In order to form a more perfect union
Monday November 07th 2022, 10:28 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

Tuesday we the voters decide whom the faces of our states will be before the rest of the country:  whom we choose and thus who *we* are.

Destruction of the social good? Of the election process? Overt fascism like my father put his life on the line to fight against to the death if need be?

How many people cheering on those committed to ending Medicare and Social Security are thinking this through? Why do the grandmothers need to starve in the streets so that (name any oligarch) can become even more twisted in their substitution of money and power for human empathy and connection?

Why do women have to be afraid of pregnancy for fear that a miscarriage will land them in jail? This has already happened. But only to women who aren’t white.

Do we want a Beto O’Rourke who drove to every county in Texas to meet and listen to people he knew would never vote for him, but whose voices he wanted to hear in hopes that he could represent them well? Who tried to make the gravity of the power of the Senate a personal responsibility both for him and for those whom he met up with? Who made democracy feel real?

Or Herschel Walker, who held a gun to his ex-wife’s head and threatened to kill her? Who paid for his girlfriend’s abortion and tried to coerce a second but would throw you in jail if you had one? Is there anybody that thinks that man would put anybody else’s anything before himself?

More just. More united. More committed to the ideals of democracy. To supporting and cheering on one another as our fellow Americans. United we can stay standing.

The Ukrainians have gotten a taste of what it’s like to have people in power with integrity who care passionately about them and about their country, and they want to preserve that with everything they’ve got.

We should, too, and all we have to wield is a ballot.

We can do this.


Monday October 31st 2022, 8:37 pm
Filed under: Friends,History

A few months ago I saw some handwoven blankets on Etsy from the Carpathian mountains and saved a few to my Favorites just so I’d be able to find them again–just to admire.

Knowing none of that, my friend Anne sent me a link yesterday to a video about those same craftspeople, and I loved getting to see who they are as they worked, the gorgeous hills they live in, so many details close up.

There–right there at the six minute mark, what I’d caught a small glimpse of was suddenly plainly visible: the woman was wearing the same vyshyvanka I was wearing right then as I watched her. (This one is very close.)

Mine had come from her part of their country.

I wondered if the needleworkers knew each other. Each region has traditional patterns and colors…

Should I ever buy a blanket of theirs (that would make me toasty-comfortable in winter and my husband way too hot), I’ll send those weavers a picture of me holding their blanket. Wearing our shirt.

Slava Ukraini.

From Ukraine with determination
Saturday October 29th 2022, 10:07 pm
Filed under: History,Life

Yesterday, the day after the gerdan arrived, the doorbell rang.

It was almost deja vue–if only the war had ended.

The mailman (the guy who shows up on our regular guy’s day off, which rotates forward one day of each week) had a package for me to sign for, and clearly he’d read the return address because he exclaimed, “Kherson?!”

“Yes, where the fighting’s been going on.” I told him; “It’s a dress for my granddaughter. They also sell t-shirts that are anti-Putin and anti-Russia.”

I didn’t have to say, Nerves of steel there, man; he felt it. We both looked at each other in amazement as I handed him back his little handheld and its pen, at the sheer determined ordinariness of commerce in the face of all that.

At least I have this one thing I can do for them, and the means to do it.

Same company the birds t-shirt had come from (in a completely random color but they got it out of there.) They’re still getting things mailed. (The dress only came in the one color.)

I think it’s actually too small and might have to be a gift to a niebling’s toddler, but I’d still really like one for Lillian.

We just might end up with a do-over on that conversation.

Sunflower sized
Thursday October 27th 2022, 9:25 pm
Filed under: History,Life

The little globetrotter finally showed up after its second trip from Kiev: the beaded sunflower necklace with an upper flower split like falcon wings raised triumphantly to the sky.

It’s big. It definitely announces its presence.

Oleksandra went through so much to make this and get it safely here. I put it on in great glee. (Not pictured: the sunflower ponytail holder she added as a surprise.)

The war, however, did not end, no matter how much I told it to. Darn it.

Not yet.

But it will. And Ukraine will win.

As one person put it today, the US and Russia both believe in freedom of speech: the difference is the US believes in freedom after speech.

And Ukraine is quite willing to give voice to its opinion about which of those two outcomes it chooses.

Maybe it will work
Monday October 24th 2022, 9:37 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,History

The best of my Anya apricot attempts. This was a kernel in my fridge two years ago. And now I know it’s going to be glorious to have in the Fall as well as at harvest.

