It’s Sam’s birthday
Friday April 15th 2011, 11:33 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Wildlife

A day of extremes.

It’s my daughter Sam’s birthday. We had a good time talking on the phone and I am very proud of the fine woman she is.

I’ve been pretty sure we had a family of towhees nesting in the azalea bushes outside the front door; they’ve grown in pretty dense, making a good cover for ground birds. I’ve seen an adult dart in or out a number of times, possibly the same one that came in the house once.

And so I was going out to my car to run an errand in the late afternoon when coming around the corner I suddenly stopped as a small bird suddenly stopped, looking big-eyed up at me.

Wait–it’s a–but towhees don’t come that small.  Oh wait!

Wow. Cute!

It was probably on its first walk out of the azaleas. And I was probably the first non-parent creature it had ever seen. I must have looked incredibly big. No wonder it stopped and stared.  Grandma! What big eyes I have! But then it darted under my car, and I found myself getting down to see if it had moved enough that it would be safe for me to drive out of there. I don’t think it was old enough to fly quite yet.

All was well. I ran my errand.

On my way home, a cop car suddenly went flying past me, lights and sirens. A speeder ahead? But no, he wasn’t pulling anyone over, he was in a hurry, not reckless but definitely not lollygagging.

And I soon found out why: the commuter train that runs alongside the road I was on was stopped. Oh no please no.

Caught in the backup, I eventually managed to turn left and cut through the neighborhoods, not wanting to rubberneck, so much not wanting to see.

But I did see that there were a lot of emergency vehicles. I hoped that meant there was hope.

A retirement-age couple from out of town simply in an unfamiliar place. One froze in fear, one lived. My heart so goes out to them.

My neighbor had been there too and he saw far more than I did. By randomness we crossed paths and he was grateful for the chance to tell and to grieve and that I knew enough of what had happened to be there for him. I’ve never seen him so vulnerable. Love your dear ones.

I decided to take up my friend Diana’s longstanding offer to attend her knitting group, needing to escape; I’d never gone because the distance was just too much. But sometimes— Bag the miles. Just go.

I got there late and stood behind Diana, whose back was to the entrance, and grinned till one of her friends finally told her to turn around.

She did–and screamed! And leaped out of her chair and threw her arms around me! We hadn’t seen each other since Stitches and the Stitches before that. About time! About time. She was SO thrilled to see me, so happy I’d come.

I can’t tell you how much good she did me. And Sylvia too, an old friend who helped make space for me between the two of them.

And I read Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s blog post today. If ever you need a healing post, that one wins, it’s lovely. My thanks to all who pitched in to knit for that new baby and her family.

I want all my family right here right now being hugged by me. Richard is here. I’ll start with him.

A Penny for his thoughts
Thursday April 14th 2011, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,LYS

A new picture of my grandson Parker–he smiles now! And here’s what he looked like about the time we saw him two months ago.

So here’s the shawl story.

A few months ago I was at Knit Night when Sandi, one of the owners of Purlescence, handed me a bag of yarn and said quietly, “You’ll know what to do with this.”

Four skeins of sparkly Kidsilk Night and some Fino baby alpaca/silk laceweight to match.

I near-instantly did–all I had to do was glance around the room and see Penny in her soft shade of purple, her favorite color: Penny is one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. It would be so cool to get to surprise her with something and blame it all on our mutual good friend.

I got Sandi to the far side of the room a little later, knowing that my idea of what other people can hear or not is always a little shaky but I gave it a try; I wanted to make sure she thought it was the right choice for what was, really, her yarn.

She was thrilled. Perfect!

Between chemo caps and all kinds of other things with more of a deadline, it waited. That and, I kept swatching cool new lace ideas using other yarns, wanting to make the most bestest perfectest wow-iest shawl ever, not wanting to waste the Kidsilk but not knowing how it would look in it either, then. You can’t frog Kidsilk–whatever you do, that’s what it is.

So in the end I decided enough with this indecision and went with lace patterns I already knew well, and it was the right choice.  It’s perfect.

Sandi was again thrilled tonight as I handed the finished shawl around the room. Penny wasn’t there, though; she had a cold and she was being careful not to share it. But her husband, who spins and weaves, did come, and after his turn holding it up and admiring it he stood up and came over, holding it out.

