Begin as you mean to go on
Saturday December 31st 2022, 7:53 pm
Filed under: Life

As of 6:30 pm the amount of rainfall for this year for our city is 13.51″.

The amount of that rain that fell in the last 24 hours is 3.25″, as measured up in the foothills where it gets more than down here, but it all comes through town on its way to the Bay. The city said today’s amount is three times what the National Weather Service had predicted.

Should we happen to need to go to the hospital tonight for any reason (we don’t, and let’s not) we would have to go sideways and up across the foothills and around the flooding and the closed roads, hoping. (To Anne, who recently moved away from here: El Camino’s underpass just before the Stanford Mall is completely under water.)

It’s still coming down hard but is supposed to drop off by bedtime, and then Sunday is supposed to totally be a day of rest. Bright sunshine. Take a break.

And then we will start off the new year with a projected 4″ across the next eight days with about half that as a deluge on Wednesday. Don’t go anywhere Wednesday.

I am so grateful for a warm dry house (and that we finally finally after over a year on the waiting list *got the roof fixed*.)

Those reservoirs still have a long way to go to get up to normal. Keep going.

Happy New Year, everybody! We were going to do to a pot luck with some friends but it got canceled. Next year.

Of course I bought more Malabrigo
Friday December 30th 2022, 10:44 pm
Filed under: LYS

Rain or no rain, I drove to Fillory Yarn today. The owner’s had medical issues and the place is up for sale. I wasn’t sure it would still be there past the first of the year and I had to at least show up before they go.

K had a big order needing winding on her hands and offered to do mine for later pickup. I had her simply ring me up, thanks.

I told her about how I don’t wear nor generally knit yellow and yet I’d bought some from them and how that and Malabrigo Rios in Teal Feather had turned into matching Ukrainian flag hats for the Ukrainian Consul General in San Francisco and his American counterpart; I thanked her and the store for being part of that. I’d had no idea when I’d bought it. It had just seemed somehow the right thing to do at the time.

That was very meaningful to her to hear. They’d been able to play a part in offering that support, which Ukraine needs in every way possible.

There was no one sitting visiting at the big table and I reminisced a moment over the group that used to fill it Friday afternoons.

There’s a group on Thursdays, she quickly answered, ticking off names of people I’d want to see, and I do.

Meaning, next Thursday. Yes! And how about the next. And the next? Let’s see how far out we can take that. Anyone want to buy a popular yarn store in San Jose?

The Athena
Thursday December 29th 2022, 11:18 pm
Filed under: History

Meaning, Protector of the City.

Let me give you the link to her picture on Instagram: Miss Ukraine, competing for Miss Universe, in a costume that took four months to create under repeated power failures and missile strikes.

Beauty pageants are so not my world. But that costume is one for the history books.

Marsh words
Wednesday December 28th 2022, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

I was able to match someone’s yarn and dye lot so she could finish her sweater, and could there be a better Christmas present for me than that.

I drove past marshland on my way to the post office. You could tell it was vacation week–and that it was during a break in the rain that’s projected to continue past next Friday; there was a family with young kids skipping happily near the bicyclist sculpture dedicated to the environmentalist who’d worked for decades to get the marsh habitat restored, a group of people on the other side of the southernmost pond as if on lunch break from the nearby offices, someone birdwatching towards the Bay. The green grasses were lush, the winter water was running high.

The trail was long enough to keep them all at good spaces between each other.

There was a magnificent red-tailed hawk perched on its favorite light pole over the road. It was taking in the scene and not the least bit perturbed by all the people. I had seen it there before. It was a thrill to see it again, with the suggestion, then, of territory. May it choose this place to raise the coming year’s family.

And just beyond it, farthest away from anyone else, there was a couple walking.

I’d guess early sixties. What was striking is that he looked like he was having a political or family or some kind of argument, if you can call it an argument when only one person is carrying on with it; he didn’t look angry, just emphatic, hands waving and finger jabbing towards the air away from her as he made his points, not looking threatening and a little stooped but maybe a bit bothered. She, it seemed, was putting up with it. Maybe it was all old hat to her.

But you get someone out taking a walk in nature and you might already know what they’re going to talk about but they’re also going to get some exercise and feel better when it’s done and so will you so you might as well go, right?

