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

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

I am gutted.

All things in Mordor-ation
Wednesday September 09th 2020, 11:21 pm
Filed under: History,Life

My alarm went off in what seemed to be the middle of the night. (Pictures to follow.)

The Bear Fire, the Oregon fires, all those others that are still going or just starting: smartphone auto-filters just weren’t up to it. Holly did a good job with her good camera.

It wasn’t night, but it wasn’t really day, either, with the sky a deep deep dark orange overcast–and it stayed that way. We simply weren’t going to have any day today, rather, it was as if it were about forty-five minutes past sunset all day long. It was very weird. At noon it seemed to let up enough that you could see more clearly across our small back yard for a few minutes, and again around five, but that was all the light we were going to get.

The air quality actually registered as moderate with the marine layer between us and the towering smoke, but the national weather service sent out a tweet saying quite honestly that their instruments were not designed to measure from fire and as far as doing anything outside, use your nose as your guide.

Be careful.

I went out anyway at 1:30 to pick up a prescription to if nothing else stop the annoying auto-calls about it, and to get a flu shot as long as I was out there.

Our (admittedly understaffed) local CVS takes an excruciatingly long time to do the simplest things while studiously avoiding customers. And so even though the Rx had already been filled it was well over an hour later that I came back to my car.

Where the ash was already re-coating the windshield. I looked around and thought, if fire ever actually broke out around here right now, how on earth would anybody know?

Miss Agnes
Tuesday September 08th 2020, 10:11 pm
Filed under: History

Every few years I go back and re-read Agnes Morely Cleaveland’s “No Life for a Lady,” her 1941 autobiography of growing up a cowpuncher on the New Mexico frontier, with a huge mental thank you to my friend Scott who gifted me with a copy some time ago. I’ve passed along a few copies myself. It’s a great read.

It starts off just a bit slow with the sudden death of her father in her childhood by way of explaining all that follows, but then, wow. She is *funny* and sharply observant of her very different world–while able to move easily in one more like ours after her mother sent her back east for high school and eventually Stanford.

Civilization starts to discover their area as she and her siblings reach adulthood. Model Ts start to show up and the cowboy genre becomes popular in movies and books.

An author who wanted to get in on the trend managed to get Agnes to read her manuscript–and it was so screamingly off that she howled, but trying to be charitable, sent off some authenticity pointers.

Agnes got a telegram back almost immediately telling her that she was to put the woman up while she came and stayed to see the local flavor for herself and would be at the post office on this date for Agnes to come pick her up there.

A trip that the family made once a week to pick up the mail given the distance.

Holy cow. Like, right now. Presumptuous much?

So Agnes and her brother decided to offer her that authenticity she craved: they would take her on a buffalo hunt.

They did not tell her there had been no buffalo for years at that point. They simply got her a horse and set off and gave chase to the beast.

Which was a horse with a bear hide strapped to it, running for its life to try to get away from the scent and weight that so terrified it.

Yonder author went home in a huff.

But at least someone got a great story out of it!

CZU fire aftermath
Monday August 31st 2020, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Family,History

Where the firemen built a break.

Where my kids went to camp, growing up, at a church-owned property shared by youth groups from across the region. Where our ward (like many) held several family campouts. I can still picture Peter cheerfully flipping pancakes.

I’m quite surprised there was anything left of the dining hall at all.

While hundreds of square miles burn
Tuesday August 25th 2020, 11:02 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden,History,Wildlife

Not a single apple on the ground for days. Nothing pecked.

Not a single fig taken before its time–and up till this point, my success rate at getting to pick and eat a fully ripe one has been a total of exactly one single one. If I leave them that one last day for perfecting, they’re gone.

Remember these past years where I’ve put a fake dead crow out at night (so they don’t see me and don’t think I killed it) to keep the real ones from wanting to come in my yard? I was never sure that really worked, but I didn’t do that this year and this is the first year I can remember where I’ve had flocks of crows fly over my house. Morning or evening: every single time I go outside. It’s like they know I know where the fruit is so they’re checking it out–and it could well be, given that crows evolved scavenging the edges of human civilization and cast offs, so much so that they can read human faces and expressions as well as a dog can.

The trees they liked to be just far enough away in next door are gone now, and maybe that’s part of it, but they didn’t start coming directly overhead and in waves until things started to ripen.

The ability of–something–to tear through and rearrange the bird netting has been impressive, and the breaking of young fig branches in the process, disconcerting.

