Branch office
Friday January 31st 2014, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus,Wildlife

I was in the middle of answering an email about Coopernicus when there he was, swooping in, same time of day.

That branch is a favorite king-of-the-mountain spot for feathered and furred because it offers a commanding view of the birdfeeder and the yard, but it is dead and is on our must-go list, I’m sorry to say. Too dry. Too flammable.

And then I noticed for the first time that there in front of the dense limbs and leaves it also provided room for him to open those big wings wide unimpeded to lift off at full speed if need be. Interesting. (Those branches that look big and in the way in front of him in the second picture are actually the little twigs around the birdfeeder.)

He watched over me for 28 minutes, occasionally telling the world about it, occasionally looking around at every leaf from his side–while the rest of the bird kingdom held its breath unseen.

He left and there was a sudden explosion of life. A junco tumbled out of the olive tree, pulling up to a safe finish just at the ground. Towhees jockeyed for suet, a chickadee to the feeder, then a dove arrived below at the all-clear. Briefly.

Another grand scurry and all became still again.

And I went off to pick up my husband from work so I could tell him what the doctor said about the latest on the Graves results: autoantibodies that cause hypothyroidism and autoantibodies that cause hyperthyroidism. For the lucky patients, they balance out. Me, well, no.  Several months of testing to come.

And I utterly forgot to give the doctor the hat in my purse that I’d knitted for his wife. Which answers my question as to whether it was the right project for her: no. Not there yet. But then knitting some more while having a spare for the give-away bag is not exactly a punishment.

Picking up
Thursday January 30th 2014, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Knit,Wildlife

It rained! Two nights in a row! Not a lot of rain, but, actual water falling out of the sky!

I finally blocked the waiting Lisa Souza Tahitian Blue shawl.

It was one of those moments, picking the finished piece up this morning, looking it over, swirling it onto my shoulders, having not till that moment been exactly sure how it would come out, where you think, Wow. This is one of the prettiest things I have ever knitted. This is what I had hoped for. (Thank you, Lisa!)


This evening, a single dove arrived and pecked quietly away alone on the deserted porch, and I looked at it and thought oh honey–you’re a sitting duck. Don’t you know that having no random helter-skelter in the way of the chase is exactly what a hawk wants?

But Coopernicus came in the long way across the yard and the dove happened to glance back over her shoulder just in time and somehow she beat him.

Or else he wasn’t really trying, as he curved around to land on that chair again. He exchanged glances with me, lifted one great foot then the other as he turned and then he took off towards the redwood at great speed.  He was dead serious about not being late for dinner tonight.

Y’know? I could get spoiled….

How he does it…
Wednesday January 29th 2014, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

My nest will be here. No, MINE. It’s been an ongoing contest this week between the ravens and I assume the unseen hawks for domination of the old redwood tree and at times the tall tree of the neighbor on our other side.

At one point yesterday even I heard a fair amount of squawking. Richard-the-younger and Kim gave me a birdbook a few years ago that has Cornell Ornithology soundtracks on the side and it notes that their recording of Cooper’s hawks was of one defending its territory. Seeing three ravens perched in the silk oak all looking across the street but no hawk, hoping I wasn’t going to cost him valuable energy defending his airspace from the electronic intruder, I opened the side door and briefly hit play. (Just the one time.)

The ravens vanished.

Again today the birdfeeders were empty for hours at a stretch, all the songbirds avoiding–something.

I got a message from Michelle saying she’d caught a bad cold and just felt really sick and feverish right now (and I inwardly protested but you haven’t been exposed to me for a week now! Poor kid.)

And I thought wistfully towards the universe, missing Don, too, It would really be good to actually get to see Coopernicus, y’know?

About two hours later, he swooped into sight and landed over there. Then he saw me and flew onto the porch and right outside the window, as close as he could get, and perching on the back of a wooden chair, he looked straight in at me for maybe a minute. You rang?

