Getting to the root of the problem
Thursday March 31st 2011, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Non-Knitting

The boss came.

The idea the other guy floated yesterday about maybe having to jackhammer the entire length of the house? Not so much. The boss ran his camera down and showed me the view on his screen: he’d been able to cut through some of the tree root from the inside and he got things going for now, but there was more there and it was only going to grow; he was going to have to get a permit and whack this big root coming from the flowering pear out front and replace that pipe it was breaking into.

Yup. My tree. And it looked so innocent, holding tight to its snowy-white blossoms through two solid weeks of rain, something it’s never done before.

And then after that root canal, we’ll be done with seeing the plumber as often as the dentist.

The new toilet is in, everything is working, and I can’t tell you how glad I am that all this waited to happen till after I got better.  Taking my long-awaited shower, I thought of all the people in Japan still waiting for theirs.

I went off to Purlescence and knitted among friends tonight in quiet celebration for how good I have it. It felt so good to be back, and they are all such good people there–it had been three weeks and I had missed them keenly. (And Fon, your copy is signed now and going off from there in the mail tomorrow.)

Tap dancing
Wednesday March 30th 2011, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Non-Knitting

At least I got a small shawl project finished while I waited for them to be done and gone. I have to put the word “plumber” in the post here just so next time I do a blogsearch to see how long it’s been, I’ll be able to find it.

Why I was pouring water over my hands over the azaleas in the dark a few minutes ago, to get the sticky off my hands after scooping ice cream, because boy did the evening call for ice cream:

We’re going to need to install a new toilet, ma’am, I’m so sorry. In the morning. We’re going to have to come back. We broke the toilet.

You broke. The toilet.

Yes, ma’am, I’m SO sorry.

So… (After their two hours of work) are the other ones usable now?

No, ma’am, I don’t think so.

(Just covering all my bases here.) So can I take a shower in the morning?

No,  ma’am, I don’t think so. (He probably wanted to scream in frustration, Are you CRAZY? There’s a hole in the floor! But I hadn’t seen that yet.) But my boss, he’s the one who came last time, he’ll be over first thing in the morning any time you want him to come. Um… Are you good friends with your neighbors?

I winced as I guffawed and he groveled, I’m so sorry, ma’am!

Good facetime makes good neighbors
Tuesday March 29th 2011, 10:19 pm
Filed under: Friends,Politics

Justice is blind? The Washington Post reports: Antonin Scalia caused a four-car pile-up this morning on the George Washington Parkway, with a former NBC reporter witnessing from the car behind him.  She says he didn’t brake and that that’s an originalist interpretation.

Karma kaze driver.


I had a really good day today, so I threw out the cabin fever and ran a few errands that had needed doing while I was down. On my way home, I noticed at a light that the person behind me was my next door neighbor. I waved hi. She didn’t notice. Approaching our neighborhood, she turned left.

Well, I thought, for once I’ll get a chance to time the difference between that left and turning here at the light. She gets the stopsigns and the twists in the road; I get the wait and then the straight shot forward.

And then we were facing each other head-on, turning in tandem onto our street. Totally a tie.

I pulled in my driveway and got out laughing, calling over to her as she got out. She’d had no idea she’d been behind me; we chatted a moment, glad for some neighbor time.

“How’s the new grandson?” She has triplet grandchildren, she knew how happy a question that was.

But at one point she had to stop me to just exclaim, “You look FABULOUS!”

I was very surprised and blushed and thanked her and admitted I’d had the flu and had lost some weight the last few weeks. (The bod, it’s a flu-zy around germs, picking up on them constantly, don’t listen to it.)

“You don’t need to lose any weight,” she affirmed–“But you look so young.” She said it again:  “You look FABULOUS!”

I tell you. I can never move away. Not with good neighbors like mine.

Spring in her step and her name
Monday March 28th 2011, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

The San Jose Merc ran an editorial and included this link for telling PG&E’s board of directors what you think of how their company’s being run. Their server was down most of the day when I tried to say my piece, so I saved it, waited till after 5, and it went right in. Coolant heads must prevail.

On a more cheerful note, I love that, by the sound of it, the cops were going to write up a ticket for putting art illegally in public and were going to make them take it down, but wait: you say it’s a craft? Well then! And so we have a yarnbombed London phone booth.

Meantime, my doorbell rang today: a friend with her little girl in her arms, the little one shyly reaching out to me with a fistful of daffodils in one hand, and in the other, a bottle of my favorite mango juice. Just to make sure I’m getting better.

You know that little girl is going to want to do that again to someone else, too–that was fun, Mommy!

It’s the little gestures and thoughtfulness that make it totally feel all better when the big things seem a bit much. Thank you, April!

