Week 17

Computer problems continue:  Photos later 

April 23, 2017 – SUNDAY

Photo of English Muffins & John’s party or no photo, photo of nothing, of thin air

The abandoning: Making of English Muffins, the rising of which is due to yeast utilizing carbohydrates and releasing CO2, i.e., fermentation. One of the first recipe books I bought contained a recipe for English Muffins, but only last week did I buy muffin rings. Now with rings bought, the muffins must be made. I make English Muffins, the holes the result of CO2. The gas is good for the muffin, but CARBON DIOXIDE’s overabundance in our atmosphere is problematic. If we don’t curtail it, we will have hell to pay.

Michael and I did not march yesterday. We regret not doing so. We had intended to, but over-booked. JM spent the day working on grading and looking at baseball statistics in readying for today’s draft. I worked all day but cannot recall what I accomplished – washing, cooking, cleaning, gardening ….   I assume I accomplished something, did something, but recall little of the day. Last night we did attend a birthday party of a San Francisco friend. Looking out over the Pacific at the setting sun, we sang “Happy Birthday.” We were happy to celebrate John’s birthday, but none there was happy on Earthday that we have a Congress and President creating laws that are almost certain to harm our good earth. Their decisions have the potential to change life on this earth as we know it. That statement is not hyperbole. It is the air that gives life, but the abundance of CO2 is changing climate, thereby taking life as well.

The CO2 clock is running out and may already have done so. Perhaps the cause of Climate Change does not matter. It will be devastating, widespread, long lasting and likely impossible to undo. We live in a finite world, and to pretend otherwise is to be a fool. The invisible world will have visible results. We are wrapped in an invisible cloak of CO2, a cloak that grows by the minute and just because it is invisible to us does not mean that it is not there and that we can ignore it. We breathe in oxygen and exhale CO2. Trump is full of hot air, expels it constantly, directly contributing more than his share to global warming. One wishes that Trump and his allies would die in the rising seas they create, but those rich enough may escape the flood of their own doing, but others (animals, plants, ecosystems, the poor and helpless) will not have that option.

Accidents happen. We had accidents, unthinkable accidents, Chernobyl and Fukushima. Those accidents caused huge swaths of land to be abandoned. Human frailty had a part in both. Global warming is man-made, but it is not an accident. We have had the evidence for a long time. Reactionaries have denied data / are denying data and, if we do not take appropriate action(s), the consequence(s) of inaction will be to our detriment. By not doing what we should be doing (part of which is not doing, not burning fossil fuels), we are knowingly creating ‘areas of abandon’ where the life that has been will be no more, or greatly altered. By not changing, by not acting we destroy our world.

Not an accident, but if we do not act and act with boldness, the result will be as if a Chernobyl had happened on a large scale. We’ll have a world where whole areas will be destroyed. Destroyed by a refusal to acknowledge the truth of reality, i.e., in effect by living in Trump’s world where fact is fiction, fiction is fact, truth a lie and a lie is promoted as truth. If we don’t stop it, we will be complicit in earth’s destruction.

If we ignore what we have done, what we are doing and do not change our ways, ‘just like that’ we will destroy our own world, making it ‘the abandoned,’ our world and its life gone. Taking its place a world as lost to us as Fukushima or Chernobyl. Our new world ineffably desolate, devoid of diversity, the result of no accident but by a mistake of thought. The denial of reality, the willful arrogance and ignorance of our leaders is a choice, a choice that is a destroyer. The last presidential election was about our future, and the results, because of the actions of those elected, is now more than about our future, it is about the future of the world. “Fools rush in where angles fear to tread.”   It is the fear of where we now ‘tread’ that makes me deeply concerned and makes me wish I had been there yesterday walking / marching and saying, “Truth is truth. Fact is fact. You cannot eliminate danger by denying it exists. You want to spend money on a useless wall, on unneeded military equipment, you want to secure our nation by securing our borders, but the sky, the heaven, it is there above all of us and it is to the sky (and its CO2) you should be looking. Buy a gun, build a wall, neither will secure our future.

April 24, 2017 – MONDAY

Photo of shoes dress booties & running shoes

Desire: Shortly after moving to the United States, I recall seeing toeless shoes. I’d never seen shoes without toes and begged for a pair of my own. I thought those shoes the most wonderful shoes I had ever seen. My parents believed in high quality, practical shoes. My shoes had to be worn year-round, and toeless shoes would not be appropriate for winter’s snow. I pleaded, but the best I could do was to get a pair of black patent leather shoes. I cared for them, slathering them with Vaseline, but they cracked and, although expensive, not durable. I think the toeless shoes would have worn better, but I had to wait for adulthood to go toeless.

Currently a large percentage of my shoes are toeless or sandals.   Since childhood, I’ve only had one other pair of patent leather shoes, a red rain boot worn until I outgrew it. My feet continue to grow. I think aging feet actually just flatten out – perhaps weight and perhaps because tendons and ligaments get weak, allowing foot spread. If I see another shiny patent leather shoe I like, I’ll be tempted.

