Tuesday, December 26, 2006


On Christmas Day, Los Bebes came to see what Santa left them at Grandma's house:

Because Baby Nima is teething, I didn't get the turkey stuffed and into the oven until late--Nima was crying and chewing on my collarbone much of the afternoon. So dinner was Gerber's Organics for him and side dishes for us while the turkey and orange cranberry stuffing roasted away.

Princess Munai was happy with her toy puppy, fairy dolls and a red cardinal Audobon bird that chirps, among other goodies.

The best gift she gave me was when she chatted away in big girl talk about Christmas Eve and Santa and her dreams.

Since her parents split up, she's been talking in baby talk and a mysterious "secret" language which I call Fairy Talk. She's finally communicating freely again. In words that her Daddy and I can understand.

The baby, when not teething, is crawling everywhere and getting into everything possible. Everything normal there.

All of this activity opens up great communication between my son and myself about his own childhood. Which it should.

After the overnight on Saturday and the Christmas Day festivities, I slept for 13 hours.

Now time for New Year's resolutions. During this holiday weekend, my usual news addiction was shut down. Time to tune back in, as desperate as the news is these days.

Tonight going with friends to see "Children of Men", with Clive Owen (my favorite actor), written by P.D. James, one of my favorite writers.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Went to see the Gee's Bend Quilters' exhibition at the DeYoung Museum in SF.

My favorites:

The new De Young is mind-boggling. I wish I'd had more time.

Saturday night I had Los Bebes and it was freezing cold in my unheated bedroom. Baby boy and I moved into the living room where we cuddled up on the kids' couch donated by Grandma Harriet. I have definite ideas for quilts now ... and plenty of fabric to work with. The Gee's Bend ladies were strong and fearless in their work, as well as their lives.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


I was just notified that my application for a transfer within my department was turned down because I have a "bad attitude". In short, when I think a management decision isn't a very good one, I say so (diplomatically, of course). I also make a lot of suggestions to management. And a few times have made very clear to management that I think we (the front line) are not being treated very well.

As a coworker succinctly put it: "It's not your work that holds you back, it's your mouth."

And I can accept that. After all, this is a free country and I believe in the First Amendment. Others around me also believe in it as long as they aren't being criticized or called to take responsibility.

So I'm good enough to do the shit work, but not good enough (in attitude) for an easier job. And this is civil service. Corporations are even worse. No, I take that back; they are about the same.

You can outwork everyone, have few or no absences for months, accept responsibility for your errors. That won't outweigh coworkers who take lots of time off, talk more on the phone with friends than with customers, and do little work but smile and tell management how well they're doing, even as the place dissolves in chaos.

I know this, but have never been able to accept it. SO the only answer is to start my own business. I have 16 months of car payments, 1-1/2 years until I can cash out some retirement and 3 years until I can get a small pension. It's a crap shoot if I make it that long. In the meantime, I'll have to put more energy into my own business than into my day job. Tant pis.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I discovered YouTube by looking up Hugh Laurie and Alan Davies last weekend.

If you like "House", you'll love Hugh Laurie singing his silly hit: "Mystery" at

and then, I looked for dishy Alan Davies (anyone remember Jonathan Creek?) Imagine my delight to discover the BBC's "QI" (for "quite interesting") with several British comedians on the panel; including Alan Davies. Kind of a Monty Python quiz show but much faster, wittier and now-ier. Hosted by Stephen Fry.

A waste of time really, learning how long a woodpecker's tongue is, but better than television.

I now see why Google snapped up YouTube. No commercials and you can pick what you watch.

Sounds very promising.

Monday, November 06, 2006


While scrounging through baskets and drawers full of others' cast off yarns and fabrics, a chat started up between me and another woman doing the same at EB Depot.

She: "What is it with us women and foraging?"

Me: "Like in nuts and berries?"

She: "Yeah. I always feel like some cavewoman coming in here and scrounging up usable stuff."

Me: "Considering prices in yarn and fabric shops...."

She: "I know. But that's not really why I do it. Don't you have more than enough projects?"

I didn't even have to think that one through. I have tons of supplies, thanks to places like thrift stores, East Bay Depot and SCRAP. And not nearly enough time to do work on the projects I've started.

Me (sighing): "More than enough. "

She: "I think it's a genetic thing. In times of stress we women walk around with one eye open for usable goods."

Me: "Maybe. I know other women who go shopping when they're stressed, to malls. I hate malls."

She: "Do you hoard stuff?"

Me: "Do I? I've got drawers and boxes of stuff."

She: "Honey, some of us have rooms full of stuff."

Maybe that should have made me feel better, that others have this obsessive/compulsive hoarding condition or whatever you call it. But it doesn't.

I confess, I have this image of a coming disaster--a nuclear war or climate crisis where everything will break down. No electricity, no heat except burning what we . We'll actually go back to living like tribes. Kind of like that series Doris Lessing wrote about years ago (Shikasta?).

And I'll be the old lady with fabric and clothes and yarns to make warm things for people during a new Ice Age. Or else we'll start growing fur again....

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Oddly, when I showed up at work in my thrift store costume of witch's hat, halloween sweater and long weird fingers (total cost $12), my Christian co-workers kind of creeped out. When I once mentioned to them that I'm not a Christian but more or less a pagan, these Baptists gave me the same look. We had a luncheon and the Born-Agains stated they don't celebrate Halloween because it's the "Devil's Day". Oh dear. We really are in a divided nation. I notice they love decorating Christmas trees and giving kids Easter baskets but they don't realize that is pagan also.