“What are you giving that back to me for?”

I looked at him steadily as I said that.  He did a doubletake. I got the delight of watching it dawn in his face and then to see the joy in his eyes as he suddenly looked forward to sharing it with his beloved wife when he got home. I got a glimpse of the deep love that defines who that good man is.

I could not have asked for better than that. I felt almost an intruder in the moment, and blessed for it. I owe him my thanks.

Later in the evening, another couple came in, new parents who’d gone through the process of becoming certified to be foster parents, who were surprised instead with a call by their social worker offering them a newborn for adoption. Which is what they’d most wanted but never dared dream for.

I got to meet their new daughter tonight. Six pounds something is just so tiny. And so perfect. And they are so in love with her!

As were we all all around the room.

Y’know, she might need a tiny hat or something… (Superwash, superwash. Well, I know I’ve got some in blue…!)

It’s a no-show for you, little one
Wednesday April 13th 2011, 11:27 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Wildlife

I know, it’s a sheep shot. But that sheep–always raising a racket, always chasing after those little birdies. I tell you. He was a baaah’dmutton.

The knitting: I started to cast off, stopped, switched to a different size needle and tried to undo those first few kid-mohairy stitches. I could just hear Natalie and Nat King Cole’s famous duet: “Unfroggetable…”

And then there’s LynnM’s description of my backyard as San Franserengeti. Love it.

So. The ends are run in. It is blocking, and like lace always does, it went from looking like not all that much to absolutely glorious.  It’s finished!

And on a wildlife note: I’ve been taking the main birdfeeder in the last few nights, putting it back up first thing when I get up. Trying to discourage the squirrels. They can’t get much but they can shake some out if they go at it sideways and they get a real pinata party going in the early mornings.

So last night I pulled a chair out from under the picnic table and set it to the far side of the thing so I could step up to reach.

When our kids were little, my husband set up a hidden timer on the TV (the few years we owned one so that I could have Sesame Street on while cooking dinner.) The idea was, they could only watch under supervision.

We got up one Saturday morning to find a certain small child had pulled his pillow off his bed, pulled out the knob on the TV, and had gone back to sleep, baby blanket up to his chin, waiting for the show, any show, to come on.  He was snoozing away when we came in the family room and saw the test patterns on the screen. This may have been a factor later in the non-replacing of the decades-old TV.  (Ahem. Test patterns around here are made by me now.)

This morning there were rows of finches on the branches tied by the pole, facing left towards the empty spot, waiting. And facing to the right, with empty air between them where the food should have been–a small black squirrel. Perched on the top of the back of that chair. Staring, just staring at that spot, refusing to let even my coming around the corner deter it, fervently willing what it couldn’t have anyway to reappear.  Pulling its tail around it for a blanket in the brisk morning air, needing a pillow to complete the scene.

I made sure to spill just a few seeds for it when I wasn’t looking. Just a few.

(Ed. to add.) Speaking of scenes: if you want to see some really cool bird photos, you’ve got to see Glenn Nevill’s site.

In the Zone
Tuesday April 12th 2011, 8:56 pm
Filed under: LYS,Wildlife

I’m on a tight knitting deadline and had done thousands of stitches on one of my shawl patterns today when I stopped to give my hands a break and just gaze out the window a little while.

My jaw was suddenly…  My stars.  (!) We are not in Cooper’s town anymore.

Cooper’s? 31″ wingspan. And no sign of them all day.

This immense black hawk swooped low across the yard, rising up at the last and landing on the translucent awning over the patio. I watched its shadow from below as it walked noisily across up there, going left, then right. It leaned over the awning to give me a good look at its face–it was looking at the birdfeeder and within a dozen feet of where I was sitting just inside the window. Definitely a hawk, but black? And since when do hawks come that huge?

It was checking out the menu, I guess; squirrels would make a tasty appetizer. (And guess which one was the only thing that stayed put?)

And then, as I followed every move, just waiting to see it clearly again for more details, it took off and swooped back the way it had come, those immense black wings spread wide. WOW.

A Zone-tailed Hawk (the one on the right, definitely). By the book, it’s 51″ tip to tip–it could reach every note on my piano and then some.