Not a single crow around since the fires started. It seems they don’t want to be high overhead in all that smoke. One single squirrel briefly came in view, for that matter, and it did not want to run fast nor exert itself but I still told it it had to leave. It did.

Rather than coming fleeing down out of the hills in numbers, at least this far out the wildlife seems simply to have vanished.

Not a single apple.

Not a single fig, not even the ripening one right there clearly in easy reach where the netting doesn’t go that far. Anything could have swiped it. Nothing did.

I’ll take it.

Boulder Creek
Sunday August 23rd 2020, 8:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life

Some friends of ours had two little boys, 2 and 4, and the wife was expecting a girl–and suddenly had to have emergency surgery and everybody held their breath and prayed hard for mother and child both.

Months later, their daughter is here and safe and sound and her mother has recovered. Yay.

Restrictions are only one person at a time can go in a house that’s for sale and the realtor and buyer must come in separate cars, and all that was a pain, but they did it, they just bought a house to call their forever home. They moved out of their apartment and up into the beautiful, redwood-covered mountains last weekend.

Tuesday they were bringing their kids home from the grandparents’ and the road was full of people streaming out of there. Huh. Well, nobody had given them any kind of evacuation order so they put their boys to bed but out of an abundance of caution started gathering whatever they might need because you never know.

Forty-five minutes later they got that order to get out and scrammed. In the ordinary chaos of having just moved, they did not find everything they wished they had but it sounds like they got everybody’s favorite blankies.

Yay for grandparents close enough to go to.

Yay for having bought fire insurance.

Thank heavens for firefighters who do what so few of us could.

They know a hotspot flared up near their house but that it got tamped down, and right now that’s all they know.

Whatever surgery life performs on their expectations in the immediate term, they’re safe and sound and everybody is, in every way that matters, doing well. May all those tens of thousands of other people in the same boat be so as well.

The River fire
Saturday August 22nd 2020, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Food,History,Life

Photo by, as far as I can tell, Iris Brewster, because she credits the photographers in her other pictures. It does embiggen if you want to see better.

Mom? I still don’t like brussel sprouts. I’m sorry. I’ve tried, I know you’ve tried, I’ve olive-oiled and roasted and reminded myself they’re healthy and all that, but they still are what they are.  It helps that I’m married to someone who doesn’t like them even more than I don’t like them. Except at least they’re better at your house because you’re a far better cook.

But some came in our weekly produce bag last Saturday. I put them off for most of the week, which surely didn’t improve their flavor any, but there is no room in our fridge for more than one gigantic Milk Pail box’s worth so I finally roasted them last night and they stank up the house so bad it still lingered in the morning. I even ate one. Richard hoped I wouldn’t ask him to. The rest are in the fridge, all ready for us to magically change our minds and be thrilled and devour them after a bit of a zap.

But this is why my conscience could not simply throw them out without trying and at least tasting them. That’s the sun up there and a fire behind that ridge. Click to really see.

And yet still they feed us. 

Good folks
Friday August 21st 2020, 9:47 pm
Filed under: Food,History,Life

Seventy-seven thousand people including all of UC Santa Cruz have been evacuated along the coast, where the nightly fog that’s supposed to keep the forest floor and the roots of the redwoods damp has gone missing, and who knows how many more folks inland had time to pack before they had to get out of there. The unheard-of August lightning storms? There are more in the forecast.

Yesterday it was smokey at Andy’s Orchard but it wasn’t terrible. Today the high school across the street from him had become the evacuation center and the area was marked Evacuation Warning: be packed, be ready.

I am so glad I went when I did.

The phone rang this morning, but the person was breaking up so badly that neither one of us could make heads nor tails. So they just came. The doorbell rang a few hours later: it was the mattress people. It was not Saturday.

I had told them that if the fires got worse we’d be happy to wait because their safety was the most important thing, to please check first. They appreciated that–and instead decided, okay, we need to get this done NOW. I wondered if they’d been driving since before dawn.

They put the new cover on the new mattress. We were supposed to have to do that part per the seller and watching them, I’m not sure we could have.

They got everything set up. I followed them outside to say where I wanted the old one to go till we could hire someone to come pick it up.

They knew that we had just missed the city’s semi-annual cleanup date when it would have been done for free.

They used the lift to get the old one onto the truck. No worries, they said, we’ll take care of it.

I was not expecting that at all.

