Kindness is everything
Wednesday August 04th 2021, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life,Lupus

Got the state auto fee bill in June, paid it pronto, but it came with the every-other-year requirement that the car be smog-checked.

It’s a freaking Prius, guys. It’s a ULEV (ultra low emissions vehicle), it’s not… Okay, arguing with them in my head, now c’mon, has that ever worked out yet? Alright then.

It’s also still a pandemic, and I knew my husband couldn’t take the time off work and I knew it meant I would be sitting outside for far longer than I ever, ever do, especially in summertime. I was just mentioning to the cardiologist yesterday about going completely blind on the left for two weeks after five or ten minutes of June sun exposure years ago.

So I put it off till I couldn’t anymore.

At least the place has a–what do you call a drive-through metal pavilion the size of a small school bus? You’d park under it to keep the snow off your car in, say, Wisconsin. You for sure don’t see a whole lot of those around here, but this place had one.

It was up against the building and there were four distanced chairs and a bench set up under it. Three people were already waiting, but my only other option was going to be somewhere with no roof whatsoever. The sign said “Be seated and an attendant will be with you shortly,” so, okay then.

There was only one guy. And he was not coming shortly nor was he attending to anyone.

About 45 minutes later he did finally finish one guy’s car, then two more, and at that point I was next and two more had joined the wait.

At which point I was the only one wearing a mask.

The worker did walk past us a few times because the door to the office was behind us.

He avoided eye contact. He avoided conversation. He was covered in tattoos, all but his face. And to say he was not happy was an understatement–one of those times coming out of that office he looked like someone you’d be afraid would suddenly pull out a gun, he was that angry. At what, I have no idea.

But I do know the two who came after me had struck up a conversation about cars and the one guy was making roll-his-eyes comments about the wait. This was after he’d had some frustration about not being sure if he should comply with the sign, go to the bay and announce his presence, just wait, or what, while the new arrival had assumed he knew when he didn’t either.

I figured, you come to a place that doesn’t do appointments and you take what you get and you plan on that. You read the sign and sit like it says. RTFM, guys. And yes this place used to have a TV blaring in the office for your wait but, covid.

All five of the others looked at my MadTosh knitting (thank you Our Local Yarn Shop in Olympia, WA) during their waits like, oh if only…

My heart went out to the guy trying to take care of everything with no help and people kibitzing as if he couldn’t hear over the traffic. It’s not that they were being terrible or mean, it’s that the previous set had done a bit of that too and it can’t be fun to have to listen to that all. day. long. while you’re working hard, alone. It didn’t help that his dog was there with him (it was apparently in the room behind the office) and the dog was barking almost nonstop while he periodically tried to quiet it while the machinery did its thing. Sometimes he even succeeded.

The grandmother in me totally kicked in. I wanted to give the poor guy a break, so I made a point of looking up and noticing him with my eyes, smiling a bit when it felt right, simply acknowledging his humanity every time he went past (which was only a few times.) I had no idea if he even saw that.

When it was my car’s turn about 80 minutes in, I apologized about the deafness and he had no idea about facing the person so they can lipread (no, no mask) and he didn’t but we muddled on through.

But here’s the thing: when he handed me my paperwork and car key a half hour later there was this moment of

I’ve been sitting here staring at the monitor

I don’t know how to describe it

like he was acknowledging my humanity back and trying to figure out how to say thank you but there were no words so he was just silently glad for having been offered a bit of an emotional break in his day. Something had eased.

And I have no doubt he did better at dealing with his other customers after that because he’d felt that and felt seen in that moment.

Heart to heart talk
Tuesday August 03rd 2021, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Life

Warning: medical stuff ahead.

Adverse reactions to the covid vaccines are required to be reported. That’s one of the side effects of its having emergency approval, and I’m guessing possibly a contributing factor to why they’re still provisional.

From what the cardiologist said today, mine clearly was. As it should be.

He came with the latest studies on why a booster shot might be needed, telling me that the Pfizer is 95% effective when it’s given, which is phenomenal for a vaccine, but for people who got it back in January, in the face of the variants that have emerged since, it’s now 39% effective. April means I’d be at 65% now, according to the ongoing testing coming out of Israel, which has been serious about studying this disease. (While I thought, that explains Lindsey Graham, who is both older and got his in December.) Note though that the long-vaccinated are still almost universally protected from dying of covid or even serious illness so far.

