At first, it was just the earth popping a pimple
Saturday January 15th 2022, 10:08 pm
Filed under: History,Life

Here’s a video, via satellite, of the volcano that exploded near Tonga, and it’s actually pretty cool.

There’s a sign near where some of my family lives: “Tsunami Evacuation Route” with an arrow straight up a hill. (Here’s video taken from someone’s front door in Pacifica. Here’s Santa Cruz.)

We figured they’d be okay, and they were, but I kept an eye on the news.

Which ended up meaning praying hard all day for the people in Texas who were simply going to synagogue for a normal Sabbath’s services and ended up being taken hostage by a gunman with bombs. For the people trying to help them. For their families, their community, for them to know we are all their community as this was happening.

Those prayers were answered in the safe rescue of the hostages.

Are we willing to answer the prayers of those who ask that we help this to stop happening?

To start, can we make Red Flag laws universal?

How to beet the pandemic
Thursday January 13th 2022, 9:19 pm
Filed under: Food,History,Life

A local small farm was supplying a restaurant, and you know how that goes these days. And so they got three other farms together and put a notice on, as one does when one has no advertising budget, about their new CSA.

I was surprised there were any farms left at all two towns over, but apparently there are, so you can’t get much more local than that. Straight up the road. I signed up. Plus I’m pretty sure one of the names is someone I know.

Yesterday was supposed to be the first delivery day. They said 7-9 pm was the goal but it might take a little longer as they found their way around on these new routes.

I figured they were being optimistic but I also didn’t want my veggies sitting outside attracting critters, so last night I was opening the front door every half hour or less to make sure my box hadn’t been put in that one spot you just can’t quite see from inside.

Ten-thirty. No go. Maybe they should just wait till the morning.

There was a mass email offering apologies for how long it was taking.

Eleven p.m., ready to crash, and there it was! They did it! I opened the door–

–and got the full impact of what delivering it that late had meant for the driver. I don’t know if they took the direct hit or not. I’m really hoping not, and given the intensity I’d say either the skunk was still recharging its batteries from the last time it told the neighbor’s dog to get lost or it was in the dog’s back yard again and took it up on that barking dare. But whatever, it was close enough to give a good dose to open those lungs right up, breathe deep now, best asthma treatment on the planet, there you go.

Right, right, I’m sure the driver was sooo happy for the treatment.

I sent the farm a note today hoping they were okay and that it wouldn’t dissuade them from keeping me on their list and that if helped any, skunks are wanderers. They only stay put when they’re raising young.

Which, of course, they will be doing soon, but hey, I’ve got the rabbits over here, that’s my fair share. (Don’t. Tempt. Karma, Alison.)

Better yet, take Mom with me
Monday January 10th 2022, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,History,Knit,LYS

Early on in this whole pandemic thing, when everything had been on lockdown and particularly so in our area, the county north of us decided that a customer could buy something online and the shopkeeper could hand it to them outside now. You could have that close a contact, briefly. Youcouldn’t browse, you couldn’t go in, you couldn’t touch their credit card machine, but you could do that.

This is when they were still trying to figure out the details of how covid-19 is spread.

I talked to one of my local shops, saying that what I wanted was two bags of a particular blue Malabrigo Rios that matched so that I would have enough for an afghan. I knew that officially it’s ten skeins per bag equals one dye lot; rumor, though, is that they’re matched up in groups of ten but that the mill produces more than that in each lot. But that’s a rumor.


I wanted twenty skeins. I’ve found matching bags in the past, but I wasn’t going to be able to go in and eyeball anything.

Turns out the whole supply-chain mess meant the shop didn’t have and couldn’t get them in from Malabrigo for months.

But maybe her yarn rep had them on hand, she wondered.

Turns out she did.

Once those were delivered, I swung by the shop, they handed me the bags out on the sidewalk rather than frisbeeing them from, y’know, six social feet away through the car windows and all that and it was so good to see actual human faces again, not to mention old friends.

(Unspoken: Still here. Still here. And you too! Stay that way. Thank you for wearing those masks. Pray those vaccine researchers get their studies finished fast.)

I waited till I got home to see if my initial quick impression was correct. It was.

She’d been so relieved that the two bags matched like her rep had been sure of.

Now, here I interject a quick story about my folks visiting the dye works for a tapestry weaver in France at a time when they decided they needed just a bit more of this one color for their project, so the dyer was asked to create more.

He asked Mom if this and this matched.

She said no, not quite, and why. But no, sorry.

