The world goes round and round
Sunday October 14th 2012, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Wait, I said as she turned to me as I walked into church, you look familiar…

She told me afterwards that in that moment, she was trying to remember, was Alison the name of the mom or the oldest daughter? But she remembered my name, whichever one of us it applied to, because it was her twin’s name and her own daughter’s.

She and her husband are friends from church who moved away 15 years ago, back for a visit. They wanted to show their kids the California sights, since they hadn’t really been old enough to remember (or weren’t born yet.) And they wanted to see old friends.

Meantime, there was a speaker from a neighboring ward, and he’d only recently moved into the area. He mentioned they’d come from New York. I went up to him after the meeting and said, okay, this is a long shot but by any chance do you know Boyd and Carolyn R…

His face totally lit up. YES! I worked with him on…

Carolyn’s my sister.

He loved it.

And California became, in that moment, just a bit more familiar and comfortable of a place.

(p.s. I once saw one of the weinermobiles driving the main drag three blocks away, but never anything like this in our neighborhood.)

And I thought four was a happy crowd
Saturday October 13th 2012, 8:55 pm
Filed under: Life

I watched this and it trumped anything I might have to say for the day. Wow. From designing for Christian Dior, dressing Jackie Kennedy to Gwen Stefani, to building an orphanage in Nepal where Mother Teresa asked her to go and staying and raising 154 children.

I guess sometimes Mormons do have big families after all.

Coopernicus’s chair
Friday October 12th 2012, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

It has been so long since he came so close. I looked up just as he landed.

On the back of the chair on the other side of the window.

He was wagging his tail repeatedly at first, shifting his feet, glancing around, antsy–anybody hiding in those elephant ears? C’mon, I know you’re in there, I’m dining al fresco and I’d like a little lunch before it rains.

And then he became more still and settled in place.

A few moments later, he looked at me from the right. Then from the left. Straight on. Trying for the best bird’s-eye view with me. Lunch was forgotten; we simply were.

His colors are a bit faded, spring’s brightness months over. But the chestnut at the front, the gray racing stripe across his head, the stripes in the tail, still beautiful. And in good shape, too; I’d found a bedraggled tail feather and had been concerned that the oil I’d sprayed awhile ago on the parchment paper on the awning pole to thwart the squirrels might have done him damage in passing–but no, not at all, he was fine. And now I know.

The jays kept away for a good long time after he was gone.

VP debate
Thursday October 11th 2012, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Politics

Did you watch the debate? The New York Times’ editorial afterwards is here.

Ryan tried to invoke Reagan and a particular meeting and Biden pounced: “There were five people in that room. Reagan was there, Tip O’Neill was there, and I. Was. There!”

There was a ticker tape running across the bottom of the screen, and it suddenly showed the leading trend on Twitter: “Jack Kennedy.”

And sometimes it would pronounce, FACT:  (and then state a fact in reference to what the candidates were saying.) I want to know, why haven’t we done that all along? I loved that Biden again and again called Ryan out and told the voters what Ryan had voted for while he was now deriding the President for it.

At the end, as the families poured onto the stage and everybody shook everybody’s hands, Ryan’s little boy got away from his parents and claimed the vice president’s chair; he leaned back with a grin like he thought he owned the place. It had to be way past his bedtime and he was stuck in this suit and clearly under dire orders to smile and be pleasant–well, hey, this is fun here!

Gonna have to give up your claim on that seat, now, son, it doesn’t belong to you.

Cum Daiya
Wednesday October 10th 2012, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

One thing my daughter has not been able to have for eight years, since she developed her allergy to dairy (after having mono–who knows), has been the simple pleasure of a pizza with cheese on it.

A new spot popped up near the university, Patxi’s. Vegan crusts, two types of vegan cheese if you so desire, all meats naturally cured.

