From my perch high above the San Andreas Fault, I use this site to post random bits of information about my life and to experiment with WordPress so I can help others learn to use it.

statue of liberty

My Country

Why do we need such turmoil in our government? We have been governed for over two centuries by administrations that we citizens, on one side, endorse and on the other side, chafe under. But we have always been allowed to be ourselves. Our government has encouraged it. Sometimes we make concessions to accommodate some, but not all, of the wishes on one side or the other. We the people have been allowed to articulate our needs, and we the people have learned to accept that our needs are not necessarily the needs of others. We are united in the idea that we all have a chance to speak our minds, and we all wish to have the respect of a leader who understands that we belong to one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

my country sweet land of liberty

Dyeing in the Sun

A few years back I grew some marigolds. As the blossoms drooped I harvested them and dried them, but then stuck then in a cupboard and forgot about them. In a fit of boredom during the rains this year, that kept me inside more than I am used to, I discovered them and decided it was time to use them. I boiled them for a couple of hours until the water turned a deep golden brown, strained off the liquid and sealed it in a gallon jar.


Then came spring and summer with days of soaring temperatures that once again kept me inside. I spent some time spinning a fleece that had waited for me for several years. I plied a small one-ounce skein to see how I liked it and hit on the brilliant idea of using my marigold liquor to see what would happen. It was too hot to turn on the stove for this experiment so I decided to go solar. In a small jar just large enough to hold the skein, I dissolved a scant half teaspoon of alum in water and added a pinch of tartaric acid. In went the skein, on went the lid, and out it went to a table in the yard to sit in the sun for a day.
The marigold liquid had developed a layer of mold on the top, but it peeled of easily in one piece. The mordanted skein now went into this dye bath for another couple of days in the sun. And it seems to have worked.

marigold dye with wool in a one-gallon jar

Now on to the next step. I am not sure what that will be.

Head in the Cloud

Head in the Cloud: Why Knowing Things Still Matters When Facts Are So Easy to Look UpHead in the Cloud: Why Knowing Things Still Matters When Facts Are So Easy to Look Up by William Poundstone
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While this book was not a page-turner, it was interesting enough that I finished it by reading a few pages every night. The author is a statistician and poll taker whose premise is that people who know more make more money, are happier, are more likely to succeed, etc. By using random questions in large samples of people, he is able to compare their answers with other seemingly unrelated facts about their lives. It is an interesting way to statistically confirm what we probably already infer.

View all my reviews

scarp in driveway

Gravity

I once had a dream that I was floating in the air just above the ground. I could see the entire California coast. I could sail over the hills and dip down close enough to Earth that I could talk to people I saw. No tugs, no pulls, no cares, I just floated along.

But eventually I awoke and felt the force of the earth holding me down, tugging me and pulling me in various directions. I had to obey the rule of gravity.

It isn’t just humans and animals, and plants that feel the weight of the world. The very ground itself is subject to the pull of gravity. It sits firmly in place until it is moved by an earthquake or a storm. And so it is this year. The rains have come and melted the earth. Chunks of it have been pulled downward under the weight of this water. And I have witnessed it personally.

As the rains came wave after wave starting in February, the access road to our house in the mountains tried to channel the water off and send it harmlessly downhill. For the forty-six years we have lived here it has always worked this way–until this year. The incessant rain sought the lowest point in the road and worked its way into the soil eventually turning it soft and muddy.

First there was a crack in the drive. The crack widened and started to sink. It sank lower and lower and new cracks appeared. The rains continued. Part of the road broke off and sank another four feet. Some of it tumbled down a hundred feet, or so, to a road below on the hillside. That road started to crack and to slump. This scarp on our mountain is on its way downhill. Our beautiful mountain is on its epic journey to become part of the landscape below.

We are will aware of the gravity of our situation.

Finding Your Voice

Well into my seventh decade, I realize that finding my voice is a lifetime quest down the path I am traveling. Once again my search has emerged to a conscious level.

A little over two years ago, after I finally retired from defining myself in the work force, I sought another outlet for continuing this trek. I happened upon SeniorNet, an all-volunteer organization which connects those over 50 with the ever-changing digital world. Instructors and coaches lead two-hour classes of sixteen participants for up to 8 weeks on a variety of topics using sixteen personal computers with an overhead projector for the instructor.

I have coached in such diverse classes, as Genealogy, Using Gmail and Picasa, Making Your Own Greeting Cards, Android Phone, and Borrow Books without Going to the Library. And recently I have found myself teaching a Facebook class. All of this has made me keenly aware of the need and the diversity that we have in finding our own voice and sharing it with others.

I will soon be teaching a two week course on Blogging if enough people are interested. So, once again, I am grappling with how to help others, as well as myself, connect to the world.

For me, my voice does not have to be heard or read by minions. And, although I do not mind sharing with others, I am primarily talking to myself–sorting out my thoughts and recording events and things that are important to me. As with life, it is a work in progress.

I am using my website to help me.

International Women’s Day 2017

This year for International Women’s Day it is time for me to put the spotlight on my maternal grandmother, Eva Graham Law. Although she was far from being the same personality as my activist, suffragette paternal grandmother I wrote about last year, they both shared the status of being strong single mothers. Both lost their husbands when their children were very young. Both worked and became independent women in their own way.

 

When my mother was three, my grandfather fell off the roof of a barn he was helping a neighbor build in Pawnee City, Nebraska. My grandmother was left with my mother and her three brothers aged 1, 5, and 7. They moved back to Des Moines where her mother, also a widow, lived. They started a boarding house in my great-grandmother’s house. My grandmother found a job as a clerk in a real estate title office where she worked until she retired. And she raised her family.

She was always cheerful and, although deaf, loved singing hymns a little off key in church. She kept a daily diary in a small five-year diary notebook with one page for each day of the year and about five lines designated for an entry each day.

I am indeed lucky to have spent my early years with my two grandmothers who helped shape my life more ways than they ever knew.