Sadly, I did not get the Library job. Boohoo. But I have other interviews set up to get away from the place I now work. Love the people, hate the job.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Here I am, wrinkles, broken nose, grey hair and all with my grandbaby booboo who is seven months old. We had fun playing last weekend and I caught a fleeting glimpse of what he'll look like as an adult. Once he grows hair, that will change his looks considerably. He is very sweet natured and loves, I mean LOVES women. He always seems to have a hand laying gently on your breast.

He and his big sister took a nap after lunch.

Right now these kids (and my hobbies) keep me sane. On my job for the City of Berkeley, I've been called a Nazi, a white bitch, a rapist and murderer. Last week, a Berkeley resident called me a cunt. Whoever thinks Berkeley citizens or visitors are laid-back and "nice" have it all wrong. Our callers really have entitlement issues.

But great news! I have an interview for a job at a library this week! One of the best inventions ever conceived is The Library. I spend two or three lunch hours per week there as it is, checking out books, films, books on tape. God, I am hoping to finally land a meaningful job. I think it would make my life so much better.

AND at lunchtime today in Berkeley, one of my heroes--Al Gore--made a speech in the civic center park. Of course street crews were steam cleaning the urine off the homeless shelter steps across the street in the early morning, and every police officer in Berkeley was out in full SWAT gear. I listened to him for about 20 minutes (he showed up 45 minutes late) and then went back to my office. It was too hot and I keep up with his campaign as is. The crowd kept shouting, "Run, Al, run!"

To wind up the week, the Piedmont Avenue Halloween parade in Oakland, CA will be held this Saturday. The main street is closed off and hundreds of kids come to parade in costume and trick or treat at all the local shops. I have my witch hat, scary hands and Halloween sweater ready. My granddaughter Munei will be Tinkerbell and Nima will be a Tootsie Roll.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


I love to just hang out in my little Oakland house, pottering around. And often that means watching films (or as the Irish say "fillums"), usually borrowed from the library.

During the last three-day weekend I watched The Magdalene Sisters (not for the faint of heart or stomach, or for lovers of the Catholic Church), and a piece of fluff called Love in a Cold Climate (crap).

The most interesting by far was Mirrormask, a teenage fantasy film that introduced me to the art work of Dave McKean. Years ago I saw some of his work while I was visiting Edinburgh; it's work you are not likely to forget. Beautiful but incredibly creepy at the same time.

The screenwriter stated that after a Sony executive saw the film for the first time, he said, "That was like watching Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast, on acid, for kids."

After watching this film, I had some very interesting dreams.

If it were not for the Internet, I think I'd be absolutely crazy by now, doing the work I do, talking to people all day long. The movies give me another life, many other lives.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


...since my last post.

Working 8-10 hour days and some Saturdays has me beat. And every Saturday night I have a date with my two grandbabies, which is great fun but as exhausting as a three-ring circus.

On the side (ha-ha), I've semi-committed to writing an article on my favorite craft supply spot, the EB Depot on San Pablo near Ashby in Berkeley.


Time, time, time is my biggest need right now. I am on vacation this week and just want to sit around my house; procion-dying, knitting and sewing while watching movies or listening to books on tape. Tomorrow I join my son in taking the granddaughter to her early morning gymnastics class. I spent half a day looking for my digital camera and FINALLY found it in my backpack from two weekends ago.

It's nearly midnight. More soon....

Sunday night:
And so I did. For five days, I stayed in my little house, sewing, knitting, listening to books on tape. My son who is house-sitting next door came by each day. I think he was worried about my going off the rails because I had no outside-the-house ambitions. He is such a social animal, always likes people and sound around him. But as he grows older, less and less. Where he lives now doesn't even have a tv so he can try to focus on his microbiology and physiology classes.

In five days, I made 3 pairs of soft pajamas for myself, knitted two hats for my grandson (which are too small), dyed four items a soft bottle-green, finished crocheting an orange blanket with rainbow edging, and made the grandson 3 pairs of pairs of jim-jams for the baby as well. I also experimented with felting 2 thrift-store sweaters into purses, sewed up a carry-bag for my knitting and made a knit/felted toy mouse.

Today we took Los Babes on the Alameda-San Francisco ferry. With little time, we rode over and back and my granddaughter had a blast watching the waves, boats and seagulls. Baby Evan ate pureed bananas and closed his amber-brown eyes to nap for a while wrapped up in my down vest. It was a good day and the visit too short.

And tomorrow it's back to the grind. There were so many things I wanted to do but did not. But it's okay. I was selfish and did what I needed/wanted. My next break will be the last week of the year when we are "asked" to take the week between Christmas and New Year off. I will and gladly. Feel like a human being again and not a wage machine.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


A new week begins, a six-day week because we'll be working next Saturday. Last weekend was good, I took the kids to the Berkeley Botanical Garden and the day was lovely. They both have colds so the sunlight and clean air was good for all of us.

My special treat was going to SCRAP in San Francisco on Saturday morning and looking through the piles of STUFF they have. Wonderful stuff. For a crafter, SCRAP is heaven . Fabrics, yarns, odds/ends, paper, glass, wood. And all dirt cheap. Check it out: http://www.scrap-sf.org/

My ideal life would be to run such a place or spend each day making things with my hands. Sewing, knitting, crocheting, painting. I know I can run down to Target and get a made-in-China baby hat for $3, but I'd rather knit one from yarn I bought for 25 cents.