In the summer I wear sandals almost constantly, but in the winter I’m especially fond of simply made boots and booties. I wear my good shoes in good weather and practical shoes in bad. Today’s weather was good, allowing me to wear a pair of my sleek shoes. My sculpted leather boot (bootie) is a simple thing of beauty, but Berkeley types could care less and like so many in the university world chose practical and comfort over beauty. Actually it is unlikely that they consider beauty at all. I like comfort, but also like style, so my shoes, practical and pretty. I attended a Berkeley seminar with others of my age, and it surprised me to see not another nice pair of shoes in the classroom. The professor and virtually all attending wore running shoes. There were a few wearing casual sandals (with & w/out socks).

Mother always said she was a shoe hound. I suppose I am, too. I love beautiful shoes, but almost always wear flats since I find heels uncomfortable (and I’ve always been unstable in them). My mother wore three-inch high heels, because that flattered her lovely legs, until her early 90’s. She, walking in high heels, fell three times in a single week. A friend scolded Mom and called me, insisting that I get Mother to wear flats. Mother outright refused to wear flats for dress. I was able to get her to switch to one-inch heels only by buying her very expensive exquisite shoes. The short heel did not emphasize her leg, but the shoe itself was a piece of art and so she agreed to wear the one-inch heel. Even at 95 she was vain about her legs and if I had had legs like her, I probably would endure the discomfort of high heels to display my gams. Mother would have been out of place in the Berkeley classroom today because no shoe worn by anyone there was designed to flatter a gam and not a single gam was on display because everyone in attendance wore slacks.

April 25, 2017 – TUESDAY

Photos of Halima

Girly, girl: Halima, our girl cat, is a girly cat. She is beautiful, gentle, good natured, timid and, in our opinion, too often defers to the boy cats who frequently bully her. (Although Charley cat seems to enjoy sleeping with her more than he likes sleeping with Oskar.) She is awake more than the boys, is more active, much more playful and is able to anticipate the action of people long before the boys have a clue. The boys may have more muscle, but she is faster and infinitely more agile. Much of what we call ‘gender’ is learned behavior, but, as a biologist, I would argue that much of what we identify as gender-based behavior is indeed innate, gene based. That is not to say that there is not a wide range of behavior within gender roles, but beyond culture, our gender-based DNA does have an impact. I would argue that both ‘female’ and ‘male’ attributes have equally contributed to the survival of our species. One set of traits is not superior to another; they are merely different. And Michael and I hate to admit it, but we both feel protective of Halima, our fierce and gentle cat.

April 26, 2017 – WEDNESDAY

Bay photos from bike ride

Overcast: JM and I have not ridden our bikes since Peter left. He’s back and we rode, rather JM rode w/ Peter all the way. I rode part of the way then stopped to photograph the gray bay, gray clouds in a gray sky.   The day, layered gray. When we arrived home, a hole in the cloud. The sun briefly shown on our glorious Spring blooms. I rarely am fascinated by gray, but today – gray or not – the Bay fascinated.

April 27, 2017 – THURSDAY

Sous Vide

The Good, Bad and the Ugly: JM and I are both suckers for style. Back just before computers became the way to write, we bought a gorgeous typewriter. We had the choice between a practical, highly rated ball IBM electric typewriter with memory and a sleek Italian Olivetti one with no memory. We chose beauty over practical. In that case, a mistake. The typewriter was in and out of the shop from the first. When we got our first computer, we kept the Olivetti on the desk to be viewed like the piece of art it was. I told an architect friend that we were about to dispose of it. “NO! Don’t dispose of it. I’ll take it. It is gorgeous.” If the machine had been mere ‘desk candy,’ we’d not have minded, but we needed, because JM is a writer, a machine that did more than look good and take up space.

JM asked if I’d like a sous vide. I said sure. He looked at various options and bought the most beautiful one he could find. It is Joule, a model that must be ‘managed’ from a cell phone. My cell is an old Apple and it would not cooperate in acquiring the module to run the sous vide. My acupuncturist just returned from a trip to Europe. Europeans, she said, keep their phones a long time and don’t like Apple phones because when they get old, they cannot maintain their Apps or acquire new ones. It seemed to be true of mine. JM downloaded the Joule operating app onto his phone making it possible for me to ‘pasteurize’ eggs. I know how to make mayonnaise and other uncooked egg items, but, fearing salmonella, I have not made mayonnaise and rarely make things with ‘un-cooked’ eggs. Using our new sous vide, I pasteurized eggs (cooked for 2 hours at 138.6 degrees F) and made mayonnaise. The mayonnaise was fast to make and better than store-bought and since the eggs are pasteurized, I won’t worry about bacteria and toxins. Because JM’s phone travels with him and I can’t use my phone to control the sous vide, I’ll only be able to use the sous vide when he is at home. We likely should have bought a not-pretty unit with dials and buttons that could be used anytime, not dependant on a phone, but alas, sucker for beauty, we chose, once again, beauty over function. Perhaps a mistake and perhaps, like the Olivetti, the sous vide will be one of those things we merely look at. JM is thinking of updating his phone in the Fall. I’ll get his old phone and then I will be able to cook with temperature-controlled water whenever I like, that is if I can keep the correct app, remember how to access it and how to utilize it. Buttons and knobs may not be sleek, but they are straightforward and, in the long run, easier to use. Again, this time we might have been better off to opt for utility and not beauty.