All these impressions of the lives of complete strangers that flashed in the few seconds on approach. And then you go past.

I almost pulled the car over. I wanted to say, Did you see it? The hawk? It’s been observing you. It’s gorgeous, look how big that thing is! Don’t miss it!

I thought, whatever he’s talking about, they won’t remember it five years from now but that sighting, if they finally looked up, they just might. Red-taileds like to soar high and that one’s so close. You could see so much detail.

But I didn’t. And neither, as far as I know, did they.

I got past the light way ahead and pulled in at the post office, mailed my small box, and again made the deliberate decision to take the longer way home rather than the freeway on the small chance that the hawk might still be there.

They were not. I’m guessing that had been their car by the bicyclist statue.

The hawk still was. Cool as the water in an incoming northern tide.

Answering Jayleen’s question: it was a small road with no cars on it but mine. Nice and straight, and the little kids on bikes, even if they were at the end of a path through the marsh and a few feet away from the road, were excuse enough to take it slow.

Crinkle wrinkle
Tuesday December 27th 2022, 6:48 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I was going to tell her how she’d saved me: the audiologist (not the tech this time) got me in last week, fixed the issue of the air filter that had fallen out into my ear canal and blocked the sound (and got rid of some wax while she was at it), she reset the aids to be 1 dB louder, and best of all, she plugged them in for a software update.

So much better clarity! I could hear!

We were heading to a niece’s wedding tomorrow and since despite last week’s Arctic blast it was supposed to be in the 70s in Texas, I was going to wear the embroidered dress I’d gotten from Ukraine.

It’s gorgeous. It was priced well below some of its competitors, but I actually picked it because at the time it was the only one in that color and that pattern and I loved how it looked. The seamstress, in making the whole thing from scratch, altered the neckline a little bit for me and it came out perfect.

I decided to try it on one more time before packing it. It had been too cold to wear it here since I’d gotten it and I just wanted to admire it again.

Good thing I did. That thing was LOUD! Wait, what? Since when do clothes make sounds like that?!

I have a blouse from Ukraine with machine embroidery where they put a fine facing on the back side to hold the fabric steady as the colors were worked over it, so clearly at some studios that’s how it’s done.

I guess when you’re making do in wartime–well, this woman had used paper. You can carefully, slowly, tear it away from the backs of the stitches afterwards (and you’d better or you’ll clog your plumbing as it disintegrates when you wash it) but with limited light and power she hadn’t and with the sleeves, front, sides, and bottom all embroidered, I sounded like I was noisily crinkling up a big wad of paper with every step or movement of my arms.

I had tried this thing on before. I’d had absolutely no idea, I couldn’t hear it, wasn’t even aware the paper was there, I just thought it felt a little stiff because of all those embroidery stitches.

Now I could. Thank you thank you Dr. Clark.

Y’know, I thought, linen is just not a great thing to put in a suitcase when you want to look formal on the other side anyway. Forget that, and I grabbed something that wouldn’t wrinkle. Including an elegant hand-embroidered blouse from, you guessed it, Ukraine, no backing used.

I was going to tell her the gist of that with a laugh, and I still will, but…

I got a text from Southwest last night. I got another one this morning, but it’s kind of a moot point to cancel the second flight when you’ve already canceled the first, don’t you think?

They have thousands of people from last week still trying to get to where they’re supposed to go, so many suitcases that were boarded but the people were not, such a mess to untangle and that big storm so badly handled.

Three airports at our end, two at the other, and they had not one single seat available at any hour or price. Well, $6300 on another airline given the next-day ticket, and we actually know someone who’s paying one way of that plus a three hour drive across Texas because she absolutely has to get home, but to start the trip?

With apologies to our niece, I went to the post office to remove the hold on the mail.

When someone tells you who they are
Monday December 26th 2022, 9:59 pm
Filed under: History

The rain began about 6 pm and is expected to do the atmospheric-river-dumping thing for eight of the next ten foreseeable days, and maybe even more after that. Not fun, but so needed.

Meantime, this is a few years old, it is long, and I will warn you on the language, but someone clearly writing under a pseudonym wrote an essay on what it’s like to be an ordinary Russian living in Russia. With photos. It’s real, it’s heartbreaking–and it’s who the Ukrainians don’t ever want to be.