The good doctor made it clear he wants the FDA to get to work and fully approve the shots now so that it can get on with approving doing those boosters, which for now one cannot get.

He was also clearly feeling me out to see if I would want one, and the answer was, autoimmune flare or no, emphatically yes. And yes it was a pretty serious flare in reaction to the second shot but it petered out fairly quickly. It was nothing like how extremely, life-threateningly sick I was in February 2020.

That was the answer he was clearly hoping for. He wouldn’t have to worry about me, then. (Note that there were two old women in his waiting room who were wearing their required masks under their noses. While waiting to see a doctor for their hearts. It’s a struggle.)

And then.

With all the hard work of moving heavy stuff for the termite guys, I confessed to episodes of sudden shortness of breath and almost passing out a few times and being forced to sit down fast. It resolved so quickly that he would have dismissed it as not being cardiac related.

And yet I do have a history of cardiac involvement. Virtually all lupus patients eventually do. I’m sure I freaked out the termite guys with one, just one cardiac cough while they were working–they had no way to know it was just a reflex.

He looked at the chart: precisely ten years since the last echocardiogram and stress test. Time to do it again, just to be sure.

I said, what if I’m fine and it’s a waste of time because it shows nothing?

He looked at me and didn’t quite laugh out loud and said, Then we’ll be glad!

Well okay then.

C’est une bunny day
Monday August 02nd 2021, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

You have to get up early if you want to see the bunny.

Only, this time I stopped and simply watched it for awhile to see if it would try to get past the netting over my tomatoes and squash or chew on the cherry or scout for that unripe pomegranate whose weight brought its branch to the ground.

None of those.

It was scouting out the spots where my watering the trees had allowed a pocket of weeds to stay green here and there–and for good measure the dried weeds. A long straw of the invasive decorative grass that the neighbors planted that wants my yard too (and that I had missed in my efforts to pull all those out) disappeared bite by bite and then the seeds dangling off the end were dessert and at last it was gone. It looked around for more.

It had never occurred to me that the weeds and their seeds were what it was living off of.

Nice. I think we might be friends after all.

But this evening I did pick the first reddening tomato, just in case.

Bar none
Sunday August 01st 2021, 10:14 pm
Filed under: History,Knit,Life

Another plain hat waiting for the moment when I’ll want the ends to already be run in. Soft and warm and wool and washable.

I woke up feeling fine this morning but church by Zoom was clearly the only way to go, just to be sure.

And then we got an email: the (unnamed) unvaccinated boy who was reported last week to have tested positive after going to Scout camp had carpooled there with another unvaccinated kid, who is now sick with covid.

Between them they’d exposed a whole lot of people. (The email didn’t say that. It didn’t need to.)

It asked that, of the kids who’d attended that camp, only the vaccinated ones come to in-person church.

Those two would have been old enough to have gotten at least their first shots–I do not understand why vaccination was not a requirement, although, on second thought, it may well be that it was.

I read a comment today where someone saw a long line of young people and went around the block out of curiosity to see what it was they were lining up for.

It was a pop-up vaccination clinic.

They noted that the bars in town had with one accord decreed that you must now be vaccinated to enter.

You play the hand you’re Delta
Saturday July 31st 2021, 9:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life

(Three feet.)

I drove through smoky skies yesterday, so much so that approaching the airport I could barely see the plane in the air much less make out whose it was by the coloring. When the sun glinted off it was when I was sure it was there.

At about that point on the way home, I was suddenly sneezing. This is not something you want to do at freeway speed and I got in the far right lane and tried to keep it as suppressed as possible, but it was one after another after another. I got home, got inside, it calmed down–and then my nose suddenly gushed.

For hours.

I just didn’t get it. I was perfectly healthy at noon.

By the time I went to bed it was just a bit of sniffle, so, yay for that, at least.

In the morning I was still stuffed up and so I reluctantly called dear friends whom we were going to be celebrating a birthday with tonight and bowed out. I was quite sorry but you never know. It was just not worth the risk nor the worry. Richard got to go, he’s fine, and Phyl got her peaches, at least.

