Friday, January 26, 2007


For the last ten days, I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop.

My civil service coworker and I have been overloaded for about the last three years, taking between 50 to 100 phone calls a day, each of us. That's an average of 1,000 phone calls each per month. And we're expected to process payments and paperwork as well, which is of course impossible. Try reading a letter while being interrupted by a headset phone call every two minutes. While working in a software that times out every two minutes.

Every day I have around seven software screens up on my work computer, one software being Internet Explorer to keep my feet on the ground and my sanity while angry customers yell and curse at me. I drift in cyberspace, remembering the real world.

About ten days ago, that changed. Mercifully, because my coworker was in the hospital having tests for chest pains. This usually means over 100 calls for me and a whole lot of yelling from people who have been on hold for over ten minutes. But I only received 50 calls, and my "pending" work stack went down instead of up.

Our software provider finally came through with their contract and are taking half the calls.

Good God. What a difference. I'm still adjusting to being productive again. It will take a while. I'm still in shock. More later.

Monday, January 15, 2007


We had an extra day off the job for Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. He's about the closest person we have to an American saint. Flawed but, my God, did he ever change the world.

I've rested and then rested some more, in-between a little housecleaning and trying to find the right proportions of a new poncho I'm knitting. I'm using a yarn unknitted from a Margaret O'Leary sweater, size small, so there's not much room for error. I am not size small.

Watched a BBC rendition of "Wives and Daughters" and find myself quite taken with Elizabeth Gaskell. I've seen "North and South" which was more moralistic or Calvinistic. "Wives" was full of sumptuous costumes and landscape. And Michael Gambon, whom I adore, is at his finest as a gruff but loving country squire.

AND on the special features are interviews with Margaret Drabble and Fay Weldon, two of my very favorite novelists. What a treat!

My grandson, nicknamed Big Bomb, and his sister were over on Sunday. Bomb is standing, dancing, and getting ready to walk and run. I took us all out for breakfast at Tomate, our favorite Berkeley cafe.

The Princess was moody and actually didn't want to leave. Last weekend she didn't want to stay. She is simply a moody child and very sensitive. She is my heart.

How awful for children to have to go from one home to another. Luckily she has always stayed at my house on weekends and feels quite at home here, but the switch from one environment to another is shocking for a small child. Parents separating is trauma; the switching of homes is like a rerun. I don't know if they'll ever take it in their stride.

To my utter amazement, Deirdre Nelson left me a thank-you comment on my blog post mentioning her work. It's like writing a fan letter and having the object of your attention write back. I was thrilled. Here is a photo of her with George, her knitted puffin.

She mixes language and textiles in a unique way. Now she is mixing wildlife and the history of Nova Scotia into her current work. Amazing.

I am more and more in love with history as I grow older. The leaps and errors of our human race. And of course in the present, our messes and successes.

I'm now trying to take my job supervisor's advice and look at my job as comic relief. To laugh at the lies people will come up with to get out of paying a parking ticket. If they could only be that creative with other parts of their lives, what a creative world it would be.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


...sailor take warning.

Red sky at night
Sailor's delight.

Our skies have been clear and crisp, although I spend most of the day indoors. The webcam from Lawrence Hall of Science in the Berkeley Hills is my window to the world.

In our office, we took a collection to buy flowers for a coworker who died last New Year's Eve. Olive was a lovely woman who had a hard life and fought cancer for many years. We were all hoping she would live through another remission, but no. She once asked me to come in early to the office and join her Christian prayer circle and I was flattered by the offer, though I declined.

This made me think more about my own mortality and what disposition I wish for my own earthly remains.

I've told my son to have my body cremated and bury the ashes under a redwood tree, but I think now I wish for my ashes to be scattered or buried on the Isle of Skye, or anywhere wild in Scotland. Who would do it, and with what money?

As my son said about these wild areas, "There's nothing there."

But the air is the cleanest I have ever breathed. The air there feels so right, it fills your lungs naturally with clean, cold goodness and awakens your body with its freshness.

And something about the colors there, the red and green and brown with a sprinkling of grey rock. While in a gift shop in Portree, I saw a handwoven scarf/shawl with just these colors. The fibre was cashmere and the price was around $300. Of course I didn't buy it, but sometimes I wish I had.

Last weekend's granny duty was tough. The baby had an ear infection and my granddaughter was moody (when is she not?). After awhile she cheered up:

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Went to see Children of Men over the New Year. Clive Owen is gorgeous (Bent, Croupier, King Arthur, Gosford Park), and acts well in the movie. The theatre was full, but the story didn't translate that well to the screen. The onscreen violence was like spending an hour in Baghdad. Wait for Children on DVD.

On the crafting front, I spent some time looking in to the recent work of my favorite Glaswegian textile artist, Deirdre Nelson. And lo and behold, she has knit a puffin.

I first saw a display of Ms Nelson's work in Edinburgh's Tolbooth Museum, a cozy snug of a venue. It was entitled My Dear John, and it was calligraphy on lace and fine linen, as I recall. Apparently the show was written up in a back issue of Fibrearts and I may just have to purchase that back issue so I can see it again. Ms Nelson has a website: