But can she knit?
Tuesday August 11th 2020, 8:36 pm
Filed under: Life,LYS,Politics

In my mother’s day it was, But can she type?

My grandmother was a member and later president of the Congressional Wives’ Club back when the idea of a woman running for the Senate was considered unthinkable, when the wives were to wear proper white gloves and hats when calling upon one another and to support their important husbands.

Before their landlord priced them out during the first high tech boom, I used to drive to the biggest yarn store around, Straw Into Gold, in the western, flat part of Berkeley near the freeway, not far from the Oakland line. They had everything: spinning wheels, looms, classes, yarn in cones or skeins, and they were the American distributor for all things Ashford of wheel and loom fame.

Except parking. That could be a problem.

There was another warehouse-type building across the broken up alley from them that looked like it had been converted into housing, how legally so one could only guess. (This is not far from where the too-flammable Ghost Ship later came to be.) On its wall facing Straw, someone had written an angry warning, Do not pee against this wall because there are cameras and we will report you if you do.

This was not an incentive to spend too long around there once you walked out their door.

And that is the area around where Kamala Harris grew up, with UC Berkeley, where her mother was a researcher, up the road a bit.

And look where she is now.

I had two candidates I was undecided between and glad I didn’t have to make the final call–but when my daughter texted me to say it was Harris, something in me went YES!!! I knew. I just knew. Yes! She was the right choice and we will be well served having her as Vice President. I can’t wait.



So that should all be over with
Tuesday August 11th 2020, 9:53 am
Filed under: Life

(This was supposed to be posted Monday night, sorry for the delay.)

Now that it’s done I can feel comfortable saying it.

I asked the place our car got towed to to put one of those protective plates over our catalytic converter, and to either inscribe or if it was the only option to Sharpie our name and VIN number on it. They didn’t get back to me.

When I went to pick it up after 4:00 on Friday, that’s when they said, Oh, no, we don’t do any of that–but here’s who we recommend.

Like I could get that done before the weekend at that hour? It was going to be a long weekend: those thieves know where to go once that car’s back in the driveway.

So we set up as best a security system as we could kludge pointed at the car from inside the window and hoped.

Saturday we picked up groceries. The car ran quietly.

Sunday I turned it on and waited long enough for the motor to engage. Phew.

Today I called my own mechanic, who immediately ordered the part, called me back a few hours later and said, we’ll be ready at three.

Unlike the other guy, he had a waiting room I could knit in and they said I was welcome to same as I ever had–masks required now, of course.

What I didn’t know is, the metal plate came with a sticker to put on the car announcing what was now under the car: Cat Shield Protector, with a cat head logo.

Mike said he usually puts it in the lower corner of the window.¬†I wanted it where people would see it when they look at the back of my car in the dark with the street light overhead without having to get out of their car–the see and scram method.

For a couple that doesn’t do bumper stickers, it’s a bit startling to have this prominent blue square to the left of the license plate but you do what you have to do.



Was not expecting that
Sunday August 09th 2020, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Life

The neighbors across the street knocked on the door. They had heard. What day had it happened?

Well, we didn’t drive the car Monday or Tuesday, and Wednesday we knew.

They checked their security footage: the first time this happened to us they could find nothing, their camera was aimed at their driveway not ours, but this time, it was Wednesday, 12:23 a.m., a white or silver car, the headlights were beamed towards their cameras and whited out the license plate, but the thieves were there and they were out of here three minutes later.

They have the video. It’s not all it could be, but it’s something.

The police were quite happy to know that.



In the Palm of my hand
Saturday August 08th 2020, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I got the large wide flat boxes from my Dad maneuvered between the wheels and out from under the bed and was trying, including using a broom handle, to reach all the stuff that had fallen between the headboard and the mattress.

Note that a startup company a few miles away, years ago, decided to make a competitor to the then-popular Palm Pilot with more features, like a camera–and decided at the last second that it might have an even bigger market if they added a phone. Rumor is that they almost didn’t but smarter heads prevailed. There was an early version of text messaging.

And that is how the Sidekick came to be. All the cool people in Hollywood had one, all the tech nerds wrote about it. Not that that’s something I would normally know or care about in the slightest, and not that I normally aspired to own the latest electronics. But Richard’s co-worker camped out in front of the store to get one of the very first ones to be sold, showed it off at work, and then my hubby went straight there at 5:00 pm to buy one, too.