They are rare enough and very rare here but there it was, tail and coloring confirming. Sibley’s western guide, again, says that in flight they apparently can be mistaken by other birds for turkey vultures–no worries, just the local garbage collector on cleanup duty, when suddenly *stoop*! It’s a hawk! And as a woman who raised four teenagers and one of them grew to 6’9″, I can only imagine what it takes to feed that thing.  Well, (being helpful) I do have a plethora of squirrels, and a particular one seems happy to step up to the plate or anything else you want to eat him on. Just stay put there a moment, he’ll come challenge anything with wings.

My friend Sandi once told me that one of the cool things about running a yarn store is that every single day, someone new comes in that she’s never seen before: she gets to meet new friends and knitters every day as well as enjoying the regulars, it’s always interesting.

(Okay, sudden visual image of stick out your talons for me a moment so I can wind this yarn on them, will ya? Don’t let the silk snag. Thanks.)

I so want to see this one again!

Taunt pis
Monday April 11th 2011, 11:27 pm
Filed under: Politics,Warm Hats Not Hot Heads,Wildlife

(Okay, Babelfish translates tant pis as “such an amount of worse” rather than “too bad for you.” Gotta love those transliterations.)

I hadn’t seen my hawks in days and wondered if they didn’t like that I’d changed the looks of a few things out there, like that slip’n’slide for the squirrels with the shiny reflections from the greased foil by the birdfeeder.

Today they made up for it: I saw the female twice, the male once. He flew to a few feet from the window and while gazing in steadily, leaned towards me as if to say hello. I loved it.

But his mate! She came in first, landing on the barbecue grill, and that same squirrel with the severe testosterone poisoning–‘terone ranger!–not a female squirrel defending her young but a male his territory, and I will mention that it was the same one that deliberately motioned threateningly at a hawk last week–at first as she flew in he started to run away, but then when she settled down on the arm of the grill he turned around midrun and audaciously came back to repeat that deliberate menacing act. Going so far as to put a paw on the bottom of the grill poised as if to leap up at her immediately above him.

Get lost, loser. She lifted off.

A little while later, her mate was doing his closeup for me on the wooden box. What a gorgeous bird. Ix-nay on the beef suet with peanuts here, Ma’am, but thanks for trying.

And not a squirrel to be seen. Even though he was the smaller of the two.

Then another hour or so later, the female flew in front of the patio again, abruptly blending into leaves and disappearing into the tree behind the grill. Wow, she’s good at this.

Guess who took offense at her invading his favorite tree?

I watched in disbelief as that little bushytail (he has distinctive markings) deliberately strode down the fenceline toward her like a cat about to pounce. And then he jumped at her! Not quite to her, but with the intent of scaring her off again like a sparrow. She again took off slowly and deliberately–I’ve seen her in a hurry and that wasn’t it–and whether she was responding to an innate instinct on the part of a bird, even a predator, to get away from something coming at her or what, I don’t know.

But wow, that squirrel’s got a Darwin wish. Coopers, looking at Sibley’s western birds guide, do indeed eat small mammals, not just birds.  He’s so got it coming.

On a side note.  The Washington Post reports on a professor who ran the recent press releases of the members of Congress through a computer to determine patterns, and what surprised him was this: 27% of everything they say is taunting. Not just chest-thumping aren’t I wonderful self-congratulations to their constituents, but actually taunting their opponents and not even pretending to try to work together to get things done in a way that acknowledges that other people have valid points of view too.

This is not the way to govern a diverse people well.

We voters should be watching them like a hawk.

I am proud to say that my Representative, Anna Eshoo, who thanked me warmly for her hat from the Warm Hats Not Hot Heads project for Congress, handled the latest quite respectfully, I feel, while explaining her point of view.  It can be done.

The best-made plans
Sunday April 10th 2011, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Friends,Life

My friend Jennifer taught a lesson in church today and in preparing for it, she typed out her remarks and references, then later handed a copy to each hearing-impaired person so they could follow along and not be left out. Giving context for the parts not quite heard. It’s a wonderful, thoughtful thing to do.

And so before she started she handed me a copy as people were coming into the room.

