Friends time to the rescue
Wednesday June 29th 2022, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Friends,Politics

1.My friend Karen is as much a political junkie as I am, raised by activist parents, and she was itching to talk about yesterday’s hearing and asked if she could come on over. We ended up talking for hours and solving the problems of the world; now all the politicians have to do is listen to us and they and we are golden. Right?

2. I thought I’d fill out my Real ID application as long as I was on the DMV site paying the car registration. I think their user interface was designed by unpaid interns–it was just so badly written. C’mon, California, you’ve got Silicon Valley right here, you can do better than this. You shouldn’t have to guess on what they meant to say vs what they did say while you’re jumping through hoops. Aargh.

Which means, 3. I’ll finish that tomorrow because there are only so many hours in the day and I’ve about run out of this one’s.



A soldier for democracy
Tuesday June 28th 2022, 9:18 pm
Filed under: Friends,History

The Jan. 6 Committee’s emergency hearing ended. The phone rang.

It was Anne: “Wow.”

Yes, and I Wowed back. That was absolutely the word for it.

All those men who said all those things because, though she never put it this way, a 25-year-old beautiful woman is invisible in the room against their power–until she speaks truth to that power.

Wow.

Trump yanking the tablecloth and dumping everything, more than once? Yelling and shattering porcelain against the far wall when Barr thwarted him? His hands on the throat of his Secret Service driver? His unmet demand at the Ellipse that the magnetometers be taken down so that people not allowed into the rally because they’d have to give up their illegal-in-DC guns could come in and swell his crowd size? They were hanging around the edges, some up in trees with a good line of sight, flagrant in their numbers, awaiting the word.

Trump wanted to lead them to the Capitol (by car of course, he wasn’t going to walk) and the Secret Service wasn’t having it.

Those are visceral images that even the most far-right voter would recoil from after today’s revelations.

Every late member of my father’s generation who went to war to defend the free world has got to be up there cheering, You GO, girl!



Needles and threads, too
Monday June 27th 2022, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,History,Life,Politics

I got a message.

San Diego Jennifer, whom we adore from when she was in law school at Stanford, said she was flying into town for a wedding but there was a problem with her bridesmaid dress and did I have or did I know who had a sewing machine she could use for a few minutes and could we hopefully possibly get to see each other?

It’s been about ten years. I miss her. YES!

When she said what time she’d be getting off the plane I mentioned that it was our anniversary and what time our dinner was set for. She said she could come tomorrow.

Oh what the heck, she came today and when she ran out of time she borrowed the sewing machine, but not till we’d had a great time catching up for far too short a time. Her friend who’d picked her up from the airport got invited in too because of course.

I offered them peaches from Andy’s.

I got to see the complete surprise on Jennifer’s face as her eyes flew open and then closed in ecstasy at that first bite. Her friend’s reaction to her own was simply, Wow. When I offered a second peach, the friend hadn’t been going to ask by any means but she was sure glad to take me up on it.

I sent them off with another two for the road. Those peaches are at their very most perfect today and they should be enjoyed just like that.

Our dinner arrived minutes later. I’d ordered it delivered so that there wouldn’t be any last minute tension or scramble, it would just come, and turns out Richard’s meeting, the real wild card in all this, had gone over. So it was just as well we weren’t wrecking a restaurant’s reservation schedule.

So: 42: Life, the Universe, and he’s my Everything.

Richard’s family had served all the raspberries anybody could eat at our wedding breakfast. His grandfather had a quarter acre berry patch in Northwest Washington, DC in what’s now the Obamas’ neighborhood, where in the 1930s he’d bought the plot next door as well as the one he built his house on and forever after refused to sell it because that was his garden and his raspberry patch. He was born a farm boy and wanted to work some land. (Even if he was the lawyer who wrote the laws governing the new Federal Radio Commission, which became the FCC with him as chairman at one point and–I need to ask my sister-in-law to be absolutely sure, but our memory is that he was the author of the Fairness Doctrine.)

Yesterday’s recipe? We ate it for breakfast. It had to be raspberries. Go Grampa H.

And I get a second visit with Jennifer when she brings the sewing machine back. We’ve made an appointment to go out to lunch.

—-

Before I forget, for those who missed the announcement. The January 6 committee said today that they had new information and were holding an emergency hearing at 1:00 Eastern Tuesday, with some of them flying back to DC for it after having gone home for the Congressional recess.

It should be interesting.