The moment he showed it to me I said, And did you get two? Because this is a deaf person’s phone and I need it more than you do.

It was extra cool that the young handsome face on the box clearly living the happy life with this perfect new gadget just waiting for you inside! happened to be our daughter’s high school classmate. Hey, I didn’t know Dan modeled! (Probably his mom worked there, and she knows a good-looking kid when she sees one.)

Richard went back.

And that is how the smartphone craze got started: a company called, don’t ask me why, Danger.

Can I…reach that… I snagged it!

Out it came from under the head of the bed.

An empty box for a Palm Travel Kit. Had a charging cord and everything, it said!

I stared at the thing, trying to grok it. That’s like a leash to go take my pet dodo bird for a walk.



That was fast
Friday August 07th 2020, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Life

She called this afternoon. Could we come pick up our car?

Blink. No almost-three-week wait this time? Sure!

The rental people had said I could leave the car there and they’d get it; Richard was talking to them while I was hurrying off to get ours.

I paid the deductible, but they were closing early because that was their last task of the day, and I asked, “How do I get the key back to Enterprise?”

“You give it to me,” said a by-now familiar voice as he walked in behind me.

I joked to her, “I’ll see you next week,” and she, knowing what we’d gone through twice now, half-joked, “I don’t ever want to see you again.”



Enterprising
Thursday August 06th 2020, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus

They hadn’t gotten back to me and they’re usually really good about that, so about noon I finally called.

The agency receptionist asked whom I’d been referred to yesterday?

She hesitated. Did I want to just call Hartford’s claims directly? She’d be happy to connect me.

Something about it made me wonder if the problem was my insurance agent maybe battling covid and her not wanting to say.

I found myself talking to a very helpful person at Hartford, who then stayed on the line while she connected me to the repair shop when their side kept breaking up to make sure I got the information right.

The same repair shop, same tow truck.

The same guy at Enterprise picked me up, and when I asked if the same Rav4 was available, said it was if I didn’t mind waiting a bit but it was just then being washed from the previous customer; did I want to come inside?

Where there was a seat and no sun. Absolutely, thanks.

I opened my purse–and suddenly remembered I’d taken my carry-around project out for a Zoom Knittalk meeting and had forgotten to put it back in.

He totally got why I was unzipping that purse and asked me what I was knitting now.

That took me by surprise and it made my day. He was just waiting for it, watching what he could of my face as he asked, hoping it would.

I laughed at the ziplock-free state of the thing and said, Well, I guess I’ll just have to read my phone like everybody else.

Which made him laugh.

Which was a wonderful thing.

We all matter so much more to each other in these days of isolation and I find that so often now, we’re less afraid to show it.

Just like that, the car was already ready before I could even type in the password and I was on my way in that same dark blue car again.



Are we surprised
Wednesday August 05th 2020, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Wildlife

My next door neighbor told me he heard that sound and groaned, “Oh no!”

A different cop came.

The insurance agent, like last time, didn’t get back to me today so there was no rental car yet and the med that I’d gotten in the car to go pick up had to be picked up, so Richard walked the mile and a quarter to the pharmacy on the grounds of needing the exercise, then grabbed an Uber home.

Clearly we’re going to be driving a rental car again for however long it takes this time to get the catalytic converter part in stock.

And so we’re putting off the new driveway, again, because you can’t risk getting that stuff on the rental. Nor can you get it on the new mattress, and that hasn’t arrived yet, so delay delay and delay some more, with apologies to the contractor.

So this is fun.

My friend Tony was talking about the skunk at his house. I invited it to come live under my car.



He knows who he is
Tuesday August 04th 2020, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Lupus

Thank you all, no pain last night and a much more productive day. I couldn’t get all the bags into the two recycling bins and the trash can; some will have to wait till next week’s pickup.

But the business card for the guy who worked at the long-gone Netscape? Boy did it bring back memories. Phil Karlton, one of their original engineers and an old friend, who wore a scruffy beard, a red and black plaid lumberjack shirt and a brilliant pink tutu to the Halloween party and was so fun with our kids. His wife’s paintings. Her post-polio syndrome.

The newspaper headlines in the 90’s about the first online funeral notice. The standing-room-only service for Phil and his wife Jan, who’d been on vacation in Italy driving down a road that had no stop sign nor marking that a highway was about to cross it. The loaded gravel truck doing 60 that broadsided them.