Was it the smoke? Was it something that had been in someone’s house whose ashes made my lungs go nuts? Was I actually exposed to covid and had a short cloudburst of it? I’ll never know, but I’m almost over it already. Which makes me think it was either the smoke or my immune system yelling, Hey, I know you, get out of here! Because colds don’t do one-day stands.

I’m still going to do Zoom church in the morning. Friends don’t put friends at risk.

Just peachy now
Friday July 30th 2021, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Food,Life

(Side note: the tall apricot seedling is 35.5″ now. It is outgrowing the 54″ cage I ordered two weeks ago like a teenager outgrows jeans.)

The plumber:

I sent a camera down, he told me, because it was so bad. Those tree roots are a lot worse than they were.

Then he explained something that blew my mind: These Eichlers. They have asbestos in that pipe, and it weeps moisture and attracts the roots.

Asbestos?? Why on earth would they put asbestos in a sewer pipeline? Much less something that in any way leaks. Okay, it was the 1950s, but still.

It’s just from this point to the street, so you’re not exposed to it.

(Me in my head: except when it backs up and I’m stuck cleaning up after it.)

He told me that, as we knew, that main line is going to have to be replaced–but he also said he thought that we should be able to put it off till maybe next year (which for us would be really nice at this point.) But that it would be about fifteen grand to do. He doesn’t do that job but he could give me a good referral.

My next door neighbors had to do that two years ago. The friend four doors down did last week. I guess when your homes are old enough to sign up for Social Security it’s just how it is.

Thank you Bernie, we nevertheless have running water again, and turning the waiting washing machine on felt so good.

I celebrated (since we needed to replenish the supply) by going to Andy’s.

His normal presentation is everything laid out in cases with the peaches in a single, cushioned layer and you pick and choose gently however many of whichever type from the boxes, but, covid and you wouldn’t want what a bunch of people might have touched, so unless you order a case of a single variety touched only by the picker, they’re on display in small boxes with the fruit stacked like this.

I bought a nice flat case last week. Today I wanted variety. And a Cherokee tomato.

And I have the freely running and draining water to wash them with.


Ya gotta love the outtakes
Thursday July 29th 2021, 8:29 pm
Filed under: Life

I wanted progress? Life’ll give me progress to work towards.

We finally got the house repair contract, it is signed and it is a go and it was a lot. Dry rot, get rid of the old cracked skylights included. (I think the raccoon paw prints have been rained away and at least the animal didn’t fall through our bathroom ceiling in the middle of the night–all the more reason for trimming back its gateway tree last week.)

The plumbing backed up this morning because of course it did.

Okay life. That’s enough. Cut it out.

Bernie our plumber was right in the neighborhood with no time to work on it now but willing to come take a quick look.

He was marveling at the guy who built our addition and remembering, oh yeah, this house: No outtake? People always have to go up on the roof? A lot of guys don’t do that anymore–too many accidents, their insurance gets cut off if they do. You really need to have one installed and it won’t be cheap.

I said, Yeah, that tree (waving towards the big one out front) –we’ve seen the video with the roots cutting into the line, we know we’re going to have to redo that pipe.

He said, Yeah, it’s always right at the end of your property where the blockage is, and he marveled that the city had planted the Bradford pear within a foot of their outtake. Thanks, city.

While I was thinking, Just not today. Please, let’s not redo that line right now, I just signed away tens of thousands and I need that one thing to work enough for now…

He didn’t have time anyway and it turns out you can flush one toilet and wait awhile till the next time. One load of laundry, no, that’s what set it off, but the bare minimum it can manage.

So he’ll be back tomorrow to see what he can do.

Meantime, not knowing any of that, our son-in-law sent us a photo of a teddy bear that I’d sewn for Sam when she was a baby, that has been wearing a baby dress of Sam’s for forever, that is a favorite of the northern grands now: Lillian put it on a nice soft pillow and tucked it in for the night with a bear-sized blankie over it.

A grandtoddler soothing a teddy to sleep was just what my day needed.

While I knitted…
Wednesday July 28th 2021, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Life

It was April when I looked up and saw this and started searching for termite companies and then started getting bids.

It turns out that that was probably from the neighbor’s tree falling on the roof and dry rot setting in but we did, in fact, have termites. And a nice entry spot for them there.

