Come up for air
Wednesday September 30th 2020, 6:23 pm
Filed under: Life,Politics

Mercifully, I no longer remember his name.

I woke up this morning with the thought that I now understood what last night’s debate reminded me of.

Back when my lupus was newly diagnosed, I was doing swim therapy at a pool where you had to have a doctor’s prescription to go there–so that everybody was dealing with something, everybody knew it, and people tended to look out for each other. At 31 when I showed up I was the baby of the morning group, which but for a few middle-aged car accident victims was all elderly. The pool was set up in a T shape for exercises on this side, with a wheelchair ramp going down into the water, and laps on that.

There was one notable exception to that camaraderie.

My hearing wasn’t as bad back then, but still, I left my hearing aids in my locker because you can’t get them wet so every conversation required my full attention on the person speaking to me from a near distance; having to put my glasses down next to the pool didn’t help. So I would be watching closely and hanging on every word.

There was this one guy old enough to be a WWII vet (he told me how sorry he was that he was too old to sign up for the Gulf War going on at the time, he liked being one of the boys) who really got off on that attention, and probably my relative youth. I couldn’t just catch a few words from a distance and brush him off and he caught me off guard the first time. The second time conveyed that that hadn’t been a one-off, it was the pattern: he was a full-on dirty old man who enjoyed making you squirm and when he tried the third time and it was more of the same I wasn’t going to be subjected to any more of that. We’re done here.

He took exception to that.

I was doing laps, wrapped in my own thoughts, and was just coming up for the next breath when I suddenly found myself grabbed by the arm hard and held underwater. I couldn’t believe that old man had that much strength. I tried to fight him off but was totally overpowered. He held, and held, and the lifeguard was derelict and oblivious just then. (It was not Jonathan. Just wanted to add that. And I did reconnect with him after I wrote that post, which he got to read.)

Finally, at the desperate moment when I was sure I was going to drown the guy let go and I came up spluttering and furious and he finally got the attention he’d been craving.

He wasn’t the one I had words to say to though because I wasn’t going to give him that satisfaction–although I’m rather sorry I didn’t scream for the benefit of everybody there. But I was just working too hard on gasping in the blessed air to be able to.

The lifeguard’s boss apologized over the incident and told me they’d pulled the guy aside after my complaint and told him that if he ever touched anyone there again he would be banned for life.

Word didn’t need to get around–the old ladies all already knew about him.

Then management told me that I didn’t have to do laps in a lane next to him anymore–which started out sounding good, till they added, if there’s an empty lane next to you when he wants one you’re the one who’ll have to come out. Or you can stay. If he’s already swimming laps and a lane opens up next to him you can wait till there’s another one but we’re not going to make him get out.

But he nearly killed me!

No consequences. I could not believe my ears. They said, Well, we didn’t witness it happening.

I debated calling the cops and saying I’d been assaulted but a friend who had been a cop told me that without the pool backing me up it would go nowhere. The Me, Too era was a long way off. It wasn’t till years later that I wondered if he was part of the non-profit’s funding.

Meantime, the guy complained to me in the whine of bullies everywhere, “Can’t you take a joke!?”

I moved over to the Y after that and never came back.

A few years later one of my old swim friends let me know that Dirty Old Man had moved away and I never had to worry about running into him in the grocery store again. It was an intense, immense relief.

And that’s how we’re going to feel when those votes are counted and in January if we do our part. Let’s be done with this ugly dirty cheating controlling hateful old man. We don’t have to drown our democracy in his lies anymore.

And on a completely different note, since we could all use a bit of relief after that, it’s Fat Bear week at Katmai National Park in Alaska. Vote for the biggest bruin!

Blessed be the peacemakers
Tuesday September 29th 2020, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Politics

1. Happy Birthday to Spencer! Who, like Little Cindy Lou Who, is no more than two. A soccergame-type bag full of toddler-sized balls of various sports like his older siblings play with started the little guy’s day off in just his style.

2. The phone finally rang.

They want you *where* in twenty minutes?! (Mentally counting the number of cities away.) Did they know where we live?! C’mon, let’s go! I have never dropped my knitting so fast. He was actually only three minutes late, but I got him there before they closed and that was the important part. Yay for pandemic rush hours, I guess?

3. And then there was the debate.

Trump tried to badmouth his way through the entire thing, loudly, angrily, nonstop, utterly bulldozing Chris Wallace and thinking he could shake Joe Biden that way, who at last said, “Will you shut up, man?” It’s already been made into a t-shirt. Except that you’d have to wear that face.