A woman came in and sat down next to me a moment, someone who’s new.  She looked at me wistfully and told me how badly she wanted to hear what Jennifer had to say, but that her daughter had (I didn’t hear what exactly) going on and she was going to have to leave. She was clearly disappointed, while wanting to do the right thing and support her daughter.

“For charity is the pure love of Christ.” Much more than giving of money or clothes but actually feeling and acting upon that which is best and most divine in us. Loving one another with all that we are. A lesson to be energized by, for sure.

The woman is someone I recently knit for, and she also just wanted to spend a moment with me before she had to leave.

It was very clear what I could do to make her feel better in that moment: I handed her those lesson plans and explained how I came to have them. Her face lit up, she thanked me, and then she was gone.

A few moments later, now that all were settled in, Jennifer stood up again and started–and from across the room looked over at me and seemed confused a moment (I thought, or maybe she was beginning to wonder if, somehow, maybe…?) at my empty lap. No papers in my hand either.

She interrupted herself to say she didn’t know why, but she’d printed out an extra copy of those lesson sheets. By chance was there anyone here who might need them?

And I got blessed, not just with her original thoughtfulness and effort, but with the chance to tell her what she’d done when she didn’t know why she was doing it.

My prints charming
Saturday April 09th 2011, 9:58 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

(I mentioned the other day that the Elephant Ear had a trunk that reminded me of snakeskins. I didn’t realize till I saw the photo that there was a knocked-over amaryllis pot (yours, Lene) behind it.)

Angela Tennant’s generosity inspired several hours of knitting-to-go here this afternoon. Note that Angela didn’t get an email notifying her of her win, no time to think what the right thing to do might be, she got a phone call out of the blue from the CEO of XRX and she just instantly offered the gift of the famous afghan to Sue, straight from the heart.  There is a Jewish proverb that says he who saves one person saves the whole world. Yes!

I’d needed that bit of bliss as fortification before the fray.

I’d started before my flu bout and my inner child was whining, Aren’t we *there* yet?

So. Turbotax wanted to know how many weeks of the year my daycare operated under the name “book royalty.” Whoa, back up, what wrong click was that? Daycare? You insist it’s in a rental? I should state the oil revenue from it? Riiight. Okay, have to hit just the right pop-up box here and not there–got it, at last! Book it, Dano.

And now my printer is wishing me many happy returns of the day.  (I’m DONE!!!) I finally don’t have to feel like that pointy-faced squirrel I’ve named Ratnose.  It kept jumping at the feeder from the redwood awning pole (and it was chewing on the pole, too–this will not do), so a few days ago I covered its leaping-off point with aluminum foil and, on second thought, sprayed it with Pam.

I picked up my needles and kept an eye out.

E-YOW! Sliiiiiiide *whoosh!*

Hey, that was fun, can we do it again?

And that’s what it’s all about
Friday April 08th 2011, 9:21 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift

1. The little silk chemo cap I made arrived where it was going and I received a note from my beautiful relative along with a picture of her wearing it. She made my day.

2. I wrote a little while back about Sue Nelson and XRX’s fundraiser to help pay her medical expenses: they were raffling off their Great American Afghan, a part of their company’s history, in hopes of her being able to continue her experimental treatment for her cancer.

The winner of that raffle was announced tonight. And Angela Tennant, the winner, had one request.

That the afghan be given to Sue as a comfort and a get-well wish, helping her feel warmed in body and spirit.

I don’t know Angela Tennant, but this I can say: tonight she declared herself a friend to us all.

Lake effect
Thursday April 07th 2011, 11:32 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life,Wildlife

And today there were four healthy eyases eating up a storm. Clara the mother peregrine seemed to be methodically feeding mostly one, then mostly the second and on through till all were falling over sleepy. Then she scraped up the gravel to create a berm for extra warmth on one side, the weather having turned cold, scooted them carefully underneath her wings, and took a rest, too.

I had a conversation tonight with a friend whom I’ve known since junior high, who now lives in the town where we lived during our first job after grad school. She said something about taking her dog to go swim in the local lake.


A road I’d driven a thousand times was named after that lake, but I couldn’t remember an actual lake.

She thought I was pulling a junior high stunt on her. So I described my old route to pretty much anywhere from our house in New Hampshire.

