Ears, next round
Tuesday April 30th 2013, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Can you believe Hudson is three weeks old as of yesterday? With the best mom in the world.

I told the audiologist today that I had taken to turning the hearing aid volume down two notches to avoid the feedback and it seemed to work while not impacting the sound too much–and I can always kick it back up as needed.

He, meantime, took the aids apart and put the new molds on.

No feedback. But the sound was noticeably different. And not in a good way.

“Does it sound hollow?” he asked me.


“The base is too loud. Happens sometimes as an effect of going further into the ear, but I can work on that via the settings.”

That helped some, and I’m giving these a try, but so far I want to go back to the others. It’s definitely nice to have options, though. While we were at it we bought a clip-on bluetooth mike that I can pass around a room or hand to a speaker. Lanyard now added. I’ve wanted something like that forever and now I have one!

And: this afternoon I was looking through a skylight and happened to see Coopernicus! Perched near the top of the neighbor’s tall tree, and I got to watch as he suddenly dove down.

I walked to the other side of the house but he was faster than me, which certainly wasn’t a surprise; there was not a critter in sight near the feeder. Not even a squirrel.

Friends dropped by tonight and we experimented with/without the remote mike–either way, I heard them far better than I ever have before. Cool. Next round, hearing grandsons!

Plum cages
Monday April 29th 2013, 11:53 pm
Filed under: My Garden,Wildlife

Trying out this idea of guarding my tree fruit via the plastic clamshells that produce comes in. First thought: I’ve only got two apples and four plums covered and we only have two months before the latter are fully ripe–we’re going to have to eat a lot more strawberries etc if we’re going to get these all covered in time. Or bum clamshells off everybody we can. We have our first good crop of the Santa Rosas, which is a nice problem to have.

Side note: I asked Dave Wilson growers via their Facebook page last fall if my Santa Rosa plum could work as a pollinator for their new Pluerry plum/cherry/etc hybrid. They answered that they hoped so but they didn’t know yet; it was just too new a plant. Today they surprised me by going back to that question, now that they’ve had another spring with it, and affirming that yes, it does, along with Flavor King and Burgundy plums.

Their Pluerry has won all the taste tests across all fruit types. Guess what I want to plant.

The clamshells, meantime, only snap closed at one end with a branch in the way, but it looks to me like the only thing that could defeat one is a raccoon  sitting or swatting hard enough to break it or the branch.

I only kept one fruit among the three baby peaches. If the twig can’t hold up the weight of the plastic, it’s a pretty good sign it’s not strong enough yet to support the fruit either. One, though, held. It got the first clamshell.

Don’t call it white trash. Call it reuseful recycling.

Another first
Sunday April 28th 2013, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Life

Sunday School. Dave was speaking.

Dave was in high school when we lived in New Hampshire and we knew him and his family there from church. It was quite a delight to have him end up here, well after we did. We were young parents then; he’s the father of his own young family now.

Your average microphone amplifies all frequencies, which isn’t as useful as you might think for those who are actually hearing impaired since impairment is nearly always in the upper frequencies, and when you’re hearing s and f and th sounds at a thousandth the power that everybody else is, amplifying the lower pitches too simply blasts those consonants right off the hearing chart; so for us, all a mike really does is amplify the vowels. The vowels do shape the consonants around them so at least you can make a guess at what the actual words are, so that’s something at least, but it takes all one’s concentration, and seeing the person’s face to help fill in the gaps is almost a requirement. Skip the mike? Well, there’s a reason they call it speaking up: the pitch of the voice does exactly that. Eh, it’s a given–pass the mike.

I have so often wished it were polite to knit in there, for patience’ sake…

I had the new hearing aids on.

I craned my neck a bit to see who they’d passed it to. Dave was at the far end of the room, I’d say about 20 feet away, barely visible past everybody, and I suddenly noticed two things:

The usual soft babble of baby noises and occasional chattered aside to the point at hand were absent; all was still as he spoke.

