A ride home
Tuesday August 31st 2021, 9:27 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I walked in the door and told my very tall husband, That was bizarre. And if you had come with me I don’t think it would have happened.

I’d gone to do a quick run to Trader Joe’s, and while I was loading up my car, there was a woman I’d say in her early 20s standing nearby, looking around, with a backpack that I registered as being full of groceries she’d just bought. She was wearing the sweatshirt of one of the local universities.

She stepped forward and asked me a question. Since one wears masks in public here, I couldn’t lipread: it took her three if not four tries.

Turns out she needed a ride home. Near the high school my kids went to? Sure, that wasn’t very far, I’d be glad to. (It would have been a very long walk, but in a car, no big deal.) But I made it clear that I’m quite deaf and I was really going to need help getting her to the right place and she would have to be loud to help me navigate it right.

She asked me where I lived and I waved offhandedly in the opposite direction and said it didn’t matter.

She was from a demographic that has not been treated well the last few years in particular, and she was young and female–I have no doubt I looked safe and it was probably a relief to her to find me, and indeed, I was feeling protective of her, given that it was going to get dark soon.

We made conversation as best we could as I drove.

She asked me how many grandchildren I had, then couldn’t help but exclaim, Six?!

She asked me what I did before I retired. I smiled at that. I told her I had always planned to go back to work after my kids were in school and the first day my youngest was, I was rear-ended and it took me several years to recover from that accident. (I didn’t say, or the worse one half a dozen years later.) And I was hit with a major autoimmune disease. (Two, but one only inflicts so much information on acquaintances.) I had plans, I told her, but life kept happening to me–and it’s okay that it did.

I told her my one claim to fame was that I wrote a knitting book that was #1 on Amazon in its category for awhile.

She thought that was so cool and immediately looked it up.

I told her, You don’t have to do that, no worries!

She wanted to. As I pulled over, she wanted to pay me for the ride, and I said, You needed help and I could do it, so, that’s what you do when you can. You’ll find someone who will need your help later.

And then.

She tried to open up and tell me a little more of her own history.

While I sat there wholly inadequate because I couldn’t hear, when this time she clearly really needed me to. She tried, she got frustrated, I immediately sympathized with her and said I was so sorry. She was immediately sympathetic back and glad I wanted to hear her out even if I couldn’t–she was a good soul, whoever she was, and I hope life turns out really well for her. But I got enough to know that it’s been rough of late and she didn’t know where to turn.

I tried to think fast of the best way to tell her where to find whatever kind of help it was that she needed, but in the end all I knew for sure was how to be the deaf grandmother who went out of her way and wished her the best and was glad to offer a stranger a ride home. To show her that other people cared.

She had me move forward a bit more and stop in front of a different house, and I said I always wait to see women get safely inside their homes–but then I figured out pretty fast she wasn’t sure she wanted a stranger to know where she lives. And that’s okay. And so I let her be and drove on.

My sweetie considered all this and had some concerns; I told him, I did, too–and yet: I’d do it again. Someone needed help, I could help, so you do.

Because who doesn’t want a free band-aid? Right?
Monday August 30th 2021, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I gave him a quick heads-up when he had a moment’s break in his work day with, “I’m off to go get my flu shot.”

He did a double take. “A flu shot,” he answered, with recognition dawning in his voice in slow motion: like, Oh yeah. That type. I remember those. (We’d discussed covid boosters at length but we can’t do anything about them yet.)

To be fair, I’d interrupted his train of thought.

I wonder: how on earth did they decide what strains would be running rampant this winter, traveling east to west as they track them, when everybody stayed inside and most people in the world wore masks like they should and just about nobody was getting the flu?

Just covid. So much covid here.

Okay, well, whatever, I did it, which means he’ll get around to it soon, too. September 9 one year I was sent to the ER with serious flu complications and I’m never waiting that long again.

Post-op get-well basket
Sunday August 29th 2021, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

The elementary-school-age son of friends had had to have his appendix out, they told us; he was home now.

This is the family I gave Anya apricots to just before we left town to see the Washington grands and they’d carefully saved all the seeds for me. At the insistence of one of the boys, the pits from the rare-variety cherries he’d eaten, too. I was charmed and quietly told the parents that when the dad finishes his PhD I’m hoping to send them off into the world with a potted cherry tree grown from their son’s thoughtful gesture.

