Trying to scare up a little dinner for them?
Thursday April 13th 2017, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus,Mango tree,Wildlife

That time before sundown, when the squirrels have turned in for the night and the birds have the feeder area to themselves. When the UV level is zero and the outdoors is mine. I really like it.

It’s also when the temps start dropping enough that it’s time to go cover the mango tree for the night.

There are two steps to this: the first, covering the top of the two stakes with bubble wrap rolled and taped together, both to protect the frost covers from tearing on the ends and to lift the covers above the close-to-budding parts of the tree–they are growing straight up now but will droop down later to support their (hoped-for) fruit as it grows. (No President’s Day storms to whip them all off the tree this time, okay?)

I opened the door to start the preliminaries, scattering a dove and a junco. As I walked across the yard, I saw a large gray wide-winged bird well overhead, flying from the direction of the redwood in Neighbor A’s yard across us to the silk oak in Neighbor B’s yard.

Several years ago my kids gave me a Cornell Labs book for Christmas that not only listed American bird species, it had a recording for each, and the one for the Cooper’s hawk was said to be of one defending its territory or nest. (From a researcher wielding a mic, no doubt.)

A prolonged protest as I neared the mango, which stands next to where the hawks like to perch on the fence: it let me have it.

And I *heard* it!!! It was pitched two notes higher than Cornell’s but that sequence and length were unmistakable. (From Wikipedia: the males are higher-pitched than the females. Curious.)

I walked back across the yard and likely out of its sight under the awning, then reappeared again with the first frost cover and walked back towards the little tree–and again it demanded I know that I was intruding and this would not do. And I imagine it wanted its dove back.

It was coming from the redwood tree, quite close. So there were two present, then. Cool.

I got the cover over, then the second, but decided I would check the weather report and put off doing the third layer for now and let them be. (I did end up adding it later–it’s cold out there.)

After all this time I finally got to hear my Cooper’s hawks! And I think I know where they’ve moved their nest to this year, now. Away, at last, from where the corvids congregate when the silk oak is feeding them while the hawk chicks are being raised. Good.



Joel Drucker
Wednesday April 12th 2017, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus

We had a speaker at our lupus group today: Joel Drucker, there to talk about his experiences with his wife having had lupus, the ways in which they coped–together–

–until.

He coped with her death by putting her into writing and continues to heal now by sharing his story with others. (And by the way, if you see this, Joel, that quote from Dr. Rachel Remen my brain blanked out on? “Meaning is the language of the soul.”)

He had close friends who’d known his wife and would have had every incentive to read his book, and yet. They just couldn’t quite…

He knew that we wouldn’t be put off by it, and he was right. One woman said, We have faced death many times and come back, and heads nodded around the room.

(Me, I just have to find out where our long-misplaced Kindle is so I can finally read it.)

My childhood friend Karen years ago gave Richard a copy of Mainstay, by Maggie Strong. Strong, whose husband had MS, wrote that there were many books out there for those who are ill but she’d found nothing for those who love them, for those who are their caregivers on one level and yet are trying to still maintain a co-equal balance in a marriage.

At one point Joel said that after (if I heard right) seven years, it was thinkable at last to consider remarrying. And yet, all those shared memories: no new relationship could have those.

“It would be like stepping into the middle,” I said.

“Exactly!”

And yet. I told him that he was a deeply good man and he would do well when he did take that step.

He looked at me, taking in the measure of what I’d just said. “You met me forty-five minutes ago and you’re saying that about me?” (Like, how do you know I’m good?)

Joan had loved him that much. And I had just been learning how much he loved Joan. Case closed.



Turn a route is fare, pay
Tuesday April 11th 2017, 10:32 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Lupus,Politics

If you can stand another United story to go with all the others out there after they beat up a doctor for refusing to be bounced from a flight because he said he needed to see his patients in the hospital in the morning. Two days later he was still in the hospital himself. (United’s own carrier contract I am told says that once you’re boarded in your reserved seat it’s yours.)

“Because it arrived at the time you wanted.”

That was the excuse United gave me for what they’d done.

Remember that bit of a whine over the price of the airfare to San Diego for this past weekend? When I was booking tickets a month ago, I blinked at Southwest’s cheapest “Wanna Get Away” fare that was over twice the usual and googled to see what else might be out there.

United’s fare was better. Huh. Okay, so I typed in the specific airports I wanted to leave from and go to, SJC to SAN, and what time I wanted to get to San Diego by: the kids had wanted Grampa to see Parker’s 9:00 game. (Grandma here crashed on the couch for that, safely out of the sun and needing that nap and everybody understood.)