I would never have heard of the place, but someone told Michelle about it and she hoped we could try it? They even had a chart of what allergens are in which of their foods. Now there’s a place that can capture a big market segment right there. Being able to go out to eat safely is a rare thing around here, and we were hoping the place would earn the loyalty we so hoped to be able to give it. This is after a place she went to last week listened to her concerns, assured her all would be well, and then handed her a dish that, it turned out, had melted cheese hiding on the inside.

It is not fun having your throat swell.

Daiya? What’s Daiya?

And so, at long last, tonight we all had pepperoni, sausage, and *cheese pizza. It looked like mozzarella, it had the mouthfeel of it, it even tasted like it in the presence of the best pepperoni I have ever had. (Take *that,* nitrates!) And as we finished our small splurge of a dinner, Michelle was just overwhelmed suddenly at how wonderful it was to be able to–wow. She could have real pizza again in her life!

Sometimes, the little things are the big things.


*Cut and pasted: Daiya Vegan Mozzarella Ingredients: Filtered water, tapioca and/or arrowroot flours, non-GMO expeller pressed canola and/or non-GMO expeller pressed safflower oil, coconut oil, pea protein, salt, vegan natural flavors, inactive yeast, vegetable glycerin, xantham gum, citric acid (for flavor) titanium dioxide (a naturally occurring mineral).

The Lion finally Sleeps Tonight
Tuesday October 09th 2012, 11:45 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I decided I wasn’t eggsplatly going to do any more baking today.

I was, though, doing my treadmill time.

Why is it that at about the eleven or twelve minute mark during every session of late my brain sneaks up on me and all the sudden I realize it’s playing The Lion Sleeps Tonight in my head? The version that was popular in the ’70’s. While I’m a captive audience to the earworm. A weemuhway. Oh joy.

And there it was again tonight, starting right on cue. I glanced at the time and could only laugh: 11:03, the little stinker. Okay, so what to replace it with: catchy, or, something, what’ve you got in there? (Walk..walk..walk….) Okay, James Taylor, and I hit the on button in my brain. A recording made when he was younger of You’ve Got a Friend.

It was the perfect pitch I was hoping for. It even got me to walk longer while it played.

p.s. With a shout out to Ellen, who does beautiful work. Thank you!

Monday October 08th 2012, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Random fact of the day: our house, like most around here, is a single-story built on a concrete slab; we’re close enough to the Bay that our water table is far too high for any kind of basement or wood subfloor.

I have my chocolate hazelnut torte recipe, and with last week’s prediabetes diagnosis (oh didn’t I mention that. At 111 pounds!) I’ve been trying to learn to avoid sugar, but Michelle’s been dying to have me make her favorite torte version from my Cocolat cookbook. She’d baked it while at grad school but I’d never tried it–by the time I found out about it, I already had the recipe I wanted.  Cocolat’s uses about half the hazelnuts mine does–not a feature, I thought, and now I would need the extra nuts to buffer it all the more, if anything.

But there was my child I could so easily make happy.

She walked in the door tonight and her face lit up as she figured out what was in the oven. When we sampled it after dinner, it had come out, as she put it, as “Less rock! More cake!”

I casually mentioned: “You know how I’m really good at dropping things but really really good at catching them between my leg and the cabinet on the way down so they don’t break?” (All that Pyrex and Corningware around here over that hard floor, not to mention my Mel and Kris stoneware.)

“Yes”… (wondering where this was going.)

“Doesn’t work so well with an egg.”

So glad it’s live-streamed nowadays
Sunday October 07th 2012, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

It was General Conference weekend, wherein leaders of the Mormon Church speak to the members. Favorites: Henry B. Eyring, and that listing at the very bottom of the page is his talk I mentioned earlier about his daughter’s recent life-and-death delivery at 15 weeks early and her visiting teaching companion’s having happened to show up just when she direly needed it. (Women’s Conference was last week.) Also, Richard G. Scott, whose younger kids I used to babysit back when he was a nuclear physicist in Washington, DC. and who gave an hour of his time to talk to my husband when he was a 19-year-old about to leave on a mission, hoping for a little guidance and wise words and so, seeking out an old family friend. Elder Uchtdorf. Whose family escaped on one of the last trains out of East Germany to West when he was little.

