Heroes
Sunday May 02nd 2021, 11:09 pm
Filed under: History

Our friend who is a virology researcher at Stanford mentioned today a meeting he’d had with the chief technical officer at Moderna. Who told him that when the covid-19 virus was discovered and sequenced and it became clear what this was quickly becoming, (she, I think he said) vowed that the lights would never go off at night till they had this beat. And they did not. Round the clock, they were on it and they stayed on it.

“And they are not a big company,” he told us.

But they knew they could do something about it and that every day fewer that it took to test and then get those vaccines out there could be thousands upon thousands of lives saved around the world.

And then there was Dolly Parton, who jump-started the effort with a million dollars in seed money while they waited for the Federal grants to come through.



The arc of the universe…
Tuesday April 20th 2021, 10:34 pm
Filed under: History

The Washington Post put out a Breaking News banner that the verdict had been reached and would be announced within the hour.

I pulled out my knitting and was glued to my seat for that hour. Please please let it be what it just has to be. Please let justice be achieved. We all saw what he did.

The various reporters talked and interviewed and switched back and forth, trying to use the time well but everybody knowing it was filler while we waited.

Six afghan rows later, the judge appeared, acknowledged those present, and began.

The first count. Guilty. The second count. Guilty. The third count. Guilty. The judge asked the jurors, not by name but by their number, whether they were in full agreement with this verdict. Eleven times the answer was a decisive yes; one time, a man was barely able to express it for the emotion in the word. Yes.

Behind his pandemic mask, Derek Chauvin’s eyebrows had a you can’t do this to me expression.

Eighteen times there had been complaints filed against him with the police department, never had he been held accountable.

Guilty. Bond revoked, sent to jail on the spot, and he was taken away with his hands in cuffs behind his back. Standing upright now, being escorted out, not face down on the pavement with someone’s knee grinding hard into his neck while he pleads for mercy and breath and at the last, as he was dying, for his mama–but alive.

My cousin-in-law the cardiologist once told me he’d learned over the years that he was going to lose his elderly patients when they started telling him about seeing their loved ones who’d gone on before. George’s mother had died a few years previous. Mama.

It hit me then like a wave in a storm: all the grief for George Floyd’s family, for his little girl who needed her daddy, for all the black lives taken too soon who should still be with us, for all the accomplishments and achievements that the world never got to see and that never came to be because of how too many in our society and our police all too often see people whose skin is darker than theirs.

Back when I was a kid, the epithet for a bad cop of course (and too often all cops) was ‘pig.’

It was deeply gratifying in all the sorrow to see that male Chauvin-ist pig handcuffed and walking towards the jail time he’d so defiantly, brutally, hatefully earned. Away with him.



A five hour tour
Thursday April 01st 2021, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Family,History

Whoah! Suddenly there were green boxes. All in the same two places. Did we want to go (I looked them up) 317 miles round trip or 146? We actually finally had choices, but only at those two.

Was this a trick question?

Wait. Maybe it kind of was. On 24 hours’ notice, too. I asked him if he was serious and I looked up distances and I basically twiddled my fingers a few minutes to let anybody closer snatch all those slots in Antioch. The 7:30 one did vanish, but none of the others.

We had had appointment slots get claimed while we did the required repeated hoop-jumping so many times.

A few years ago, Sutter Health scooped up our formerly independent medical clinic in a trend of providers consolidating to lower their administrative costs and fight insurance companies.

Well, there’s finally an upside for us: Sutter lets their patients schedule a covid vaccine at any of their facilities they’re willing to get to. The drugstores go by the county you live in. Sutter goes by Sutter.

He’d been okayed by his doctor a week ago, who was surprised that that hadn’t happened yet, and both of us have been looking multiple times a day every day since. With everyone 50 on up eligible as of today, and everyone over 16 in two weeks, and the medical officer of our more-populous county having sued the state in a fit over the fine points of the law re distribution, ending with us being dead last to receive vaccines, (gee thanks) all the sites said three months and we figured that’s just how it was going to probably end up being.

Green boxes! Tomorrow! When the screen said Confirmed Appointment I nearly burst into tears for sheer disbelief and gratitude.

Road trip road trip!

He couldn’t change his schedule at work that fast and had to be in meetings concentrating in the noisy environment, so that meant me at the wheel and, as is normal for me, not hearing the GPS. His co-workers on the phone were cheering him on. The traffic was relentless. Google said 75 minutes to three hours; it was nearly the latter (so much for the idea that nobody’s commuting by car right now), but we tried for a good hour early just in case which got whittled down greatly but not quite entirely. We made it. We were good. The staff said of course I could use the restroom!