Top of the page their site took me to, it said San Jose to San Diego in big letters, with a list of flights below. Alright, then. Did I want to buy insurance against having to change or cancel my tickets? $40, but with my health, I had to say yes. (Southwest doesn’t charge you for changes or cancellations; they apply your fare to future flights if you’ve gone with the cheapest, non-refundable option. United stiffs you while reselling your seat unless you’ve shelled out that extra.)

I hit confirm to both and only then did it say I was booked for SNA. Orange County. Two hours away. That’s the same thing, right?

I got on the phone immediately and made them deal with my deafness and demanded that they refund that ticket instantly. This was so deceptive. This was an unbelievably bad user interface and why in this day and age hadn’t they fixed it? Right there at the top of the page in bold, it said I was booking for San Diego. Unbelievable.

They did refund me instantly but said I’d have to undo the insurance through a separate company. They, too, said they’d make good on it. Okay, but this should never have happened.

“Because it arrived at the time you wanted.” Never mind that the time to get set up with a rental car and then drive it south for two hours meant that there was no physical chance of getting off that flight and getting ourselves to San Diego by, y’know, the time we said we wanted to be there. I asked again why it offered me the wrong flight and they said because they didn’t have one directly to there at that time so they redirected me to one that did land at that time.

The mind, it boggles.

We flew Southwest.



Happy Birthday, Hudson!
Sunday April 09th 2017, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

So we were all awake till about 1:30 a.m. Friday after that accident and had to get up before 5 a.m. Saturday for Richard’s and my flight.

I went to set the long-unused alarm clock–unused because no matter how nicely loud it is for me, the bright green numbers light up the whole room. Who thought making it like that was a good idea? (Why haven’t I replaced this?)

It was dead. Great. I set my iPhone to go off next to me, knowing how tired we were, knowing I wouldn’t hear it, knowing Richard would probably sleep through it and really really not wanting to miss both our flight and Hudson’s fourth birthday.

And so I woke up at 4:15 a.m. (the third time I did) for worrying about it and called it a night.

We had so much fun playing with the grandkids. Somehow we found the energy. We sang Happy Birthday at random intervals all day and played with their toys with them and bounced on their rented bounce house (I did, anyway) and read them books and ate pizza with them and made them the center of our universe for every moment we could. We loved seeing how fantastic our son and Kim are at raising great kids. There was a party in the afternoon, their friends and Kim’s family came, and Maddy even let me push her on the swing. She is inexplicably now two.

There was an unusually late return flight available this time and we’d booked it so as to get as much time with the kids as we could. (It seems normally people want to fly TO San Diego on weekends, not away from it in the middle of one.)

Turns out there was a major league baseball game between teams there and here (and that also explains why all the airfares were so stunningly high. Who knew the airlines track the major sports games. Oh wait.)

We got home close to midnight.

We kept our eyeballs open through church (I did, anyway), came home, got just enough food down and at long last crashed like a toddler after a birthday party.

So glad we got to go.



Smash hit
Friday April 07th 2017, 9:14 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

There was a big storm last night and Michelle’s plane got delayed, and delayed, and delayed, until we looked at the hour and though I almost always go with him to see one of the kids coming in, I begged off this time: we were going to have to get up at 5 am Saturday and then play with the grandkids all day and I just couldn’t safely do that level of sleep deprivation and fatigue two days in a row–I’d long been warned about triggering potential seizures from my multiple head injuries.

No problem, and he headed out into it alone. He expected to get home maybe twelve-thirty if he was lucky.

I, meantime, said a prayer for his safety. Routine stuff.

And then since I couldn’t sleep, but at least I was getting some much-needed rest, I said more prayers for his safety, with no worry, no sense of alarm, just, he took good care of me, please take good care of him; I trusted him to God.

He didn’t see the cars ahead spin out and crash in the rain but he did see the one that was sideways across his lane and stopped well behind it. He saw the driver of that sideways car standing by her driver’s side door.

BAM!!!!!!!

Someone coming up behind had at the last seen Richard’s brake lights and though both bumpers were surely destroyed under those plastic covers (the other guy’s has a very fetching nose ring now, ours, a hoop earring), he had at least braked in time to save both of them from being seriously hurt.

They pulled off the road and exchanged information, and while they were doing so they did not see it but they heard it: someone rear-ended the not-sideways car.

Not the woman’s who’d been standing in the lane of traffic (don’t DO that!) on the other side of her car, which had no lights across the side and gave no warning to those coming up.