Make a note of it
Sunday March 27th 2011, 11:22 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

A comment from a friend about patience prompts this.

My brother, years ago and well before he had his own family, told our mom he couldn’t see himself having six kids like she’d had; he just didn’t have the patience.

Mom stared at him and exclaimed, “Where do you think I GOT it!?”

I am here to tell you, he did just fine. (No, not six, but it was the whole future parent thing he was wondering about being good enough for. He’s a great dad.)

When you’re new at something, becoming really good at it can seem unreachable.  Pick up a violin, figure out which hand holds the bow, go play in the orchestra? But even Elizabeth Zimmerman had to knit her first-ever stitch.

Come to think of it, I know a lot of musicians–people who know what it’s like to spend years getting really good at their craft–who are natural-born knitters.  Reading musical notations is a brain exercise of translating from squiggles on a page to finger and hand movements.

Knitting patterns are simply a second language to the hands. Fluency comes with practice.

Saturday March 26th 2011, 9:32 pm
Filed under: My Garden,Wildlife

Remember this post? Our flowering pear has a nest in it for the first time this year. I guess it’s gotten tall enough and full enough. It’s in direct line of sight of the hawk’s, above and across the yard, brave thing–maybe best to keep an eye out. But it’s there, with new life coming to be inside that little leafy home next to ours.

The hawk usually does a low swoop, but today I saw it zoom over towards the redwood from high enough up that I almost missed it.

Last year, though I didn’t say it here because I was asked not to while I was doing it, I was helping man the remotely-controlled cameras trained on the peregrine falcon nest at City Hall in San Jose, a once in a lifetime experience. I was really dedicated to doing the job well.  Eyes glued to the screen, ready to grab and switch from camera to camera and I got really good at anticipating where they would fly next and capturing the scene for all the classrooms and birdwatchers to see. Those baby peregrines have character and they are adorable.

And there was drama: the eyas that died. The father peregrine bowing his head at his son’s body weeks later, standing still for minutes–and then to my surprise trying to push him under the gravel with the top of his head as if to give him a proper burial. Not with his sharp feet or beak but with his soft feathers.

Who knew a bird could behave so?

Neither of the parents ever stepped on his body at the corner of the nestbox. It was sacred ground.

I went to go see them in person and a fledgling hung over the edge of the ledge above as if waving a wing and grinning at the adoring paparazzi below.

But the cams took over my life, six hours some days of my hand hovered over the mouse, ready to click just so, and it left me unable to do more than the most meager amount of knitting. So many computer-induced icepacks. So many things I wanted to do with my life that got put aside. We upgraded our bandwidth to accommodate the streaming.

They asked me last week if I were going to sign in and get started again? They hadn’t heard from me…

I was quite sick, and the effort of pitching in was absolutely undoable just then. That sealed it. They’d had no way to know how much I had given up to be a part of that, incredible an experience though it was. I mentioned that the computer that had had all the sign-in information had died the death and been replaced, in case that made them feel better, because it was with great regret and a tremendous sense of freedom that I told them no–no, I didn’t think so. I did hedge and offer to do emergency backup, but that’s not what they wanted. And that was that.

This year (thank you Dad and Richard!) I have my Sibley guides. I have my birdsongs (thank you to our son Richard and Kim!) I’m learning about my own birds right here, learning their personalities and quirks, being befriended by the wrens and awed almost daily by those Cooper’s hawks. Paying attention.

How many times did I not see them because I couldn’t look up from the screen last year?

I was given a great privilege that I’m very grateful to have had, and now I have fledged and discovered my own home.

Los Gatos Birdwatchers
Friday March 25th 2011, 9:18 pm
Filed under: Friends,Wildlife

I knew they did this but had never really asked about it before, but it was time. I called the Los Gatos Birdwatcher shop a few days ago and asked about their delivery days. No way no how was I going to be able to get myself down there nor would they want me to.

And so it was that on yet another rainy day today, my doorbell rang and I ran and opened quick as one of the shop owners stood trying to hold my heavy bag of non-sprouting no-millet no-hulls no-mess sunflower birdseed out of the drips. John offered to put it anywhere I wanted and I motioned to right there just inside the door, thank you so much.

And he handed me my little suet cake.  I keep one hanging and another for crumbling into bits where the Bewick’s wrens can reach, replenishing the supply when the one black squirrel that’s taken a liking to it goes after it. (The others wrinkle their whiskers and go ewww, dude, you *eat* that stuff? But in normal life all I have to do is reach over and touch the supersoaker and he’s out of there.)

Although when I was too ill to manage doing even that, I saw one wren actually fly up to the caged one, alternating stabbing away and frantically looking down at the ground and around. Munching high up on the vertical was clearly not in its comfort zone–but one must eat.