A stop at an In’N’Out drive-through for burgers to minimize contact, eating in their parking lot (which also meant we didn’t have to drive into the sunset); he spelled me at the wheel for the long road home.

He got. His shot. He got it! Moderna. Four weeks till the second. Neither of us wants to make that trek again but the appointment’s on the books and his if he wants it and if we have to we will in a heartbeat. We want to see our grandkids! And we so want not to get nor give Covid-19 to anyone.

As we rounded the bottom of the San Francisco Bay on the return, I mused out loud that, if we’d ever driven alongside what looked like the end (it wasn’t quite) of the Suisun Bay before, I couldn’t remember it at all.

He couldn’t either; maybe on our way to Yellowstone when the kids were little? Maybe?

So strange to see a whole beautiful wide Bay–that wasn’t ours and whose contours we did not really know. But it welcomed us anyway, and we are grateful.



Derelicted
Monday March 01st 2021, 11:24 pm
Filed under: History,Knit,Spinning

An 1829 stone mill in England, powered by the nearby stream (until it wasn’t.)

The Rowan Yarns sign someone threw out the window.

So many broken windows.

Scrolling some more… All. Those. Cones. of yarns, just left there to go down with the buildings, although it says the lovely old stone one might yet be saved.

The chatter on Ravelry, with someone checking their stashed orange yarn from Colourmart and there it was: the tag showing that it had come from that mill.

To quote them as they quoted Colourmart:

“one of our mill suppliers found this yarn in a warehouse they have taken over. They think it may be pure cashmere, but it might just be a cashmere mix (with perhaps wool or silk). It definitely feels like it has cashmere in it to us so we have shown it as 10% cashmere, we think more, but we are selling it cheap, for just a bit more than our wool price 🙂

Sounds like the Hinchcliffe’s take over of Dobroyd Mill in the 90s.”

I said to my Richard, looking at the cones left behind and the descriptions, All that cashmere!

His reaction was, All those moths by now.

And a lightbulb went off.

The tag is so faded. It was a year-end super duper one-off special quite awhile ago where I got a kilo of cobweb weight cashmere, no guesswork on the fiber on that one, for $50 postpaid. (Frankly, it’s a lifetime supply for making wedding-ring lace shawls. In black no less for my aging eyes.)

I remember I bought a second one with no tag, just their description online like the quote above–with a warning that it had some moth damage, so it was even cheaper ($25/kilo I think) and like all Colourmart cones came in its own heavy clear plastic, sealed off. I put it in the freezer on alternate days to kill any bugs, then have their eggs hatch in the thawing, and then to kill those off too. Repeat to be on the safe side.

I’m not sure, but I just might have a cone or two from that beautiful old mill, too.



Butter emails
Thursday February 25th 2021, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Food,History,Politics

The question on everyone’s minds, clearly, is this: does your butter still spread on your bread?

Who expected an outcome of the pandemic to be, and I quote, rubbery butter?

Who knew that farmers fed their cows palm oil? But apparently they do, and in Canada it has become an issue.

Since everybody’s home quarantining, more people are baking, and they’re using more butter than normal, and the farmers needed to step up production to meet the demand.

So they increased the palm oil in the animals’ feed, (bbcnews link) which apparently does work at upping the fat content in their milk.

Making the resulting lipids not traditionally soft at room temperature anymore.

The farmers, after saying, hey, the US and the UK do this too and it’s not new made clear their intention towards us consumers: Let them eat cake.



Snow days
Saturday February 20th 2021, 11:43 pm
Filed under: History,Life

Things I learned:

If you have a defibrillator, do not put an iPhone 12 in your chest pocket–its magnet is strong enough to turn it off.

If you go camping in the out yonder in Alaska in the winter, take a flashlight with you and look down in the outhouse because you don’t want to be bitten by a bear when you sit. (She’s okay.)

But the best story was the woman who was delivering groceries to a couple in Texas but her car slid down their hilly driveway and got stuck in their flower bed. There were just no spare tow trucks out there.

She got taken in by the couple whom she’d delivered to, offering her heat and power and a safe place to stay, whereas it turned out her own apartment had none of those things and no water. They tried to help with her car but had no snow shovels.

So they took her in as if she were their own, just as they would want someone to do for their own grown daughters. For five days.