And I was hearing every. single. word.  And clearly. Granted, Dave has a deep voice and that always helps. But in that room that I have sat in for many a Sunday for many a year, where I have heard zero whispers there or anywhere, where I so often haven’t been able to hear the person seated two seats away–no chattering with me, folks, I’m so well behaved, and too often have heard only a little of what those actually holding the mike were saying…

There it was in his hand.

Every. Single. Word.

So this is what it’s supposed to be like.

In the frog of where
Saturday April 27th 2013, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Family,LYS

So we had several paper bags’ worth of old documents that needed to be shredded, a task we’d been avoiding for awhile. Time to get to it.

I googled… (Not open on Saturday, not open on Saturday, well so who *is* open on Saturday.)

Okay, backtrack. A number of years ago a local woman wanted to set up a yarn shop, and as she later told me, she and her husband went to check out a spot that sounded like it had potential. It was in San Jose.

They walked in the doors, looked at the cavernous size in that old building and told the rep in disbelief, We can’t afford THIS!

No, no, let me tell you what the rent is going to be. Turns out the owner had an eye towards gentrification and a yarn store was exactly the kind of image he thought would up the value of the neighboring spots in his building.

She made the place gorgeous, with a welcoming front that would pull anyone inside. One of my knitting groups met there for awhile.  I once quietly pointed out to another knitter the bullet holes through some of the squares of glass near the high ceiling and wondered how long those had been there.

I guess the place did its job too well; the owner decided to bring the rent closer to the newly-perceived market value about the same time the downturn hit. And that was the end of that shop. It has been missed.

So here I was today, four years later, looking up shredding services, and was stunned to see the picture as well as the address of one place pop up on my screen.

I looked again.  Yup, that’s it, that’s the spot. And thought, what a comedown! I mentioned it to Richard.

“Well, it is kind of the same.”

Wait, what?

He put his hands together over his imaginary goofed-up knitting and then pulled them forcefully apart: “You know. Rip it, rip it.”

Flowers for those needing a little Spring, still
Friday April 26th 2013, 10:34 pm
Filed under: My Garden

Another of the amaryllises from my Dad is opening up, with a third about to.

This red rose bush (unlike the yellow one next to it) was diseased and stunted when we moved here and we very nearly cleared it out, but hey, it was already there and I was quite sure I was never going to plant something as fussy to care for as roses; Richard looked up what to do and treated it that second spring with who-remembers-what-now.

That was 25 years ago. Over a year or two’s time it gradually came around, and since then it has simply thrived of itself, blooming profusely, asking nothing of us. It just needed a little bit of help and attention to get past that one rough patch when it was younger.

A benchmark
Thursday April 25th 2013, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I had no idea. I was suddenly overwhelmed at the sight of it as I sat at a red light. I keenly missed him all over again, was keenly aware of the injustice done him for which he forgave so freely, and I wondered how his wife and kids are doing. I should take that as my cue to go make the effort to find out.

They just finished an addition on the street side of the high school my kids went to, and in the shade of a massive, beautiful old oak tree there, today for the first time I saw the bench. Maybe in part because I don’t drive past there much anymore, and maybe it had been moved there April 4th, I don’t know, but I had never seen it before.

That date, I found out later from the school’s website, was officially Albert Hopkins Memorial Day and that bench had been given to the school in his honor, inscribed with the words, “In Memory of Albert Hopkins. Live happy, love freely, seize the day.” On the website: “He gave, he listened, he encouraged.”

I couldn’t help but wonder if those two rogue cops might now have kids at that school where Albert showed each child who came into the Academic Center for help that their success was everything to him. He would have taken them in under his wing if they needed anything, anything.

Three male eyases
Wednesday April 24th 2013, 9:35 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

For anybody curious about peregrine banding day at San Jose City Hall yesterday, the videos have been edited (although you might want to skip through the first part of the first one where it’s just a rope dangling) and the photographers have now given their links.

Pictures by Eric Rosenberg from below: here.

Pictures by Nick Dunlop from above, standing on top of the roof as Glenn Stewart rappels down, does the weighing and examining and banding and climbs back up: here. Note that Glenn had a hard hat on but I’m not sure Dunlop did as Fernando came at him.