Richard’s brake lights very likely saved her life–that and the fact that he was paying attention to the road.

And had I been with him when he was hit, given that I stopped breathing when I was hit in the back of the head in December and had to will myself to live, I’m not sure I’d still be here typing this had I been in that car.

He’s a little sore but says he’s basically okay.

Please. Drive safely.



Stealth knitting
Thursday April 06th 2017, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Someone happened to say something about someone she was worried about and with that sense of freedom that comes with having just finished a big project, even the ends run in, suddenly I knew I had to interrupt the queue: “A cowl wouldn’t take too long. What are her favorite colors?” Clearly this needed to happen.

The mutual friend was blown away, and came away going, I need to knit. I need to take lessons from you. I need to learn to knit!

I grinned that I’d be happy to teach her.

Meantime she’s got some sleuthing to do. She’s right on it.



Cheaper than cotton
Wednesday April 05th 2017, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

At upper left, the branch the squirrel twirled around. The tent and the cinnamon are doing their job at keeping it away now.

Meantime, drying, a tunic sweater that was too vivid and too orange for my neurons–but it was a return with $200 knocked off the price. And the fit was so perfect.

I gave it a gentle wash and then put about a heaping teaspoon of black dye in the dyepot, got it up to a good simmer, and gave it my constant attention for a half hour and then another five minutes just to be sure it had gotten enough heat.

The camera notwithstanding, it is darker than shown and there are no blotches, no streaks, just an even dyeing throughout–and best of all, it’s much softer than it was. I’m guessing that the manufacturer cut a corner and didn’t wash the spinning mill oils out of the yarn they were using. That surprises me, given where it came from. It was a cashmere sweater but its hand was not anything to particularly want to write home about, and I’m guessing that’s why someone returned it.

Now, though. Wow. This is what they could have been selling, what they actually were selling, but how will their customers know that? Dry Clean Only does such sweaters no favors, either–it harshens the fibers. A gentle hand wash in lukewarm water is always the way to go. (And doing so can recover a dry-cleaned one.)

Now it feels like what it should have all along. Those goats had reason to be proud and I’m glad I took the chance on it.



The English Morello
Sunday April 02nd 2017, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes) mashes up with Berkeley Breathed (Bloom County) for April Fools here.

I rather wish I’d planted a semi dwarf rather than an ultra dwarf–it grows so slowly. On the plus side, we’ll always be able to reach the cherries and it’s starting its third year and I can still fit a bird netting tent over it.

Looks like we should get quite a few this year. It’s not even in full bloom yet.

(What I really want to blog about is how powerful Elder Holland’s talk in General Conference was Saturday, radiating love and compassion and inclusion, but I’m waiting for the lds.org site to be updated so I can find individual talks.)



And maybe next time she’ll say this to someone who needs it
Saturday April 01st 2017, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Life

I got my groceries into the back seat, got in my car, turned on the lights, and put it in reverse.

And found myself staying right there.

I turned the car off, turned the lights off, took my foot off the brakes, and leaned out as I opened the car door. I knew if I didn’t ask it would bug me for a long time to come. I have a friend who had someone intervene when she most needed it, you never know…

The whole time she’d been standing there that same way and it was just–odd.

“Are you okay?” I hoped I didn’t sound nosey nor worried, just one woman checking for another’s sake out here in the dark. “Can I help?”

The tall thin blonde woman who had been resolutely facing away from everyone and holding very silent and still, even when a male Trader Joe’s cart herder tried to send a cheery hello her way as he excused himself going around her, turned her head this time to see who was talking to her.

“I’m waiting for my ride,” she said flatly and she turned back to staring at her cart motionlessly with her arms tucked in. After an 81 degree day it was by no means cold.

“Okay,” and I closed the door, turned the car and lights back on, and that was that.

Maybe everything was peachy.  But I figured letting someone know someone else cared is always a good thing–and hopefully makes it easier for them to open up to the next person when they really do need help.



And with that, March is over
Friday March 31st 2017, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Life,Politics

Finally got that car in today, now that I wasn’t waiting for repairmen or appointments.

Oil change, routine stuff, and… a cracked drive belt. Caught before it could leave us stranded on the side of the road. Good thing.

Oh and? My one request of the universe right now would be that it not be an April Fool’s joke–and he did post it March 31, not April 1: George Takei announced on his Facebook page that he just bought a house in Devin Nunes’ district to run against him next year.

May he live long so we’ll all prosper.



Taxes
Thursday March 30th 2017, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Life

One phone call in the morning to clarify a question and then I think we’re done. And it’s not even April.