Then I went to go do my treadmill time for the evening, and it hit me. I HAD turned left rather than right and driven the other direction on that road–once. I didn’t get very far.  I don’t think the whole thing was paved going that way, and what pavement there was was something you could only find in New England-type weather: there was a yellow sign early on warning “Frost heaves.”

This is back when we were just starting our family. I puzzled over how frost could have morning sickness.

And then I saw the huge boulder in the road. Not on the road–in the road, coming up out of the pavement right smack dab there in my way, bursting out from underneath, taller than the undercarriage of my car. It was at a blind spot where there was barely room for two cars to pass even if that thing hadn’t been there, and highly dangerous.

And so I always drove the long way around to get to the other end of town. I never saw the lake from that road.

Wait again–it came back to me. My friend Dottie Peyser had had that lake in her backyard, near the end of that long route around; her place was such a gorgeous spot of the earth. She ran a smocking guild once a week out of her home, and in those baby days I smocked then like I knit now; she was older than my folks and we were great friends. And what a view she and her husband Bill had out back!

I saw Dottie knitting once at our meeting and teased her about it and she said something to the effect of, well but she was a knitter too, and once you’re a knitter you never get over yarn. You always come back to it.

She was right, of course.

I wrote to them after we moved here, checking to see how they were doing. The post office returned it for insufficient address. I wrote on the envelope, by now already fairly marked up: Dear California postmaster. This is going to an old part of a small town, where *there are no street numbers* assigned. The mailman there knows everybody and their house by name and by sight. Please deliver.

They did.

Dottie passed away; Bill had a  heart attack and called me to tell me he’d survived it, and that she was gone. He wanted to know how his semi-adopted grandchildren (ours) were doing.

That was 24 years ago. And somewhere, I still have a picture of my oldest, at three, grinning hugely with their teacup poodle in her lap and her arms around it.

A chance mention by someone from junior high about her dog. It brought so many good memories back after I took a moment to reflect on the treadmill.

And it also got me thinking. I never knew that road went along the other side of the water.  How many things do I miss seeing? Even if I can’t do sun, even if it has to be close to sundown, I need to get out in nature all I can. Walk in the redwoods. Splash in the cold edge of the ocean. Make it so I never, ever forget a lake again.

A breath of fresh yarn
Wednesday April 06th 2011, 9:37 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

A day of numbers and budget and paperwork and just plain having to be  a grownup.

Oh, and in case anybody other than me is curious, here’s the abstract of the paper on why prednisone doesn’t work on lupus patients like me (with thanks to my daughter Sam for the link).

I took a break, cranked up the music, sat down and knit. For several hours. Watching something new coming to be in my hands in a color not usually my favorite, but because I know how much the person getting it is going to like it, it can be my favorite for just this little while–that familiar happy anticipation was just what the day needed.

I can’t wait till I can wrap it around her shoulders!

The knitting is hatching too
Tuesday April 05th 2011, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Friends,Wildlife

Usually the hatching is spread out over several days, sped up a bit from the timing of the laying, but today, the San Jose nest had three chicks hatch! Little white peregrine fluffballs called eyases. My friend Hilary made the little felted creature in that link for a fundraiser for the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group, and my Malcolm the Falcon shown here last year for me. She is a gifted artist.

Meantime, we had a friend over this evening to work on a computer issue with Richard’s help, and I used the opportunity to make myself sit down with a shawl project that had stumped me–what to do below the shoulders, which pattern to choose–and just simply made myself pick one idea, fer cryin’ out loud, and get on with it.

I had gotten the yolk done and then it had incubated at that stage for about a month, right in sync, come to think of it, with those peregrine eggs. It feels good to see it finally spreading its wings gradually in my hands.

Mondae, Mondae
Monday April 04th 2011, 11:38 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

Joanne asked what kind of sundae others were eating. I laughed. Since she’s expecting twins she ought to have two pickles with hers, right?

About three hours later I happened to head out to get the drycleaning, and since the grocery store was right there, thought I ought to pick up a gallon of milk while I was at it.

The clerk chuckled at my cart. Bananas, ice cream, and the milk I’d come for.

It didn’t occur to me till I got home.  This subliminal advertising thing–Joanne, you’re good!