The author despairs that his countrymen will ever rise up against the corruption because, as he details it, they live it themselves every single day in order to survive. He gives the example of a child pointing out the injustice of an ingrained bribery at school and the teacher harnessing the power of bullying kids in order to have them be responsible for shutting him up so that she won’t get in trouble for what he said. And she wasn’t even the one being paid off.

The only video I clicked among the guy’s links was the one of the missile being officially blessed bottom to top with official holy water right before it went off.

It tilted left as it lifted, it tilted right, and then it flopped over and exploded right there on the ground.

I can just hear the Ukrainians of today giving their blessing on that outcome.

Give it a ten
Sunday December 25th 2022, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

We had a wonderful, wonderful day, and I hope you all did, too. I’m just going to write about a little moment on the side because I’m never going to remember the details next year any other way. Maybe do 325 next time.

Hunk-o meat, we call it. If he wants a large cut he cooks it, an arrangement going back to when his widowed retired dairy farmer grandmother filled a large grocery bag with part of a cow out of her freezer and sent it home with us. T-bones? Broke newlywed students are supposed to know what to do with those?!

We’d gotten a James Beard cookbook as a wedding present and he had fun learning and in retrospect, I think that’s what his grandmother was going for all along.

We rarely eat beef these days. We’d rather the Amazon not be bulldozed for it. But at Christmas he likes to go big–even though it would just be the two of us this year, because hey freezers and leftovers and faster meals later and all that but whatever, he just really wanted that beautiful rib roast.

Start it high, Beard says, then after so long you turn it down.

He did all that.

Only… he had set a timer for the amount of time at 425 and later, since I was in the kitchen anyway, could I change the oven to 325–nah, make it 350 when it goes off.


There’s the timer timer and the oven timer and he’d set the wrong one. The oven was now off. I turned it back on. No biggy.

It was about 20 minutes before I went, wait a minute…

I always use the lower oven because I am not a fan of standing on my tiptoes in front of major heat to see into the top of the thing.

He’s 6’8″ with a back that has opinions. There would have to be a really good reason before he’d ever use anything but the top one.

Duh. I turned his back on but it had already lost about half its heat. It, of course, went into full blast mode to make up for it.

Also, now the timer was and had to be the one on the thermometer and I couldn’t hear it at all, though I did hover nearby and rescued it at two degrees above what he was aiming for.

We really thought we were doing okay.

There is only one way to describe the result.

The beef.

It felted.

I think, on further reflection, that we ought to be able to measure felting levels and call them Kevlars.

Chicken and fish, I tell ya.

Merry Christmas!
Saturday December 24th 2022, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Friends,Wildlife

The car is running fine while we need it to.

The Kitchenaid arrived and I didn’t even tear open the box a day early to make sure they sent the right color; I know you’re so proud of me.

A friend stopped by. Every year we give each other socks as a semi-gag, semi-not-a-gag gift for Christmas, and we always like what the other picked out. We did it again.

Only, she threw in a little bottle of pomegranate juice from a local grower and I gave her a little granulated maple sugar from a not-local grower. (Ohmygoodness they’re selling spray-can maple syrup now? Can you just imagine what the littlest kids would do if they got into that? Spray straight into their mouths and then need their hair washed and then run off to see what they can gleefully zap with it. Add the spray whip cream and their heaven is complete.)

She happened to ring the doorbell as I was just about to put some pumpkin muffins in the oven so she got to watch me shaking my jar of the stuff over them, and they will be served at the lunch after church tomorrow for any taste testing.

Felt so great to see her.

Merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, all the best of the season to all at the returning of the light in the world.

…Oh, and, a random comment on a news story about dressing warmly had me going, the say what fiber? I rabbit holed. So far I’ve found out that deer are farmed but highly invasive exotics in Australia, red deer are producing 20 g of fiber per animal per year in New Zealand and it’s a reliably 13 micron count. Cervelt, they call it.

And if your deer escapes in Australia and you phone your neighbors they have to wait seven days for you to retrieve it but if it does and you don’t notify the neighbors they are required, not requested, to shoot it or to notify official shooters to come do so. Deer eat a lot and the feral ones’ counts are exploding like rabbits.