I couldn’t make their younger son’s stitches heal faster but I know they love a good fruit, so I could at least distract him a bit. I offered peaches bought yesterday at Andy’s; they said, Yes please!

I put just a couple from my tree in there with them. I confess the ones I’d tasted so far were drops (so many drops) and they weren’t great, but I figure when it falls off the tree into your hands as you walk by then it’s pretty much trying to claim it’s as ripe as it’s going to get and I hoped those would live up to my memory of them. It’s been so dry and the smoke blocks the UV and interferes with the sweetening of the fruit.

Walking up the stairs to their apartment, box in one hand, cane in the other, I watched in dismay as an Andy’s slipped out and bounced down to a story below. I pointed that one out as needing to be eaten first.

They’d once brought over their orange Flemish Giant for us to pet, the easiest-going rabbit you could ever hope to meet. And big!

I did not know they had two bunnies. Nor had I ever heard of a Lionhead. It looked just like the cute little gray fluffball at the top of that page, with A. explaining that she’d just clipped its fur around its forehead so it could see. It was adorable.

It was willing to let me pet it for a little while but only a little while and it was not willing to accept a walnut from me yet. I was a stranger. It was going to take more than one in-person time. It did not believe in instantly trusting all big things like its housemate, and that’s okay.

As we adults were talking, the younger son slipped away to the other room, reappearing a few times with a bounce (man, I never looked that good after surgery. Kids are amazing. But he’s too young for the covid vaccines and I kept my mask on.) The twelve-year-old stuck around a bit longer.

I said something to him about my Indian Free peaches not comparing to Andy’s and he looked at me steadily, munching away on one of mine, and pronounced, “It’s better.”

I don’t know if he was being sweet or if he just lucked out on a really good one but he most certainly made my day.

Light as Eyre
Saturday August 28th 2021, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Knit

Usually, when I’m going to make a generous sized cowl with lots of–how would you describe it? Tree ring layers? I start narrow at the top and widen as I go down.

This time, it was pretty clear early on that I was going to need to do the opposite. Not early enough to talk me into frogging and starting over–besides, I had forgotten that, much as I love knitting baby alpaca, when it’s spun fine it’s going to have a lot of bounce in it and it’s going to want to jump off the needles. Which it did a few times. The mill was trying to balance between the merino’s need for lots of twist and the alpaca’s need not to. It was soft, it was pretty, and it’s a tossup whether my eyes or my hands fell in love with the skein first but it was not the most fun knit ever and I wasn’t going to do any extra stitches I didn’t have to–done wanted to stay done. So I improvised.

MadTosh’s Eyre Light, it turns out, is discontinued. It’s on sale in the link; I didn’t find any other current sources. Our Local Yarn Store where my skein came from might yet have a few.

What I did was that after double-decrease-finishing the tops of triangles, then on what would have been a wrong side row had I not been knitting in the round I did the two decreases per ten stitches without their matching yarn overs, ie, by not having a rest row before going straight to those decreases I made it look as if the previous yarn overs flowed right in there as much as possible.

The narrowing was less drastic than I’d imagined and I have to lay the cowl flat to see which way goes up. It flows well, even if it changed how the colorwork moves.

It looks a bit of a hodgepodge lying there but you put it on and see the tree rings and it’s just perfect. And so soft. I’m glad I bought it and I’m glad I made it and I’m glad I don’t have to do it again.

I think it’s okay to cut the yarn and run the ends in now.

Let’s dry not to do that again
Friday August 27th 2021, 9:34 pm
Filed under: Life

I think we were first on their list for the day.

It wasn’t till they unplugged the old dryer and hauled it out of there that I saw how close we had come to something far, far worse than having to fork out the bucks for a new machine. The photo barely shows it, but, that wall. It’s not like we have a surplus of firefighters kicking around looking for something to do right now.

It made me a little hesitant to start the first load. But it seemed fine.

I knew the new one had a larger capacity but I was still surprised at how great the difference was once I moved the clothes from the washer: what would have overstuffed the old one to the top of the door (I was deliberately doing a bigger load than usual, both because there was a lot to do and I was curious) definitely didn’t come to halfway up on the new, the suggested maximum. And then it dried in half the time. Evenly. And it’s quieter!