Last night I was talking to my knitting zoom group friends and mentioned that the hat I was working on was the overall gist of the various patterns that someone in Ukraine had embroidered onto three blouses for me; that I wondered how, especially given current circumstances, I could get it to her in Kiev. I wanted to be able to thank her beyond words for all the hours she’d put in on my behalf.

But it had to be a small enough package that she wouldn’t get hit with customs duties. So, a hat.

Note that this is the same soft ball of Mecha that my granddaughter knitted herself a finger puppet out of.

We brainstormed ideas, with one person saying what about going through the embassy?

I have no idea. But I like that one, and I can try. That does make me want all the more to make one for every vendor there I’ve done business with; I can’t imagine what they’ve had to go through.

But only one of them embroidered by hand to order and knew who the recipient would be as she did so.

And I want her to have this.

Democracy requires bearing witness to truth
Wednesday October 12th 2022, 9:19 pm
Filed under: History

The Jan. 6 Committee announced a hearing today for tomorrow, Thursday, at 1:00 pm Eastern, 10:00 a.m. our time.

I am in sudden need of replenishing my brainless-knitting-project inventory.

The babusya
Sunday October 09th 2022, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,History

Our entire bishopric was sick or out of town today, so leaders from the stake filled in.

The one who was to lead the service was sitting in his car beforehand going through a few notes before getting out, when he saw the woman.

She was elderly, she was stooped, she wore a headscarf and walked slowly with a cane, but on crossing the small side street and coming onto the sidewalk in front of the church, she removed her scarf, bowed her head, and clasped her hands together in prayerful reverence.

And then she saw him seeing her in her quiet moment. He was afraid he’d interrupted her reverie and felt like a bit of an intruder.

She waved to him. Hail fellow well met.

He waved back, and felt in that moment like he’d found a friend. Lovely woman, and he wanted to share that moment with the rest of us: there is so much love out there in the world to be blessed by, and for us to remember to offer.

Richard and I had seen her, too, a few minutes later as we drove up, but by then someone younger had joined her and was looking out for her so as not to fall as they headed slowly and carefully in the direction of the house two doors right nearby where our son’s old soccer coach lives.

I took the man aside afterwards. I told him that that coach has taken in several families of Ukrainian refugees and that I thought she might well have been one of them.

The speaker was someone who had helped me get the Ukrainian flag hats to the Consul General and his American friend, and I knew how much that would mean to him. And it did.

Bottled sunshine
Friday October 07th 2022, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,History,Politics

Anne gets the thanks for this one. A note from her got me looking: Ukraine is of course known for its sunflowers and as a large producer of sunflower oil.

What happens when you grow lots and lots of big bright yellow flowers?

You get lots and lots of honeybees.

I had no idea that Ukraine produces 10% of the world’s honey, although of course they do; it’s just that most of it never makes it over the ocean to here.

In the US, Congress has allowed corporations to adulterate both olive oil and honey and to sell deliberately mislabeled blends as the real thing. If you’re allergic to corn like a nephew of mine, that’s kind of a big deal on both counts. Can we please vote in people who care about people?

Which is why it’s wonderful to find a company that tracks its sources down to the individual farmers and verifies that what they’re passing on to their customers is nothing but true pure honey. (Re the olive oil: California’s law requiring Californian-grown organic extra virgin olive oil to only be that has been grandfathered in. That one you can trust.)

So. Anne found a jar of Ukrainian sunflower honey from a company that not only does that source tracing but is donating 100% of profits for it to World Food Kitchen and to Medical Teams International’s efforts on behalf of Ukrainian refugees in Moldova.

Even with the FedEx shipping, that sixpack of bottles comes to $12.50 per two-pound jar. The local stuff I’ve been buying is a dollar an ounce.

Do you have friends who need Ukrainian sunflowers in a jar for Christmas? Some of mine suddenly do. And it’s already here on our side of the ocean. While the money heads over there where it’s so badly needed.

Love, Roses
Thursday October 06th 2022, 8:08 pm
Filed under: History,Life

The weird thing is, it’s not just that the back twinges–it’s that it suddenly refuses to hold me up and I find myself on the floor. If I can hold myself up with my arms (I learned in the shower this morning) I can breathe through it and it lets go before I have to.

This gives new meaning to the word backpack. Just ordered one. It should help a lot.

