Come on people now
Saturday January 21st 2023, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Life

We had a twice-a-year meeting at church tonight where the theme was, live all week what we preach on Sundays, with the question, how do you get there in your day to day. How do you not forget.

They offered examples: pulling over to help someone with a disabled car, helping the kid on the opposite team back up to his feet after a fall on the soccer field, smiling at a stranger who could use it. The little things that make all the difference in the world to someone in the moment but that we almost don’t notice.

It matters so much.

All of that was nothing new, and yet: when they put us in groups to talk about it and what had we specifically encountered that day or that week, it became a very powerful shared experience. I wish I could give the enormity of those feelings now to everybody right here right now. The best I can offer is in the music:

Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together got to love one another right now. Right now. Right now.

Finally almost finished
Friday January 20th 2023, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life,Lupus

(Runs and looks it up.) Camelspin: 328 yards to the 100g.

This has been my carry-around project for awhile. I love the yarn, 70/30 mulberry silk and baby camel, the shimmer, the softness, and it marinated in my stash for a number of years looking for just the right thing till one day in November I grabbed one of the two skeins and thought oh just go.

It’s slippery and a bit of a challenge to hands that have a tendency to drop things.

I cast on more stitches than I should have and silk stretches, so I really had to keep going to have the length/width proportions work out right. I’ll get another four-row repeat out of it and then probably another and I think it’ll be just right.

I really like it. It was worth the wait. And it comes with fond memories of kindness from the folks at Handmaiden: fourteen years ago I showed them a picture of my mother of the groom dress and they surprised me and specially dyed some Camelspin to match for my shawl for the wedding. Wonderful, wonderful people.

So far it’s for me, but we know how that goes. And I do have that shawl already. In Ultraviolet. Which given my lupus’s sun sensitivity is a colorway name that always made me laugh–like it somehow let me get the better of that particular limitation.

Faked her out
Thursday January 19th 2023, 6:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

One of the things I found during my looking at Zillow/considering/rejecting moving, was, the nicer the house, the more likely that there was a fake-fur blanket artfully diagonally draped across the foot of the bed in the master suite in the pictures.

A really, really nice one, realistic and with great depth and obvious softness.

Wirecutter, today’s answer to what Consumer Reports used to be, actually did a report on such and came away saying, If you want the ones that everybody actually wishes for there’s no way around it–you have to shell out the big bucks at the upper end stores. But oh, what you get…!

Soft Surroundings sells some and their reviews sounded great. They know they’re a popular item. They often tie them into some promotion or other around Christmas time. I snagged one of last year’s models for my birthday at 75% off.

When I was pulling it out of its shipping box, Richard was suddenly concerned and warned, You know you’re going to have to worry about red paint.

It’s a blanket!

Oh. Good.

But it looked that fur-real.

It was my turn in the sibling Christmas round-robin to give to my oldest sister this year as another of their ads hit my inbox. So now this year’s model was that much on sale.

I already had–but–those are so nice. It would be fun to surprise her with something her grandkids would love to snuggle up in at their house, to be able to contribute to future happy memories for them all.

After Christmas, she thanked me for the apricots from Andy’s.

So there we finally were in person, seated around Mom’s table enjoying Indian take-out that first night there, and I decided to ask her my nagging question I’d been avoiding, not wanting to put her on the spot if her opinion of it was nowhere near mine: So. Did you like the blanket?

She and her husband did this mid-spoon-lift stopped in their tracks startled jaw-drop and a loud exclamation of surprise: The BLANKET!!! YOU’RE the one!!!

She scrolled through her phone to show me pictures she’d taken of it and its matching pillow (for hers you got free shipping if you forked over $11 for the pillow, ie it cost $1, why not) that she’d sent to a dear friend. Nope, not her. She’d asked all her kids. She’d gotten an invoice (you blew that part Soft Surroundings) but no mention anywhere of who had paid it. It had been a complete mystery these three weeks and it was so nice and how do you not thank someone, but who?! They were all entirely stumped and it had been driving them crazy. She’d thought of me–but no way. It would be an afghan if it was from me!

Yeah, well, y’know, sometimes I cheat…

Yes. They did. They absolutely adored it. Even if it wasn’t handmade.

And they couldn’t wait to laugh with their kids over the mystery being solved at long last.