He hadn’t thought it was discernible but since clearly it was, he added just a touch more to the pot. There you go.

So blame it on the genetics. Here I was, staring at those blues, going, but they’re just not quite the same. This one’s more vibrant. This one’s darker. You can put them in all kinds of different lights and it doesn’t change the fact. It’s certainly not a huge difference, but…

So instead of becoming the next big project they’ve sat there for all this time because I can’t use them together unless I separate them by enough other colors and space that the difference might not matter, in which case I would no longer need twenty skeins of Matisse blue because half of the afghan would be something else altogether. Which has had me wondering if I should ask my friends who do diving and photography if they have a particular reef photo I could use, to riff on last year’s fish theme.

I’ve been musing about trying to match the one or the other, but I don’t know if inventories are back up yet.

Here, let me finish this other project first before I worry about it too much.

I just like to know what’s ahead.

H*ly s***
Tuesday January 04th 2022, 10:54 pm
Filed under: History

Some years ago, San Jose’s Redevelopment Agency commissioned art for a park that was supposed to be of the god Quatzalcoatl of the indigenous Natives.

Jerry Brown on his second governorship later axed Redevelopment Agencies across the state, declaring them to be how the rich siphoned off taxpayer dollars to fund their private projects at the great expense of local police, libraries, and schools. Which is true, and that banning was long overdue.


The sculptor offered a serpent with wings outstretched. One city counsel member thought it gorgeous. The head of the agency, who basically answered to no one, was afraid its pedestal would invite the homeless to take shelter underneath and he totally nixed it.

Alright then you get the serpent god in its coiled form.

The artist gave that admiring city counsel member a smaller version of it, and hers, made in what looks like weathering copper, is beautiful.

The bigger one for the city?

Plaster of paris, according to that first link, although I would think that would apply to the model but not the finished version; stone, according to the second. But either way, painted black. Hides the facial details nicely.

And yes, the late artist’s mother will tell you the poop statue was an act of revenge.

Someone tried to sue it out of the park by saying it promoted religion, but they lost, and there it stays.

With no more RAs around, the public gets to have public input on public art now. But oh, we do on this older one. A little late, but, we do.

Because of course you do
Wednesday December 29th 2021, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Family,History

The record for December snowfall in the Sierras has been 179″ for forty-two years.

We just hit 210″ and the month isn’t over, although the current storms probably are–but there’s a new wave arriving Monday. We’re at 70% of normal for the season so we need to keep going, but it’s been a great two weeks.

Meantime, up in the Pacific Northwest, Little Lily lou-who who is no more than two thinks a half dozen inches or so of snow is a very very good reason to ask for hot chocolate. Nonstop.  I am so proud.

Oh any day’ll do
Friday November 26th 2021, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Food,History,Knit

Imagiknit let me know my Pocion Mecha yarn is on its way. I bought a single skein to leave the possibility open of getting to a LYS tomorrow and picking out more hat yarn in person but I wanted to know that that colorway would be here before the workers return, and tomorrow it should be.

On a random note of practicality: I read somewhere that the best way to freeze unused sourdough starter is to spread it out on parchment paper and then as soon as it’s frozen, crumble it into a small freezer container, giving it an easily-accessible form for later. So I just did that, wondering if it would pour out all over the place but it didn’t and finagling the parchment into the freezer space contained the starter, so, cool.

And randomness for its own sake: the Washington Post offers its subscribers a scanned-in shot of what the front page was the day (please fill in this form thank you) one was born.

Okay, I figured that was just trolling for data, but still, I was curious.

Below the fold, there was a story of a judge who’d had twenty young azalea bushes stolen from his yard while he was having a weekend at the beach, carefully spaded out of there.

It lists his home address, notes his tony neighborhood and the prices of the houses, and says the thieves even got the ones behind his ten foot fence.

Who on earth is allowed to have a ten foot fence?

His neighbors were hit that same weekend, and they, too, were at the beach. Their roses too were left untouched.

A truck was pulled over near that street with a hundred azaleas in back, and the authorities were requiring the driver to offer proof of having purchased them.

Okay, today, that would mean the newspaper doxxed a prominent judge–on the front page, no less.

The kicker is that the date on that newspaper? I was a crawling baby aspiring to walk. So per them, I was, in fact, born yesterday. And more than.

Edited to add: since I wrote that they have corrected the link.