I was in awe. Our full attention was on each other. Such a beautiful bird, the early afternoon sun giving his colors their full glory. Then at last he turned to do a quick glance around him for a bite, nope, and flew back to where he’d been a moment before: the tree the scrub jays like to fly out of to harass the other birds. He jumped and flew through their best haunts, perfectly mimicking their typical patterns, then over to the top of the shed where they sometimes forage. Showing those guys who’s boss for me.

He was right under that redwood tree. Out in the open and as visible as you could ask for: MINE. All of this. Just like I said.

I don’t think I have to worry about who’s winning. He and his mate always do.

State of the Union
Wednesday January 29th 2014, 12:02 am
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Knit,Politics

Thank you, everybody, I appreciate it; today was a relief after yesterday. I was pretty discouraged there.

Interesting political theater, meantime: watching Congresspeople before the State of the Union address.

One guy, clearly aware there was a camera pointed their way, was smiling quite jovially as Ted Cruz talked to him. Cruz, even seen mostly from the back, clearly was getting more and more intense, jabbing a finger hard in the air, lecturing, the camera lingering to capture the moment while the other guy (dunno who he was) was being easygoing in response.

John McCain was just in front of the two of them and smiling in bemusement at the harangue going on behind him and lifting but not quiiiite entirely rolling his eyes but oh so close as to call it. Then they all sat down for the address and as the camera panned back their way my impression that that had to have been Cruz was confirmed.

I didn’t knit as the President spoke because I was at that indecisive what-to-start-next stage and besides, I didn’t want to miss a word. This was the proverbial and actual Leader of the Free World and I wanted to hear what he had to say.

President Obama laid out the challenges before us, invited Congress to help him meet those challenges and then, acknowledging reality, laid out what he personally was going to do to move us forward. He basically asked them to work together, take the credit for it and run with it.

When my uncle was a freshman in the Senate, there was no one law and in many states, anybody–anybody–could access your medical records for the asking *except you*.  You were legally barred. My uncle’s proposal was for a Federal law saying that other than in specific psychiatric cases where there is clear cause to shield the record, all patients should be allowed to access their own and others would need to meet a standard to do so.

The members of his party were quite upset. This would be a Federal law on something the states should regulate. States’ rights!

Uncle Bob responded by saying Senator (I don’t remember who but a ranking Democrat) is against it.

Oh well in THAT case! And his fellow Republicans rallied behind it.

Then-President Clinton ran with it and took credit for it when he signed it and that’s fine, presidents always do get the blame and the credit, the point was to get it done. Probably nobody outside the family associates my uncle’s name with that law. He doesn’t mind a bit. It needed to happen.

Given today’s political realities, I think any member of Congress willing to buck the trend of intransigence and (just) do their (bleeping) jobs would get quite a bit of personal and political credit from a grateful country.

(I started a Malabrigo Mecha hat during the rebuttals. An easy decision.)

This is what happens when I catch a cold
Monday January 27th 2014, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Lupus

Woken up by sharp chest pain at 3 am. More but less intense several other times later in the morning.The cardiologist told me it didn’t go on long enough for it to be my heart–and a phone call was as close as I was able to get to actually seeing him. Just more lupus hit’n’run stuff no biggy.

The Crohn’s, it snarls.

He told me to go see my family practitioner and I said okay and with that good intention took my fever straight back to bed for most of the day. But I did, at one point, quite deliberately get up and order that last cone of aqua dk silk from Colourmart, a color I like but had not tried yet. Just to make a declaration to myself and to look forward to knitting it. This is just a blip.

Swift and dense
Sunday January 26th 2014, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

Hawks like my Cooper’s fly through dense tree cover to go after their prey, and someone took slow-motion photography of his Northern Goshawk demonstrating in a two and a half minute video how such a big bird could fly through such small places. The Air Slalom team for the win!

(Just finished a cowl despite the return of the fever. I have no idea who it’s for, just a sense that it’s important that it be ready and waiting when I do find out. I’ll wash it when I feel better.)

California gold
Saturday January 25th 2014, 10:56 pm
Filed under: My Garden

A Polar-opposite Vortex. We’ve had our second week of daytime temps in the high 60’s and even 70, 71. Balmy, record-breaking, but also in that this rainy season so far has had the least rainfall in 434 years. Local nurseries now advise a weekly watering of the fruit trees, something we never have to do this time of year.