Notes on messing with a new cobbler recipe
Sunday June 26th 2022, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Food,Recipes

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 c flour

1/2 c almond flour (original recipe simply called for 1 c plain flour)

2/3 c sugar. (original recipe said 1 c plus another 1/4 across the top, which I didn’t do, and as it came out I’d probably do a half cup next time instead of 2/3. Unless grandkids were around.)

1 egg

Mix until you have small crumbles

In buttered 8″ pan (ceramic one in my case), put two cups of fruit. (Raspberries, here.) Top with mixture. Use a spoon to scatter 5 tbl melted butter across the top, put in 350F oven, bake 45 minutes (for me since ceramic pans take longer.)

Crunchy on top. Just right. Going to try it on some apricots next with a bit of almond extract.



Blenheims
Saturday June 25th 2022, 9:45 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,Life

My friend Jennifer who got a Blenheim apricot tree as her chosen house-warming present not too many years ago invited me to come on by to help pick some of those apricots today.

There’s been this pandemic.

I would not have recognized the tree, it was so big and so loaded with fruit. Wow! I almost didn’t recognize her kids. They change so fast.

She worked the picker while I reached up to get ones that were too high for her kids so that they could have the lower ones to be proud of helping out with. The tree intermittently tossed a few good ones down to the littlest and the kids added to my basket again and again. There was love and happy Brownian motion and scampering and me dropping an apricot under the car oops and her little daughter scrambling to retrieve it for me and a good time was had by all.

I remembered what her husband had said years ago: how, when they were engaged, she’d gotten a diagnosis that could mean their time together might be very very short. It might mean that he’d never get to be a dad like he so much wanted. And yet, what he most wanted with his life was to be married to her.

They stood by each other through the worst from the first. A recovery and years and four kids later, they are living happily ever after and sharing the depth and strength of that love. Simply being there today felt like such a privilege.

I happened to be walking towards my front door from my car with that basket just as the new mailman pulled up, the second time I’ve actually gotten to see his face (the first time being yesterday while you were here, Anne.) I held it out and offered, saying my friend and I had just picked them off her tree. He took as many as his hand could hold, so clearly he was a fan, so I offered him more and shifting the first to his other hand he did, he took two more.

With just the happiest smile on his face. It surprised me but it made my day, too.

Jennifer got us off on the right start with the new guy.



The main line
Friday June 24th 2022, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

I turned on the computer this morning.

I think that’s the first time I’ve ever seen the Washington Post have nothing on their home page but the headline, along with the top half of a picture to scroll down on to see in full: Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade.

I gasped.

I’d actually thought that somehow with all the public feedback and blowback, all the explaining of the real world implications, from ectopics to you name it, they would hear us. That they would see the humanity behind the outcry, if not the doctrine of stare decisis. One thing that draft leak did was to clarify for the public just exactly how that would play out in actual lives and why it mattered.

Who voted them to be theocrats over us? What about state institution of one particular religious point of view? Wasn’t the whole point of the founding of America a trying to get away from that?

For the record, the official Mormon Church position on abortion is essentially that it’s between the woman, her doctor, and her God. That ideally it should never be done for convenience, but medical matters are simply medical matters and nobody else’s choice to make in any case.

I was as pro-life as anyone when I was young, but the older I’ve gotten and the more I’ve seen of how things play out across lives of people I know and of people I only tangentially know, the more adamant I’ve become that no one has the moral authority to decide whether a woman should take on the life-changing tasks, the risks, the bodily changes, often permanent, the discomfort, the pain, the putting her life on the line, not to mention the rest of her life, for a pregnancy–except the person going through it. And her doctor.

I badly needed a distraction. I drove to Andy’s Orchard and got my apricots and peaches and threw in some sweet cherries too in anticipation of seeing Richard’s face light up. Heading out of the parking, I spotted Andy himself walking over thataway, stopped the car, rolled down my window and yelled, Hi, Andy!

He smiled and called out, Hi! with a wave back. Made my day.

I got home in time for the plumber and his son (and offered them some, but they had both a peach and an apricot tree at home, the son said, quite happy at being offered, though.)

Turns out: they couldn’t turn the main to the house off so as to work on the valve. Turns out: that wasn’t the only thing broken, the city’s was, too. Which, if they touched and anything went wrong, they warned me, the city would charge me for it and it would be prohibitively expensive, making it sound like, And you don’t even want to know.

They offered me a choice. I could make an appointment with the city, which would likely take about a week, and they could come back then–because they had to be there when the city turned it off and when they turned it on again–or.