Kudos to the caption writers who managed to get most of both men’s words even when both were talking, one’s lines in line above the other’s. I don’t know how even people with normal hearing made out what they were saying otherwise. Biden was not going to let Trump simply steal all his time–he wanted to be polite, y’know, have a debate, take turns, be respectful, do it normal, but that just wasn’t possible.

So. We learned that when asked directly, repeatedly, even by someone from Fox that no, Trump will not renounce racism. Instead, he called on the violent militia men like in Charlottesville and Portland to “Stand Back and Stand By,” and to (illegally intimidate) at polling stations (one guess as to which ones). It was a clear call to arms and not as a metaphor. When asked if he would abide by the election results he would not answer but instead called on the Supreme Court to, clearly, call it for him.

Biden, meantime, was trying to put out a firestorm of lies with a single garden hose: “That’s not true,” again and again. A couple of times he simply laughed, because, what are you going to do? You can’t change this guy and get him to abide by the rules or even plain decency.

Biden talked directly to the American people. He said he would not defund the police as Trump claimed but rather would give them actually more resources, not less–so that they could hire mental health professionals to help deal on scene with those who could be helped that way, and so that the police could get better training. He proposed bringing people together in the White House, Black Lives Matters activists and police activists, for them to see that much of what they want is the same thing. More justice. More awareness of how it is to walk in each other’s shoes.

More peacemaking.

You’re only going to get that from one of these guys.

Every vote matters.

Going postal
Monday September 28th 2020, 4:48 pm
Filed under: Life

A few months ago, I placed an online grocery order that came with frozen water bottles to help keep chilled things chilled during delivery. They were cheap ones that threatened to break open, not helped by having been frozen, but they did the job the sender had intended.

I’m not a fan of non-reusable plastic water bottles, but there they were, so I put two in the cabinet and one in my car because you never know–hoping it wouldn’t split and spill.

We’re having another freakishly hot spell in northern California. It is 103 out there.

I have an old high school friend who lives in New York City who’s been fighting cancer and, along with her husband, a bad bout of covid that started some months ago. She explained long hauler syndrome before I’d heard anyone else describing it.

Saturday, she was talking about mailing a ballot to avoid the crowds, given everything.

I asked her if she was allergic to wool and what was her favorite color? Thinking, that, at least, I can do something about.

When she answered, I sent her a link to some Malabrigo Mecha and told her to scroll down to the Teal Feather color. She thought it was exquisite. She loved blue greens.

It was nothing fancy but it was very soft and warm and already done and all I had to do was run the ends in and that hat could go off in the mail today–even if it’s not cold here now, it will be sooner there.

She gave me her address and I did that.

But first, I thought about something else I maybe should mail or maybe should wait on and there were reasons for both and why make two trips but really, you should first do… I found myself spending way too much time not putting on my shoes and getting out that door with that one package all ready to go and what was up with all this anyway? Rush hour is coming. Just, go!

I debated at the corner: this post office or that one? Right or left? I started to pull right and then somehow decisively wheeled back the other way and went left and didn’t think much of it.

The air conditioner was very slow to kick in but it had a lot to deal with. Man, it was hot.

I got there, mailed my package, got in my car, and waited as several other cars ahead of me pulled away and out of the parking lot.

There was an older man sitting on the curb over there in front of his old minivan. It looked like he’d had a breakdown. He pulled out his cellphone as I waited for the cars in front of me to pull out, then as I rolled up to the road beside him his shoulders slumped. Whatever answer he’d gotten, it was clear he was going to be sitting there awhile. No tow truck comes fast. Friends might, but the look on his face described his day.

Someone was coming up behind me and I was blocking them. I pulled onto the road.

And thought at myself, Are you KIDDING me?? Is this even a question?!

I swung back into the entrance just ahead, stopped the car, reached into the back seat, got back in, pulled around and back to that point, window rolled down.


There was no way that stranger white lady was talking to him and he glanced the opposite direction so as not to embarrass himself thinking I would.

Nevertheless I persisted, water bottle held straight out.

Sir? Would you like some water?

The thought hung in the air between us a moment as he tried to take it in.

His sun-worn brown face broke into relief, gratitude, love, joy, even–and he stood and, hunched and walking like someone with a bad back and aching hips, he made it over to my outstretched arm and received that bottle. As I knew in that moment he would have offered me had we been reversed. “Thank you!” he smiled, thick with emotion.