Okay I can see how it says it uses a lot less electricity than my old one did.

And yes the lint filter is in the front but it’s angled nicely. There having been no floor model, I didn’t think to look inside the top of the line one–but I wanted that warranty and reputation anyway and no other brand was really going to do, as long as I had to spend a lot regardless.

Turns out the very fine mesh part doesn’t pull out: only the white plastic piece on top of it does. Okay, so it’s not going to spew as you move it after all.

The specs said the dryer must be vented to outside. Well, yes, of course.

Then I saw picture #12 in this log cabin. What machine in the world is going to pull that off? How does that even pass inspection?

I guess they’re trying to dissipate the heat and debris before it gets anywhere near that uninsulated unprotected wood. I might actually have quite a bit of sympathy for that. But they’ll need to check that houseful of hose often.

But meantime, yes, I quite like my new toy. And even more, I’m relieved.

Edited to add: the old one was a hand-me-down from my friend Rachel who’d moved her new Whirlpool set and then bought a house with its own. I once bought a brand new dryer when our youngest left a crayon in his pocket and it dyed the white plastic drum red for life. On the very first load. I called the manufacturer and they said for a gas dryer, (our last such), the solvents you’d have to use are not worth the risk of how the gas could react; just live with it, sorry.

Didn’t happen this time!

These guys
Thursday August 26th 2021, 4:08 pm
Filed under: Life

The guys on the phone at two different stores yesterday telling me it would be weeks got me to start over again on looking: any brand, any anything.

Turns out the only dryers that were cheaper right now were ones with reviews saying how terrible they’d turned out within weeks and how bad the companies were at responding. It was not encouraging.

There were so many models that had zero mention of any warranty whatsoever; only a few had one year parts and labor, if that much–surprisingly even on upper-end machines. Don’t these guys believe in their products? (Is that a trick question?)

And then there was Speed Queen. Their cheapest model had a three year warranty, their middle ones, five, and their uppermost seven but at a price tag that there was just no way.

Turns out there are two middle electric models and I’d only been looking at the one that looked most like my washer, the one I’d been told would take weeks to get in stock. Skip that matchy-matchy thing and I could pay a hundred less *and* get an extra feature whereby it can take in a small amount of water, heat it up, and then steam your wrinkled dress shirts and make them perfect after you forgot to take them out of the dryer immediately the first time. Go figure.

I also now know that my elderly Whirlpool that took 70 minutes to dry a rather small load of towels, it wasn’t its age–their new ones would, too, and that it wasn’t my imagination that it was too small inside for the size loads my washer does.

So, needing to do something to get this process started and figuring I had a long long wait ahead of me so might as well begin it now, I printed out the number for that steaming model and headed over to University Electric in Santa Clara where I’d bought my Speed Queen washer a few years ago. I figured if nothing else they had an inventory so large they would have to have something in some brand available. I also knew that they had 102 years of getting customer service right.

I walked in, I looked for where I knew the Speed Queens were, I found a few floor models. Some of which were tagged with display-model clearance stickers, including the most expensive bells-and-whistles one.

I was sorely tempted.

It became my backup plan.

No sign of the one they’d told me wasn’t in stock nor the one on that sheet I’d printed out. I figured at least I’d get a seven year warranty (they confirmed that) on the fancy-schmancy over the five years of the one I’d come hoping for, even if I really really didn’t want to spend the extra (or any of this) right now with all the house expenses looming over us.

That’s when I went to find a salesman.

I told the guy that I’d made a point of coming back to them because when I’d bought my washer, their delivery guys had looked at my laundry room set up and were afraid the hose was going to spew across the room given the number of rotations per minute that new machine did. They switched out the super-cheap part the remodeling contractor had installed with their own, then waited while the machine filled and spun out once to make sure it was going to work out okay. It very much did.

I’d never heard of delivery/installation people who cared that much about doing right by their customers.

He kind of waved me away with yeah yeah that’s what we do, like, why are you even impressed–isn’t this just how you do it?

He didn’t think they had DR5 in electric. He explained that they can’t just order one, either, there’s a minimum number, implying that they would be in no hurry at this particular not-normal time if there wasn’t an immediate and particular demand from multiple customers.

And then he looked it up in their inventory list.