All the people across Silicon Valley who showed up in support of their suddenly-orphaned young-adult son.

The town in Italy that put up a memorial and the stop sign the townsfolk had long wanted.

The boss who paid for the son to go see where his folks had died, providing everything so he wouldn’t have to worry about the details, the gratitude of everybody for the humanity shown him; he was the son of all of us in those moments.

The business card, these decades later, of the mutual friend of my husband and Phil. I understood why it was still here.

I remembered, I considered, I hoped the son has had a good life since all those people came together for him at that beautiful Unitarian church and silently wished him all the best.

And then I let the piece of paper go.



Just some dumb familiar old autoimmune nonsense
Monday August 03rd 2020, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus

Every now and then my lupus reminds me it’s still there and I still have to stay out of the sun. 2:17 a.m., woke up with pleuritis sharp enough that lying on my side felt like it was breaking my ribs. Same on the other side. Man, I reminisced silently into the dark, this used to be my normal life for months at a time and how did I even deal with that but it’s been years and hasn’t it been nice.

(So why is it doing it now. Yes I overdid it to exhaustion Saturday. So what. Stop it.)

Isn’t it nice that being on my back is okay? Except that there was no falling asleep that way, and any time I started to I rolled onto my side and Groundhog Day-ed the scene.

The sun came up.

The best thing about today was that it will have gotten me through to tomorrow, where I’ll get more done. And my lungs almost didn’t hurt at all.



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

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



It was time
Saturday August 01st 2020, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

It took me a moment to recognize it.

I think. I think. That was Lorna’s. It’s been so long, and I have visual memory damage.

I have rightly or wrongly always semi-blamed Noni juice for her loss, because it was popular at the time, she took supplements, and the FDA later posted a warning on their website (I have no idea if it’s still there) that it can trigger autoimmune liver disease.

Lorna was in a knitting group of mine and this was about twenty-five years ago. She found out she had autoimmune liver disease right after she found out she had cancer, and the one meant the other could not be treated–one round of chemo nearly did her in right there and there would not be a second one. She couldn’t process it. She was going fast, and she knew it.

I visited her in the hospital, knowing it would be the last time I saw her. She told me she wanted me to have some of her yarn, some good yarn.

I promised her I would make something beautiful out of it and remember her by it.

That meant the world to her, and there a few tears on both sides.

All of us had promised her we would knit at her funeral. She liked that idea.

And we came. It was a lovely old chapel, full of old and well-turned wood and windows reaching to the sky; I can see why she felt at home there.

I leaned over to Nancy before the service began and whispered, “I’ve got my knitting in my purse.” She smiled back in recognition, “I do, too.” Another friend later said hers was in her car but she hadn’t quite been able to make herself bring it in.

We didn’t knit during the funeral itself except in spirit, but we could have, and it was enough.

Lorna had never married, and her mom called Nancy and asked for people to come get her yarn stash and help her clear it out.

For whatever reason, I couldn’t make that one on short notice but the others saved some for me.

Leftover amounts. Scratchy wools. I have no idea what her stash had been like so it was what it was. There was the longest swatch I ever saw, where she’d tried out stitch after stitch, and that was pretty cool but it wasn’t something you could do anything with and there was no more of that handspun anyway.

And there was the front of a cotton sweater. (Photo taken pre-washing.)

I could be wrong, but I remember that as coming from her. It was still in the purple Lisa Souza bag Nancy had given it to me in.

I’m a fair bit smaller than Lorna was and don’t love knitting cotton but it was beautifully done in a gansey pattern.

In a shade of beige I didn’t wear.

I couldn’t rip all that work out and I couldn’t go forward knitting it for nobody and I’d made that promise and it was my one hope, if any. And so it got put away, till it was so away that it was long forgotten.

I came across it today. I remembered that purple bag but I didn’t remember what was in it. I opened it up.

It sank in.

I stopped right there mid-cleaning project,¬†carried it out to the family room, looked at the stitches and yeah, that’d be about a 4mm needle, sat down with it and ripped out those rows of decreasing for the top.

And then with that now-wiggly squiggly loose yarn I cast it off straight across.

And then I worked in the ends, noting that Lorna had ended one skein just above the ribbing right in the middle of the row with a knot at the back and after that she’d changed skeins at the side edges so as not to do that again to it.