If I can stand it, in four more years, I'll be able to retire with a pension of $1,000/month. That would be heaven for me. That would pay most of my mortgage. Four more years of opening letters and answering angry phone calls and putting up with insane management. Also four more years of steady wages and excellent benefits. Hmmm.

In the meantime....

My grandson at six months, wearing his dainty three-year old sister's T Rex tee-shirt. Both kids are nearly the same size.

After working five days a week with adults, I'm glad to spend time with children. It balances out the madness of the modern world.

Monday, August 14, 2006


Sunday was spent with an 11-year old buddy doing various Sunday things, and later watching this film which I love and have in my DVD library. About 1/3 way through it, he was hooked and kept asking me what would happen. I only assured him it had a happy ending. Over and over again, he tried to prod me about the ending. Then, right before the finale, he started acting up and rough-housing. This again made me think how boys are not very well primed to show or experience emotions, except physically. Or is it testosterone that makes them physically respond to emotional situations? Probably both.

My young buddy is an inch taller than I (at 5'3") am already and I imagine myself giving him a hug when he is a foot taller in about ten years.

At any rate, if you feel like taking a trip to Ireland about 50 years ago, I recommend this film for the half-fairy tale script, and for the music. It's dead magic.

Friday, August 11, 2006


At 56 years old, my credo is "Do No Harm". I have said and done so many things in my life at this point, I want to do as little harm as possible in what's left of my years.

I'm watching others around me making decisions that may affect their lives permanently and doing my best not to offer advice unless asked for it.

Don't all decisions affect our lives permanently? A friend from China once told me that the Chinese people are very careful about what they say, because once something is said, it cannot be unsaid. Sure, we can deny or apologize or backtrack, but what is said hovers and refuses to go away.

Monday, August 07, 2006


Have your five-month old grandson keep you up all night because he is teething. In a day or two, having fallen asleep over books and meals, you'll find your jeans a little loose around the waist.

Not to complain. Babies are great. When they're unhappy, they suffer. When they're happy, they glow. They don't try to manipulate except on the most basic of terms.

Problem is, as much as I love the babies, I've had little time to work on my passion: textiles.

I've got boxes of fabric and yarn and two bookcases of project instructions.

Friday, August 04, 2006


During my websurfing, I've discovered bits and pieces about this new product made from corn fibers. It's called Ingeo. Having a passion for recycling and fibers, this completely intrigued me.


According to a number of press releases, this product can be made into totally sustainable/ recyclable cloth or yarn. There is already Ingeo yarn available at Southwest Trading and lots of Ingeo roving available for spinners on commercial sites as well as Ebay.

Sounds great, right? I asked for access to the Ingeo "online product library" to find out more and was tersely emailed that only reps from big companies ("preferred partners") are granted the golden keys. With over a year of marketing and press releases about this stuff, I started wondering why it isn't flooding the market yet. The Ingeo website above is terribly secretive and vague.

Hours of online frustration were ended by a blog search of the word. Leave it to Bloggers to come out with what's really going on with this project. Some of the gazillion crafters on the Internet inform us that this fiber melts at 160 degrees F, so cannot be ironed or even washed in hot water. Spinners love spinning it, but apparently it doesn't knit up well. It also smells of corn syrup. For those of us with an acute olfactory sensory apparatus, this just won't do.

Apparently Patagonia was all set to use Ingeo until it learned that the corn being used is genetically engineered. Patagonia, famous for using fleece made from recycled plastic bottles, refuses to use genetically engineered anything, even for clothing.

Europeans refuse to have anything to do with FrankenFood (genetically engineered plants). I can't blame them. They know from centuries of experience how making changes that can't be reversed can wreak havoc on the entire planet. We in the U.S.A. "just do it".

I have ordered a tank top made from Ingeo, just to see what it feels like. But for my own uses, I'll stick with the tried and truly sustainable favorites: wool, organic cotton, linen and recycled acrylic fabric and yarns.

Far more hopeful is knit apparel made from bamboo. I bought a bamboo tank top at the Green Festival last year and it has remained soft and sturdy.

Monday, July 31, 2006


Took the grandbabies to the Berkeley Kite Festival at the Marina. Walked for miles but it was fun. We had no bottle for five-month old Evan, but I bought a plain pretzel and he sucked on that until he went to sleep.

Lots of people, kids, dogs, cops, and KITES!

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Thank God. I learned on Monday and Tuesday that there wasn't a fan left for sale in all of the East Bay. I tried 10 more stores, from Richmond to Oakland, and they were all sold out of fans, coolers and air conditioners.

I have one good fan but when the grandkids sleep over, I need a second one for the bedroom.
Today it's cool. Cool enough for me to wear my favorite garment, a lavender down vest.

Monday, July 24, 2006


Saturday night was at least 100 degrees in Oakland, CA and my two grandbabies were miserable. As was myself and my grown son. We sat in front of my oscillating fan and drank water and juice by the quart. On Sunday I went to stores in Oakland, Alameda and Emeryville and all the local stores were completely sold out of fans.

A friend who is leaving for London this weekend is concerned because the asphalt on London roads has been melting. Another friend is off on an Alaskan cruise, but I wonder if he will even see any ice or glaciers.

Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth is under attack by the Right Wing and its Poodle Press, which is a pretty good indication of how accurate it is. And we all are inundated by automobile ads and consumerism philosophies.