And that is why my new comes-with-steaming-function DR5 Speed Queen electric dryer is being installed tomorrow. It will be an inch narrower than my Whirlpool but, Dr. Who style, will have a larger capacity inside.

Left high and dry
Wednesday August 25th 2021, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Life

It is amazing how good kids so young can be at a sport. Sink it sink it sink it with all those arms flailing away at them (but somehow almost never fouling.) Score 23-54, with Parker, zooming in from the right, scoring the final basket for that winning number from a goodly distance away.

Meantime, back to normal life if a bit wistfully, the Indian Free peach is going to town to a degree it never has before and I’ve noticed since we got home that the critters have, for the first time, been abandoning the ripe figs to go after those peaches that aren’t yet.

And the thing I learned today: it’s not just a pandemic chip shortage. It’s not just a new car shortage and resulting inflated used-car prices, nor of furniture held up in shipping backlogs.

It’s hitting the washers and dryers made right here in the good old USA. Did they have one in stock? The man laughed ruefully. Three to four weeks for a new Speed Queen to arrive, and I could almost hear an implied ‘if you’re lucky’ in his tone. The next store said the same thing.

It was so bad that I could smell our 15-year-old dryer trying to burn the house down (he couldn’t. That could be dangerous) and came running across the house to stop it.

Check the outtake, Richard said between meetings. I did–it was clear, and it wasn’t a burning lint smell anyway. At all.

That makes three major appliances that have thrown a fiery temper tantrum in the last few years, even if only the Maytag dishwasher actually succeeded in scorching the floor. Are we just that lucky or does everybody eventually go through this?

The top of the neighbor’s clothesline partly shows across the top of the fence and I’ve been wishing all day I had one. It could be a long month.

So: anyone have anything they particularly like or dislike about their dryer? Have you had one that’s lasted a long time? One that flamed out fast? Would you recommend what you have?

A little camp out
Tuesday August 24th 2021, 9:07 am
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

The kids had a small fire pit set on the patio, well away from anything that you wouldn’t want it near and as it was getting going I was pulling out the very few weeds I found at the edge of the lawn–no need to let those go to seed.

I was offered the fire as a way to get rid of that handful quickly. The kids got into the spirit of this way of being helpful and I found myself with Hudson holding something long that had fallen off I think the neighbor’s tree into the yard and was going to do the same after me. If he’d stood it upright I think it would have reached about to his nose. Even trying to balance that in that little fire pit was going to be…problematical.

One of the reasons kids do dumb things, according to a lecture we went to by a neuropsychologist years ago, is because the nerves in their brains haven’t fully developed the myelin sheath around them–not till between 18 and 21. What that means, he said, is that they physically cannot intuit that if they do this then that will happen.

To which I would say, though, they can be taught it specific instance by specific instance.

Now, my handful of weeds wasn’t going to be a problem but what he’d come up with quite likely was so I said, I don’t want to put anything in that could shoot flames up my arm.

He kind of went, Oh, with his eyebrows as he considered that and learned something new.

And so, his young cousin having shown me where it was, we went past the garage to the compostables bin and he threw mine in there for me, too.

Then the kids were offered a bag of marshmallows, a box of graham crackers, and a Costco package of Hershey bars and the means to have at it from enough of a distance. The classic campfire dessert right there at home with their four cousins.

Turns out my daughter-in-law and her sister hadn’t heard our honeymoon story about the skunk and that’s always a fun one to share.

And then–ohmygoodness! After waiting his turn and cooking his marshmallow and making his s’more, there was Parker: offering it to me!

I don’t eat a lot of sweets anymore as my age catches up to my metabolism, but that one demanded to be enjoyed and praised and I tell you, it’s been a long time since a Hershey bar tasted that good. That s’more was perfect in every way.

And the sky! No smoke!
Monday August 23rd 2021, 10:20 am
Filed under: Family,History,Life

I’ve never been so glad we parked the car at the airport.

We spent the weekend visiting the San Diego grands, a trip planned before Delta was really a thing yet. Since it certainly is now, we had to decide, but being healthy and vaccinated there was just no way we were going to cancel.

Hudson and his cousin Hayes had turned eight and were being baptized, which the Mormon church does when children are old enough to start to discern and choose right from wrong for themselves and not just react to the world around them. It’s a joyful time, and there was a mini-reunion for our daughter-in-law’s family in the process. I adore her family.

I told them that between their late father’s book and one my mom had, I’d found out that their Swedish ancestor and mine had arrived on the same boat. It just took 150 years or so for them to arrange a marriage from up there. They laughed.

One uncle who’s a doctor asked me quietly if we drove or flew, and I knew what he was asking and explained that with my husband’s job he just couldn’t take off the extra two days, meaning, yes, we risked the plane. (Sorry!)

Twenty-three months since we’d seen any of them. The kids have grown and grown up so much. Hudson in particular seems so much more contemplative. Wise for his age. From age six to age eight is such a leap in development.

Maddy asked me why I can’t go out in the sun. I gave a very simplified explanation of lupus. She wanted to know, what does the disease do? I thought, let’s not freak the poor kid out, and put it in terms a six year old could understand: “It makes me hurt all over.” (Kidney failure, temporary blindness on one side, Crohn’s as a side effect, cardiac inflammation, central and autonomic nervous system–oh be quiet, brain.)

She considered that, and that’s the way it is and it didn’t bother me so she was okay with that. And then we ran to the other room and played some more.

The whole weekend had this inner songtrack on endless loop and I found myself humming it more than once with the kids. “I can sing this song, and you can sing this song… We’re gonna have a good time…” And we did, at long last we did.

It was over far too soon and our planned last-flight-home got delayed and delayed. Our son dropped us off at the airport with an emphatic, Call if they cancel, okay?

Thankfully they didn’t. We fell into bed at 1:11 a.m.

Raptor for Ronna
Friday August 20th 2021, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Wildlife

I posted yesterday before dinner, early for me.

About an hour later I got the news.

Ronna and her husband moved into town when Luke was a small child, and she was one of those people who is always looking out for everybody around her. Their family grew during the years they lived here and we hoped we would get to see their kids grow up.

But when the rent on their house hit close to four times our mortgage a few years ago, her husband took a job in Fresno and they moved to where they could buy their own house for the first time.

Eventually, he changed jobs again and they moved back. Sort of. Over near the beach about an hour away, and I wanted to figure out how to get together and catch up and see her kids bigger and all that–but for the pandemic.

Meantime, she’d taken up running.

Last I heard she was training for the big one, the Boston Marathon.

Two days ago, Luke was not just getting taller in pictures on Facebook, she was driving him to Utah for college; her folks live near there and she was going to get a visit in with them while getting him settled in for his freshman year.

Thirty minutes from arrival they were hit head-on by a drunk driver and rear-ended. By the injuries, it looks like she swerved hard to avoid the drunk, sparing Luke most of it and taking the brunt herself; he broke his shoulder. But they both lived. I have no idea about the drunk.

She has a long, long road ahead of her and the surgeries to try to save her leg have begun.

There are the covid restrictions on visitors.

Her brother works in the trauma hospital she was taken to, as do other people she knows.

Her sister-in-law’s brother was the first cop to arrive at the scene.

There is so much love surrounding her and her son right now, and someday when she comes home, man, we are going to celebrate!

I had wondered who I had bought this blank card for last year and why but in the moment I needed it it was perfect.

And then today, while thinking about Ronna and all she and her family are having to go through, and if anybody could handle it it would be her, but man–

–I happened to look up.

There was a Cooper’s hawk on the fence.

The nearest two tall trees they nested in are gone now and with an outbreak they’ve asked people not to keep their birdfeeders up. I hadn’t seen a Cooper’s but once in a quick pass-through in a year–but there it was, perched on the fence, then walking down it half the length of the yard, turning, pacing back, the late sun shining brilliantly against its long yellow legs.

When life is at its hardest and most intense, somehow, that’s when they come.

It stopped looking around for small birds and faced the sun, giving me a good look that it was an adult Cooper’s, and just chilled a moment there.

It let me move a few feet to my chair and my phone without being the least bit bothered by it. We took each other in.

I just let love for it, for thanks for the moment, for love for nature, just completely wash over me and out from me towards it. So grateful.

It fluffed its feathers out like it was glad to be home as I snapped pictures like old times, and stayed with me until it was done.

Delta didn’t Dawn
Thursday August 19th 2021, 5:27 pm
Filed under: Life

I raised an eyebrow as she walked in to the post office across and just ahead of me but it was to no effect. In that instant, in her reaction, it was clear she hadn’t simply forgotten hers.