Sunday October 17th 2021, 10:38 pm
Filed under: History

One of the speakers at church today (if only there could be a link to our own ward’s talks!) mentioned Corrie ten Boom, whom I had heard of before but this story I had not.

She and her family hid Jews in the Netherlands during WWII but were eventually caught and sent to a concentration camp. Her father, sister, and nephew died; Corrie was released by mistake and made her escape.

Having preached forgiveness as a moral imperative and a means of spiritual and even physical survival in the camps, she continued to do so after the War, speaking far and wide on the subject.

At the end of one of those talks, a man approached her.

I can’t even imagine. She knew exactly who he was: he had been one of the SS guards in that concentration camp.

He told her how grateful he was for what she had said–and he reached out his hand to shake hers.

Forgive him, she told herself. Practice what you just preached. Live it.

Her hand utterly refused to move.

Help me forgive him, she prayed hard.

But she knew exactly what he had done.

Finally, in agony, her inner cri de couer was, I cannot forgive him. Father, You must because I cannot–and with that her hand was suddenly freed and she reached hers out to his and in the moment they connected she described an electricity going through her to him.

And it healed him.

And it healed her.

Baklava knitting
Saturday October 02nd 2021, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Food,History,Life

They haven’t posted the individual talk as a video yet or I’d link to it rather than a quick summary.

It’s General Conference weekend in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ie the Mormons, with the leaders directly addressing members worldwide. Pacific time, Sunday’s two hour sessions will start at 9:00 and 1:00.

I picked cashmere yarn for it, because it seemed fitting, and got at least half a cowl done while we watched, quietly wondering whose it would turn out to be. It was telling me it needed to be knitted and ready.

Sharon Eubank, head of LDS Charities, talked today about some of the humanitarian aid projects. In the scramble of the Afghanistan airlift, there were religious women who found themselves in public without their head coverings and were very uncomfortable with that. The Church got right to work sewing some for those who wanted them.

She (edited to add link) talked a little about Syria. Where a family that had owned a bakery found themselves unable to procure any food, much less provide it to others, and were on the verge of starvation.

LDS Charities was able to reach them. Food was the immediate need. They were vetted and able to leave for another (unnamed) country.

Needing to somehow convey the depth of their gratitude, Sister Eubanks said, a box of cookies showed up at Church headquarters. From those gifted bakers.

A box of cookies.

So much emotion and experience and gratitude was poured into that surprise package. It was everything.

They showed us how
Monday September 20th 2021, 10:59 pm
Filed under: History

He did, DeFede wrote an Afterword that caught up on some of the people he’d written about twenty years ago.

He told how some people got home.

How some of the plane people had ended up with exactly the right people in Gander to help them through the aftermath.

How one planeload got lied to by the airline about where their resumed flight was going to go which was emphatically not home and after a chance remark by a ground crew member, some got off that plane with no idea what they were going to do next and let it take off without them: including the young parents bringing home an adopted baby who were afraid that turning back to Germany would mess up her visa and her ability to come home with them. Not taking that chance. Even if it meant being stranded on an island with a hurricane barreling at the ferry to the far-off mainland.

The cute couple: the man was in the military, which means he got sent to Afghanistan shortly after the attacks and then Iraq. Didn’t work out.

Quite a few of the people the author checked back in with wondered, without the former guy’s name or the virus’s ever being directly mentioned, whether we as a people here could come together for each other the way the people of Gander had for them. They hoped so, but right now it was hard to say.

I’m hoping that the book and the anniversary and the memories might spur us to remember that we did too, in those first few days. I saw it after the Loma Prieta earthquake, too. We can. We should. We must.

Arlo and Janis
Friday September 10th 2021, 8:03 pm
Filed under: History,Life

Twenty years ago today, this comic ran.

The author had no way to know when he sketched it out however many weeks in advance.

In my Mormon faith, we live with God as spiritual entities before this life: walking in the presence of that absolute Love and knowing nothing else.

Birth begins what is essentially the teenagerhood of our spirits: when we move out of the house and go explore the world on our own and figure out who we are. Life constantly throws things at us and, whether we know of God or not, it constantly demands that we choose how we’re going to respond–with love or by fear. We are to learn compassion. We are required to forgive, in order to be able to grow. That doesn’t mean justify, but it does sometimes mean putting it in God’s hands, saying, This is too much for me, here, You handle it. And please guide me to be able to because I need every bit of help I can get.

We are not alone: we are born with the Light of His divinity within us showing us forward if we choose to follow our consciences, that Love befriending and loving us when we come up short. As we do. As parents respond. Always present if we’re willing to see it; a little more visible every time we offer our gratitude.