I mentioned that one to my husband and he told me his sister in Ft. Worth had taken people in, too. Power, water, warmth, and safety. Because she can. So you do.



Wizard of awe
Thursday January 21st 2021, 11:06 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

I asked my friend Jane if I could borrow her picture and credit her, and she said, Sure! –But that it was someone else’s artwork.

Oh and: Jill Biden’s coat at the inaugural had the official flowers of every state and territory embroidered on it.



The Inauguration
Wednesday January 20th 2021, 11:53 pm
Filed under: History

A new start, guided by the light.

I’ve never watched an inauguration before. I missed seeing the swearing-in live because I tuned in at 9:00 our time and it was done a few minutes early, although it turns out the clock still had to strike noon for Biden to officially take over the reins.

The singing. That poem! The speech. Everything could not have been more perfect.

I hadn’t read the Narnia books in years, but the ascension into joy and light at the close of the Narnia books, with Aslan happily encouraging, Further up and further in! –that line leaped out to me as the Bidens, the crowd following, entered the Capitol and before them was a steep long flight of stairs, and on up they went. They crossed a wide landing, and there before them was another one that had not been in view before. Up again they climbed, never flagging. Further up and further in to where the view is better and better, the light clearer and the day ever more joyful!

Noted before that point: Elaine Chao starting to get up tripped in her heels and the camera swung away fast as she staggered a moment. A man was wearing a scarf wrapped tightly around his neck out there–of the finest white lace, and whether offered by his wife against the cold or in memory of someone he loved I’d love to know, but it looked like a wedding ring shawl (as in, you can pull it through one.) That was one masterpiece of both handknitting and love, because you don’t knit such a thing for just anybody, but the camera person didn’t know to let the shot linger there long enough for me to make out many details on the pattern.

Amanda Gorman! 

Lady Gaga, turning in the middle of the national anthem and gesturing to the Capitol’s flag as she sang triumphantly, “That our flag was still there.”

As Biden himself said, we need to “lead, not by the example of our power but by the power of our example.”

Such a joyful day!



From Martin Luther King Jr. to my grandfather
Monday January 18th 2021, 11:11 pm
Filed under: Family,History

June 23, 1964

The Honorable Wallace F Bennett

Senate Office Building

Washington 25, DC

 

Dear Mr. Bennett:

Your vote together with those of your midwestern colleagues in the Senate was the sine qua non for passage of an effective Civil Rights Act. You have earned the sincere gratitude of freedom loving people the world over. I add to theirs my sincere and heartfelt thanks.

Sincerely yours,

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Kc

Dictated by Dr King but signed in his absence


Grampa considered that vote the most important one of his 24-year Senate career and told us grandkids that. He nearly lost his seat over it, but he wanted to teach us that standing up for what was right was what he was there for in the first place. As should we in all things.

 



Thank you ten Republicans
Wednesday January 13th 2021, 10:48 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

The cause of Trump’s second impeachment today, with brief annotations offering bits of context we might not otherwise have known as a lawyer goes through the speech Trump made to instigate the mob.



Thank you Andy Kim
Friday January 08th 2021, 11:43 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

Re yesterday’s post: I saw the nutcracker in the kitchen drawer this morning and instantly wondered, those oysters… But maybe shards, so, just as well.

Speaking of awkward methods, if people used Emery boards to try to get into a nut would it make them kernel sanders?

Re after the ransacking of the Capital:

Andy Kim, Representative from New Jersey, the son of immigrants, took in what had been done in the Rotunda, the violations, the trash spewed everywhere–and over there, cops with plastic bags. He asked for one.

When two of his colleagues walked by at 1:00 a.m. noticing the cleanup crew member wearing a suit they suddenly realized it was their friend and colleague. Alone. His parents had left everything they knew to be able to have democracy and this building offered such aspiration towards the best in man.

Putting it aright to the best of his ability when no one was around with a camera or megaphone or any kind of power, before that moment, to see it. It was simply something he profoundly needed to do.

Note that they found him doing so because they themselves were walking around the Capital to thank the staff and all who had done so much to protect and serve on a day like no other.



Tomorrow’s going to be interesting
Wednesday January 06th 2021, 11:36 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

Well, that was a day that started off really well–and Ossoff and Warnock’s victories in the Georgia runoffs meant that suddenly Mitch McConnell was making the kind of speech this evening he should have been making his last thirty-plus years in the Senate, calling for bipartisanship and appealing to history and our country’s ideals. Now that he’s finally losing his Majority Leader status.