Reduce, reuse and recycle. Add to this: mend things (which many of us have forgotten how to do); keep things that we can use next year; make things for your own use, cook things instead of eating out; wash things instead of throwing them away and buying new ones.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Here are Los Bebes. Nima, at 4 months is almost as large as his three-year old sister Munai.

After taking care of legal matters this morning, I went to our neighborhood second-hand store for kids' clothes. Spent $47 on 4-5 summer outfits for Los Bebes for when they stay with us.

Some of our legal woes have been laid to rest, but there are more to tackle. All it takes is time and money.

My friend Barbara Rose tells me, "We choose our parents." When I think of my own parents, I wonder why. I look at my grandkids and also wonder why. They have genetic and cultural influences from Scotland to South America to the Middle East.

Then a quote from Terry Pratchett keeps coming into my mind when I think of people going OTT (over the top). "You never know you've gone too far until you've gone too far." And we all have gone too far at one time or another. Can we forgive?

Thomas Hardy's "We are too many," in Jude the Obscure. How careful we must be about what we tell our children, especially when they are small. How much we must love and protect them.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


One of those days.....

My first caller at work called me a g** d*** f***ing white bitch (next time I'll answer, "How do you know I'm white?"), and the last caller had a nervous breakdown on the phone.

And I'm shaving off minutes here and there from a 10-11 hour workday to take care of frivolities like paying bills and other paperwork.

But it could be worse, so much worse.

And there are magic moments: when Oakland is beautiful in spite of itself. Driving from Alameda to Berkeley, I stop at a red light and see a flock of fat Canadian Geese stopping for a snack on the grassy shores of Lake Merritt.

Monday, July 03, 2006


Last weekend I watched the film Turtles Can Fly, an Iranian-Iraqi coproduction. The story tells of Kurdish orphans and how they make a subsistance living digging up mines from minefields--because they have no choice. One teenager has had both arms blown off by a mine, but he continues to disarm them--with his teeth.

I didn't think I could stand to watch it until the end, but I did. I don't recommend if for anyone but adults and adults with a very high tolerance for tragedy. It is a film you will never forget.

It also puts our little American problems in perspective.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


Cry baby cry
Make your mother sigh
She's old enough to know better
So cry baby cry

Would you want this little girl to be mad at you?

So families change and grow and learn, sometimes the hard way.

For people who have never been through a married couple's breakup, they think the initial split is the end of it. They don't realize it is only the beginning of what could be 18 years of emotional and legal difficulties.

My 3-year old granddaughter knows something is very, very wrong but she doesn't know what. Her mom has told her nothing. Last week I told the girl that her daddy was staying at my house to help me. She was skeptical. This week I told her Daddy is staying at Gaga's house so Mommy and Daddy won't fight. This, she understood. And it's the truth. She seemed relieved to be told.

Why do adults think children don't understand things? When I ask my four-month old grandson where his sister is, his eyes immediately go to her.

So. If my granddaughter follows the pattern of her mom's family history, she will grow up and eventually be furious with her mother once she understands things from an adult's perspective. If she follows their patterns, melodrama and soap opera will ensue and some unbelievably bizarre behavior will result.

I respect their family for coming from a Third World country to America and working hard to make a better life for themselves and their kids. But when families like this continue to behave in the worst Old World ways, the kids will suffer.

My son's job is to stay close to his kids and help and support them so they know he is there for them. My job is to take care of them when I can, help my granddaughter to not think she is to blame for any of this, and to teach her the highest self-esteem possible. My job is also not to blame anyone in front of her. I might feel anger, but I encourage her to love and respect her Mommy and that side of the family. I will also encourage her when she is older to think and come to her own conclusions.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


My psuedo-happy family life has been ruptured. If I want to be generous, I can say it's due to the near-sightedness, vindictiveness and selfishness of my daughter-in-law.

Now that you know how I really feel, I'll move on.

My son is back living with me, paying off debts, continuing grad school and we are working to hammer out legal visitation with my grandchildren.

Of course I want to throttle the kids' mother for making certain decisions, and her large family who played a huge part in this breakup. But I do believe that what we do comes back to us in time. And the most important thing now is to stay close with my three-year old granddaughter who has been shattered by this situation. I will bite my tongue, smile when I don't want to, and spend as much time with the child as possible, even among mine enemies.

And hopefully in time, enemies we will be no more. We can always hope.

I was just getting my Ebay house clearance up and running, just starting to write again, and as usual with the in-laws, something exploded.

But this explosion is final, hopefully or will be soon. And then my contingent can have a routine that allows my son and myself (and the girl) some stability and peace.

Trust, like glass, doesn't break on its own. It takes an act of will for it to be broken and once shattered, it cannot be repaired, only replaced.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


After 9 hours at work, I go home and enter the Ebay universe. My house is a forest of boxes and I am determined to clear all of it, one way or another. And once it's gone, it will really be gone.

Luckily the weather is good. Here's the view from my "computer window". Since our office has no windows (!) [we call it "the Prison"] I keep on my computer screen a live webcam from LBL on the hill overlooking Berkeley.

The weblink is http://sv.berkeley.edu/view/

Sunshine at last.

I think I might add to my "window" a North Pole webcam:


Saturday, June 10, 2006


Oh my god. I have been moving all my STUFF from my storage space, sorting it, and re-storing in a new, improved storage "room" that I've rented with my grown son.

I need storage space and he needs a study space. So we have rented a room and I'm trying to get rid of everything I don't need. Tossing it or selling it on Ebay.