Mormons believe that we will judge ourselves in the presence of that absolute Love by what we did with what we know, not by what anybody else knew. Those who chose to live by love will recognize that Love because it was always a part of them. Because they wanted it to be, they worked hard for it to be.

So many people that day.

And this one cartoonist, following a nudge whose source he could not have seen, wrote the words and drew the images so that some of those thousands or their loved ones might, in seeing them, feel it so hard that they got up and did something to prepare. For their loved ones. For what they could not know the morrow would bring. Or they said something. Or, simply, they loved a little more fully, not knowing the depth of the importance of those last few kind words and deeds.

They could not have known. He could not have known. We who know now, may we love a little more, show it a little more.

A lot more. For the gift of still being here, we owe it to each other.

Lopard print
Tuesday September 07th 2021, 7:57 pm
Filed under: Friends,History

It’s a weird day when you lose a battle of strength with an iris leaf.

I have special skills like that.

I was walking away from the apple tree and didn’t realize fast enough that I’d caught my foot at the edge of the iris patch and that an unknown number of leaves–possibly even just one–had wrapped around my ankle and it was not giving way, no sir.

My brain flashed the warning from my doctor: hand bones heal faster than hips. I stopped trying to twist around to see what that was that was doing that and put my hands out front and center as I fell.

So as I try to ice all the everythings, with my brain acting a little sleepy and me telling it shut up and quit complaining that was nothing and you know it brain, let me just type real fast what a friend with an interest in linguistics made me laugh over: in the 16th century, Meg says, everybody in Europe knew what a giraffe was. France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, they all had close to the same word for it, essentially the Arabic word with the z changed to a g plus whatever word ending suited.

Except England.

Because come on. EVERYBODY knows those are, as they spelled it, Camelopards. What else could they be?!

Roberts dissented
Wednesday September 01st 2021, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life,Politics

Texas passed the intended death of Roe v. Wade and Trump’s appointees allowed it to stand today. Meaning it is now in effect, arguments and lawsuits to come or not, and every woman there who might ever need an abortion for any reason must have it done no more than two weeks after her period is late. And if you drive her to another state for it even a day later, anyone can sue you and collect a bounty.

And then there’s Katy.

Katy is a friend of mine of 34 years whose second, much-wanted, much-anticipated pregnancy years ago turned into a molar pregnancy: meaning, it stopped developing into a baby at all and started growing wildly, randomly, and at the speed of fetal cells was rapidly turning into what was going to be a cancer taking over her body. Her blood pressure skyrocketed.

She spent sixteen days in a coma. Having been a professional flutist, she had to relearn how to play. She had to relearn a lot of things. She had a major seizure as she was finally coming to, so she spent years on seizure meds, and that medical history in this state means being unable to drive. When they finally eased her off them many years later there was a risk of sparking another grand mal. But she lucked out and she finally got to feel like herself again.

She was devastated at losing the pregnancy but the doctors told her it had no longer been one and they had had no choice but to remove it to save her life–it had been a very very near thing as it was. It was not and could not ever have become a baby.

And now under the charming Governor Abbott and his collaborators, anyone, anyone at all, would have the right to violate HIPAA over the medical history of someone they don’t even know and to collect $10,000 from Katy’s husband for driving her to the hospital to save her life. Because, technically, since that mess was in her womb that was an abortion.

Had he not, their oldest would have grown up without his mom.

Had he not, the two children who came along later, giving great comfort to both of them, would never have come to be and let me tell you, the world would have been a lesser place without those great kids and their mom.

Biology is messy. Life is imperfect. You have to allow people to make choices you disagree with–and I am no great fan of abortion, let me be clear–in order to save those choices for those who would die without the right to make them.

To the men in Texas who think requiring a face mask is a violation of one’s rights but dictating medical and lifetime outcomes to women is not, we have a Constitution that protects all religions from the adherents of any other one, and as I understand it, under Jewish law, the life and health of the mother come first. And–here I’m less sure of myself, please correct me if I’m wrong–the spirit is thought to enter the body at the first breath of life. Before that it’s just parental happy anticipation.

Texas’s law cannot stand. It must not. The only thing it accomplishes is punishing women and those who love them for the sake of the political aspirations of a few men who don’t give a damn about anybody but themselves. They are the biblical Pharisees passing by on the other side of the road from the wounded, punishing any Good Samaritan in sight.

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?

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.

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