Silk, row-ed, and a squirrel’s-eye view
Sunday April 03rd 2011, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

Happy Birthday, Michelle! The sky threw confetti flakes on the day of your birth in celebration!

Yesterday and today were General Conference, wherein members of the Mormon Church can listen to their leaders speaking. One of them, Jeffrey Holland, said that they do not assign topics nor coordinate talks between themselves, rather, they each pray for guidance and for their listeners as well as themselves and take it forward from there.

It’s interesting, but it is a bit of a knitting marathon while we watch four two-hour sessions together over the ‘Net over the two days. Yesterday’s got that Malabrigo hat finished.

Today’s, a new chemo cap for an in-law. I’d forgotten that in my stash was some Rowan Pure Silk DK tucked away, bought on closeout at Purlescence, the only way really I could afford it.

I got it about a year ago, well before her diagnosis, on the grounds that I had no pure silk yarn in my stash, there are a lot of allergic people in the world, and at some point it could well be exactly what I needed even if I had no particular reason for it just then. The color was nice but it was going to be for someone else. There were three skeins on the table, and I hesitated; two seemed the right number for no reason I knew. Three would make a shawlette but that just didn’t feel like quite…somehow…

Two it was.

I can usually talk myself out of that sort of unplanned purchase, but this seemed important.

And then I simply forgot about it.

I found them recently, totally surprised at what was inside the bag–where did I?  Oh! I remember! And I had an allergic in-law whose hair and recent chemo round had not played friends.

And yet Thursday I again did not remember that silk; I grabbed the Malabrigo on impulse while wondering what I was forgetting, and ran out the door.

Had I thought of it then, the Malabrigo hat would never have come to be, and I’m very very grateful it did.

So now tomorrow, just as soon as it would have been anyway, one new silk hat will be in the mail to that good woman to cheer her up amid all that’s going on right now. We talked to her between Conference sessions; light lavender? She loves light lavender!

And meantime, in the entirely silly news department, the new and obnoxious leader-of-the-pack squirrel I mentioned that taunted the hawk taunted me today: all the others know, you do not touch Feederfiller’s feeder and you do not climb the wooden pole next to it. I have them trained.

But this big newcomer not only leaps at the feeder, shaking out just enough to encourage it, but today it hung onto the pole at the jumpoff spot, marking and announcing its territory for all to see that it and it alone claimed this prize.  Mine! Sunbathing vertically right there.

It kept its eyes on the other side of the pole away from the house. That way I couldn’t see it. It was so proud and so sure this was so that it utterly ignored me as I opened the door and raised the supersoaker.

Can you just hear the screaming tantrum of THAT’S NOT FAIR!!! as it tore down that pole and across the yard and didn’t come back the rest of the evening? While another happily took its place and, with perfect black-glove manners, gleaned falling seeds from the birds above for as long as it wanted?

Nesting instinct
Saturday April 02nd 2011, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Wildlife

Thursday night, getting ready for Purlescence, I didn’t have a portable project for it.  I’d finished one and hadn’t decided  the next yet–but it was time to go. I grabbed needles and the first ball of merino I saw and off I went.

I got the brim finished by the time I went to bed that night but I kept wondering why I was knitting this. My daughter-in-law has one like it; was I subconsciously trying to knit her back to being here in person? (Oh, and maybe bring Parker too? This picture’s about six weeks old now, we need to take new ones.) She loved hers so much when I gave it to her that it certainly made me want to go do that again.

Well then.

I didn’t work on it much Friday, despite my nagging desire to finish a thing once started.

The phone rang about 9:00 this morning.

2:00? Okay, thank you, that sounds good, we’ll see you then!

I suddenly had two-thirds of a hat to knit, and fast.  And I mean fast! I knew there was no way I could knit one from the beginning in time for the very helpful fellow who would be dropping by, but for his wife at least, whom I’d never met, I had a head start in that lovely Malabrigo softness.

And I knew that the best way to make a good person happy is to do something to honor those closest to them.

So the doorbell rang this afternoon a little after I danced across the house waving the thing to Richard going, I finished! I finished! The fellow handed me the thing he was going out of his way to drop off for us and started to turn away with a wave and a cheerful hi.