Videos of banding day, here:

http://youtu.be/xL1ojDxDy28 Part 1

http://youtu.be/bXYMWv_cGsw  Part 2

http://youtu.be/fKnSuOeh1Po  Part 3

http://youtu.be/BlODTqUANFI  Part 4

Jazz solo
Tuesday April 23rd 2013, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life,Lupus

Two blog posts. Do I post this one? (I’m not sure.)

I told the nurse that the cardiologist she works for is so soothing. But if you want me to come in about something, I told her, you have to worry me about it or I’ll blow it off: I’ve had lupus a long time. You get pretty blase’.

She chuckled and handed the phone straight to the doctor and let him deal with me directly. He did not worry me this time either, rather, he said that that kind of description you’d have to have narrowed arteries for it to be a heart attack.

Do I?


Well then, it was a lupus hit-and-run and it’s over now, right?

He thought so. Added the usual, But come right in or call 911 if anything else…

Dude. If I’d been able to call 911 at 4 a.m.-ish Sunday rather than just living through it, I would have. Well maybe. As it was, I had decided I really did need to somehow wake Richard up to call after all–and immediately it let up. Poof.  Over. Lack of pain never felt so good. So I figured, stupid lupus inflammation, and went back to sleep.

“How are you feeling now?”

Fine! (Explaining the excitement in my voice) And I  just got a new grandson!

He chuckled. He’s so looking forward to that stage.

Or do I just post this one?

When I wrote about the Dancing Queen amaryllis the other day, I promptly got the ABBA song of that title stuck in my brain. It is safe to say I have never cared for that song.

I woke up in the morning and the darn thing was still playing in my head. There was only one escape: replace. I put Carlos Santana on first, a little bit louder than I intended to. You’ve got to change your evil ways! Baby!

Which is how I finally got myself to sit down with the latest yarn and start the knitting that I so much needed to do. Music is Pavlovian: I can’t have it playing and read, rather, it demands that I sit and absorb every sound I can, and I can’t just sit there (at least in my own house) without making something in my hands to the rhythm of the notes.

I ripped out the beginning four times but got past that and kept going, making this project up as I go along, something new, writing it down. Crossing that out. Tinking back. Getting it right.

I had been missing that compelling sense of purpose to the work that comes with a good project. It’s such a relief and a comfort to dive back in. I heart knitting.

Can’t hold on tight, either
Monday April 22nd 2013, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

They’re so good at not looking in the windows as they walk by, not intruding. (I imagine their job depends on it.)

We still have utility workers who come to read the meters once a month.

Mine has to walk past the birdfeeder.

It was a young guy this time, someone I hadn’t seen before, and as he walked studiously forward he couldn’t help but look up–and he cracked up.

Just a small slit in the bottom for the hanging chain to thread through; it’s been working perfectly for awhile now. The squirrels look down, they see the inside, and they know they can’t climb their way out of a paper bag.

(p.s. If you get a chance to see it: at 7:15 am California time, Glenn Stewart will be rappelling down to the nestbox area from the roof of San Jose City Hall and banding the three young peregrine falcons Tuesday, while their parents, who can dive at 241 mph, will be swooping at the guy’s hardhat-covered head. If you want to see it live, the cam feed is here.)

Dancing before you know it
Sunday April 21st 2013, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family

The Dancing Queen amaryllis, it blooms yet again. I think I’ve had this bulb about ten years now.

My mom reports that her recovery from her knee replacement surgery is going quite well. But then she is one patient for whom they never had to worry whether she would let pain get in the way of doing her range-of-motion exercises so scar tissue won’t set in and limit her later: if it needs to be done, my mom gets it done. There are walks waiting to be taken and flowers to see!

We forgot the candles (do we have that many anyway?)
Saturday April 20th 2013, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Family

An angel food cake was baked.

Parker played and laughed and had a great time Skyping tonight, but singing Happy Birthday was just too over that gotta-be-shy-now edge. He was adorable. And any time we see each other across the monitors now there has to be some flashlight playing: it’s become part of the deal. You…light up myyy liiiiiife…

Hudson, meantime, yawned back at us from his daddy’s arms as if to show his brother how this singing thing is done, and waved his arms and legs and occasionally looked wide-eyed straight into the camera–one time with a smile. His due date was actually yesterday. He already looks so much older than last Monday.

And their parents looked so happy too.


Thank you, officers
Friday April 19th 2013, 9:35 pm
Filed under: Family,History

What a long day.

It started with a phone call–and I heard the phone ring, without any aids in, as I stepped out of the shower, which is an exceedingly rare but turned out it was a needful thing–letting me know that our oldest had been in a car accident.  I grabbed my old aids quick, wet hair and all: a teenager with pedal to the metal had hit her car hard enough to spin her out into a parked car that then was thrown into another parked car.

This is our kid with the autoimmune hemophilia. But after some time in the ER, she’s home and recovering. Thank heavens for airbags and attentive doctors and her good friend who came to get her. It was the guilty teenager himself who called 911 for her.

Then three of my cousins and their families were locked down in the Boston area as the whole world prayed for everybody’s safety, hoping hard for a good outcome. The one with young children had them visiting her parents in New Hampshire, where they did not have to see.

And then, as I’m sure you already know, the surviving bomber was captured and taken by ambulance to the ER and nobody else was hurt and he didn’t die either and the crowds poured out of everywhere and lined the streets to cheer all those officers, all those agents, all those long hours they’d put in to protect everybody, facing down their fears for us all, and it was a finish line of celebrating, joyous fans after the kind of marathon that nobody should ever have to go through.

My sweet husband this morning, wanting to see a way to forgive, wondered out loud if, like the DC sniper case, we had someone young and impressionable in thrall to an older, more evil man, and perhaps he might still be malleable enough to be able to come to see what he’d done should he survive being found. There was no doubt in our minds that he would be found. We had sat through a neuropsychologist’s lecture, years ago, where the man had said that in our youth our brains are not fully myelinated, and that what that means is that we physically cannot draw the mental line from A to B to mean C will happen; “So if your kids act brain damaged, it’s because they are,” he only half joked. Around 20-22 for men, a little earlier for women, that is when one can begin to see the future impacts of one’s actions.

That lecture has made it easier ever since for us to understand and forgive anything a teenager might say or do.

The New York Times and the Boston Globe have already run profiles of the two bomber brothers suggesting that very dynamic between them.

A cop said to one of the reporters as the ambulance drove the guy to the hospital, There will be justice, not revenge.

And in those words he represented the best of America in the face of what was done to us.

(And to clarify after Kelli’s comment: yes, absolutely. He must be held accountable to the full extent of the law for his actions.)

Guy Hawk’s day
Thursday April 18th 2013, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

There must be young ones needing feeding. I know the peregrine falcon eyases in San Jose have gotten big enough that their mother no longer has to brood them to keep them warm at night now but rather stands sentinel on the ledge above, as she has every year at this point. Day and night, she does most of the staying with her babies; her mate does most of the hunting and providing for all of them.

Susan sent the link to the bald eagle cam in downtown Washington DC near the Anacostia River. Cool!

Here, it may be that the brief intrusions of a raven the last few days making another try at extending its sphere enters in; I don’t know, but I saw the Cooper’s hawk swoop by yesterday and then again today.

And then again.

And then the tip of what had to be his tail as he disappeared in the time it took me to look up. And the same again.

And a few hours later he did a figure eight around the two poles supporting the awning, trying to flush out anyone in hiding; a blink or two after he was unsuccessful and out of sight, a finch, and then another, burst out of there for the safety of the trees but there suddenly he was again, bearing down fast.

I don’t know who won that round. I was wondering if he’d actually caught anything all day at that point, for all the energy he’d put into it.

I was starting to work on dinner and was coming and going from this room with the glass walls but happened to sit down a moment as finches fed above and two doves pecked away below. Pigeons and doves–those are what a large hawk really wants. Slow on the getaway and a large meal for the effort: you’ve been waiting for this all day, I thought towards Coopernicus, wherever he might be, it’s there now if you want it.