It was a Friday afternoon at 3:25, I figured there was no chance.

But there is a substantial amount of water in that strong drip below the toilet and it adds up fast (the bathroom was flooded when we woke up even though we had something underneath to catch it) and wasted water in this drought apparently got the city’s immediate attention.

And so we did it. With my permission, the plumbers killed a $225 hour waiting on the city guys, who graciously stayed long enough for them to do what they needed to do so the city could turn it off and then on again in one trip.

The city main valve is replaced. Our main valve is replaced. That toilet’s valve is replaced. The toilet is fixed. The other toilet that usually is fine but sometimes gushes randomly so we’ve simply been turning that valve off when it’s not in use? The one that the valve has started throb-pounding hard when you do that? Yeah, it’s got a washer loose inside and it’s going bad. So that valve’s replaced. They didn’t have the part on hand for that second toilet, so just keep turning the valve off for now and we’ll deal with it some future time.

They did it. $700 later we have reliable, nonleaking bathrooms again.

Fifteen minutes after they left, the doorbell rang, and it was my friend Anne now of Oregon. We had such a rare, grand time catching up. I’ve missed her so much since she moved away.

Anyas, peaches, getting stuff fixed, friends.

Antidote after antidote. Small on the scale of things but huge re the day.

The cherry on top? Commenting on the reef afghan I was working on, turns out the plumbers’ wife/mother is a knitter.



Well that stinks
Thursday June 23rd 2022, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Life

(Picture of Tamien, the male peregrine fledgling, after being rescued and returned to the roof at SJ city hall to try again on the flying thing yesterday.)

It was after hours. The plumber didn’t answer. The toilet broke, and when I went to turn the water off below it, it maintained a steady drip on the floor regardless of anything I could do and how long has that been going on?

Which is when we nixed the Amazon toilet part order and went for the phone.

All I could think of was an inner whine of, But tomorrow’s when I was going to go to Andy’s to buy Anya apricots and peaches!

So we’ll see. You think I could dangle ripe peaches as an incentive for the guy to come in the afternoon?



Working it out out loud
Wednesday June 22nd 2022, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I stopped by my friend Nina’s with a chocolate torte yesterday just because I could, and as we were catching up she reminded me that her sister-in-law is Chinese.

Could you ask her for me, I asked. I need to not make any color faux-pas on this.

She did that, and got back to me. From there, I did what I should have thought of in the first place and simply Googled for more info, second opinion, more certainty, whatever.

China and Japan both like red.

Japan likes white with red and associates it with the imperial? Would that mean I’d better not do both just to be on the safe side. Did I just answer my own question.

The pictures, though, all conveyed a more orange shade and Colourmart actually has a quite bright one that could be just the thing–but I just can’t. That light frequency is one that makes my brain want to finally have the seizure they warned me about after my car got sandwiched. (Well look at that. I’d forgotten being called sir when I looked bald.)

Besides, the Light Wine in my stash is 50/50 cotton/cashmere, not 15/85–way more softness. It is definitely on the blue side, though, which is *my* type of red, not likely theirs. Here, let me swatch that and see how much the dye crocks, red is usually the least stable color–ie, can you say self-justification?

What I should do is ask if they’re okay with wool. I’ve got Malabrigo’s Ravelry Red here, too, come to think of it, and color-wise it would be just right for both sides. Except that this is supposed to be a surprise.

Heck, in six months, even if my daughter’s friend’s baby comes early, I could make both by then and have them choose by color snip or a burp cloth of a swatch.

That coral reef afghan is going to get done someday but it’s going to be an even longer process because projects with deadlines (after the dithering is over with) are going to be constantly pushing it out of the way.



Not a day for warm accessories
Tuesday June 21st 2022, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

I finished clearing some old Piuma cashmere out of my stash today that was very very bright. Blocking helped lengthen it a bit as the water eased the lacework flat but that’s all there was. Fern lace. That bit of STABLE is over: I have now outlived a small portion of my stash.

While munching a couple of dried slab Blenheim apricots from Andy’s and considering how they should be even sweeter this year because we haven’t had fires clouding out the sunlight. No smoke particles.

An hour later someone posted this article.

That’s my route home from Cottage Yarns. Man. Glad I didn’t go today. Mandatory evacuations is not when you want to get in anybody’s way. But that shaded area on the map… I fired off a note to a friend whose daughter and family had finally managed to buy an old house and had done some of the remodeling themselves to really make it nice for their two little ones to grow up in.