Okay, so now you officially know the Next Big Thing in fiber arts before just about anyone else. Merry Christmas!

The 2007
Friday December 23rd 2022, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Our sweet old car just runs and runs and runs, which is a good thing because it’s still not a great time to replace it.

Last Friday, we pulled into the ice skating rink parking lot and turned it off.

The motor was still running.

He hit the Prius’s power button again.

Still running.

It IS in park… What… It took about six tries, with me wondering out loud just what we were going to do if it didn’t before it finally complied.

Is it KitchenAiding us? I asked, stunned.

No problems since. But it’s going into the shop after Christmas.

Meantime, the new mixer made it to the Central Valley this morning and is set to be delivered tomorrow, now that it’s outraced that huge bomb cyclone storm.

You all stay safe out there for me, y’hear? Please? So you can have yourself a Merry Little Christmas, alright now, sounds good. And Happy Hanukkah, too.

Edited to add, especially for those in the storm: a raccoon trying to catch snowflakes.

The Kitchenaid and the bookstore owner
Thursday December 22nd 2022, 8:15 pm
Filed under: Life

I have a 5 quart Kitchenaid mixer. It’s my third. I like them, they’re what I’m used to, and in my experience they last about a dozen years.

And all of them, when they started to go, the on-off button started getting iffy.

I learned this the hard way thirty years ago when the first one switched itself on while my hand was down in the bowl working on the bread dough. Broke my wrist.

Now, here’s where the story meanders to the Christian bookstore that has since been bulldozed, but it had a title someone had recommended I read and had told me I could find it there.

The internet not being a thing yet, knowing where a book was was way better than traipsing from store to store searching.

So. I go in there.

And I see a whole labeled section of straight-up anti-Mormon hit pieces, three long levels of shelves. Huh.

I found my book, went to check it out–and after a fervent little prayer not to blow this but to be able to live my faith no matter what response I might get, and for their sakes, too–I had to ask.

In gentle curiosity but not complaint: Why do you stock those books?

The man squirmed. Well, because Mormons aren’t Christians and they’re going to hell, that’s why.

I loved him in that moment for trying to do his best as best as he knew how but boy what he didn’t know as I said simply, I’m a Mormon. Jesus Christ is my Lord and my Savior.

My smile was sincere and steady as I looked him in the eyes.

He looked at me. For some reason he then looked at the black splint on my broken wrist at some length; I guess I seemed harmless. He had no answer other than his surprise turning to a thoughtful expression as he silently rang up the sale but I had no doubt he was relieved when I walked out his door: he clearly had questions but it seemed he didn’t dare be caught asking them, not there.

A Going Out of Business sign went up not long after. Then the place was gone, and I don’t know that the business was resurrected somewhere else, I think it was just gone.

So. I took the mixer to a repairman and he disabled the switch entirely so it couldn’t break my wrist again but the speeds were suddenly gone, too: it was plug and unplug, on and off, full blast or nothing.

The second machine took a faster nosedive from the turning on randomly stage to the never turns off  at all unless you unplug it stage, so I gave it and a warning and its accessories to someone who couldn’t afford such a machine at all. At least that way they could have one for awhile. Carefully.

Here we are again, and sometimes this third one will turn off when you turn it off but most of the time now, no. It’s been several months and I’m tired of having a scary machine. I have this fear that it’s going to snag my hair as I reach over it to the plug (two individual hairs by the roots so far), and the cord’s too short to reach the other one.

Metal recycling is now a thing here, and I think that would be the better option.

Kitchenaid is apparently closing out the lift-bowl-model 5 qts at long last–meaning I could get it at $200 off, ie at the price I paid last time, thanks, but only if I want it in pastel aqua or black. Black, thanks. I don’t need a bigger machine but I do need to be able to continue to use all these bowls I’ve accumulated; they’re highly useful.

This morning it was on a truck in Texas. FedEx claimed it was going to be here tomorrow night.