Jeffrey Holland: “The crowning characteristic of love is loyalty.” I had to think about that a moment. Yes, I can see that. Definitely.

How’s the closed captioning going? asked Richard, glancing over, watching from his own screen.

They’ve got the words going to yesterday’s talks, I answered. Oops. But then, they said it was still in beta. ‘Sokay, I’m not needing it.

Early on, I finished the project I was working on and being a captive listener, needed something else to do with my hands.

I didn’t want to admit that I didn’t want to…  I just don’t do baby knitting… I had to. I knew it. And so I picked up the outfit I started making maybe a month ago for my namesake great-niece (wow does that make me sound old, but I was 16 when her mom was born to my oldest sister). I had gotten a great start on it, had wavered on the width I had going and whether it would work and had ziplocked it away.

When else would I do it? In time for her to wear it? Or for her own baby someday? Alright, then.

I added a few inches to what I had, started into the armscyes (ie picture the J and backwards J indentations at the underarms), counted stitches while the Tabernacle Choir sang and started the decreasing.

It looked terrible. I had merrily knitted a few more inches. No go. Rip. I did the decreases, *then* the armscyes. So much better.

I finally put it aside when I got to where I would need to find a pattern somewhere to doublecheck the length to the back of the neck on that dress.

But what I’m coming here to say is, I had this project that was important to me that had stumped me and it had bugged me. Listening to all those talks about the effects and the dear necessity of love in our lives, of looking out for the children, hearing stories told and experiences shared and wisdom offered, the thing in my hands became easy at last. And not just because I was at the stockinette part.

This morning I had no idea how I was supposed to make that beginning look like anything that could fit a baby well. But it gradually came to me as I just kept going, ripping and redoing, and before too long I knew exactly how it was going to come out and what will be next. I don’t like the idea of ribbing around the arms and around the front because it wouldn’t go well with the lacework at the bottom? But the raw edge look, no? Well then, repeat the lacework, there you go!

“The crowning characteristic of love is loyalty.”

And I love my niece and her baby I get to meet in a couple months. And so, hearing that, it was all the more imperative that I get this done, and after being afraid of it for too long, now I love how it’s coming out.

I can’t wait to see it finished and on Eden Alison!

Raptor attention
Saturday October 06th 2012, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

Swooping in an arc around the patio, and suddenly it was across the yard, having grabbed a small bite on the fly as a second finch hid stock still in the elephant ears. A few hours later something again caught my eye and I looked up: it somehow did a hairpin turn right in the olive tree and away. Whoosh!

A Cooper’s hawk in flight is like time personified: when you’re paying rapt attention, the moment stretches  from here to forever, and yet look away and it’s gone. How on earth do they go that fast? It’s like the speed at which little kids grow up. After they grow up.

And she got to hold his baby son before she left
Friday October 05th 2012, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life,Recipes

Left the house at 2:00 to take a friend to the airport: his grandmother had just died of Alzheimer’s and he was taking one day off from the intense world of medical training to fly out for the funeral.

When someone needs a ride for that, you take them.

But I asked him beforehand if we could leave just a few minutes earlier? Maybe ten? I had a doctor’s appointment to go to.

Sure, no problem!

As we went down the road, he talked about the strangeness of grief mixed with relief and the loss that had happened years before–and loss again, but with a…but…. Now at last she’s with his Grandpa again.

And then. I only got a brief glance because I was the one at the wheel–but at the place where I have seen one before, a peregrine falcon suddenly burst past the trees next to the road and zoomed across in front of us, both of us going, WOW!, low enough down that for a split second I worried maybe a semi might… But it was safe. In the blink, I would have guessed it a female for the shape of the body and likely an adult or near-adult. So close! Wow!

And I wondered silently, Ty, you have no idea, but a raptor always shows up when I need one, especially peregrines and my Cooper’s hawk. Maybe you needed one too.