They’re okay. Yay for firefighters who are willing to work at a fire when it’s 102F out. We cannot pay them enough.

Near a substation, looks like? Waiting for PG&E to be found at fault in 1, 2, 3…



And Bob’s yer uncle
Monday June 20th 2022, 8:55 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

A clerk at Trader Joe’s I hadn’t seen before. Mid-60’s, I’d guess, older than most of the ones there. Old enough to have seen a bit of life, and his “So how’s your day been” sounded more sincere than I would have expected as he held my eyes a moment. He struck me as a genuinely nice guy.

I kind of brushed it off at first and asked about his, but the wall crumbled quickly. I found myself saying I’d been at my uncle’s funeral today. (By Zoom, because we’d been exposed to covid so I wasn’t going to pass any chance of that to the flying public nor my mom.) He looked wistful. I quickly added, He was 101. He died in his daughter’s arms as she told him she loved him.

He smiled warmly. “It doesn’t get better than that.”

“At home,” I added, nodding. I told him that my uncle had been doing a research project and had finally said, Well. Someone else is going to have to get that Nobel.

At that, the clerk loved this man he’d never met and we parted warmly.

(For the record, Robert Fletcher believed that Einstein was wrong, that the speed of light was variable, and he pursued his theory and published on the subject.)

So here’s a story from the funeral:

My aunt and uncle had eight kids. Someone decided to make them hand felted placemats and apparently they warned that the colors would run if you washed them, so everybody was afraid to use them. They were beautiful, they’d clearly been a lot of work, and especially with kids they were sure they’d be ruined the first time.

So they saved them for Christmas and brought them out for the big day, with warnings to all the children on down to the youngest not to spill ANYthing on those.

Aunt Rosemary went out to the kitchen to bring in the dessert.

One of the kids–I noted they didn’t say who–whispered that they’d spilled on their placemat!

Uncle Bob’s reaction: Quick! Switch it with your mother’s!

Aunt Rosemary came back to the table demanding to know what was so funny, because they were all just totally losing it. And then she was laughing just as hard as the rest of them.

Another story:

Again dinnertime, and Aunt Rosemary found that someone had left the tap running in the kitchen and said in exasperated snark, You’re going to empty the ocean if you keep that up!

Hey! Science! Her physicist husband immediately tasked the kids with finding out: how much water comes out in X minutes?

What is the average depth of the oceans of the world? (I can just picture the Encyclopedia Britannicas being pulled off the shelf.) Etc. Okay, then, how many gallons of water would there be in all the oceans of the world?

They had to concede in the end that it could only be a rough rough estimate but they proudly presented their mother with their conclusion: to drain the oceans through that tap? It would take a  L  O  N  G    T  I  M  E.



All the chocolate you can eat
Sunday June 19th 2022, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

The missionaries checked in to ask if it was still okay that they were coming for dinner tonight.

I’d totally forgotten I’d signed up a month ago.

We do that, though, we feed these kids along with everybody else and in gratitude towards those who helped feed my own boys when they were out there.

As I remember the woman who asked me my son’s favorite cookie recipe, baked a batch of those cranberry bars, and then since he was no longer in her area she and her husband got in their private plane and flew it to him still warm from the oven!

I can never match that story, but at least I can put on a dinner. I had cream, and chocolate tortes went in the oven just as fast as I could get them in there.

But the point wasn’t the meal. It’s that somehow that act of sitting down together in one’s home to break bread allows a coming-together and a tell-me-your-story that went round the table and welcomed in the love. Man, it felt good.

It had been three long years since we’d had dinner guests. Maybe it wasn’t the wisest idea quite yet? But maybe it was just exactly what kids who missed their families on Father’s Day needed the most, and it was a privilege to get to fill in the best we could.

We sent them home with half a torte and raspberry muffins.



Here, have some chocolate, feel better
Saturday June 18th 2022, 9:08 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden

Dandelion Chocolate has a superb pastry chef on staff, and they’ve started including an allergy-friendly vegan lemon poppyseed option.

So tomorrow being Father’s Day, Michelle took us into San Francisco for pastries and hot chocolate to celebrate early. We even found a parking space! We started the day off right.

Watering the fruit trees this evening, looking at the last of the sour cherries at the top and the first of the peaches coming on, the hose got caught on a rock about a foot across and it took some effort to get it off but it flipped and rolled a bit and out of the way and that was that.

Of course that means the next thing that happened was that I tripped over it because it was not where my subconscious expected it to be. You would think… This time my wrists caught me an inch or two above the ground and saved my face and teeth. No emergency dentist this time.