I used to sell on Ebay a lot. I forgot how much work it is. My ex-possesions will go to good homes, to people who want them and even pay money for them.

It's 2 a.m. and I'm half-asleep. Time for bed.

Saturday, May 27, 2006


I spent Thursday afternoon with my new Kaiser doctor asking about three things: a lump on my foot, red patches on my neck and possible hearing loss.

The red patches, she said, are probably my old friend Rosacia coming back to haunt me. The lump? Probably a cyst. She sent me for an x-ray. The hearing loss? She sent me to the hearing center.

This was magic to me. Why? For years, I was enrolled in HealthNet, which has become stricter and cheaper over the last three years. At age 56 and with a family history of osteoperosis, HealthNet wouldn't authorize a bone density test. When I got a bad rash and a scaly patch on my face, I had to wait three months for an appointment with a HealthNet dermatologist who diagnosed the Rosacia (by then pretty yucky) and said the scaly patch was nothing.

An uncle of mine died of skin cancer. Knowing the patch didn't look like "nothing", I paid out-of-pocket for a local dermatologist who told me, "Oh that's pre-cancerous." And she burned it off with liquid nitrogen immediately.

Two of my co-workers have also switched to Kaiser. One has lifetime diabetes and was getting nickled and dimed on every monthly Rx he requested. After 35 years, he knew what he needed. And HealthNet wouldn't cover syringes.

The other co-worker's daughter has serious asthma and HealthNet was cutting back on her doctor's visits as well as her medication. The mom got sick of seeing her daughter's hands turn blue during attacks and switched to Kaiser. Her daughter is now in school in Southern Cal, but she can get her meds by mail--ahead of time. There's a concept.

So to get an x-ray immediately and get a reference to a hearing center without a struggle or wait was terrific for me. People complain about Kaiser, but I see it as a model for the National Health Care we should all have.

Almost 20 years ago, I moved to Japan where I was immediately signed up for National Health Care, citizen or not. Japanese people assumed we had this in prosperous America. They were shocked to learn that if an American doesn't have health insurance, s/he is out of luck. Twenty years later we still don't have it and the only time the government discusses it is before elections. After elections, no one mentions it.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


And I'm searching for cotton and linen yarns to knit. It's growing too hot to work with wool.

Mother's Day was a big deal for mi grande familia and it was HOT. The babies were stripped down to diapers and the older kids ran in the sprinklers. Menfolk supplied barbeque.

Rented "A New World" which is now out on DVD. It's a very poetic film. Not rushed, no sex (the actress playing Pocahontas was only 14 yrs old); although there's plenty of violence.

If you don't mind slow, long films, I recommend it along with "Wings of Desire"-the Wim Wenders version, not the L.A. remake. It's also a long, slow love story, with imaginative twists.

News from the Wandering Scribe, the British blogger who is supposedly homeless and living in her car. Here's the last entry:

My news was a book deal. I AM HAVING A BOOK PUBLISHED - hooray! I'm celebrating a bit prematurely because haven't got the thing written yet, but after what I've been through with all this, feels like that might be the easy bit. Sitting at a table after a warm bath, Beethoven on in the background, a glass of something in one hand, my pen in the other, hovering over all those pristine, blank sheets of paper. Writing a book can't be that difficult

And anyway, all those sheets of paper won't really be blank. Because for months, being here among all these trees, staring up and through them night after night, watching their leaves fall and new ones grow back, their branches snap off in high winds, and stripped clean of bark in rainstorms, laying like bones on the ground around them. Night after night I told bits of my story to them, sometimes talking aloud, sometimes staring it into them - all the things I couldn't tell anyone else, all the things my hunched-up spirit was tired of. Trees absorb pain, and some of these will one day be felled and made into paper, and I have this feeling that if I look really hard into them I'd probably see my story already there, like a watermark on their blank surfaces.

It's that little ";-)" that makes me suspect this has been a hoax all along, a route for entree into the publishing world. The second paragraph reads like a trained, experienced poet's work.

We shall see. If it has been a hoax, I say more power to her/him. It took guts, imagination and talent.

Friday, May 12, 2006


I've often thought how unfair it is that when a mother might have several children, each child should have more than one mother. At least a grandmother, an aunt or next-door neighbor who gives mom a break once in a while.

Having raised a son alone with no grandparents to help, I try hard to help my son's family with childcare whenever I can. I agree it "takes a village" but when there is no village, we have to do the best we can. I am thanked constantly for the help I give my family and the closeness among all of us with child-sharing is immeasurable.

In Japan, there is a Children's Day but no Mother or Father's Day. Everything in that culture is for the children.

According to Jim Hightower, Mother's Day was begun during the Civil War as a war protest by mothers who were sick of their sons and husbands getting slaughtered. As Hightower put it, the best way to celebrate Mother's Day would be to enjoy breakfast in bed and then go off to participate in an anti-war rally.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


In a fit of passion, rage, fatigue, grief, hunger, and spite, the person closest to me called me "a ridiculous person." Because of who I am, how I live, what I do and don't do.

Well, yes, but we are all ridiculous in some way or other, some more than others. I don't mind that. I am happy to learn from the Internet that there are plenty, if not millions, of people just as ridiculous as I, doing the same silly things.

Nothing brings home the ridiculous nature of one as much as watching a video of oneself; one's gestures, weight, hairstyle, wardrobe, speech. Clive Owen said in an interview that it was very humbling to realize how he walks, talks and looks by watching a 20-foot high image of himself.

