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.

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.

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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.

Follow Your Star

Tapestry with red and white stripes, stars on a blue fieldDuring this contentious election season, I have taken some solace in contemplating a small tapestry I wove some years ago. It visually sorts out for me some of the multidimensional aspects of our present situation. When I created it, I called it “Follow Your Star”, which seems as appropriate now as it was then.

Not being particularly gifted with creating original designs, I based it on a depiction of a Chinese lattice from a book I have had for many years called Chinese Lattice Designs (a 1974 edition of a 1937 work call A Grammar of Chinese Lattice). I started from the very beginning when I created this. I bought a fleece at the Monterey Wool Show, washed, carded and spun the fleece into yarn, dyed the yarn into various shades of reds and blues, and wove it into this small tapestry. It, like our lives in the U.S., was a journey.

I did not set out to create something patriotic, but rather something universal. Of course, the wavy red and white stripes and multi-sized stars on a blue background evoke an immediate suggestion of America. But the various shades of the reds and the blues suggest the variety in our country. And the stars—some large, some small—travel in varying directions. To me it is a tapestry that embodies both freedom and diversity .

And it started with an idea from the ancient Chinese.

A drawing of lattice work.

Chinese lattice work design

Weather vane with sheep

Finding My Peace

The door always unlocked, my retreat in the garden is where I find my soul. The threads of my life have converged in this small space.

When I was five, my mother taught me to sew. My dolls were always finely attired.

When I was seven, my second cousin taught me to knit. She was attending college to become a physical therapist. One of her assignments was to teach something to someone that they might find challenging. I was selected.

I continued to thread my way through life.

A year after I was married, my husband encouraged me to by a small table loom. This led to a larger 4-harness loom and finally to a very large 8-harness loom. At some time a spinning wheel was added to the mix. Our small house teemed with my projects and I jokingly told people we did not live in a house, we lived in a studio. The door to every room revealed traces of my passion.

When we moved in, there was a small shed in the garden. It had originally been used as living quarters as the house, a small weekend retreat, was being built by our predecessors. The shed finally succumbed to the elements in the winter of 1999-2000. We decided to have a new shed built. We found plans, hired a new contractor (this was his first job since getting his contractor’s license) and had a nice shed with small attached greenhouse built.

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And then it happened. My husband suggested we turn it into a studio. I put up insulation in the stud walls and ceiling and we had the contractor add wallboard and a ceiling fan. I painted it–inside and out–and had shelving installed.

Over the years since, my threads have followed me out to this haven. The view out the door extends beyond our apricot tree to the ridge beyond and the faraway coast when the air is clear. I sew, I spin, I weave. I can hear birds sing, the neighbors dog bark and their horse whinny. Here I can maintain the orderly chaos that comes naturally to me.Studio interior

As I walk through this door–winter and summer, I know peace is possible.

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