Snow, mobile
Wednesday January 18th 2023, 9:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Before the trip, I watched the forecasts and worried out loud more than once about having to drive in snow and ice as it promised the rain would turn to little white stars on the screen very early Sunday and stay that way all day. It’s been 36 years since we had to drive in New Hampshire winters, were our reflexes still there? I remember going ice skidding.

I’d forgotten the basic fact that roads are dark and take longer to get frozen.

The rain held on longer than expected; it was a mixture going into church, all fat fluffy flakes coming out and starting to powder the ground, but the streets? They were wet. That’s all.

That could change, I thought, given that our flight wasn’t till seven.

And then after our lunch of Indian restaurant leftovers I found myself looking out Mom’s windows as I wished for every minute with her to last longer.

Watching the snow.

Gently coming down.

I had almost forgotten.

How peaceful it is to be warm and inside and watching the world slowly turn itself into a soft, quiet blanket, and what a privilege it was to get to do that with my mother. The top of the Capitol building a few blocks uphill from her disappeared into the cloud.

But then the skies threw their forecast to the wind and stopped: that was enough for now, don’t want you guys to worry, safe travels.

But I’d wanted it to keep going! Like that protest was going to get me anywhere.

We drove to the airport with no ice, no snow on the road, and headed off to Vegas airport (of which you have heard) and then home.

Where I wished that I could go back to watch the snow falling quietly alongside my mom and was glad we got to have that together while we could.

Wow back, sir
Tuesday January 17th 2023, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

So the other thing about the Vegas airport.

Southwest uses more than one terminal there and it was a long haul across the both of them. I found myself exclaiming, How big is this airport? Is it trying to be Atlanta? (The biggest in the world.)

I got an older wheelchair guy, the manager of the service with white hair to match my own, taking it briskly and cheerfully and at one point he said encouragingly, We’re about a quarter of the way there.

Me: Wow.

We didn’t tell him that my husband had taken a hard spill the day before, but he was in pain and moving slowly.

As we came around a corner, the guy spotted a woman waiting for her flight who was by a clearly-needed wheelchair but not in it just then. It was a different type from the one I was in, and just what he’d been looking for, though we had no idea.

He stopped. Excuse me, ma’am? Is that your wheelchair? Mind if I swap you? (There was a second one nearby like mine, left behind at someone else’s boarding.)

She looked confused but raised no objection as he helpfully moved it over by her and took hers. Apparently it was easier to manage for what he had in mind.

There you go: have a seat, he told Richard to our surprise, and proceeded to push the both of us at a brisk pace across the rest of the way.

My 6’8″ husband is not small.

We were a wide load and people were being oblivious and I did not want the man to lose and have to regain the slightest bit of momentum nor did I want to plow anybody down, so I proceeded to call out Beep Beep! and an occasional loud EXCUSE ME! as needed to get people to dodge us.

We thought at first we were on the brink of missing our flight but he knew better; we’d changed time zones. (Duh.) Besides, he told us, they’re not leaving without my passengers. Still, he took it at a good speed because he could.

He at one point bemoaned young people who collect money not to work, they don’t want to work, he said, they get paid to sit around at home, and I thought quietly, okay I know what channel you watch. They’re looking for better paying jobs and going back to school to qualify for them, but what I was actually hearing from him was, I can’t find enough people to do all I need done for all the people who need it at the amount I’m allowed to offer them.

But he was quite cheerful about getting to help us, as if simply meeting us had made his day.

He got us to our gate, I tipped him a good one, but before he could leave I said, A question, sir: are you allergic to wool?

That was so unexpected that it entirely threw him. Am I what??

I was unzipping my jacket pocket. Do you like green?

None of this was making the least bit of sense to him and he suddenly had no idea what to make of me.

Above and beyond, I marveled at him, not for the first time. You are amazing. THANK you! as I put a Malabrigo Teal Feather hat in his hands. I knit that on the way here, I told him; it’s brand new.

He was speechless.

And then as if suddenly remembering his manners he asked if I needed to use the restroom? I did, actually, and he wheeled me over thataway. On the way, I explained, That’s what I do. I knit things and then go find out who they were meant to be for.

You take good care of her, he said with great warmth to my husband back at the gate while patting my right shoulder and at a loss for how else to say how he felt.

A hat. Knit by hand. For him. For pushing a wheelchair.

What he didn’t know he also got was my fervent prayers for his back to be okay after all that work.