When I told the one guy I’d bought the peaches at a farm yesterday, and how things were there today, his eyes got wide and he really, really appreciated it (and probably was really really glad they hadn’t waited till tomorrow) and headed outside to the truck to share with his co-worker. They waved thanks, I waved thanks, and they were out of here while the routes back out were still safe.

Keep them open
Monday August 17th 2020, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Knit,LYS,Politics

I’ve mentioned Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco from time to time.

I got a Buy 3 Get 1 Free! email from Kathryn.

She’s only doing curbside because her county doesn’t allow customers to touch anything inside the store. You can’t pick up a book. You can’t squish and gauge which merino is softest. You have to know what you want.

Well I do. So I called and ordered fourteen skeins of Rios in Ravelry Red, with a conversation with my friend Afton to the side and headed on up there.

I asked Kathryn how it was going.

She said that while the county had everything completely shut down for two months, her landlord was only willing to cut the rent by 25%–while knowing her sales were zero for that time. After that, no breaks, no nothing, pay in full or you’re out.

So she is scrambling to make that rent.

You walk in her store (back when you could) to find cubbies along the walls on up to the ceiling, narrow aisles with more cubbies and more yarn above your head. Yarn yarn yarn. It’s a small space with a huge inventory. She doesn’t just sell Malabrigo, but that’s what I come for the most and she has more of it than anyone I know.

She’s not tech savvy and doesn’t have an online shop, but she will mail if you know what you want. She told me people have come to her after being able to find only a skein or two online elsewhere of something–whereas she’ll have a full bag or even two, enough to actually do a big project.

I showed her my ocean afghan so far. Most of it came from her. She was quite pleased.

I almost, almost bought the two bags of Rios in the Jupiter reds and browns colorway, but I was already picking up that red for a future afghan and had a request in for Matisse Blue to make another ocean afghan because a family member preferred that as the background; she’s checking to see if her yarn rep has it.

I texted Afton from the curb about that bag of Cian she had–my ocean’s background color, and got an enthusiastic, YES!

And so between the two of us we were able to help Kathryn out a bit and cheer her on. And, selfishly, to help keep my favorite yarn source going.

And then I went to the post office to mail Afton’s off to her.

Last week, the place was just deserted.

Today, the parking lot was full right after me. People were wearing masks and social distancing at the blue marks on the floor in a line that went from the two clerks (there used to be at least three if not four during the day, this being the main one in a major city in Silicon Valley) clear across the long room past all the post office boxes to the far window. They were not walking back out to try UPS because it might be shorter–they were walking in, seeing how it was, visibly taking it in stride one after another and putting that commitment of their time into this.

There was an outcry when, along with banning overtime and removing thousands of sorting machines, post office boxes in poor neighborhoods where people might vote were being removed last week–so Trump’s Postmaster General donor buddy had them stop doing that: instead, they put big red plastic locks on so no mail could go in.

We can fight back.

I paid for Priority and for insurance on not what I paid but what it would cost me to replace those ten skeins at full price plus pay for shipping and insurance again. More than I had to. Because I wanted to. They offered, as always, stamps, and I considered, but I’d just bought them twice and I wanted to look forward to an excuse for a next time. And frankly, I didn’t want them to run out for the day because, man, they just might.

All those patient-looking people behind me with that long long long wait were surely in it with the same determination.

The Post Office is under attack. Long live the post office.

Mail yarn. Make stuff with it, and mail that, too.

An astronautical amount of them
Sunday August 02nd 2020, 9:28 pm
Filed under: History,Knit

Did anyone else watch the SpaceX landing and think those parachutes all looked like jellyfish?

Make good trouble
Monday July 20th 2020, 11:19 pm
Filed under: History,Life

It was the fingerpuppets.

I was looking through my purse for something and there they were, a handful of those handknit little characters from Peru for making small random children happy as I go about my day. The old guy who got one for the joystick on his motorized chair. Airports. All the times those had cheered up a kid or their parent who just needed to be seen and to be distracted.

In five months of quarantining I had actually forgotten them.

Edited to add later: I’ve spent the last hour watching a livestream of the peaceful protest in Portland tonight. It is powerful and good. They are honoring John Lewis’s memory and admonition of “Make good trouble” as they stand up for our country’s ideals for all of us–joyfully and in solidarity. I just signed off there holding my breath that the Feds will still treat them with the respect owed to all of us as the crowd thins down.