And after he and those around him had fled for their lives from the rioters (Klobucher, looking at her phone: “Shots fired”) invading the Capital.

After they hustled all the Senators, aides, and reporters present into a secure spot–whoops, it’s not, they’re in there, too, go in over here now–someone realized that Tammy Duckworth wasn’t with them because her wheelchair can’t do the route they took. They sent someone to rescue her from the office she’d had to barricade without legs, with a specific phrase from Sen. Klobuchar to let her know it was okay to open the door. She did indeed get rescued.

Props to the Parliamentarian’s aides who said, Help us grab the electoral votes! in the middle of the craziness. Big heavy boxes.

Note that Trump replaced the head of the Capital police last year, that some of them were taking selfies with the rioters and that there is video of a few of them moving the gates out of the way and letting the rioters in. Note that when Mayor Bowser asked for the DC National Guard to come to their aid, she was denied.

Whose signature was on the order for them to come after all?

Mike Pence’s.

Pence has zero authority to–

–unless–

–unless he’s already signed another paper. Article 25 puts him instantly in charge if they invoked it while they were all huddled down there. Wouldn’t even need the Cabinet in that case.

One can only fervently hope.



You know… Actually…
Tuesday January 05th 2021, 9:30 pm
Filed under: History,Life

I heard back from my doctor’s office: whether I had covid in February or not is irrelevant in terms of my susceptibility to getting it again (I had told them I didn’t want to take the place of someone who needed it if I didn’t; they said, but you do) and so with my medical history I am in tier 1c and should receive my vaccine in a few weeks.

Very glad I checked.

The Washington Post was reporting on hospitals in southern California, where they’ve been far less compliant with public health protocols than the much stricter and earlier-onset ones we’ve been on, and they are now running out of oxygen to give patients and even the in-home concentrators like my dad was on before he died in Oct ’19 are in short supply.

If only the current administration were actually doing a decent job of rolling out the vaccine. (Today’s disclosure: rich donors were able to buy their way in in Florida.)

To which someone out there responded in the comments:

“Train Amazon drivers to give the vaccines. Everyone would be vaccinated by Saturday, Wednesday if you have Prime.”



Election eve part two
Monday January 04th 2021, 11:42 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

Come on, Georgia, we’re counting on you. The whole country will be celebrating with you! And then we can get these vaccinations off the ground.

I was wondering when what tier would go next so I looked it up and was gobsmacked at how few doses there were out there right now.

My state says check with your county. My county says check with your provider’s system. My provider’s system says check with Public Health over at the county. The bottom line: they ain’t got’em and there’s no system and there’s no plan.

In two weeks there will start to be one, if we have the votes in place to make the government govern. Go Georgia!

Meantime, we do have some doses being held for an unspecified other county that doesn’t have the equipment to accept them. So, what, are they going to life-flight them to Monterey to beat the clock on the hours they can be out of the fridge?

I do wonder, though, why the run-off is being held after the new Congress is sworn in: because what that does is make the winners the least-senior members of the Senate. That used to matter in terms of what committee assignments you got to have.

My grandfather was there from 1950-1974 and when he retired, he resigned I forget if it was a day early or a week early so that his successor could have first choice over all the other incoming freshmen and a quicker trajectory towards potential future chairmanships.

It caused a bit of a stir.

Would that today’s Republicans looked for such harmlessness in their loopholes.



Back to the drawing board
Sunday January 03rd 2021, 11:40 pm
Filed under: History

There’s art (these wire sculptures are gorgeous.)

And then there’s… art?

South Carolina decided to redo its flag after the massacre at the Mother Immanuel Church, doing away with the Confederate emblem at long last.

What I hadn’t realized is they haven’t finished deciding what they want to replace it with.

Thanks to the New York Times, I finally get why they call it the palmetto state: during the Revolutionary War, the British fired on their fort but it was made of palmetto logs and those held off the cannonballs.

We once had a palm tree cut down and it took three men three days because that wasn’t a trunk, that was a swirl of thick tough fibers that jammed the chainsaws again and again and nearly refused to go. So yes, I could definitely see those holding off cannon balls, and whoever cut them down had a huge job.

The state had what they thought was a stylized modernized palmetto silhouette–and then they asked what people thought of it.

No possible way. No flapping fabric toilet brushes in the breeze up there, just, no.