The trip hazards
Monday January 16th 2023, 5:59 pm
Filed under: Life

Okay, more details now that I’m not typing at midnight: the niece whose Texas wedding we missed to the Southwest meltdown? She had a second reception in Utah on Saturday so we rebooked for that–which meant getting to spend time with my mom, too, which was so great. When we flew in Friday evening we had DoorDash deliver Indian food to her house, and my brother and his daughter and our sister and her husband and our youngest joined us at Mom’s for our own mini-reunion.

Traveling tip: if you order a big restaurant meal in another state hours before you arrive in that state, call your credit card company before their fraud unit calls your land line so you can tell them yes it’s legit. Thank you Discover for calling quickly and unfreezing us before we left for the airport.

Last night on our return, there were no direct flights so we came via Vegas. There was a guy in that airport where I thought, I hope you’re not on our flight. He was, along with three family members, but they were not the first but the second family to loudly harangue the crew starting with the gate agent.

A woman we’d seen walking around just fine suddenly developed a profound limp and demanded to pre-board. The agent had seen her, and had the backup of you’re supposed to say when you book your flight if you need assistance, so she got told, nicely, no–your place in line is this number and that’s where you need to go.

That mom was angry and she let everybody know it, including telling the flight attendant once she finally got on all about how she’d been wrongfully denied and how terrible that agent was. The kicker is that she and her young son got second row seats anyway and could have spared herself the embarrassment of her ongoing public tantrum.

Richard expressed empathy quietly to the agent, who was grateful for it.

The woman’s limp magically entirely disappeared after the flight.

But that was nothing compared to the next group.

While she was still in line inside, as an antidote to what I didn’t know was only the start of it all, I figured our trip was pretty much over and it was time to put the rest of the finger puppets to use with no further need to save any. I pulled out some pretty ones and the first two flight attendants we saw, a young African-American man and a young, petite African American woman, were just so taken with them. For crying babies, I said, and as they asked if I’d made them I told them they were from Peru: the women can put food on the table, kids get happy, everybody wins.

It was clear they were both wishing for one of their own as they held them so I added, And they’re for you, too! Any ones you want.

A handful more puppets came out to make sure they had enough.

So that started our time together on a joyful note, with Richard passing the little wearable animals over from me, and I said to him on the drive home, They’re good people anyway but that probably set the tone and helped them through what was about to happen.

He thought that was probably so.

I’ve never been so grateful for TSA screening. We were delayed by storms in the South but then by that angry guy. And his wife. And his mom. And their kid. During boarding he was yelling at the back of the plane loud enough for ME to hear at the front row and I would have said that wasn’t possible. But it was. And he went on and on and on and on and on and on and ON and on. Does the man ever breathe? Then his mom wouldn’t board–I have no idea what her problem was, but she finally got on. His kid (about six?) yelled for awhile, too, because that seemed the thing to do. His wife at the last was visibly shaking her body with rage in view of my window as she screamed at the plane’s door. At length.

Only able to guess at what her problem was, I thought, Lady. This is Southwest. You arrive late and there’s only one seat left on the full flight, that’s your seat. Nobody has done you wrong. But you guys don’t threaten the crew and you don’t scream at them.

The young flight attendant with the beautiful long braids was soothing, kind, wise beyond her years, in no way backed down, and at the last said, Thank you for your time, ma’am, with so much emotional honesty to the improbable words that it reminded me of when I was being calm with my teenagers: you love them and you see they’re acting that way because they’re in pain and you try to meet them where they are while still saying the rules hold. If our hero was religious, she fully lived by the Love she believes in.

She asked if anyone would like to move for this family, and boy howdy people did because nobody wanted to sit by any of them if they didn’t have to.

I have to add to last night’s remarks that Richard was every bit as much if not more of a support to her and the others as I was. Even if I’m the one who got the hug. He asked her later, Do you have to put up with drama like that often?

Her whole body did a Phew! at the question and then she laughed and said, No! 421 flights and that’s never happened before!

And yet she’d handled it like an old pro and I thought, Every police department in the country should hire you to teach them de-escalation techniques.

All of those people actually eventually sat down and shut up after she was done. I’m sure the male attendant at the back dealing with the dad was handling it just as well.

I wondered afterwards if that second family was, in effect, Westboro reincarnated: trying to anger the workers so they could sue Southwest when they kicked them off–it’s the only thing that made sense.