And then I ran it through my washer and dryer, where the loosely and unevenly spun cotton shrank into a thicker, tighter fabric. It was marvelous. The gansey purls stood out more and it was so soft. The ribbing still didn’t pull in at the bottom much at all–it’s cotton–and the sides were all pretty much straight.

And then I hung my new smooshy-thick soft oversized dishtowel on the upper oven handle, folded in half. (The amaryllis towels that Holly embroidered for me circulate on the lower oven to help them stay pristine.) This one is going to be a workhorse.

It’s absolutely gorgeous there, and a statement of knitting sisterhood. It’s so inviting: Touch me! Feel this!

I have no idea why I let that cotton or color defeat me for so very long and why I didn’t do this sooner, but I did it, I finally finally did, I made something beautiful from what Lorna gave me even if she’s the one who really did it. It didn’t have to be a sweater, it could be its own thing and now it is.

And I remember her by it.

Just like I’d promised.

And I absolutely love it.



Creature from the green lagoon
Friday July 31st 2020, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

The almost-still-a-baby squirrel stopped in its tracks, staring, while I stared back, wondering if it was old enough to be entirely on its own like that. You’re a little thing!

I seemed to be some kind of…creature. I moved, I had feet, but where were the legs? (Blame the jersey maxi skirt.) I didn’t seem to have a face. (Mask, and the helmet wasn’t fastened on so it had slipped down my forehead to the glasses and the straps were dangling freely.) Were those eyes? What WAS I??

We stood there ten paces apart like that.

Alright, alright, move along, you’re a baby, you need to learn not to be a swaggering city squirrel–always remember you’re a prey animal and to run away from things bigger than you because a raccoon will snack on you in a heartbeat. Meanie that I am, I deliberately walked right towards it.

With nowhere else to go it made a screaming break past my path for the single tree in the front yard.

Ya gotta teach’em while they’re young.



The newest of the old and of the new
Thursday July 30th 2020, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Garden

More pomegranate flowers, and I was startled to see the tiniest little watermelon you ever saw. But it’s there.

I have never in my life seen one grow from seed and there’s this keen sense of exploration. The squashes have huge blossoms that last the morning before they start to fold away; the watermelons have tiny ones that seem so disconnected from the size of what’s to come but they hold on for it, knowing what they can do.



Taking up space
Wednesday July 29th 2020, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Garden

Maybe eight years ago a surprise seedling grew behind my lemon tree and by the end of the summer it was a single trunk seven feet straight up, no branches (no pruning) and it actually had a fig on it. That fast.

But it was already pushing against the fence, the neighbors complained, and they were right, it had to go.

I’ve been whacking at the small bit of stump ever since, although this year it seems to have finally given up. It was determined but I was more so–but the fact that I came so close to having a fig tree is what led to my actually buying a fig tree and putting it in the right spot and living happily ever after. (Carefully choosing a slow-growing type that would stay small, because, man, that other one was a lesson and we have solar panels.)

So when another such seedling popped up under my tomato plant and kept going even though it was completely shaded, never seeing direct sunlight, I excused its smallness on the grounds of lack of light and at the end of the summer gave it a pot to grow some roots in for the winter. Why not. I expected it to take off like that other one. If nothing else, I wanted to see how its fruit would compare to my Black Jack’s.

Here we are, and there’s a five and a half year old mango tree growing where that tomato had been, the little seedling got moved into a large pot awhile ago–

–and it’s given me not one single hint of any fig.

It’s got the wood of a fig, the growth patterns of a fig, it unfurls new leaves exactly like a fig and they are the leaves of some figs, it even has a mild case of mosaic virus endemic to but not hurtful to fig leaves.

I plan to sprout a few more Anya apricots in the spring and one of them will go in that pot; had I had three longterm survivors this year I would already have done that. It’s time the pot got put to good use and this thing has had its chances.

But for the moment, it’s green, it puts oxygen in the air and withdraws its tiny bit of carbon and adds a little bit of landscaping color there. I’ll let it be till its leaves fall.

But what I’ve really wanted all along is just to know the answer to my question: what IS this?

 



Jump starting that mojo
Tuesday July 28th 2020, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Knit,LYS

Three skeins of variations in gray Rios from Imagiknit to augment the two that I had that were just too few and too far apart–and they turned out to be the perfect gradations between. I could not have picked out better ones myself.

Finally, I had my palette for the next step. Because I’m picky that way.

A dolphin has begun.