The company wasn’t great at answering questions before the inspection but my gut instinct turned out to be right: any inside of an outside wall had to be accessible.

I wasn’t perfect in that but I certainly tried. There were quite a few times when I wanted to simply whine, Can’t we just tent the whole thing? But tenting apparently contributes to the climate crisis, and when the spot-check guys found they had competition they offered to up the warranty from two years that both were offering to five years for $600 extra, still cheaper than the tent guy. Done.

Collapsible ironing boards that have been upright in one humid laundry room spot for 27 years do not, in fact, collapse. The big bookcase? Sorry, just going to have to work around that.

They did find termites on one side of it. We might want to move that thing after all before the five years are up.

The younger guy working outside brought some of what he found in a towel to show me, clearly fascinated by them: “They look like little maggots!”

I wasn’t sure those weren’t, but whatever, I had utterly no idea how to answer his being almost charmed by them so I went with the spirit it was offered in and answered, “They’re so cute!” I mean, why not. If the guy’s doing a job like that why not help him enjoy it.

After all the angst, after all the prep, after all the back exercises so that I could keep going at moving stuff out of the way, with some assist from my husband till his back gave out–

–it’s done.

They were wonderful. They seemed thorough. The older guy made a point of telling me that if we find any sign, anything, anywhere in the house for the next five years, call them and it’s under warranty and they’ll be right out. (Meaning, if they couldn’t see something in the garage because of too much stuff on that overhead rack it didn’t matter, it was covered.)

I still can’t believe it’s done!

Except it’s not quite: I need that ironing board so it’s back where it goes but I still need to sign the contract on the guy doing the wood replacement and the roofers so the camping gear is still all over the family room. We’re working out details and timing. The termite stuff needs eight weeks first. I am resisting the urge to shove the six-man tent into that overhead rack.

Progress feels good. I want more of it.

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Tuesday July 27th 2021, 9:59 pm
Filed under: History

I went to school with family members of these guys. If only the Dove kid my age had lived to see this.

So good to see those Confederate General street signs coming down and being replaced with their families’ names. So long overdue.

Long ago there was some land near a creek that emptied into the Potomac River a few miles further down that was thought not to be worth anything because it was too hilly and rocky to make good farmland out of–so the owner was willing to sell it to an African American man, who brought in family. Their descendants have carried on a strong sense of community for generations now.

So glad to see the signs that convey their joy and love replacing the ones that, when they were put up, inflicted pain deliberately, quite possibly in backlash to that very community’s landownership and pride.

So much better now.

There there there there and there
Monday July 26th 2021, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Life

Trying to prepare for the termite guys. Trying to remember where each spot was that they are going to have to be able to reach and realizing with a bit of alarm the scope of what that means. Is emptying the top two layers of shelves in the pantry enough? We’ve never done this before. If we’re supposed to move furniture, it’s not going anywhere, not with our backs.

Richard got the camping gear out of our son’s old bedroom closet–they have to be able to get at that ceiling, too. Can’t move it in the garage in case they want to work in there. Where’s their chart?

The family room has no termites. Suddenly it has a lot of stuff.

We have too much stuff.

Maybe after this we’ll have a lot less. The only reason we’d ever need that camping tent again is if we had another big earthqua—

Oh. Right.

Okay, it stays.

From Kat with love
Sunday July 25th 2021, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

My doorbell rang this afternoon, and when I opened it I stood there speechless.

If you remember when we and our neighbors finally got the city’s permission to cut down their redwood that had grown onto our property and after raising our shed a foot was threatening our foundation? The city finally caved after Chris, our longtime arborist, told them there was no question it had to go.

It was a massive all-day job, with a crane and several trucks involved.

Redwood is valuable, so I was dumbfounded when they started feeding it into the chipper–had I known, I would have looked up someone, anyone, to be ready to take it.

With that sound to go with the sight of the disappearing towering tree, the neighbor from behind, an old friend, walked over to bear witness to its leaving us and then another from down the street came, too. I said ‘him’ on Facebook, but checking my old blog post it was actually Kat who asked: her husband would love to work with that, would they be willing to save that last big bottom section for them? (It was too late on the rest.)