Since I’ve been up and about and more helpful again, that’s been the end of that tomfowlery.

John asked if I were doing better now; yes, mostly, but still, I promised not to breathe on him. (Ignoring the autoimmune side to things–but that is indeed thankfully easing off too.)

And it struck me afterwards that just being asked by someone to whom it clearly mattered made me take stop and take stock and think to myself, Wait–it’s true, I AM a whole lot better. Remember Tuesday? And and? And the Tuesday before? Honey, I got nothin’ to complain about.

Just a little moment in a life.  And yet the way he carried it out was beautiful: he wasn’t just delivering a product, he was serving and doing for me what I could not at that moment do for myself, and serving with grace. For my birds too.  Glad to help. There they were, just outside the glass that is the back wall, chattering away at the feeders, and he looked over at them and smiled.

Shame he didn’t get to see the Cooper’s.  But just imagine all the birds he could tell about.

Thursday March 24th 2011, 9:45 pm
Filed under: Knit,Wildlife

At first glance as the page opens, it’s a rusted-out skeleton of a very old car with its license plate falling off out of sheer age and neglect. Then you look a little closer… Czech it out! If it were another nationality, we could call it an American I-doily singing in the rain.

Spent some time knitting, coming up with a whole cool new lace idea, putting the project at hand aside to go swatch and go write, not finished tweaking, glad I could do a bit more now. Getting there. Mostly.  Since March 15th I’ve lost seven pounds I really didn’t need to lose, but this morning it had stabilized.

Just please keep that Crohn’s away from me.  If tonight is like last night in reaction to eating a good dinner, (look, Ma! no Zofran!), I’m calling my GI.

The Cooper’s hawk swooped in and landed behind me in the late afternoon during a brief break in the rain, the misted sunlight intensifying the colors in her feathers. Gorgeous. We regarded each other a few minutes.  I think things are going to be okay.

(Ed. to add Friday evening: last night was a far better night than Wednesday night. Thank heavens.)

Lovely, read it, meter made
Wednesday March 23rd 2011, 8:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

He answered the phone. “You want me to hand it to her?” And then he continued listening, and then talking, and then finally held out the phone, telling me my doctor wanted to talk to me.  Acknowledging afterwards she’d wanted to talk to him first.

Because apparently I would give too cheerful a spin on things.


But no! Really! I woke up with a temp of 99 and able to stand upright this morning for the first time since this started. (Just don’t push it too long.) I guess all we had to do was buy that blood pressure meter to make my bp stay up enough. (Gotta love that $1.62/ounce breakdown on that price. Doesn’t everybody buy electronics by the pound? So, how cheap would that make an Ipad2…?)

Note in the reviews that there were some complaints that the thing read too high. Note that some of those reviews are answered by others gently saying, you need to read the instructions. Palm up…

And the best? Who knew 5.5 mm rosewoods were so heavy, but, I got about 400 stitches knitted tonight. It felt like I was reclaiming a part of myself.

As the phone call was ending, Richard was going, Ups and downs, ups and downs.

“Did he say ups and downs?”

Yes he did. But I’m ready to stay at the ups.

I’ve got me a good one
Tuesday March 22nd 2011, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Family

Nearly repeated last Tuesday, at 102.5, but Richard came home and saved the day so no IVs after all. Tylenol, Zofran, Gatorade, fluids fluids fluids.

And then he went out and bought a blood pressure cuff that you don’t have to hear to be able to use. My mornings will be measured.

That man is my hero.

While it’s quiet around here
Monday March 21st 2011, 8:18 pm
Filed under: Life

If you haven’t discovered her yet, I highly recommend Sharon Randall: her writing, and, simply, her. Her column used to run in our paper, and for years, till it fell apart, I kept a particular one on our whiteboard. (I had a description of it up but it didn’t at all do it justice so I’m deleting it.)

Her columns continue on her website, and I just thought I’d mention. I love that she’s got a first grandson just a little older than mine.

Oh, and as for Richard catching my germs? Apparently they gave him a one-night scam.

Not so linear
Sunday March 20th 2011, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Life

I’m someone who can walk around with 80/40 blood pressure, so I’m not sure what it is with this ongoing get down quick before you fall down thing all morning.

I picked up a Little Dee book to make myself laugh after a fairly long day.  I’m looking forward to knitting my Lisa Souza cashmere/silk when I have the oomph to wind it up. It’ll come.

Richard’s hoping he’s not coming down with this…

So our friend Phyllis brought us dinner and tailored it around what I can eat, with pecan brownies to cheer him up. She’s a peach!

Hunter gathering
Saturday March 19th 2011, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

The gorgeous Cooper’s hawks came hunting twice today; I’m getting to where I can tell them apart by size. Male raptors are always smaller than the females.