I’m looking at the weather reports that are saying that that record-breaking cold front is hitting hard and fast (has Dallas ever had a windchill factor of -7 before?) and all I know is–

–I don’t want anyone breaking any bones for my stupid mixer. Drive carefully out there, whoever you are, and if I need to I can certainly wait. Saying a prayer for the truck driver.

(Checking: nope. Still in Amarillo. I’m going to say that’s a good thing. Merry Christmas.)

For Ezra
Thursday December 22nd 2022, 11:09 am
Filed under: Friends

Our daughter and son-in-law have dear friends back in Alaska who have a child, an identical twin, with cancer, and the dad broke his back. They have a GoFundMe that I offered to pass along.

Zelenskyy and the Joint Session of Congress
Wednesday December 21st 2022, 10:20 pm
Filed under: History

It was to be on the anniversary of when Churchill spoke before Congress to tell them WWII really was our war, too.

Yesterday I was horrified: they leaked that he’s coming? They compromised his security like that? Why did we need to know this? Why didn’t he just visit by video again?

And yet: the actual presence of Zelenskyy with Biden. The clear admiration in each other’s faces.

Zelenskyy, again, did the right thing for his country and for his people whatever the personal risk to himself. I pray for his safety.

And then when he spoke to Congress! What a speech. What a riveting effect–on most, anyway, with reporters calling out the very few members of Congress who didn’t show or who did but refused to stand or clap, invoking for me the famous line from Watergate, Follow the money. Given that it has been documented that Putin funded the NRA who funded his favorite Republicans–he got his infiltrator Buttina back in a prisoner swap after she was convicted here of that illegal funneling.

But I took heart in the many, whatever their politics, who rose together as one to applaud long and hard the man and his cause of freedom from tyranny and death, who represented well all of us Americans who admire the greatness of what Zelenskyy has risen to become.

Here’s the video of his speech, which was given in English. Fast forward to about the 20 minute mark for his entrance.

I was waiting for the transcript so I could fill in the gaps that the captions didn’t always help with.

Here’s the transcript, behind a NYT paywall for now but I expect it will pop up in more places by morning. But the words alone cannot convey the depth of passion of the man in the righteousness of his cause and in the defense of his people.

Meantime, I wore my quite large bright yellow sunflower necklace from Oleksandra this afternoon while running an errand, wanting to mark the day that everything, I pray, will have begun to change for the better.

For every hero of Ukraine.

On beyond quilts
Tuesday December 20th 2022, 11:06 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Happy Birthsday to my mom and grandson!

Meantime, there was a potluck at church for the women’s organization and I got to meet the mom and her two daughters of the family for whom we tied those quilts last Friday.

Sometimes you both need to talk about it and you need to have a chance to get away from it and as Ruth joined me and them at the table, we tried to offer both as the conversation flowed.

Have you seen the Stanford Museum?

Didn’t know there was one!

It’s got Egyptian artifacts collected by the young Leland Stanford Jr before he died–looting archaeological digs for the rich was in style in the late 1800s. It’s got a Rodin sculpture garden: you know The Thinker? (and I mimicked the stern face and hand on chin.) It’s there. And you can walk there (from where they were staying.)

Do you need anything, I asked at the last, thinking, because I would do anything. The mom crochets so I’d already, I hope, made clear that my yarn stash was wide open for them.

She looked at her daughters and how do you answer such an open-ended question, which I knew it was.

So then I said to these good folks who’d driven a long hard day’s drive to where they knew no one for medical care for her son, What you need though is a local number. Someone you can call. Here’s mine.

Just between you and me
Monday December 19th 2022, 8:54 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

An old and dear friend was admiring my dandelion gerdan in church yesterday, exclaiming over the design and how well the beadwork was done, explaining to me that it takes years to get up to that level of skill in the weaving where the piece lies perfectly flat and even. (I’ve seen a few beginner-ish looking pieces and I don’t doubt it.)

She was wistful a moment but caught herself and tried not to let it show. (While I thought, I know… It’s so expensive to live here…)

She is one of the most empathetic people I know and I knew how much it would mean to her to be able to reach out visually in solidarity with our Ukrainian ex-pat community. I know how much it’s meant to me. I could just picture the random happy moments to come, that I’ve had, that she could have.

UCSF has me in a long-term lupus outcomes study and every year they give me a small VISA gift card for my time, and so often I forget about them and never even use them.