He’s someone’s grampa out there.

I figured he could deal with his car and his phone better than I could with my hearing, and the people in the post office were right over there if need be, he just needed to get through this part right now in that heat.

It wasn’t till I got past the next light that it hit me that all that indecisiveness and dithering over whether to leave yet and the string of cars leaving the post office in front of me and every step along the way had landed me at that spot and seeing what I needed to see exactly when I needed to be there to see it for his sake.

I went home and put the rest of those water bottles in the car. And added a coconut water for good measure.

He is so right
Sunday September 27th 2020, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Life

One last note that I saw him busy typing into his phone at the curb, so he didn’t see me waving hi and I let him be.


I just picked it up. It is fabulous.  Thank you so much!

    Have a great day!
I hope that your son continues to enjoy and to play his trumpet.  He will get many fabulous memories from the joy and the stories that it brings to his kids and others. Once music is part of your life, it’s always a part.

Glad to help a musician out
Saturday September 26th 2020, 7:59 pm
Filed under: Life

This put a big smile on my face:

“If this is still available, I could really use it. My trumpet case is
held together with tire tubes, staple gun staples and duct tape.


And so it is off to a good place and Joe’s note made me feel like, okay, that’s what it’s been waiting here to find. Go Joe.

Gig case
Friday September 25th 2020, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Musings during the ongoing toss-and-organize and a wow, do we still have that.

Way back when my kids were in band I bought a seriously padded trumpet case. It’s big, because it was the most protective one I could find, because, kids.

It was in the back seat twenty years ago when my youngest and I were rear-ended into another car so hard that the car crumpled up to the back window, the glove compartment spewed open and all over us, the rearview mirror twisted sideways, I lost my sense of balance for life hitting the headrest so hard and the trumpet went flying into the backs of our seats hard enough to seriously damage the bell despite all that padding. West Valley Music spent a month repairing it. But that case helped keep that trumpet from doing worse to us and to it.

So it holds a lot of memories and it has taken a hit, but all you can see is that one side curves inward somewhat. The trumpet continued to be in it till the younger son lost interest after middle school and the older son, who’d had it first and had always done more with it and wanted it more, took it home for his own kids and let it live happily ever after.

In a different case that fits better in their space.

I just offered the padded one (which came from West Valley) to one group, and if that doesn’t work I’ll ask the school district’s music department.

Hot cocoa for the win
Thursday September 24th 2020, 3:07 pm
Filed under: Life

Couldn’t hurt to mention to Panasonic that their microwave died just outside of warranty and left a customer unhappy, right? So I sent them a message and it was answered today with a link.

Which showed that a new inverter part, which might or might not be enough, was $118.95, probably plus shipping plus the time spent waiting for it to come. And then the next part. And the next. And the hassle of playing repairman, although, he could do it.

A new microwave that was essentially identical to the one we had, was, it turns out, $119.99 if you bought it inside the local Costco so they didn’t have to ship it.

I debated spending five times the price to get a fancier brand–not that I wanted to spend that kind of money at all but it would be so nice to have something dependable. Doesn’t exist. At least this way I’d get five years of warranty with five microwaves.

And so I blew that extra $1.04. Call me the last of the big spenders. First time I’ve been inside a Costco in seven months, but tomorrow’s hot cocoa made me do it.

Getting to be a pattern
Wednesday September 23rd 2020, 9:18 pm
Filed under: Life

I just spent over two hours researching microwaves. My Panasonic started heating slower and slower at 14 months and after two weeks of that, today it’s cold hot chocolate for you. It’s done.

I want a smaller footprint than 20″, as long as it’s 1100 watts. Can’t have it. I want easy to clean. You can have that. I want it not to die while it still feels new, I was very careful to keep it spotless to prolong its life but no go, and for ~10% of every single brand across Consumer Reports, expensive or cheap, it will die early–take your chances.

I want to like how it looks. Well then.

So, Costco has at a very good price the same machine that’s died on me twice now, so at least the next time I break the glass turntable I’ll have a backup one. (Again.) So I can drop it. (Again.)

Big red truck
Tuesday September 22nd 2020, 8:12 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Taking the recycling bins to the curb, my neighbor was returning home. It was good to see he’s still getting his daily walk in.

He stopped a moment, wanting to explain that the firefighters had been in front of our house because his wife had fallen and he had not been able to pick her up. But it’s okay, she is fine; that’s just something they do when you need them, he told me gratefully.