In between dealing with all that, I’m a good way through reading “Dearest Ones” by Rosemary Norwalk. Highly recommended. She was a Californian who ran a Red Cross outfit at a port in England during WWII, offering coffee and doughnuts and a smile to every single soldier whose boat came in or left from where she and a few other women were stationed, be it 4 a.m. or 11 p.m. the same day.

There was a big fuss made when the millionth such soldier arrived. And again at the two millionth. Red Cross headquarters: You want HOW many more pounds of flour?? They didn’t believe it. They had to come see for themselves. And then they sent more women to help out as well as supplies.

I have a friend who was born just after his father went off to serve–who never so much as contacted his wife and son after the war was over but vanished into some other life. Rosemary described friends who hadn’t seen their spouses in four years falling in love with people they served with every day in spite of themselves.

She was not going to become serious about anyone till after the war was over and she could see them in their normal lives, not this temporary circumstance that by its nature tended to make people feel close as the Nazis changed from bombs you could hear incoming to ones you could not. Not her, no sir, just here to do her job and serve.

She wrote many a letter home, signed, Love, Roses, and asked her folks to save them all–while writing in her journal the extra details she didn’t want to tell them yet.

And those became this book and a glimpse into the world of her youth.

Don’t tell me if she ended up marrying Bob, clearly she did but I’m not there yet. (There are at least three Bobs so that’s not a spoiler. Mostly.)

Tuesday October 04th 2022, 9:05 pm
Filed under: History

Sometimes when you order something internationally on Etsy they don’t show more than the country the item is coming from until it’s got a tracking number attached to it.

And sometimes, under the circumstances, shipping doesn’t happen immediately.

There’s a vendor in Ukraine who’s been selling embroidered clothes, but also a few printed t-shirts and totes with the colors of the Ukrainian flag, of their national trident symbol, and of celebrating the sinking of the Moskva warship.

I ordered an embroidered toddler dress from them. Pretty flowers for Lillian.

Turns out that vendor was in occupied territory. It isn’t, as of the past few days, but it was then. I was gobsmacked.

The courage of the Ukrainians in standing up for their rights and their freedom of speech! We should all treasure what we’re blessed to have like they fight to keep it.

And yet who knows, it might
Monday October 03rd 2022, 8:11 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life

This is a little bit out on a limb–and yet.

I’ve mentioned how I was instantly smitten with a beaded sunflower necklace designed by Oleksandra in Ukraine. I waited several weeks before ordering it to see if its effect on me would wear off; the lower sunflower in particular is really big and I don’t naturally tend towards the ostentatious.

And yet. Those flower halves lifted as wings to the sky, the inner petals below curled as if caught up in the velocity above: it spoke to strength, resilience, survival. It reminded my eyes of peregrine flight, if you remember my volunteer remote-cam work towards their recovery. Yes, I could wear that. Thinking of strangers’ eyes lighting up on seeing me wearing a vyshyvanka: I would. For them.

It somehow felt a compelling part of the historical moment that I wanted to bear witness to. My father would have loved the art of it as well and I missed him, and that was somehow wrapped up in it, too. My little sister and I were with him on the plaza in Santa Fe when he fell in love with a shadowbox turquoise necklace and spent a long time talking to the artist about how her creation had come to be and about her work; he’d bought it for Mom, just like his dad had once picked out a large turquoise and a setting type and had watched another Navajo artist create a ring to surprise Dad’s mother.

That ring was big. It was almost ostentatious. And I treasure it. I’m the granddaughter who got to inherit it.

And so, wondering which granddaughter’s this would someday be, I bought that gerdan in July, back when there was only one, and I’ve written here of the long international back-and-forth wanderings that thing has been taken along on ever since.

My longtime mailman rang the doorbell Friday and I said quite gladly, You’re back!

He enjoyed that.

He’d been away when the post office had been unable to figure out where to send that gerdan. I knew he wouldn’t have had a problem with it.

Meantime, Oleksandra had been avidly following that tracking every day, even though for me it hasn’t changed since September 17.  She sent me a note a couple of days ago to let me know what the American postal service hadn’t been able to say: it had arrived back in Kiev! She was going to go retrieve it, repackage, and re-send it. She had made another two of those necklaces anyway even though I had told her that if it never showed up to please consider it a donation and not to worry about it.