Maybe instead of going to church every Sunday, we should all watch videos of ourselves over Sunday brunch interacting with other people to see our true selves more objectively. Not staged film, but impromptu stuff.

This could really help us keep a sense of proportion and humor--and humility.

Monday, May 08, 2006


...is a weekend in the pediatric ward of my local hospital, watching saline drip into the veins of a beloved three-year old child.

But the good news is she is better and home again and laughing. And I am so grateful to be living in a place with health insurance and hospitals and good doctors and kind pediatric nurses.

Saturday, April 29, 2006


...is huge over the water in Scotland, Ireland and the U.K. and is now seeping into the U.S.A.'s music world. I heard some of her music being used as background for U.S. TV's "Desperate Housewives". (How big can you get?) So I suppose her music isn't a secret anymore.

I awoke one Saturday morning to a Scott Simon interview with her that made me run out and buy her collection of songs ("Eye to the Telescope"); the first music I've bought in I don't know how many years.

Her radio performance knocked me out, but also her presence, background, musical techniques, all of it; the whole package.

I've just been watching some of her videos on the internet and have to say I'm sorry so many music videos have been homogenized into pap. When MTV first started, the videos were exciting and creative and fabulous. Now: pap or soft porn. Or maybe I'm talking out of my (ahem) hat--I haven't watched MTV for years.

BUT I do recommend watching her "Under the Weather" and "Suddenly I See" videos. They are fun.

Like in films, books, and everything else, I guess we have to hunt for the good stuff.


I need to be patient
And I need to be brave

I need to discover how I need to behave
And I'll find out the questions when I know what to ask.

But I speak a different language

And everybody's talking too fast.

(From "Miniature Disasters; Minor Catastrophes")

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


I guess I like jobs where you see it all: like the hotel employees in Dirty, Pretty Things. I used to work for the police department and loved all the stories about human behavior that I couldn't even dream up if I tried, as nasty as it can be.

Now I have a mid-level civil service job where I deal with regular folks as well as crackheads, drunks, three- and four-party conversations, screamers, stutterers--all on the phone, thank God. It's a living, a wage with benefits. But when I told my tax lady what I do for a living she looked at me and said, "They don't pay you enough."

Some days, like today, it's really a hard job to do. I try to compartmentalize and dream up creative thoughts. Surf the net and find 14th century woodcuts or yarn made from soybeans. Anything to keep myself sane.

Started reading the Wandering Scribe blog.


At first, I wanted to log on to PayPal and send this poor woman some cash. But then doubts crept in.

This text is remarkably well-written for someone who is going through a "breakdown". (I've been there myself and I don't think I was especially coherent at the time.) Of course, everyone is so very different, and she'd have nothing to lose--the ultimate freedom.

And I've been to the UK and can't see the local police (or neighbors, certainly) allowing someone to live in a car on the outskirts of a city. Is this blog a scam? It seems almost sacrireligious to question what may be a poor homeless woman at the end of her tether. But it might be a clever young writer creating a new character-based artform. How can one know? Have the Scribe cut and paste her PayPal account onto her blog to show s/he isn't collecting lots of money from sympathetic readers? What other course do young writers have?

Heard on the radio last night of a big book publishing deal (half a million dollars) given to a 17-year old Harvard student who hadn't even written a book yet, but had a good idea for one. Yeah, right. If only life were so simple.

After her book was published, it was noted that whole passages were lifted from another writer's works and a plagiarism suit was pursued.

More details:



Part of my post-weekend malaise was seeing two crap movies: Vanity Fair and Pride and Prejudice. Something is so "off" with these Hollywood type productions. Even when the acting is excellent, as in P & P, the direction or editing or something kills the story and you feel dissatisfied after watching.

On a whim I rented Dirty Pretty Things and watched it last night.


That's the kind of story I love. A real city story, where you feel like you are in London, a real London, not a film set. Actors who are the characters, not actors playing characters. And a terrific story. A believable thriller/romance with not one kiss between the two lovers.

It lifted my spirits. There is hope after all.

Monday, April 24, 2006


Although my ddil doesn't want photos of the kids on the blog, I figure this one of newborn Nema is okay because he has changed so completely since it was taken almost 2 months ago. He is smiling more now, especially when his belly is full. He has always reminded me of a miniature balding little old man.

There is always this struggle: if you work enough to make enough money to get ahead financially, there's no time to enjoy your home and family. If you take the time to enjoy home and family, you're stressed out about not having enough money.

I discussed this a bit with my son and ddil who are both burning the candle at both ends. I watch the economy tighten until it almost cracks, our money doesn't go as far as it did. I feel for younger folks. They've grown up with the tsunami of consumerism that tells them buy, buy, buy more and you'll be happy.

I just discovered on the BBC a serendipitous article about a homeless woman, living in her car, but keeping a blog called


The fear of homelessness is behind a lot of us who work jobs we dislike but tolerate. When my son was young and complained about us not having enough money to buy him fancy basketball shoes, I'd take him down to Mission and Fifth Street and tell him if he wanted to live in that neighborhood, we would have more free cash. He understood.

Friday, April 14, 2006


If I don't post photos of my little grand-angels, I'm kinda at a loss here... Oh my God, I'll have to be creative!

The eldest granddaughter-in-law is four-year old Papaya, one-quarter Nigerian, half Peruvian and one-quarter African American. She is expressive, explosive and full of life, a Force of Nature. Tall, lanky and long-legged with a head full of wild curls.