Nothing was going to be served during the flight, the pilot announced after we finally started pulling away from the gate about an hour late: there would be too much turbulence.

He didn’t say, and half of it has been human. It was definitely one way to keep drinks away from those guys without making the attendants have to take any more flak that would surely come with the denial.

We did in fact have enough of a rollercoaster starting a little while into the ride that the pilots were too busy to remember to turn off the bathroom sign. Whee! Yeah, we stayed buckled.

So. We finally land. The lights come on, people get up to get their stuff, it’s quite late.

You know how they drive the outside walkway over to the plane’s door and the little canvas-looking accordion overhead stretches out its cover?

The first eight or ten times, the gate agent at the controls approached, stopped, backed up, considered, tried, missed, backed up, again and again, till the pilot came on and chuckled, She’s new; she started in January.

This, of course, was January 15.

She tried a bunch more times and none of it was done quickly. We could see her calling someone. We could see her hands gesturing in frustration and embarrassment as she could see us seeing her. She tried again. Way off. No. On the phone again, and you could imagine the words to go with the pleading face and motions: Can’t someone come?! Has everybody gone home for the night?!

Our intrepid attendant got on the mic and said, Anybody want to hop down from the plane and help her out? We’ve been on the job for eleven and a half hours and we would like to go to bed.

The whole plane laughed with her because she was laughing and a little comic relief is always a good thing.

It had been a good ten minutes at this point. The pilot asked everybody to sit back down. We did. Then he moved the plane forward.

She considered the angle. No, no, that was worse.

Okay. He backed the plane up and angled it sideways towards that walkway as he did so, and this time, she cruised right forward. Nailed it. She connected us up, we had a cover out of the hard rain and we had our walkway, and there you go.

The poor woman was back inside at the gate and had to watch all of us go past her and we all smiled a hello of, that’s okay and an everybody’s new at a job once, we get it (it wasn’t just me by any means.)

We followed the emotional lead of our wonderful attendants and pilot, who’d repeatedly made everything all right in spite of it all.

Richard and I got home wired and tired and way past our bedtime in both time zones. I told him my body didn’t want to sleep but I was going to boss it around and tell it too bad, and with that he gave up the day to its ghosts along with me and that was that.

She was a saint
Monday January 16th 2023, 12:51 am
Filed under: Life

I’ve never seen such behavior in an airport before, much less on a plane. They should have been thrown out and criminally charged with interfering with a flight crew, but I guess Southwest is trying really hard to rebuild customer relations. But these people did not deserve how well they were treated in response to their aggressions.

That flight attendant–

–well, there’s an old Washington DC saying that the definition of a diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you look forward to the trip.

So much went so wrong. She handled it so well. I told her that and thanked her.

Never before has a flight attendant given me a hug as I was getting off the plane.

Next! Something bright, anything bright
Thursday January 12th 2023, 8:49 pm
Filed under: Knit

Turns out sixteen wasn’t the magic number either.

But as that seventeenth repeat was coming along, I laid the afghan out on the floor to see.

At long last, yes. Proportionately width to height, that was it, just right. And it’s about as tall as I am, also just right.

And went to bed without those last four rows and the cast off because there are only so many hours in the day.

I like lavender. The mill oils that are about to be washed out gray this one for now but I know how it will look. The yarn will brighten and bloom and fill out and look more solid. I know the recipient’s going to love it, I know the last recipient I used that yarn for nearly burst into tears when she saw the finished work in her hands. The two of them are cousins and they can think of each other with their matching afghans (different patterns).

Today was a busy and happily preoccupied day and I could have kept going with all that but after dinner it hit me: You are not coming back in that front door again without that afghan being finished. Over with. Out of your hair and away from your procrastination. You are not. Sit your posterior down on that couch Right Now. Do it. NOW.

Sometimes a good talking-to is just the thing.

I just put the size 9s away, the afghan in the tote, finally got the camera to be honest about the mill oils, and zipped the bag up.

It will look so good after the hot wash to come.

Someone yell at me to run that final end in, though, will ya? Never mind, I’ll do it myself.

Whiteboards and floods
Wednesday January 11th 2023, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Life,Politics

Katie Porter is running for Senate ’24! I’ll finally get to vote for her!

Meantime, I had to make a quick run to the post office: please keep my mail out of the rain and all that.