By law right now you must wear a mask indoors in public places in this county.

She was having some issue with whatever she was trying to send, and so she spent a fair amount of time with the clerk explaining it to her, then going over to the side to fill out whatever, coming back to her, and back to over there, and was finally ready to come back again to that clerk.

Who was a very petite older Asian woman, very sweet, very soft-spoken, very smiling, trying hard to help the customer.

And in no position, neither culturally nor job-wise, newly working the front there, to ruffle feathers with her.

Yeah well I am. I got done, turned to that not-a-minority woman from about ten feet away and gave it my deaf-woman best. I was not shouting but I wanted everybody in that post office to hear me and I think it fair to say they did.

My tone was one of someone who’s very angry but trying to keep it under control. People stuck in their online echo chambers are not going to change till they get pushback from the real world holding them accountable for their actions–and I wanted to stand up for that poor clerk who couldn’t stand up for herself.

I wanted to say something the woman could not push back against nor punish anyone else for.

“I nearly *died* of covid and people who don’t wear masks have *no* idea!” I said, looking her straight in the eye. And thinking, Don’t you DARE do that to these good people here!

And turned and was gone.

And then I had to get over being angry because if I didn’t pray for her, and mean it, then I was on some level just as guilty as her: I know better.

Life above stuff
Wednesday August 18th 2021, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

Yellow shadows from the windows, yellowed outside. So strange and by now so familiar. Reports that the fire near South Tahoe had burst ten-fold overnight.

I knew how lucky we have it–in places closer to the flames it’s all orange. All we have to deal with is the breathing.

My dyer friend Lisa Souza and her husband had had a pre-planned go bag ready by the door and today they were out of there. I try to imagine, if I had to put my whole life into our little car, what would I take? I can’t fathom it. But they had family they could go to and that is no small comfort.

I met her years ago with her yarns on display and her wheel steadily, peacefully whir whirring away inside a fairy ring of redwoods at Kings Mountain Art Fair and I knew I wanted to learn how to do that, too, and did.

She told me later, her colorway–I want to say Sky Drama? The colors of radiant blue sky and brightest sunrise–was a new thing and not her usual and she wasn’t sure her customers would like it until I showed up, exclaimed in delight, and made a beeline right for it and happily took it home. Well then.

So she dyed up more and it sold very well.

When her husband retired, they sold their house in the Bay Area and moved into the foothills where they had a small cottage built next to the house where they could take care of her mother. When her mother passed, Lisa’s dye work and shop moved in there.

I can only hold my breath and hope it’s all still in place when they come home. And that they can. And that so many others can.

Update: they’ve just arrested a woman they believe to have been the arsonist.

Hamming it up
Tuesday August 17th 2021, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

I ordered some metal bird spikes. I had no idea what I was in for.

There were reviews saying be careful assembling these–and they were right. Those V-shaped pieces will fight you to the death when you’re trying to squeeze them so as to fit into the base and if you let up, if you look away, you’re going to have the back of this skewer coming like a flying mousetrap at your face. I got this third piece halfway in, stopped to take its picture, and before I put the phone down it poinged hard back out of there at me. Wearing glasses was a very good thing and its aim was bad. I’m fine.

I got the one strip assembled and there are fourteen more to go and I am checking the height of the apricot against the cage it’s growing out of and procrastinating putting the rest of them together.

But here’s the thing: I bought them to keep the rabbit out of that seedling but, one strip being pretty useless for that, I balanced it for now on top of two clusters of figs that were starting to turn color. I was out of clamshells so why not try.

The birds haven’t touched anything on that fig tree since. Nuh uh. Not going near that.

Do they know what pigeon spikes are? Can’t they tell it’s only in this one spot? The plastic spikes I used to have, they pretty much ignored.

Three days later, it’s still true. I have ripening figs all over the tree, a goodly number not in clamshells and they’re still left alone.

I went out to check it over tonight–and suddenly remembering that eyes in taller trees were certainly on me as I leaned into that tree, eyes that wanted to know how to thwart that menace, I pretended to be punctured for just a moment there.

That’ll teach’em.

Turning the Page
Monday August 16th 2021, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

We got our first single Page orange (background story in link) last year.