It had been raining all day but suddenly there was a brief break.

A small flock of house finches was squabbling at the feeder, red-breasted males and brown soft-striped females all vying for the highest spot as always, while four mourning doves below were sharing peacefully close to the window, where I’d thrown a little seed just for them over where the concrete was dry after taking this picture.

All other species seemed to suddenly be hiding.

Usually, the doves pretty much ignore the flighty little finches, but not this time; there was a sudden flash of dash above and a millisecond behind they too took off.

But they are big and they are slow and they are clearly more worth the effort of the hunt (and there’s a reason why they reproduce more often than the others); the female hawk did a tight u-turn right outside this window as she veered after them.

And gone.

Now, if we could just put another window in that one bedroom so I could see through it in the direction the chases always seem to go… (Can’t. Would make those walls less earthquake safe. Not to code. I asked once.)

A little while later, three doves were feeding near me by the window and the finches too came back. A western jay was going after the hanging nutcake, his killer beak long and thick and sharp and sturdy as he jackhammered off what he wanted.

I looked at the little dove below, noted how tiny and thin its bill was, and thought, yeah, if dinner might fight back, honey, you do lose.

Then the view went silent again. Nothing out there but me and the now-downpouring rain, looking out at empty trees. Take your shoes off at the door, folks, they’re muddy.

The male Cooper’s swooped across the yard, long and low, wings and tail wide, raising up at the last second to the top of the fence.  He did the little tail twitch that comes with settling in.

Only–I was facing his way watching him. And there wasn’t a thing to eat.

This would not do.

He raised one foot just a bit.  Put it down. Then the other. Shook a river of water out of his feathers and channeled it down his back. He turned his head this way and that over and over as he shifted his weight again from foot to foot, looking for all the world like a little boy hauled before the principal–knowing I was there but refusing to look up at me, wanting to be the one having it his way.

Dude. You plunked yourself in the most visible spot in the fence.

Suddenly something caught his eye and he dove down the other side, and whatever he was after had to be right there because there is just no extra space at that spot.

And just to the left, I knew, was the neighbors’ garden. Which, they showed me in delight once, being fellow enthusiasts themselves, the birds like to tear leaves out of to build their nests.

My Coopers probably shared dinner close to their own. I wonder if it’s the big nest in the towering silk oak. I wonder how many young they’ll raise this year. I wonder if the Cooper’s I saw perched on the lightpole at the end of Tennyson Street was one of theirs…

My dear husband went out to buy groceries today, the hood on his jacket pulled down low  over his face as he dashed to the car. Twice, actually, after missing an item.  We will now have our chicken soup.

And we have settled into our warm, dry, but empty nest, knowing that baby birds will hatch soon and we’ll get to see them, too.

And then
Friday March 18th 2011, 9:21 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

This morning had my Dr R’s old phrase ringing in my ears: “Progress is nonlinear.”

Uh, yeah.

Note to self: do not faint in the bathroom (nope, nothing got hurt) in the middle of changing the ileostomy dressing. Just–trust me, don’t. Richard laughed a few minutes later when he came in the room, which was exactly the comic relief I needed just then. He’s a treasure.

Meantime, my friend Teena brought more flowers, another card, homemade cookies, and some mango sherbet. I am ready for this germ to get out of here, but meantime, again, I am well taken care of and very grateful.

I’m catching up on some book reading; today, Blink by Malcolm Gladwell and I quite recommend it. Oh, and Don, you grew up in San Francisco, the video here is for you: a tornado today just off Ocean Beach! Or, more technically and in Eensy Weensy Spider terms, a waterspout.

Day three
Thursday March 17th 2011, 9:17 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends

Well, I was at this stage.

And then I got all these messages from my readers–you lifted me up more than I can say.  Thank you.

Our kids called or messaged home, as did various other family members.  You know that did me much good.

And today my friend Kathryn emailed and asked what she could do. Could she, say, doorbell-ditch some ice cream for me?

And I, Haagen-Daz right in front of me, had to tell her, Sorry, Richard scooped you.

Marguerite called and refused to be brushed off. I told her Richard was working from home, keeping close tabs on me.

No, but what do you crave? I need to *do* something!

Honestly? I’d love one of those little (I was thinking 8 oz) bottles of mango juice from Trader Joe’s. But it’s not worth the trip just for that one little thing, don’t feel you have to.

She showed up on my doorstep with a quart of it and flowers.

I have so many good people around me buoying me up–we both do–both in person and by phone and online. I feel well taken care of and very very fortunate on all counts.

My first dinner since Monday stayed down.  It was small, but, hey, and the ice cream did too.

And I’m a lot closer to feeling like this.