There was some slowdown going on in San Jose but I got out of the backup and away to the gate about the time expected–but coming back around onto the freeway, traffic where I had just been was one solid mass of cars clear back to the next city. Had we left five minutes later, I would have been utterly hosed.

I was exactly on time for my doctor. We had a fair bit to discuss, and she’s a good one: she takes the time.

I raced home (it was 5:00 by now) and started peeling apples. Richard called; I dropped everything and went to get him since I had his car. Coming out of the neighborhood, a large red-tailed hawk soared right above. I have never seen one here before!

More backup. They’ve been digging up the road where pipeline 132, the infamous San Bruno Fire pipeline, goes down the neighborhood. Came home. Chopped apples. An old quick New Hampshire autumn dinner is that you cook sausage crumbles with diced preferably Granny Smith apples (getting out absolutely as much grease as you can) and then when it’s all done, pour just a little maple syrup on it in the serving dish, grade B for the more intense flavor if you can find it. Trader Joe’s here has it.

Thirty-seven minutes after we walked in the door together, the table was cleared and set, three different dishes were cooked from scratch, and our dinner guests arrived. We did it.

I could never have pulled half of that off in the bad old days. Wow life. Look at me now!

Third wheel
Thursday October 04th 2012, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Friends,Spinning

A timber company once copied those Ashford guys down the road, briefly; their foray into spinning wheels apparently didn’t last. (This got me to Google–who knew. They do still exist. Curtain rods and finials, okay.)

There was an auction nearby about 15 years ago of the estate of a woman who’d owned a shop that had sold spinning wheels–y’know, back before people knew what that Ebay startup was all about.

There was a wry comment from my friend Karen after I bought one of those at that auction, while I was hoping the box had all the disassembled pieces (it did): “I wouldn’t give a plugged nickel for that brand.”

There was my father-in-law, maybe ten years ago, who, while visiting, decided to put the thing together for me.  Thanks, Dad! The directions said there was a second bobbin in there, an extra, because, y’know, you might want to spin a second color or something. (Plying, folks.) One of the sidebars was slightly shorter than the other, it turned out–well, that didn’t work.

Dad said, Hey, I got an idea.

So we went to the grocery store, bought Dove ice cream bars, ate the ice cream bars, and he used the stick of his to finish off that shorter sidebar.

The thing still never did really spin, though. If you pumped really hard you might get it to turn once. Maybe. Even if it was kind of fun to have instructions in aboriginal (near as we could tell) as well as English.

A few weeks ago I finally got that wheel in to Purlescence and the verdict was that it was such a close copy of what is the number one brand in the world, last I checked, that they could swap out the handmaiden (the top part) with an Ashford’s to get the thing going.

A friend at the shop tonight who didn’t know about all of that back-and-forth-ing two weeks ago about can you make this thing work mentioned that her partner (who is recovering well from a major health issue, and I’m big on having a good creative outlet when you’re dealing with a major health issue) has really wanted to learn to spin. If only they had a wheel.

Let me finish working on that, says Kaye, adding that she just happens to have a spare handmaiden to use on it. Now that she and I know who she’s fixing it for.

I’ve got two Ashford wheels, I don’t need the Woodcroft with the tulips engraved on it. Done. That was easy. With Sandi and Kaye’s help, it’s all finally coming together.

It’s debateable
Wednesday October 03rd 2012, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Politics

Did you watch the debate? The Washington Post did a good job dissecting some of the he said-he saids and their validities here.

My take: Obama looked tired as he chose his words carefully, trying to present what he had done with a lot of specifics, and what he hopes to do. He also got four minutes more, per CNN’s count, than Romney–Lehrer’s quiet payback at Romney for telling him he would cut his job? Nah, I think Lehrer was just listening rather than clock-watching, but it was a moderator fail on his part.

Obama did not laugh at all, much less out loud like I did, when Romney lectured him as how *he*, Romney, was going to go sit down with the Republicans–*and* the Democrats!–to work *together* to get the job done!