So I had an excuse: I would now, finally, and see, it almost wouldn’t even cost me anything and it would keep me from wasting it.

Oleksandra was thrilled when I came back today, and even more when I told her why I had just bought more of her artwork–the woman who made my really big sunflower that lies perfectly flat with the edges and every bead lined up just so, whose work goes well with my friend’s admiring eye. That it was for passing the blessings forward.

So now there will be another sunflower in the wild, smaller and more her style I think; above it, daisies, red poppies and blue cornflowers. At the top to either side is a stalk of golden wheat sparkling against the black background.

For Marnie. The woman who brought her daughters and a comfortable swivel chair to my house and washed my hair over the sink after my discharge from the hospital years ago with a PCC line still in, utterly unable to manage the energy of the thing and absolutely forbidden to get water near my heart where the line went into but desperate to finally have a clean head at long last.

Martha of Biblical fame washed Jesus’s feet with her hair. Marnie washed mine. Carefully.

Her gerdan is being created starting today. (Click on the “7 sales” if you’re curious, though the thumbnail doesn’t really do the beadwork justice. There are sparkles in just the right places.) It’s coming, and I can’t wait.

Don’t tell her.


(Edited in the morning to add, the 6.4 quake in Humboldt County was way north of us and I woke up to an alert on my phone but didn’t feel it. We’re fine down here as we wait to hear updates re those affected.)

We can’t cure cancer ourselves but we can meet them where they are
Sunday December 18th 2022, 9:45 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Come to the ice skating rink on Friday, they said. A ward party. The place is rented out to us for two hours. Pizza and hot cocoa will be served and eight quilts will be tied for the incoming family.

Ice skates and nighttime outdoor quilt tying? Yeah, I did a double take, too.

Turns out there’s a family coming the week between Christmas and New Year’s from I have no idea where whose 13 year old son is being given a last-chance try at Stanford at stopping his brain cancer after five years of treatments. He is one of the younger children in a family of eight.

This was a good time to find someone who would be away visiting loved ones; a home was volunteered for them so they could all stay together at this time.

They would be long-distance driving in, one assumes with not a lot of room with that many people and space for surely only their most essential luggage.

It’s been below freezing at night this past week.

And so it was quickly resolved that we would make every one of them a quilt. Given how short a notice the whole thing was, those turned out to be two layers of soft fleece with snips made all around the edges and then those pairs of snips tied together, upper to lower: simple, warm, and easy for a bunch of people to work on together and finish quickly, no sewing, not even setting up a frame, just laid out on the picnic tables together–and go!

I admit my first thought was, man, it’s cold out here.

Of course there were no outdoor heaters: they have to keep the ice cold. The check-in booth is inside but there’s no roof to the rink itself.

I hadn’t been in that facility since before my ’00 car accident. Skating on ice with no sense of balance just doesn’t sound like a great idea, y’know?

But what intrigued me (as I played spectator) was the accommodations: now, they had polar bear chairs, designed for little ones to ride on while being scooted on the ice pushed from behind, with those chairs being strong enough that the teenagers got in on it too and the ice patrol was totally cool with it while they occasionally swooped in to scoop up a toddler, mindful of every person on that rink. What a great idea!

There was a kid in a wheelchair, and the older kids playing with the bear chairs completely normalized his sitting down as they twirled around him sliding on the ice, legs akimbo. He could look down to them, rather than his peers always looking down to him. So cool.

I have Reynaud’s and my hands get white and stiff in the cold. But I wasn’t skating, so after I ate my pizza and cleaned up the hot cocoa I spilled down my skirt (brrr) and off the concrete so others wouldn’t slip on it I got called over to hey, come help us with this!

I was amazed at how fast others were going at it and my cold fingers fumbled as I thought, I am not good at this.

But you know what? Once I actually got going, things did limber up and when someone new joined us, I was now the one at that quilt going at a good clip, and man it felt good to be doing this for that family.

I said to the person who organized it, They’re surely not going to have the room in the car to take all these home afterwards. We should offer to mail them home for them when they go.

That’s a great idea! You’re right!

So. Now, we wait. They are coming.

And they and their son and brother are loved already, whoever they are.