The crew was relieved and gratified at knowing someone would actually use the best of this and told her, Sure! It was loaded in two pieces onto a large dump truck and I never did see how they got them going lengthwise across her front yard–did they move the crane, too? But they got them there.

And there those big logs sat for a year, to cure, I’m guessing?

And then gradually one started getting shorter.

Then months later the other one was gone, with little sawdust piles left behind.

There was a new border to their garden. They added to their fence. And as far as I knew, that was that.

So here was Kat: holding out a two-foot slice of that tree, prepared, polished, and with a turquoise river running through where the wood had split, a thank you for sharing the tree and a memorial of it for us.

She had wanted me to have that for a long time and at last it was done. She didn’t know–she’d almost put hooks into it so we could hang it, and would be happy to, or maybe we’d want to make it into a coffee table…?

I didn’t notice her signature till later–alongside a rendition of that tree as it had been, with its base about seven feet across and with the boughs reaching towards our house to the right, becoming one with the wind.

I was speechless. I was emotional. I had badly wanted something from that redwood but I would never in a million years have asked, and I was completely blown away and couldn’t keep the catch out of my voice.

Which was exactly the reaction that matched the work and effort and goodwill she’d put into it and made it all worthwhile, and wow. We will treasure this the rest of our lives. We will treasure her the rest of our lives.

Table, now that I’ve had a few hours to think about it. Definitely. I have no idea how, but, table.

Zucchini divas
Saturday July 24th 2021, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

We have had a trio of young mockingbirds for days, teenagers teasing their nest mates as far as I can tell.

But today the first tomato got its first tinge of pink. And suddenly there were eight of them! Mockingbirds do not come in flocks. This time there was more chasing out of territory, mixed with perching all around my veggies.

But they did not find their way in yet.

One, however, had learned that if it stood on top of the square-metal-cage’s netting where it was a bit loose and bounced up and down, it could get close enough on the downbeat to snag a blueberry. I was so impressed that I figured it had earned it.

Interesting: if you put the phone’s camera right up to the netting you get its shadow in sharp lines looking like it’s draped directly on half the plant, whereas the actual netting is those blurred-out thicker edges perpendicular to the squares below.

While the flowers demand, never mind all that, look at ME.

Red orange, purple white purple yellow orange
Friday July 23rd 2021, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

We ran out.

I checked before I left, and yes, please, she’d always, always love a case from there.

And so I came home from Andy’s with a big box of peaches for her family and one for us.

But when I went to deliver theirs she had a particular thank-you in mind: Satsuma plums from her tree, an orange zucchini, a yellow cucumber, a purple onion, white eggplants, all from her garden.

There’s got to be a colorway in merino out there to match.

I exclaimed over the bounty; she said well I’d driven all the way down there and back, and we both came away feeling like we got the better end of the deal. But best of all: we’d had a chance to connect and say thank you.

Thank you Andy for that.


Unreal estate
Thursday July 22nd 2021, 8:23 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

The late afternoon shade disappeared into the wood chipper. Thirty inches. The apricot tree is on a roll!

Meantime, I know it rains a lot in Portland and I can understand wanting the kids to be able to play inside as well as out. They do have a nice play set outside.

But, but, that picture # 12.

Someone hung a child’s swing from–tell me that’s not track lighting? With metal hooks into it to the metal chain to the swing? What could go wrong? (No, don’t spill that juice box!) With it set up exactly so that a little kid’s feet can gleefully help you clear that table and that puzzle you’ve just finally put the thousandth piece into.

Note that the other metal hooks don’t have swings (anymore?)

I have questions.


The jewel box
Wednesday July 21st 2021, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

Twenty-nine inches! Six inches in nine days! With the height of the pot that new 54″ cage isn’t going to last very long. That’s fine, plenty of other things need to be kept from the cottontail.

The other thing that happened yesterday, after the tree crew left:

I had an appointment with the audiologist, trying to fine-tune the new aids and check the fit after the manufacturer had re-molded the painful left one.

Towards the end I pulled out a small cardboard box filled with paper towels scrunched a bit like decorative tissue paper and inside, a perfect Sierra Rich red peach.

She did this little gasp and told me, My husband and I were just saying we had to find a *good* peach!

I said that the paper towels were because she was going to need them.

So now they know where to go.