The buds are beginning to swell on the one-year-old peaches (in January!) with over a hundred of them on this Tropic Snow, my earliest variety.

The plum, cherry, and apples are still dormant. Daylight hours still matter so far. So are two blueberry plants, with the third with lots of little white petalled fists in the air yelling Me, ME! at the teacher. Pick ME! Soon!

Someone explain to me why the green plant back there on the right didn’t die back like it does every winter. Not the oxalis, the, the (it’ll come to me about an hour after I call it a night.) It didn’t even blink. Last January when I planted the peaches I was trying to remember exactly where that stuff was going to be come spring because the bed was bare.

It’s playing Calvinball with me.

It’s going to be an interesting year.

The letter
Friday January 24th 2014, 8:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Remember that day my doorbell rang to my great surprise after I’d blogged about my 20-year-old leaky springform pans that had smoked up the oven when I’d made a batch of chocolate tortes? There was Don’s red minivan in front of my house, Don on the passenger side waving hi, and there at the door was Cliff, holding out two new pans for me to bake from. “Well, I gotta have my chocolate tortes!” grinned his dad when I ran out and gave him a hug.

When Don first became ill, I offered to bring him one so that he could have a slice any time he felt like it; he was appreciative but said he wasn’t allowed to eat it now. I would have offered Cliff directly, but I didn’t want to make it any harder on his dad just then, having a favorite but denied food right under his nose. Not the time.

I got a beautiful letter in the mail today from Cliff. Telling me of his father’s last days. It was pancreatic cancer he had had–I had misheard on the phone, turns out.

Don had reached a hand out to Cliff; Cliff had held it gently in his own for a long time, and finally told his dad he was going to go eat breakfast and then come back to take care of him.

And in the short time Cliff was in the other room, Don, having offered and been given comfort and a last moment of shared presence, slipped peacefully away.

Cliff was grateful for his dad’s long and good life, and promised to let Richard and me know when the memorial service would be. We are honored.

If it would be welcome, and I expect it will be, I will bring chocolate torte. I have good pans for that.

Our beloved Don Meyer
Thursday January 23rd 2014, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Friends,Life

Yesterday was such a sudden and steep dive downwards healthwise that it threw me; there’s always this fear of the Next Big Flare, which might not be treatable the next time, and I was living it. Michelle texted me every 15 minutes: drink! Two sips! She got me through the day.

And then I woke up this morning and I did not barf. My belly ached, but it wasn’t childbirthy now.  I managed eventually to eat something. It helped, and hope breathed a grateful relief. Thank you all for your prayers and for Thinking Good Thoughts.

And then I got up, I could actually get up! and I read my emails.

Don is gone. Home to be with his beloved Amalie again, five years after losing her. But–Don is gone from us.

Our elderly friend ran into me at the grocery store shortly after she passed, fifteen years after I’d last seen him. Their son Cliff had not yet moved back in to take care of him and Don was alone. I gave him my blog address, he became a regular here, and I encouraged him to start his own blog and some of you kept him in good company with your comments and caring, and I will forever be grateful for that.

He passed two days after coming home from the hospital, and the day in between, I called to see how he was doing. Cliff told him who was on the phone and asked if he was up to speaking with me, and Don didn’t hear; “Who?”

I heard that one word and I heard the effort that went into saying it and knew in my bones it was the last thing I would hear from him. It was. Cliff apologized, but I have been at that edge where simply breathing is all you can do–but I had Crohn’s, not cancer.

Goodbye, dear friend, and the rest of you? We’re all going to have to step up on the bad puns to wish him well on his way forward. I’m, I’m, just not coming up with any quite yet. I’m sure I’ll make up for it later.

Boom, just like that
Wednesday January 22nd 2014, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare

A fever last night, the Crohn’s flaring today. It’s brutal. This is the first time I’ve been able to sit up all day. Okay, that’s it, done for now. Hopefully tomorrow will be much better.