April 28, 2017 – FRIDAY

photo of Twisted branch

Good Intentions: Our Contorted Black Locus trees have been pruned. I hated for the top-heavy tree to be trimmed. I liked the top-heavy look, but our top-heavy tree is not doing well, and branches, especially the ones I loved, had to go. On the porch now sits a huge pan with filled with flowering branches of the tree. We brought them into the house and as I was making an arrangement, JM looked the plant up on the Internet – the plant and its flowers, poisonous to cat. Out they went in spite of the fact the smell of the flowers was intoxicating, delicious. The blossoms are starting to fade, and the branches will dried blooms will soon be discarded. There is one branch I love, that branch turned back upon itself – forming a loop.   I wish it – a bit of fanciful nature – were still on the tree.

The other day I was driving home down a two-way city street that has a wide median. Across the median I saw a car flipped over, another auto with a light pole in grill stopped at the edge of the median. Several people were gathered, trying to help those in the accident. Two mature women were walking a boy of about 10 years of age. He looked disoriented, confused and, based on his hard grasp of his i-pad, he was anxious.   It seemed to me as if he were on the verge of shock as the women walked him across and down the median. When they neared my car, I rolled down the window and suggested that they lay the child down and elevate his feet. “What!” they screamed in unison. They seemed irritated with me, likely thinking that they were doing the correct thing. A fire truck was about a half block away approaching me in my lane, so I pulled forward out of the lane to make way for the emergency vehicle. If the emergency crew had not been there, I would have stopped, gotten out and asked the women to stop doing what they were doing. They probably have seen numerous movies where injured people were walked to keep them from dying and would not have listened, but I would have tried. The emergency crew likely did what First Aid classes I have taken suggest: after a traumatic event, lay the person down and elevate the feet above the head so blood ‘runs’ to the vital organs (the brain being first among them). The other thing they should not have been doing was walking the child. An injured person should only be moved out of harms way (away from the overturned auto) to a safe place, where they should be kept still because —- who knows what might cause harm???: a broken rib could puncture a lung; a broken long bone might fracture worse and puncture the skin; any number of things could be worsened by walking an injured person The child had no obvious physical injuries to treat; therefore, the women should have made the child comfortable and waited for the emergency crew to take him to a nearby hospital where his injuries and condition would be evaluated. The women were obviously trying to be helpful, although what they were doing with the child could have caused him great harm.

I’ve taken and re-taken first aid classes, and after seeing the aftermath of a fairly bad auto accident, I resolved to take another first aid class, this time with Michael. One does forget and techniques change. Obviously neither woman attending the child had taken a first aid class. They had been good citizens by stopping to help, but being a good citizen also means taking the time to get prepared and learning what to do and not to do in an emergency. That scene reminded me that because we have had new cabinets installed in our garage, we need to locate and re-assemble our home earthquake kit and also update the emergency kits in our automobiles. I made a work earthquake kit for JM, but it’s been years and who knows what’s been done with it, what is in it or what needs to be updated. “Be prepared,” but, at the moment, we are not.

April 29, 2017 – SATURDAY

Photo of wonderful Ixia

Dirty girl: And I was going to work in my study sorting papers and filing, but alas, George was here today to work in the yard. JM and I joined him. All together we spent at least 18 hours hacking, hewing, digging and planting. As with all gardens, the process is never over, and when the Ixia stop blooming, we’ll dig up the entire mid-section of the garden because it is overgrown. This Spring in spite of the rain, in most of the garden the Ixia is not as beautiful as in past years. We think it is because the bulbs need to be dug up and thinned /culled. On the other hand, it might be that there was too much rain for them to be at their best. Ixia is a South African plant that does well in Mediterranean-type climates, and this past winter was more rain-forest than Mediterranean. Our Ladyslippers are spindly, not robust this year. The wild geranium is abundant and everywhere. It has roots as strong and as long (it seems) as a tree’s. Plants like people have personalities/traits. Forget-me-nots we pull up by fistfuls are easy to dispense with; however, those overgrown bunches of geraniums are almost impossible to dissuade, to dislodge Plants remind me that there is more than one way to survive in the world. I’m exhausted and aching. My survival requires a warm, relaxing bath. Flowers are beautiful, but gardening is a dirty business.