Next is my blood granddaughter Munai, three years old in May of this year. Her genetic background is one-quarter Persian, half-Peruvian and one-quarter Scots-Irish (me). She inherited my blue eyes and is short, petite and can walk on her toes . She's my child in that she hates crowds and noise, loves books and crafts, spends hours playing by herself, and has mood swings from giddy to silent.

Eight-month old grandbaby-in-law Matthew already weighs 24 lbs and is half-Cuban, half-Peruvian. He loves his food and is a Watcher. If he isn't where the action is and watching it, he isn't happy. Everyone thinks he is at least one year old.

The newest grandson is Nema, my other blood-grandchild, only six weeks old. Born with almost no hair (?) unlike his sister and daddy. His eyes are deep brown and he eats like...well, like a boy. He weighed nine lbs. at birth. Temper, yes. And he is a grunter. All night long, he grunts in his sleep.

I'll try to "Monet" them w/Photoshop and see if that gives me any luck...

It's pretty sad when you're so afraid of pedophiles targeting your babies that you can't even put them up on your blog. But what IS it with these pedophile people anyway? Recently a veteran Berkeley firefighter was caught viewing kiddie porn with himself doing the deeds AT WORK!!! Trust me, I work for Berkeley. They go through very thorough vetting and background checks of their employees. What is going on in our world?

But then during the Crusades, good Christian Knights and soldiers skewered, roasted and ate infidel children (source: Terry Jones of Monty Python's THE CRUSDADES DVD). I don't know what is worse: killing, killing and eating, or raping? Another conundrum.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


My dear daughter-in-law has requested that I remove any photos and names of the grandkids. She is concerned with child predators and rightfully so. So I will be posting other goodies on here, mostly all about my Craft Dimension which balances out my (eeyew!) Work/Job Dimension and the foibles of modern life. For friends/relatives, I'll be sending photos of the babies in emails.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006


This is pretty much how I feel today. More rain (of course) and worry about my roof and the usual complete disorganization and lack of concern about anything from our supervisors.

The job that pays for my roof and the food I put in my mouth. So shaddup.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Making it up as I went along, I knitted another little hat for my grandson using Snuggly baby yarn.


Using No. 4 dp needles, I cast on 60 stitches (marking the join) and knit 2, purl 2 in rounds for about an inch. Then I used the same size needles and increased 4 stitches in the first round by knitting in the front and back of each 15th stitch. I repeated, increasing 4 stitches in the next round by knitting in the front and back of each 16th stitch. There was now a total of 68 stitches on my needles.

Then simple stockinette stitch in rounds for approx. 3.5 inches. I put markers every 17 stitches to mark the round in fourths. I knit two together before each marker to make the swirled top and when down to about 12 stitches, cut a tail and pulled through a double thickness of yarn to gather and tie off the top. After washing and drying, I presented to my grandson.


Again, I made this up as I went along. I washed and dried some really cool upholstery fabric, made a tube which I turned inside out, sewed shut one end and then, with the side seam turned inside, sewed shut the other end. Adding some matching polyester strap and clips from the sewing shop, I made a handbag with astrap long enough to hang across my body, from left shoulder to right hip. The bag is self-lined and washable.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


My three weeks of Family Medical Leave is nearly over.

I had so many plans for this time. But it was taken up with the necessities of each day--errands, helping the post-op DDIL (dear daughter-in-law) and helping my granddaughter adjust to no longer living as the princess of the castle. She must now share with her baby brother, whom she adores. There are lots of emotions to sort out (for everyone) and lots of new work to be done. I recently heard the expression, "Twice the kids, triple the work."

As for knitting, I've made several tiny hats (K2,P2 beanies) for the newborn because it is still so damned cold. And I have wished I had more woolen socks. Nylon just doesn't keep your feet warm in the cold. So I guess it's time to get down to sock knitting for this Spring and next winter.

At least I've had a taste of what retirement will be like. If retirement ever really comes.

The best part about the last three weeks has been having a clear mind, not a mind crowded up with work tasks, schedules, voices, and that most time-consuming of all, office politics. What a waste of energy and time.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Can you believe it? Approximately every 25 years, there is a light snow in San Francisco. And this was the year. In my Oakland neighborhood, all I got was a heavy hail, but on the local news, snow was the major story (a nice change).

And I also finished the Big Blue Blankie (made from Baby Soft acrylic yarn):

For Lazy Moms and Grandmas, you can always buzz down to the local fabric shop and get a yard or two of cute fleece for a blankie. If you're feeling enthusiastic, you can edge it with rickrack or crochet, or just use as is:

Now I can start on something else. Finally.

Monday, March 06, 2006


Nearly nine pounds, my grandson was delivered this morning, a week before his due date.

All went and is going well.

Big Sister Adalia went through some changes for a few hours, but soon warmed to her new baby brother. She spent the day in bed with Mommy:

Daddy calmed down a little also:

And here are the two proud grandmothers, Abuela Charo on the left, and yours truly (known as Gaga) on the right:

I'm still working on the knitted Blue Blankie.


that my son, the expectant father, was a little nervous last night:

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Soooo busy and then 2-3 weeks off for Family Medical Leave. The past week has been heaven. I spent one whole day sitting on my couch, listening to a book on tape, knitting. Otherwise, I ran errands, helped my son and daughter-in-law prepare for the new baby, and took my granddaughter every other night. Each time I brought her home the next morning, she would search for her baby brother in her mommy's bed and then see her mommy's stomach was still huge. I don't think she believes this is ever really going to happen.

But, tomorrow is Baby Evan's birthday (after a couple of false alarms earlier this week). I've nearly finished the Big Blue Blankie, but not quite yet.

I'll be spending a lot of time at the hospital tomorrow before, during, and after the Caesarian. The obstetrician stated that with a baby as big as this one, my petite daughter-in-law Charito and baby would have a 20% chance of survival with a natural childbirth.

We have to remember that the Good Old Days often saw childbirth deaths of both mother and baby. I'm all for natural childbirth, but there are times when I'd rather err on the side of caution. My own son's birth should have been Caesarian, and after a forceps delivery, my bladder was ruptured and required major surgery the following day.

I bought 1,000 stickers for my granddaughter, who has been an emotional Jekyll and Hyde this week. She always relaxes and zones out while peeling off stickers one by one and carefully placing them in groups on paper. We each have our different therapies and can bring them to the hospital with us.

Last Thursday, I met with two friends for lunch at Garibaldi's on College.

These are ladies I worked with back when Reagan was Governor of California. They both stuck with Civil Service careers and are both now retired. I am so jealous (especially after last week off), I can hardly stand it.

We all lost touch and then one morning, Sandra (the lady on the right) walked into my office for a meeting. We hadn't been in contact for about 30 years. Now she, Mary (the lady on the left) and I try to get together for luncheons.

One of the owners of Garibaldi's, Ann, is another friend:

All of these ladies are wonderful people with their own stories and I feel very lucky to know them as friends.

Today, Sunday, is freezing cold and so windy, what tiles remain on my roof are blowing off, I'm sure. Reminds me of the cold in Skye:

but without the clean, sweet air.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Georgie W. wants us to excel in science so we can compete with other "backward" nations. At the same time his Fundamentalist Right Base wants to unteach the theory of evolution and stop stem cell research. What's a country to do? Thank God you cannot "unteach" an idea.

Watched "Crash" over the weekend. The racism made me sick, but basically I think it is an anti-gun film. I also kept thinking: "If L.A. is this bad, why do people live there?"

Last night listened to the end of Pratchett's "Monstrous Regiment of Women" on audio tape. I was slow getting into it but enjoyed it immensely by the end. Best part: "You don't know that you've gone too far until you've gone too far." Another best part: "People cannot afford to be stupid."

I love listening to Books On Tape while I'm sewing, knitting, cooking, ironing, etc... But it all depends on the narrator...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


I am working on a simple knitted baby blue blanket for my grandson who is due March 6th. It is knitted and slow going. On one of my two coffee breaks per day, I usually get two rows knitted. Only four weeks to go, and I really want this done by his birthday. During lunch hours, I try to get more rows done, but there are so many other distractions: bills to pay, things to buy, food to eat, books to be taken to the library.

I went to the bookstore tonight to get a gift for my granddaughter's Big Sister Party which will be next Saturday; the "theme" is My Little Pony. (At least it's not Barbie.)

Saturday will be all about her so she won't feel put off when the new baby comes. She gets excited when we're going through the new baby clothes, but she gets a slightly fearful look in her eye when we talk about the baby coming...

While at Borders, I snuck a peek at a new textile magazine called "Selvage": very chi chi, $20/issue. Lovely stuff but all skinny models wearing unbearably aesthetic creations. I guess I'm more the Tasha Tudo type. If I had more time, I'd check out more Andy Goldsworthy books. I was also looking for the Terry Pratchett book "Wyrd Sisters". Not on the shelf.

I have a dozen other craft projects started: knitted, crocheted, sewing. And Spring is on its way.

More and more of me exists in that textile place; that magic place where all I think about or do is with fibers or cloth or color. It's hard to keep my balance when discussing municipal ordinances or office politics or national budget cuts. So who ever said life is easy?

I had to park my car on Spaulding and Allston Way this morning. Walking down to it after 6 pm in the dark it felt like two miles, although it was probably only one mile. Berkeley streets have to be the most ill-lit of any city I've ever lived in. A bearded man in a lace dress rode by on a beat-up bicycle singing, "We are all performing."

In a few weeks is another granddaughter'sfourth birthday. She's having a "Princess Party", but she told me and her Abuela that we have to come as witches. I can live with that. Maybe a pink witch...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Berkeley Days

Working in Berkeley can be fun but wearying. What I enjoy most is all the green foliage in the hills and throughout the city, and the odd architectural details, such as The Addison Streetscape Project:


I can go to the Capoeira Cafe for coffee at lunchtime and pass my favorite mosiac sculpture on the wall:

and see my favorite collage sculpture in the sidewalk:

Sporadically in the sidewalk are poems on Addison Street also. Good poems. Like the library, this street makes my day.

Also in Berkeley is my favorite little doorway. This is the shopfront I have always wanted, like the shops in Venice or Gladstone's Land in Edinburgh:

Friday, January 06, 2006


Awoke my first day back to work listening to KPFA discussing the impeachment of George W. That made my day happy. Then heard the news about Abramoff pleading guilty and danced through the day.

Like the Sylvia cartoon: Q: What do you want most for Christmas? A: A newspaper under the tree with the headline: "Cheney and Rove Indicted."

I love you, Sylvia.

Not that I don't support our troops. I support them so much that I want them home, and not in a crazy hell of war in a country we should never have invaded.

Invade in haste, repent at leisure; if GWB even knew the meaning of thinking.