Wiley coyote
Wednesday January 22nd 2014, 12:31 am
Filed under: Wildlife

Last month, as I mentioned, it crossed the driveway I was about to turn into at the office. More people have seen it now: Richard’s boss, who took this picture, has happily proclaimed it his guard dog.

The ground squirrels are no longer sauntering around the parking lot.

Pooling our resources
Tuesday January 21st 2014, 12:55 am
Filed under: Knit,Life

I took Michelle to a physical therapy appointment today. Her car is not finished being fixed even yet, and she herself is far from it, although there has been some progress and that is a very good thing. (The speeder was doing over a hundred, the second car saw what was coming and swerved into where Michelle was, Michelle did 360s at 65 mph and while doing so was hit head-on by one of those two as they flipped down the freeway, landing upside down. The driver of the second car is a survivor, too.)

I pulled out my knitting. It was going to be awhile.

An older woman arrived to check in. The room was spacious and grandly lit by two-story windows behind where I sat, the waiting room an atrium. It gave me a chance to observe quietly at a bit of a distance: I loved her long braid that she could almost sit on; my father’s mother’s hair was like that, I’m told. I loved the patience and the wisdom in her face–I wanted to be like that when I grew up, and I imagined her as being one of those argyle-sock knitters of the ’50’s who never stopped loving working with yarn. The ones the hippies learned from.

She glanced my way when she was done at the desk, started to sit down, and I looked up again with a smile as she gave it up and got back up and approached me, just too curious. What WAS I making? (She didn’t quite say, too big for a sleeve, too small for a sweater in the round unless it was baby size, too big even for a hat.)

A cowl, says I, popping it over my head to show her, suddenly glad that I’d used circs that were a bit big for the number of stitches I’d started with–couldn’t have given that little demo with a sixteen-incher, that’s for sure.

Ah yes, of course. And she told me of the senior knitting group she’d gotten started. Most there only wanted to do squares, she said wistfully for what they were missing out on, but, she smiled, you could do a lot with squares.

Yes! I mentioned the Linus Project blanket that had been gifted to my friend’s son after he fell 30 feet from a ski lift–he’s fine now, I hastened to add–and how gobsmacked I was that some knitter somewhere had knitted the very pattern and colorway that I had wanted to knit that family an afghan in. When they needed that comfort, it was there for them.

She took a long breath of deep satisfaction from that. Every stitch matters, she said.

Every stitch is love, I added.

Yes! said she.

And with that she sat down and picked up a magazine. (And I thought, ah, so you’ll be using the pool therapy. I wouldn’t risk  good wool anywhere near chlorine either, yes.)

To Dr. King with love
Sunday January 19th 2014, 11:39 pm
Filed under: History

More important than anything I could say tonight, I would ask that you go read this article in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Sunday January 19th 2014, 1:06 am
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit

Nina’s birthday party. She loved her new silk cowl. We met new and old friends, had a great time…

And coming up our front walkway, Richard heard the beeping of the freezer alarm I made from a Heathkit kit for a college class my senior year at BYU.

Actually, he reminds me, ours was the second one I made, the class assignment one I gave to my folks. Oh right. It had seemed like a good thing to have, and all these years later ours is still working and I imagine theirs is too. He dashed into the garage from the house. (Hey, nobody uses garages to put cars in in California.)

Six hours bounced wide open.

But it actually didn’t appear too terrible. The chicken is now thawing the rest of the way in the fridge and the other things towards the front were berries and the like that could refreeze safely.

But Nina loved her cowl. Which balanced things nicely.

I’ll have some Morro what she’s having
Friday January 17th 2014, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Friends

Build your dream house in Morro Bay, overlooking the huge Morro Rock out in the water, where you can watch the peregrine falcons fishing in the ocean every day, where there’s an incredible weaver’s guild in town pooling resources and knowledge to create college-level coursework towards bettering one’s craft together and you’re an avid weaver (and friend!), enjoying the perfect retirement…

That’s what my friend Nancy and her husband did.  She was in town for a visit and stopped by for a little while this morning, bringing zucchini bread made from zucchinis from her garden. So help me, she looks younger every year. The sea air (couldn’t resist the Sheldon reference) is doing her good. It was great to see her.