I pulled off the road at a small gravel turnoff by the bike path along the marsh looking over towards the Bay, because I had never seen water in most of this. See that dark wooden fence in the foreground there? (Click for a bigger view.) The bottom of it is underwater. One might not want to go birding down that trail today.


A bridge too far gone
Tuesday January 10th 2023, 8:24 pm
Filed under: History

This very old bridge is scheduled to be replaced at long last and if you watch the Twitter video it’s obvious why.

I like how it looks like alligator jaws opening wide: Gotcha! (Man, that takes serious skills.)

Sweet 16
Monday January 09th 2023, 10:56 pm
Filed under: Knit

Yesterday during my knitting group Zoom I happily announced that I had just finished the 15th repeat on my afghan, which I’d been aiming for for a long time.

But you know what? Yes it’s not blocked, yes it will stretch out, but it still was just plain too short no matter how much I didn’t want it to be and I refuse to be disappointed by the darn thing after putting multiple months into it. So today I overdid it while trying (or I told myself I was trying) not to overdo it.

Which means the 16th is now done, minus the purl row afterwards. Pass the icepacks.

Well, but, huh. You know, one more repeat there would really polish that off nicely. The recipients are taller than me.

p.s. We got 2.3″ rain over the last 24+ hours with .91″ to go tonight and an evacuation warning in the south end of the county, but the forecast now is in quarters and halves rather than in whole inches–each of which would normally be a lot but right now feels like quite a break. While still adding to the reservoirs.

p.p.s. For whatever it’s worth:¬†handbeaded gerdans on the delicate side in appearance that are $13.75 as I type. Which to me sounds like a cry to the world out there for help, because the last time I saw a seller in Ukraine cut prices that drastically it was as things were falling apart around her hard, and I will forever be grateful for the gorgeous beadwork she’d already done for me and the conversations we’d had. Her shop is gone now and I have no idea how to find out if she’s alright.

The night is young
Sunday January 08th 2023, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Garden

Well, that’s a no-frills pruning job. (Listening to the gusts of water coming down.)

Saturday January 07th 2023, 6:58 pm
Filed under: Life

The forecast was .82″ at noon, then five hours later as it actually finally started to come down they changed it to 1.73″.

Meantime, someone had backed into a fire hydrant in Sunnyvale and an old Purlescence friend took video of the resulting geyser and flooded street.

My reaction was, the sky took one look at that and went, You think that’s something? Here–hold my water.

Last appointment of the day
Friday January 06th 2023, 9:20 pm
Filed under: Life

One of the enduring artifacts of the pandemic is how visible it made the handiwork of all the unsung hair stylists out there while so many salons were closed. All that long hair out there. The number of women, here, anyway, who’ve kept it that way since.

By the way, the DIY youtube video that says to turn your head over, brush your hair straight, put in a ponytail holder and lop the ends off below there and it will come out perfectly layered towards the bottom? Don’t do it. Just don’t. Don’t ask me how I know.

Part it down the middle front to back, pull it to the front under your chin and hold, snip across. Much better. I don’t know how well that would work on straight hair but curls are forgiving.

But I wanted it done right. My hair was going to be in pictures forevermore, and that’s incentive enough to brave the scissors of someone new. Both the distance and, as I discovered, the politics of the woman I’d previously gone to…let’s just say the distance.

I found a place about a mile away.

It was a great feeling to come out of that chair feeling like this woman had done exactly what I’d hoped for–and, given that I have some older salon stories that could curl your hair, it was such a relief.

Except for one small thing.

I don’t know what that product was, but I’d forgotten to ask for nothing scented.

He squirmed a bit. He didn’t want to say it outright. So I said it for him: It stinks.

Yes, (emphatically), it definitely does. (Heard but not said: It is entirely messing with this dinner, honey.)

Now pardon me while I go wash my hair.

Thursday January 05th 2023, 10:51 pm
Filed under: History

I can’t imagine believing all your life that your father had never learned to read or write and only finding out ten years after his death that he most certainly did. In a system¬†going back to the 10th century.

I remember reading a profile of Richard Nixon years ago where he justified his intense racism by saying, All those people in Africa and across all of history they never even came up with a written language? They never kept records?

But they did.

Ajami, a modified Arabic, was never taught in school by the colonialists nor acknowledged.

With help from my friend Lise, I stumbled across this very cool story from my late father’s alma mater.