I stopped him a moment. Explained what I’d done. I saw someone I took to be his wife (she was) waiting in the car and waved hi to her as he left, hat now in hand. I shut the door after him.

You know that doorbell rang again before I could get across the house.

And so I got to meet a delightful woman whom I felt matched me right down to the longish gray hair and the hearing aids.  We swapped a few hearing stories and laughed together. The whole time I’d been raceknitting, I’d been wishing I could actually meet her, and I got to!

When a ball of yarn leaps onto your needles like that, sometimes you’ve just got to obey it.

Oh, and one other thing? The female Cooper’s hawk swooped across the yard just about the time I finished, me on my perch just then and she coming to hers, the metal dolly ten feet away. My eyes followed her in as she came and I turned. She seemed to approve of that nest I’d built–awfully small, though, don’t you think–and a moment later, with a nod of her head, (birds do that to gauge distances but never mind) she swooped back to the right and away.

Over the line
Friday April 01st 2011, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

The male Cooper’s swooped in, scattering the finches and doves without catching anything: he seems, relative to the female, to be a bit of a klutz at this hunting thing. Or maybe he wasn’t really hungry just then, just grocery shopping a bit for his waiting mate. Or maybe offspring? I know the first of the San Jose peregrine falcon eggs is supposed to hatch tomorrow.

Well then. How about let’s take a look around at the real estate here.

Then he did something I have never seen before. He waddled over to the giant elephant ears plant. (Writing that got me to go learn for the first time that the edible varieties are where taro root comes from, although if you have the inedible type it’s quite poisonous; I think I won’t experiment.) Hopped up on one of the trunk pieces that have always looked like giant spiked snakeskins to me, coiling back on themselves a bit. Then over to another; the plant is many decades old and has the density of a sideways-growing tree. Those spikes couldn’t have felt good on his feet, though.

Off, then.  He peered around the corner of the metal trashcan that is the outside earthquake supplies stash; nope, no ground birds hiding around there to flush out now, don’t see a nest. Well, crum, a fat towhee would have done nicely. Hmmm.

He fluttered a few feet to the left and scooted his head under a chair on the patio. Nope, noone here either. He backed out, walked around the table right in front of me on the other side of the window standing there watching him, came maybe two feet from the sliding glass door and regarded me for a long moment. There is nothing in the world like looking directly in the eyes of a wild thing.

There was the wooden box immediately to my left set on 2x4s. They’re under there, I know it! Maybe he heard a skittering away? The hawk leaned way over to the side as if to peer under, to where I knew at least one Bewick’s wren had taken cover.

He straightened up. That didn’t work, try again. He leaned his head way to the side and down again. Just can’t seem to get low enough. And then a third time.

Nope. That settled it. Can’t fit under there.

He half-walked half-fluttered around the far side of the box to look from that vantage point.

Still only a 2×4’s height up on this side. No go.

But just past the end of the box, on the ground, was a particularly obnoxious squirrel.

Now, the biggest male of them is the alpha of the patio.  He preens his tail often.  See how big it is? Fear the fluffy: I rule! He thinks the others eat under the feeder only when he allows it. He is a bully. He is happy to chase off all contenders, till the day shall come that some upstart who’s faster than he is decides to outbite and outfight him and claim dominance for themselves.

Dang if that squirrel–it was like a toddler told to stay in time out and sticking their toes over the line of the carpet in their bedroom doorway, testing to see exactly how much they could get away with–

–well, the little birds skitter away from the seed when that squirrel takes a step directly at them.

So after looking straight at that hawk, remember, the littler by a third of the resident Coopers, for several moments, he took a very deliberately menacing half-lunge at the hawk, who wasn’t quite looking in his direction.

Yeah yeah whatever dude, and the hawk lazily lifted itself up to the top of the metal dolly out of the squirrel’s reach. Don’t harass me, I’m not in the mood.

I think had that hawk been looking dead-on at that squirrel at the wrong moment that squirrel would have been toast right then and there.

And you know that, now that it’s thinking it’s gotten away with it and that it’s declared itself alpha yet again of the porch even over all things hawk, that squirrel is going to try to pull that one off again. When the hawk is hungrier. Or maybe when it’s the larger female.  Or when the babies in the nest are yammering (are they yet?) for food.

Squirrel on wry.