I came away thinking, we went to their 50th anniversary party long enough ago that I cannot be sure how many years it’s been. Fifteen, easily.

They still have each other, and that is something to celebrate for awhile yet.

Monday September 21st 2020, 11:13 pm
Filed under: Food,Life

My hair broke the spatula.

It took some doing. I was about to reach forward into the mixer bowl to scrape the edges when, in that movement, my hair, which, granted, has gotten a bit long these days, suddenly wrapped itself around my wrist and it and in that moment of surprise (I’d love to see the slow-motion video of just exactly how) the spatula went flying. The silicone head, the reason I bought it two years ago, ran off from the cheap plastic handle from that Amazon set.

I picked them up and looked. This was no trial separation. They were toast.

The bread dough will be, too, but not till tomorrow when it’s good and ready.

Sunday September 20th 2020, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,History,Life,Mango tree

My mango variety drops its fruit just before they’re fully ripe, and I’ve learned that if you just slightly brush the bottom of one with your fingertips and it falls into your hand, you got it when it was ready to let go.

Two were like that while the fire sky had been gray or worse for three weeks. They were good, but the intensity of the perfume was not at all up to last year’s–they’d needed that bright direct sun the ashes were filtering out.

The third and last one that had survived what the winter had thrown at the tree waited till there was bright sunshine again for several days. It was very small, but held great promise in the palm of my hand.

Like Alphonsos do, it needed a few days indoors. I put it in a beautiful hand thrown rice bowl from my friends Mel and Kris which displayed it with the majesty it deserved.

And man, was I tempted. More than I’d like to admit. I’m not proud of that.

But I was hopefully going to get more mangoes in future years.

There is never enough time, there is not much time, there is hopefully as much time as she and her family need. Her granddaughter gave her a new great-granddaughter this weekend, and there is joy.

I checked with her daughter, who assured me that there was a caretaker there who would open the door; just tell her I’m Jean’s friend from church.

There was no plan whatsoever of my going in and actually seeing and risking her, but I could at least hand something over to them from there.

I had a card that popped up a bouquet of paper flowers for this lovely master gardener. The woman who shared her pomegranates that are why I have such a tree in my yard too, now, having never known before what a pomegranate was really supposed to taste like. Who was eighteen when she witnessed Pearl Harbor, and lived.

Twice she had tried to grow mangoes like back home. Twice the trees had died in our cold. She knew what a homegrown mango could taste like. If only.

At 94, she finally got to have one again.

And I suppose the fact that the sky took away a little of the perfume and presumably (like my figs) some of the sweetness (although it still smelled wonderful), she gets to still believe her childhood Haden ones were the best.

She wrote love to the last page
Saturday September 19th 2020, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Life

For those who have not yet heard: author Cat Bordhi was a master teacher, both in knitting and in life, and her daughter worked from home from her home with her young son these last few months, keeping his grandmother company as she gradually slipped away from us all. I’ve met Cat. She was a lovely, loving soul.

I have a pair of socks she designed, socks like no pair I’d seen before, and it is a fitting honor to her that they were knitted and gifted to me as a complete surprise by a friend who knew I would love them.

Justice Ginsburg
Friday September 18th 2020, 8:28 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Who had just too much laid on her frail, aging, but willing shoulders. It’s up to us now.

I am gutted.

A boost
Thursday September 17th 2020, 7:10 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

Afton mentioned Aftober, the race to pick up and get to the end of some unfinished project by the end of October, and suddenly I have incentive to knit not just another hat (there’ve been two of late) but that endless intarsia afghan.

I needed that incentive. Alright, then! Thank you, Afton!

(Maybe the still slightly broken blog will let me post celebratory pictures by then.)

Today is for the color blue
Wednesday September 16th 2020, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Food,Life

I went to pick a fig or two this morning and saw a few speckles on the ground and wondered at the idea that it had rained a little in the night–it was not in the forecast.

And then about halfway to the tree it got through to me that the rain was getting through to me–it not only wasn’t done, it was just getting started. I got my fruit for breakfast, hurried back inside, and found myself not soaked but wet and cold enough that I was definitely changing out of that.

It didn’t make it to even a hundredth of an inch.

But the air cleared up and the sky turned a forgotten blue. We can breathe again.

Meantime, after wanting to for a long time I bought a silk comforter six months ago and after watching this video of mulberry leaf to finished quilt, am utterly in awe of those who created it.