And it has pockets!
Saturday July 18th 2020, 10:33 pm
Filed under: History

In case you haven’t seen it yet: the duct tape prom dress and matching covid-19 purse. A corsage one could only dream of, back in May or so. 395 hours of work.

Now that is someone who would have the patience to knit the most intense intarsia you could possibly sketch out.

And on a more serious note, this researcher at MIT thinks early Covid-19 diagnosis is possible based on one’s voice, assuming you have a prior recording to compare to.

And a researcher in Israel has discovered that the virus generates lipids in the lungs to help it replicate from, and that a drug on the market that already has generic versions available could likely stop that. So far, in human lung tissue in the lab, it does.

A Republican fought back
Friday June 19th 2020, 10:59 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

Trump is a master at getting information he doesn’t want known released late on Friday nights and at providing distractions away from it.

Thus he stunned the city of Tulsa by announcing that no, they were wrong, there would be no curfew after his rally. This is after saying earlier that “his” National Guard would be there fully armed. He clearly wants the “very fine people on both sides” to do their thing–he has all but incited destruction and rioting.

On social media, peaceful protesters were telling each other, it’s a set-up. Don’t go. Or go protest, but somewhere else; don’t engage. Don’t. Go. There.

All of which demands the question, what does Trump not want us to see in the headlines by the ones he’s trying to create?

Geoffrey Berman, the US Attorney of New York who once was a Trump donor, has put Michael Cohen in prison and Roger Stone’s about to be and is investigating Giuliani, is investigating where the extra millions paid into Trump’s inaugural committee that vanished got siphoned off to and is surely investigating Trump, too, found himself seeing a press release late tonight saying he’d been fired. Like Preet Bharara before him.

His response? Too bad. You can’t.

Berman was put in as interim US Attorney. A panel of judges later confirmed him. He’s saying he has investigations to continue to lead and he will leave when the Senate duly confirms his replacement per the rule of law and not a moment before. That the President does not have the power to undo what that panel of judges did. Had Trump brought Berman’s name to the Senate for confirmation, yes, but Trump never did, so, no, he’s not resigning and Trump doesn’t have standing to fire him.

He has work to do and he intends to do it.

Who knew that a Trump appointee could have honor, ethics, and the courage of his convictions–and had this in his pocket all this time to fight Trump off? Go Mr. Berman!

No wonder Trump wanted the headlines buried on the subject. He thought Berman would just quietly leave and it would be over.

But this story has only barely gotten started.

The walls of Jer-echo
Sunday June 07th 2020, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Food,History

And on the subject of why yes, I am still baking too much, we present…


…how to use up sourdough starter when you’ve grown too much of it, a pint of blueberries, a half pint of raspberries, and the dozen or so newly ripe tart cherries off the tree. After Richard tasted one and puckered and went Wow that IS sour! I chopped the rest a bit, sprinkled on a spoonful of sugar, and let them soak it in for about ten minutes before adding to the berries.

It was a great way to use up a full cup of that starter, but since it’s all about the fruit, I would probably either double the fruit or halve the biscuit part of it next time. As is, it fit perfectly in my new deep-dish Mel and Kris pie pan. (With thanks to Anne for getting that to me from them.)

But if you ever need to make just biscuits from that recipe I’m going to say add a few spoonfuls of sugar to the dough. Here, they’re sprinkled on top.

Oh, and completely randomly but in case you missed it, the new sidewalk panels strengthening the Golden Gate have turned the bridge into, as the headline says, a giant kazoo. One that be heard across San Francisco.

Turning point
Saturday June 06th 2020, 10:19 pm
Filed under: History

I’m sure you’ve heard of the lovely, lovely, Rahul Dubey–an immigrant, one who believes strongly in the ideals of America–who threw open his doors in DC and took in dozens of peaceful protesters who were in great danger from the armed angry mob attacking them that was a mixture of police, Bureau of Prisons riot guards, National Guard, and Border patrol officers. Who tried to get in his door, too.

“Literally I can hear skulls being cracked,” Dubey said. 

I was a stranger, and ye took me in. Now who said that?

As Stephen Colbert pointed out, the government does that when they’re afraid of us. For having the moral authority of our being in the right, and being many voices together.

There was also this one-man protest Friday, a Marine standing in the heat with his sign and “I can’t breathe” taped across his mouth at Utah’s Capitol, standing, alone, at attention, saluting the dead, standing, standing, bearing witness in his dark uniform.

As his shoes melted.