To me, one of Obama’s faults was that he tried too long to get bipartisanship out of Congress and that he expected his opposition, Tea Party and all, to put the good of the country above petty politics. To all who say he had a Democratic majority, he did. For one month–while Ted Kennedy was dying and then dead.  While the modern version of the filibuster rule required 60 votes to stop it and the Senators could just phone it in. Can we please go back to my grandfather-the-Senator’s day, where you had to hold the floor to hold the floor? Your party, whichever it may be, will thank you in the future.

Romney danced and rose up on his toes and his voice got breathy when he was trying to look passionate: to my eyes, he appeared not to be believing what he was saying so he was trying to say it with a lot of emphasis that came off wholly fake.  There’s that tight smirk, with a lot of jerky motions, shoulders, arms, hands, and his words were almost manic. His body language betrayed him.

His numbers and claims were goofy too but never mind. Others can argue those more succinctly than I can.

As our Michelle put it, Obama talked too slow. Romney was Alvin the Chipmunk.

So not his time
Tuesday October 02nd 2012, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

When Richard was working on his Master’s degree at BYU in Provo, Utah, his advisor and his wife invited us over for dinner once.

They had eleven kids, some grown, the youngest a bouncy little boy, not to mention that Dr. Ivie’s brother’s family was nearby and it was pretty brownian motion around there. I loved it. Dr. Ivie had made their dining table so as to accommodate the crowd: round, and from about a foot in from the edge it was all one giant lazy susan. It would start spinning at the beginning of the meal and when it stopped all the food was gone and the meal was over.

And if you were new there like I was someone had to fend for you, my new husband Richard laughed as he did so, helping me to a dish of I-don’t-remember-what as the center spun. (He’d been there before.)

We saw the reports today. Richard thinks Nicholas was the youngest, I think he was their grandson. But that Border Patrolman‘s face in that picture is one of theirs.

How to make sure you didn’t get taken off the voting rolls
Monday October 01st 2012, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Politics

While the Chicago teachers’ strike was going on, whatever one may think of that (and I actually thought their mayor made some good points against some of their arguments), Romney went on record as saying that teachers’ unions should not be allowed to make political contributions.

Think about that a moment. Out of all the possible groupings of individuals or corporate interests in the entire country, and under a Republican-celebrated Citizens United Supreme Court decision, teachers’, and only teachers’, unions should not be allowed to do what all the others throughout the United States can.

Says the man who wants to run the place. Shades of 47%. (The video Romney didn’t know was being taken behind closed doors with his donors in Florida.)

I can understand changing the laws to limit political contributions to being by individual human beings only, but I cannot understand how Romney could think it fine to disempower one and only that one group. Who would be next?

If only that were all there is to complain about. I read an article today at If what their investigators say is true, then like that video, word has to get out.

They say they have found that there is a group that is Mitt Romney’s 11th biggest donor, HIG Capital. Of the 49 people in charge at HIG, 11 used to work for Bain. And what do they sell?

Voting machines.

Voting machines that counted 10,000 non-existent votes in Ft. Worth. And there is more posted there, if you want to read it.

Holy. Cow.

With the Republican efforts to purge the voter rolls going on in contested states, the place to start is here,, to make sure that your right to do so has not been messed with while there’s time to fix it if it has. Clicking through, it takes me to my county’s voter registration, which asks for my zip code, house number, and date of birth: yes I am still registered. Yes my husband still is, despite there being another man of the same name in the same town–no problem. Yes Michelle is too, but no, our youngest, who has not lived in this state for three years, is not–in other words, the records were indeed updated as they should have been.

I want this question asked loudly and by many. Why is it okay for a company that sells voting machines to make large political donations to the candidate they want? On the presidential level, no less. Given the right wing’s worship of the unfettered free market, I want a straight answer on just what that voting machine company thinks it’s buying with their large investment.

The New York Times had a graph last week showing the possibility of one individual vote’s possibly changing an entire state’s outcome, and in one swing state the probability was 8%. One. Single. Vote. Your choice to stand a moment in your precinct’s booth could determine not just the Presidency but Supreme Court decisions for a generation to come.