After a freeze months ago it dropped a lot of leaves and I thought that at long last it was giving up the ghost. But nope, somehow it has sixteen little green reminders that Christmas is coming. It may drop some, it may not, but this is by far the most productive it’s ever been. I wanted to show it to my Mom, given all the memories attached to that variety, so here it is.

Meantime, a listing. Your own castle! Ramparts! Cathedral ceilings!

Looking at the guy in that costume trying very very hard to go viral, I remembered a friend in high school who carefully constructed a coat of armor. Steve had everybody he knew save the tear-off tabs from their cans of soda, back when those were constructed that way, and he sewed and wove them together, curl side outwards. It was quite impressive and memory says it took him over a year to do.

I wish I could put Steve’s up against this guy’s standard Disney version to see how they compare.


Dude. The bed? Like you can peel yourself out of that thing before any woman on the planet has walked away laughing herself breathless?

I’ve never before seen a listing demonstrating that the shower actually works. He looks a little rusty at this.

It gushes about how many tens of thousands of bricks were laid to make that weird weird house that please don’t notice doesn’t have heat. (Then how do you even get an occupancy permit?) But! A few rooms have wall-unit AC! Pass the ogre ravioli, willya?

All I could think was, but don’t they know they have volcanoes nearby and that bricks crumble in earthquakes?

Try a little harder, sir
Sunday August 15th 2021, 10:34 pm
Filed under: History,Life

Sitting in the otherwise-empty choir seats up on the stand and staring down into his phone, since he’d done this the last time he’d visited and I knew what we were in for, he didn’t see me as I quietly snapped his picture before church started. His mask was covering his lips.

He knows our ward’s bishop is a virology and immunology researcher at Stanford, and if he somehow didn’t know that, one of the speakers during the meeting mentioned that very thing in gratitude that we have someone right here who’s always been glad to answer any question anybody asks about covid or the vaccines. Which he’d helped study.

The man surely had gotten the same email notification that the rest of us did.

He knew that the First Presidency of the Church, the stake president whom he answers to, the bishop, the state of California, and the county health department had all said that masks are to be worn indoors in the face of Delta.

Okay, so he was wearing one this time, just not how they meant, and the expression on his face was, Yawannamakesomethingofit? He looked like a defiant teenager. This was not a good look.

He made me live my religion right there in my seat, trying to be understanding and forgiving–but that doesn’t mean you let someone continue doing something wrong without calling them on it in the kindest way you can. Except that I didn’t want to go anywhere nearer his germs.

We always sit at the front so I can lipread and we’d arrived before he had so there we were right there, close enough as it was.

He caught my eye looking steadily up at his, as one does when waiting for a teenager to come to their senses, and turned away, his face softened to a sadness. Mask still down.

I decided to take that as progress.

When it was his time to speak, he quickly pulled it up properly before walking forward to where the bishop could see his face.

And pulled it back down once he was a few rows behind him again.

It’s like he had to keep face, literally, to the leaders–but not the rest of us.

I quietly sent that picture to the bishop after we got home, then deleted it from my phone. It came with a note saying, With my deafness I may not always get what you’re saying–but nobody can hide from me how they feel about it. (Basically, that’s one of the perks that makes it as close to worth it as anything will ever get.) And that was not a happy man.

Since this was not the first time, either, I said, please let me know in advance if at all possible when he’s going to come so that I can stay home that day. Yay Zoom.

So in case anyone’s curious what the official stance of the Mormon Church is: here is the email that was sent out to all this week. Note that the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a retired heart surgeon. Who wore a face mask for long hours throughout his career because that’s just what you do for those you’re caring for.

And I quote:


Dear Brothers and Sisters:

We find ourselves fighting a war against the ravages of COVID-19 and its variants, an unrelenting pandemic. We want to do all we can to limit the spread of these viruses. We know that protection from the diseases they cause can only be achieved by immunizing a very high percentage of the population.

To limit exposure to these viruses, we urge the use of face masks in public meetings whenever social distancing is not possible. To provide personal protection from such severe infections, we urge individuals to be vaccinated. Available vaccines have proven to be both safe and effective.
We can win this war if everyone will follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders. Please know of our sincere love and great concern for all of God’s children.
The First Presidency
Russell M. Nelson
Dallin H. Oaks
Henry B. Eyring