And as if answering my call, within seconds he was screaming in on that patio, down, down. A small burst of short dove-gray feathers, he looped back up around the nearer pole over the amaryllises and was gone as fast as he’d come.

And the Accipiter cooperii species continues its comeback.

There are no words
Wednesday April 17th 2013, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,History,Politics

This amaryllis is dedicated to the people in Boston. It’s supposed to have a good two feet of stem, but due to its exposure to red virus last year, wasn’t able to grow one. It refused to let that stop it from offering the blooming it was meant to give to the world.

Meantime, they caught the guy (and I’m sure that story will be updated by morning). He was arrested today and accused of sending ricin-laced and threatening letters: the President was sent one, as were five members of Congress, some of them hand-delivered, and what looked like a bomb was left at a Senate building entrance; thousands of staffers were locked down.

Those Congressmen’s peers still voted to make it so that, should this man get out of jail, on bail or for time served, he then can have access to any gun of any capacity he should so choose without submitting to a background check against his mental or criminal state. The Senate wasn’t even willing to say to Heller with you. (Paging Scalia.)


But I thank those those worked so hard at identifying and stopping this guy so fast and I pray for all the other investigators needing the help, as well as for the wounded and those tending to them.

Of whom there are now more. My heart goes out to everybody in the town of West, Texas tonight.

Going moldy
Tuesday April 16th 2013, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Richard and I went back to the audiologist this afternoon. (Last week he couldn’t get out of work.)

I reminded John that I got my first set of hearing aids at 27, all-in-the-ear types, and they fed back constantly. Constantly! Just turning my head so my hair moved would do it. I asked the audiologist there in New Hampshire if that could damage my hearing–I mean, loud noises from other sources can, right, so…? She flatly pronounced it a no. That made no sense to me.

And then we moved here and I got referred to John; I asked him the same question and his reaction had been to go, and I will never forget the words because I was so grateful for them, “Huh. Nobody’s ever asked me that before. I’m going to go to Stanford to find out.” And he took their audiology department my hearing charts old and new and came back to me and said, Yes, and you’re a classic case. You need to stop using those.

I had lost 15dB of my hearing permanently to them. So I know how important it is to avoid feedback, I finished, adding, and the new right one especially sometimes feeds back.

Yes, it is important, answered John, and took new impressions to make larger, tighter earmolds and hopefully that should solve it.

He and Richard chatted while I heard zero with that stuff plugging my ears.

John, taking the finished impressions out: So the new hearing aids really are helping?

Richard answered that when I got those first aids all those years ago, feedback aside, I was dumbfounded by the world of sound. I’d had no idea how much I’d lost. I stepped out my front door into a quiet morning and had no idea what on earth–oh! It was birds! You could hear birds without seeing the birds? Wow! And I would drop a pin, just to hear it hit the floor. You really could. Who knew. I was ecstatic.

Richard said, And it’s like that all over again. All the other times there have been new aids, it’s never made as much of a difference like it did then, but these do.

I told the guy about hearing the hawk, the jays, the dog I didn’t even know the neighbors had, the high-pitched squeal today as the automatic doors shut again and again at the post office, ear-splittingly loud–in all the twenty-six years of living here I had never known that was there. Wow.

John is a very even-keel kind of guy, but by this point the grin on his face burst into a “YES!” as he pumped a fist. Everything he had hoped for as much as I had, as we had not quite dared to hope. And there it is.

But there’s a little bit of holding our breath. The new type of mold is hard and it is frankly more prone to feeding back–but it is also partly responsible for my hearing so much better. It transmits sound better. If the bigger ones coming don’t fix the problem, I’ll have to go back to the soft type. We all so hope not.

We come back in two weeks when the new molds come in. But I said to Richard, huh. They’re squealing less since we left his office.

Maybe he jammed them in there harder than you do?

Or maybe at a different angle (bigger molds would take care of those variables.)

Still learning. Hoping hard.