I typed that, read it, and went, Hah! Oh wait. That printer we’ve been putting off replacing–time’s up. Got to be able to print these out. Okay, so, almost done!

(p.s. If you got the same email I did about a sale on some jadeite/merino/silk yarn and had the same reaction of, what the heck is jadeite like? I found this. Yow. I guess if you’re going for the politician’s proverbial asbestos suit… )



Thank you Mike at Speedy Appliance
Wednesday March 29th 2017, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Life

The sweet, sweet sound of a working washing machine these past eight hours. The guy was a gem and he knew his stuff.

I’ve wondered from time to time how we would do after a major earthquake and the potential disruptions to water and power–this past week was a small glimpse. So I am all the more grateful to be able to hear sudsy water swishing back and forth and the ding as the load finishes.

Mike even pulled out my dryer and checked the outtake to make sure all was well there. No charge, just doing it because he could–and he mentioned that given the angle it should be kept forward a bit from the wall.



That drawing I won, with the tickets and the parking and the food
Tuesday March 28th 2017, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Life

Richard took a break during a break and she came down beside me at row 11 a moment.

We both did complete double takes: “Oh my goodness!” in unison. She told me she thought she’d go strike up a conversation with the woman several rows below with the white hair who was knitting during the down times, having no idea it was me.

We couldn’t hear much more than that, either one of us, and gave up but we did get a good hug in later on the way out. An old Purlescence friend. Good times.

So I have now see my first game of ice quidditch. The Sharks were ahead, then down, then won in a stunning overtime that–wait–you mean there aren’t four quarters? It really is over? Oh okay.



The fix of the day at the break of day
Monday March 27th 2017, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

Dawn today was officially at 7:00 am sharp.

After waking up at 5:30 because my subconscious was afraid I wouldn’t hear the alarm, at ten of I turned on the outside light, opened the door, and waved at the work van to let Mr. Chavez know I was ready whenever he was.

We walked around the house to the culprit and he quickly determined it was indeed the thermocouple. He showed me how he could tell this was so and noted the GE model and said it was particularly bad for those going out–his own, he’d had to do this twice already, every three years. So we would probably have to do it again, but meantime, the heater was built in 2013–it definitely had life left in it. He noted that some manufacturers have moved away from thermocouples altogether, for the next time we’re in the market. You’ll want to get one of those.

And then he got to it.

Well, as long as I was already outside at that hour I decided to do what I’ve known for a long time I should do but really really had no particular desire to get up early to do: I walked around the fruit trees and the–what are those big leafy plants along the raised border called again–and picked off the snails and crushed them. I’d done this at evening many times but wow, at the break of day is definitely when they’re out.

The copper tape around the base of the trees meant I only found two small ones in one tree where they’d climbed the grass over the barrier; the rest were in those big juicy green border-plant leaves.

As he worked they started heading downwards into hiding for the day, with me going oh no you’re not.

The trick is not to push your hair out of your face with the hand you pick them up with (this hand, snails, that hand, hair.) A few of them, um, panicked at being grabbed.

It was a near thing a time or two.

He finished up, I paid him, I waited the half hour he said to… And then another just to make absolute sure.

That was the best best best shower in a long time. Thank you Bernie Chavez.

(Washing machine repairman: Wednesday.)



A nest to feed
Sunday March 26th 2017, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

The hawk swooped barely above a squirrel’s head on the fence to let it know who was boss and landed halfway down the birdnetting tent over the still-tiny sour cherry tree. The tent flinched but held and with a shuffle of feet so did he. I really need a decent-sized tree over there and rather regret having put in an ultradwarf, but the new pomegranate next to it is likely to put on some height soon to make up for it.

My phone rang and I reached for it, breaking the spell of the moment, and he took off.

Later, a solitary dove landed under the bird feeder when not even a squirrel was visible. I thought, that’s perfect for him–but for you, not so much. Don’t you know…?

I went back to what I was doing.

I looked up just as the enormous Cooper’s wings flapped wide in a hard turn right there as its feet simultaneously grabbed the dove falling backwards from the window. Bird yoga. The hawk flew hard with it, slightly wobbly as it made its grip sure, across the open yard swooping low then up at the last over the fence and steeply back downwards, whether to the ground or up again to the cover of the neighbors’ trees (which is more likely) I don’t know. The ravens would steal it in an instant if they saw and he would know where they would be and where they could see. I never took my eyes off him but I had no idea where he’d gone. He’s good.

He watches everything.

Chavez is coming at 7 am and we should have fully hot water in that tank by mid-morning.