. I made that choice.

Those who vote for personhood bills say that my daughters and yours should not have that choice, that those Congressmen’s political power and their religious views on when life starts trump not just everyone else’s religions and views but our very lives.

The next president could well be choosing Supreme Court justices. Vote. Please, please, vote, please stand up for us all.

And on a lighter note, just because I need it after writing this so very personal story out loud for all the world to criticize, come see here–scroll to the bottom. Barn owls are nesting on the 11th floor of the Marriott near the airport here. It’s clear they have closed off access to that balcony:  they “are letting the owlets enjoy their stay in peace.”

And the staff is handing out stuffed owls to the children staying at the hotel, probably sparking an interest in birds in them for life. And perhaps their own children’s to come, as my parents taught me.

I just think that’s really, really cool.

And. My brother-in-law Ned was in town and took us all out for dinner after he got away from work. Much love was enjoyed by all. I can only wish his job flew him out here more often.

The powers that wannabe
Tuesday August 21st 2012, 11:17 pm
Filed under: Politics

I’ve been trying really really hard not to blog about politics of late. But I just cannot stay silent any longer. Did Todd Akins skip every history class, every current-events reading (hello conquests of South America by Europeans, hello Serbia/Slovenia)? His screamingly screwball ideas on biology: women can’t get pregnant when they get raped, and if they did it’s because they secretly wanted to because otherwise their magic powers would “shut the whole thing down”?

This is one of the men who writes our national laws?


And he and Paul Ryan are likethis on this personhood thing.

Their bill would convict me of manslaughter for having had a miscarriage at nearly four months. There’s no getting around that, no explaining it away. Every baby conceived via in-vitro? The new illegals. Raped? Too bad.

If you haven’t read my old neighbor’s story, please, please do. She faced the consequences of exactly what they’re trying to do.

Laws are not intentions: laws are laws and you can’t wave away the part you don’t like–if it’s wrong, or some part of it is not quite what you meant, regardless of political expediency you don’t write much less pass that law. Period.

Can you picture a rapist suing for custody? I guarantee you that scenario will happen under that bill, and note that the very first thing announced out of Tampa as the Republicans get ready for their convention is that their plank includes a personhood declaration: all life, beginning with a single cell, has the full rights of a walking breathing human being. A potential person trumps a real one. No exceptions, not to save the life of the mother. Have an ectopic pregnancy? Catholic hospitals statistically already treat them surgically rather than medically so as not to directly harm the never-viable fetus, despite the fact that doing so can render the woman unable to ever carry another child and is often medical malpractice.

But our hopes and our families, they don’t matter there.

They cannot cry religious freedom when they are accepting money from the government of all the people, for all the people.

The Republicans put that plank in their platform despite all the states where the voters rejected that very thing. Including Todd Akin’s own Missouri.

Mitt Romney is not a Catholic and the Mormon Church knows that life is messy and that there may be circumstances we may be forced to factor in while grieving our loss. So why does Romney go along with this?

Why does the Republican party want government to stay away from regulating their guns, their Wall Street, their polluting corporations and their rich but demand that that same government be right there between every woman’s uturus and her doctor? I understand not liking abortion, I fervently don’t like abortion either. I also understand that we live in a multicultural, diverse nation that prides itself on its tolerance.

And on its justice.

And poof, gone
Monday August 20th 2012, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Family

There was packing. There was a glad-you-were-here celebration of a dinner. He sold his Suburu to a dealer today because he wasn’t going to need a car in New York City, and then his girlfriend gave him a ride from the lot to our house and helped him get ready for his flight out.

And so, our nephew left tonight after spending the summer with us while doing an internship and getting to know her family better as well as ours.

I’m trying hard not to mope.  Such a nice kid. And besides–he needed to gain weight after an illness, I need to gain weight, who else can I bake for like that totally guilt-free? Speaking of which: the hazelnut cookies? Skip the oil and add several ounces of good dark chocolate instead. Just sayin’.

(I got the girlfriend’s favorite color out of her before the evening was over. So sneaky. Right.)

Proud Grammy
Sunday August 19th 2012, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Family

I so love Skyping with Parker and his parents. Now we just have to figure out the angles so we can read him a book sometime, but for today, waving and reaching out to each other and giggling and chatting along with a little adult conversation on the side will do, and glad for it.

Suddenly thinking of my great-great grandparents who crossed the plains, covered wagons and all; once you’ve left, you’ve left. So close, so far away…

Spread it around
Saturday August 18th 2012, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

Just found this chart with baby sweater measurements in detail. Thought I’d pass it on.

I called Trader Joe’s tonight, and their new batch of hazelnuts had finally, after weeks and weeks of waiting, gotten past FDA quarantine: yes, they were in.

Alright! And so my kitchen smells of toasted hazelnuts about to turn into homemade much-better-than-nutella, Michelle’s specialty.*

Meantime, going into the store ahead of me was a young mom with her curly-haired blonde daughter, about ten months old, absolutely adorable. She reminded me of Sam at that age–who, on being handed a helium balloon at a grocery store, spent the next week dropping things and pointing and staring at the fallen objects. DOWN! *That* one conformed to everything she’d learned so far in her life. Fall DOWN not up!

Walking in just behind them was a mid-20ish couple. They were very happy. They were clearly in love, clearly seeing their whole future together ahead–because they saw that baby in that cart at the same time and I saw both their faces light up instantly and then they turned to each other, sharing what to my eyes several steps away looked like happy anticipation.  There was so much joy in that moment.

Between the bananas and the fresh-cut flowers I suddenly found myself next to that cart and I smiled and waved hi at the little one from just enough distance. She smiled back. Her mom turned just then, saw, and prompted her little girl, Wave hi!

She waved hi with an even bigger grin. She knew she was in for a treat: seeing someone becoming even happier because of something she did.

My heart melted. Such a cute little girl. I bet she’s a future knitter, too.

And I went home, and, having finished the hat, cast on for a baby dress to match. Hopefully. I was glad I found that chart.

(Note that Ryan is allergic to corn and most powdered sugars have cornstarch, hence the side note below.)


Hey Mom:

I omit the oil, and reduce the sugar (remember we should have tapioca
starched powder sugar). depending on level of chocoate-y-ness, up the cocoa
to taste; not to exceed the amount of omitted sugar. I often omit the
vanilla as well.,0,1158986.story


Begin: the rest is easy
Friday August 17th 2012, 11:38 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,LYS

Today I had to return some Lands End dress shirts because they quit selling 38 sleeves, and hoping didn’t do a thing to make a 37 length do the job. I told Richard before I left that the nearest Sears store was 25 miles away and it just happened to be near Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco.

I kinda wonder if that’s why I’d chanced it.

And so a little extra Malabrigo filled a gap in my stash–I’d needed a skein of superwash Rios in guy-friendly colors. The little bit of Finito added in will be justifiable only when I see someone’s happy face when it’s done. I’ll have to get to it, and soon.

Coming home down 280, the self-proclaimed “most beautiful freeway in America,” the coastal mountains and reservoir to one side and hills to the other giving intermittent glimpses of the San Francisco Bay and valley, what was probably the peregrine who lives near the Flintstone house soared overhead, coasting on the thermals. Glorious.

Back home to real life. That new yarn staring at me did it. I had been dithering over my new niece’s gift, unable to pick just one pattern and just one idea. Enough. I grabbed my needles, cast on, ribbed, doublechecked the stitch count, debated, and dove in for Eden Alison. Pink sheared mink.

Somehow it turned out like this. I didn’t see till I took the picture that the lace echoed the wings there.

And somehow I didn’t see till I was well into it that what I was knitting was a crown for our sweet little princess.