Progress.

I have a new determination to hire someone to install a better watering system, no matter how much I enjoy my weekly evenings of taking care of my trees.



Mockingbird, hey now everybody have you heard
Friday June 17th 2022, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

(Earworm.)

We’re always new at something the first time we try.

There were strong winds yesterday and during a gust the other birds laid low, but one young mockingbird threw himself into it, not yet knowing air can do that, and drag-less raced. Whoosh!

Today it or its sibling was walking down the fenceline when, trying to be all mockingbirdy, it DeLoreaned its wings out like they do, trying to walk at the same time instead of holding still while you scare the bugs out from the ground it wasn’t standing on.

And it tripped. I didn’t know birds could trip.

Clearly it and I are kindred spirits.



The hearings need the listenings
Thursday June 16th 2022, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Politics

The third January 6 hearing today: I missed part of the second due to the time zone difference–I was not getting up at  6 a.m., thanks. But listening to bits and snippets afterwards of what reporters thought were the main points just didn’t have the same effect as listening to the whole thing start to finish.

One of the things about being hearing impaired since my teens is a need to see someone’s face when they’re talking. It’s not just the words that matter, it’s how they feel about those words as they’re saying them and I wanted to know.

I remember the chapter in Dad’s book about the wealthy Texas oilman turned art collector who could never be fooled by frauds and fakes as long as his deaf wife was alive. She could always tell if the seller believed his own words–or not.

And man did he get swindled after she was gone.

There is such an enormity to the story of our first violent transfer of power in history, and it felt last time like a dereliction of democracy not to have paid attention to the entire hearing.

So today’s, I did. (With the quick exception of answering one email while the retired judge was choosing his words very carefully as history watched, and v e r y  slowly.)

I wanted to say to some of the people involved in this mess, Didn’t your parents teach you to make choices that you would always be glad to publicly acknowledge you’d made? Didn’t they tell you that cheaters always get caught–if not by anyone else then by their own consciences, and that feels even worse? How not putting that burden on yourself, much less others, is far more the way to go in life, hon?

“Get yourself an f’in good criminal defense attorney, John, because you’re going to need one.”

And not just him.

Man, am I grateful for my folks.

——-

(Dad’s book, The Fabulous Frauds, got him and the publisher sued by one of the forgers who was still alive but hiding from the French authorities in South America. The book got republished without that chapter and another the publisher was antsy about, so if you’re interested in it at all, the purple Weybright and Talley imprint is the one you’d want. But in one of the other stories, someone did copy the Mona Lisa about a hundred years ago, stole the original and put their fake in its place and nobody noticed for a week or two. –edit: two years.–  No worries, the Louvre got the real deal back and held him accountable.

Wait. There’s an analogy lurking in there.)



A good life
Wednesday June 15th 2022, 8:30 pm
Filed under: Family

My mom says that back in the day, her mom was visiting Mom’s older sister while she was away at college when Gram slipped on the ice and broke her hip.

There she was, in a city where she didn’t know anybody, alone and laid up in a hospital bed. So that’s fun.

Someone stopped by to visit a moment and keep her company. She’d never met the woman.

Turns out it was Mrs. Harvey Fletcher (Mom doesn’t remember her first name.) Her husband co-invented the TV, he invented the audiometer for testing hearing (I’ve seen the original at Johns Hopkins–it is set in a beautiful piece of woodworking), and his PhD advisor got the Nobel Prize for Harvey’s oil drop experiment, crediting him only on the man’s deathbed while Harvey kept it to himself, grateful that a prominent scientist had taken a farm boy under his wing and taught him so much. By all accounts Harvey was as humble a man as you could ask for. But I digress.

My Aunt Rosemary was dating the Fletchers’ son and that was reason or excuse enough to stop by to see someone after hearing what she was going through, far from home.

As one does.

One of the Fletcher sons, Jim, would become head of NASA. And from his retirement, would get on the phone to say, You’ve got to scrub the flight. It’s too cold, the O-rings will freeze, you can’t…!

Another, Bob, would be a scientist at Bell Labs for decades. And was every bit as good a man as the example his parents set–he was the best. Low-key, asking questions but always listening, generous, just a love of a man. And ever the scientist.

My sweet Uncle Bob recently celebrated his 101st birthday. Last night, after my cousin flew in to say goodbye along with her siblings, he quietly slipped away in her arms, leaving us to reunite with his waiting bride after 13 years apart.