But she was determined, and luck turned her way, and so, one way or another, there are strung-glass sunflowers coming my way shortly. Maybe it will spend the usual month or two waiting in Kiev to leave the country again; maybe it won’t.

And here’s where part of me can’t say/part of me can’t not say it so I’m just going to put it out there:

I was woken up very early this morning, October 3, by a dream that stayed vivid and still is, which is not a usual thing for me: that, however long it might take this time, I was once again at my front door opening it to our longtime guy and he was handing me a package. It was, it was my long-hoped-for necklace from Oleksandra, my personal connection to a family with a loved one defending their country there.

And as he handed me that package from Ukraine it totally capped off the day for both of us as we found out that we had both heard the news:

The war had ended that day.

Ukraine had won.

I know that all the fiercely wanting it to be so does not make it so. I know a dream does not require reality to bend to it. And yet the wild irrational hope holds on hard and it utterly refuses to let go, and all I can do is pray hard in grief and love and longing.

All I can say is, we shall see.

And that I wish that there could be overnight delivery on that thing.

New Swedish word: Solros
Friday September 16th 2022, 8:49 pm
Filed under: History

Meaning, sunflower.

This small handwoven woolen tapestry is my first ever purchase coming from the Kingdom of Sweden. I wondered if I was related to whoever made this. It was being sold as a fundraiser for a Ukrainian relief fund and the price was roughly postage times two.

I wanted to study how they used the various background shades of purple and blue and brightness/shadedness to enhance the colors within the flowers and highlight some areas; I wanted to study it to learn more of how to create the effects they did.

It was made in the 1970s. I think it could use a gentle hand washing for sheer age, is all, but I’m a little hesitant.

Anyone familiar with classic Swedish tapestry weaving? (It is definitely thicker than the French ones I grew up with.) Judging by the fringe, I’m guessing jute for the warp.

What would you do?

Summer breeze
Sunday July 31st 2022, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life

It was a good old-fashioned Bay Area summer day today–meaning, when the breeze blew it was actually a bit chilly. It’s how it used to be most of the time when we moved here thirty-five years ago.

The doors at church were open for the fresh air after a rash of covid cases last month.

I’d brought a Coolibar sun jacket to wear walking to and from the car; it doesn’t wrinkle and it easily stuffs down into a purse  and I really do need protection from even that much UV.

I’d almost brought a wool cardigan instead, though, and sitting there with that breeze coming right in at us I was wishing I had. Coolibar to the rescue near the beginning of the service.

When we broke for Sunday School, Suzie came up and told me she’d been wondering if I was wearing one of my Ukrainian shirts today. She hadn’t been able to tell from behind with that jacket on.

I was.

She was relieved: People forget, she told me, like it’s not still going on. She was really glad I wore those.

I was surprised and quite gratified. I’d bought them to make a difference to artists under siege trying to still make a living in the middle of the war. I’d had no idea it made one to her, too, but it did, it meant a lot, and her conveying that meant a lot to me in turn.

And I thought, we’re at the empty nester stage where I can afford to splurge on such things; she’s in the throes of the kids in college and soon to be in college stage. I remember how it was.

I would pronounce one a hand-me-down and share it if we were at all the same size.

Served cold
Thursday July 21st 2022, 9:58 pm
Filed under: History

Wow that Jan 6 Commission hearing tonight!

There was that little aside with the Capitol Police grousing that Josh Hawley’s infamous fist pump revving up the huge angry crowd about to break in was made possible by his being behind the line where those cops were protecting him.

The commission then played the security camera video from a few hours later of Hawley, and at a time when members of Congress were streams of humanity fleeing together for the safe room and looking out for one another, he was alone but for the cops watching him go, running down the hallway from the mob he’d helped incite. While again those cops were where they were to protect the likes of him.

They had it on repeat in slow motion the second time so that you could see just how high his feet rose as he was beating it out of there.

Yeah, I think he’s a one-termer now.

A mind of its own
Tuesday July 12th 2022, 9:30 pm
Filed under: History,Knit,Life

So I sent off that note. She sent me a sweet note back.

I decided to add a detail I hadn’t mentioned: that the consul’s American counterpart had taken my picture. That my hair was not having a good day at all but I still felt like I looked good because of how good her blouse looked on me.

She told me she’d laughed, and thanked me.

Which means I just spent the whole day (even through the Jan 6 committee hearing) quite delighted that I’d made someone in Ukraine have a good chuckle at the world.

Meantime, I was working on this.