Showing posts from May, 2007

Walking? Not Walking?

... Despite a recent blog entry about how Robb should be doing more weight-bearing exercises (that's "walking" for the rest of us), I have not witnessed much walking of late. Robb's feet are going through a phase of hypersensitivity. They're so sensitive, in fact, that if they are stimulated, they send all the muscles on from his butt on down to the bottoms of his feet into painful, prolonged spasms. Strangely, one part of this is the sensation that Robb has the (incorrect) sensation that his little toe has been wrenched out of its socket, and is pointing straight up at the sky. Robb told me that he has to keep pulling his foot out of his shoe, to check that his toes are, in fact, not mangled. All this happens if he walks? Fine. No big walks for now. Today Robb saw his doctor and nurse case manager, and among many other things, they discussed the hypersensitivity of his feet. Everyone remarked that any return of neural function in Robb's case is often pre

I got mapped!

... Google Maps has introduced a new feature today and the web is abuzz with it. "Street View" allows you to see an interactive picture of a location taken from the street level. Previously you could view satellite or aerial pictures of the location you're mapping. Now you can see what the front door looks like. Earlier today, Lisa and I were looking at an online photo of our front door and I suddenly remembered seeing a strange looking van in our neighborhood a few months ago. It had an boom coming out the top and what I took to be a panoramic camera array. A few minutes ago it finally struck me: If I saw them then they saw me, too. I mapped the street corner I remember seeing the van on and... there I am! For a better view just click, here select "street view" and drag the little yellow man icon on top of the green marker. (You'll see.) If you rotate the image, you'll see me walking toward the camera. Crazy.

nature is not nice

... I take a lot of pictures of birds, which seems like a lovely endeavor. But the hard truth is that the world is not a gentle, peaceful place. Because the weather has been so harsh and cold in Oakland, we went inland to Contra Costa County, hoping to have a nice day of cycling. I discovered this foot-long hanging nest because a Western Scrub Jay was trying to make a meal of its contents. The community of birds that were associated with this nest were making a huge noisy fuss, but the jay was undeterred. I think that my curiosity about the ruckus inadvertently scared off the jay. Did the eggs or baby birds survive? Who knows? Bushtits are one of the few species to employ "helper birds" so if you are a bushtit, it really does take a village to raise a child. Other than that grisly interlude, there were a few other parts of our day that qualified as "not nice." The wind was so strong that it knocked over my bike -- twice! -- smashing my panniers to the ground a

Just when we thought...

... Robb has not been to physical therapy at the therapy gym in some time, because he did not have the doctor's authorization to do so. He has, instead, been doing aqua therapy, both with a therapist and on his own. He has also been doing a lot of cycling. Both of these are activities that he is able to do for relatively long periods of time before they cause him discomfort. What he has not been doing a lot of is walking. Right now, this is an activity that is quite uncomfortable and exhausting for Robb. But when Robb met with his regular physical therapist last week, she pointed out that avoiding weight-bearing exercises (in other words, walking) could lead to bone loss. Great. Since walking causes terrible muscular spasticity, but working in the water, seems to eradicate this same spasticity, we have been pondering a regimen that pairs the two activities. A session of strenuous walking, followed by work in the pool? Or vice verse? We'll give it a try.

So how *is* Robb?

... Lately, the blog has veered in a lot of directions, and hasn't been spending a lot of time discussing the particulars of Robb's condition. Things have settled into a kind of routine, here. And I don't exactly come home from work and ask Robb, "So how are you today? Still paralyzed?" That conversation would get old, fast. Robb is, not surprisingly, working hard at his therapies. He never, ever skips a day of either working in the pool or cycling. He pushes himself to his limits, every single day. Which is, of course, totally draining. So, his days consist of a lot of exercise, and a lot of laying down. Some of this is because he's exhausted, and some is because he is experiencing pain or spasticity. Usually, by the time I get home, Robb is "done" for the day. So our evenings are rather low-key. I've given myself permission to stay late at work, and garden, because I've realized that Robb doesn't really need to watch over hi

Observations from Work

... Things aren't all that busy at work, so we're able to really enjoy our our wonderful unique studio space. The scenic studio is located in an industrial part of Oakland, and on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays a train comes by to make deliveries to the business next door. Seeing a train outside one's door is a truly bizarre sight. We have huge roll-up doors in the front of the shop, and yesterday a pair of mourning doves flew in. I knew that we just had to leave the doors open, and the birds would eventually fly back out again. One left after a few hours, but the other stayed for the better part of my work day. I was working alone in the shop, and was sort of creeped out by letting all the passers-by see that I was by myself. The neighborhood where we work is rather unsavory. My urban garden reflects this fact. I love the contrast of roses and barbed wire (as well as the pink and the blue). I don't think this little finch is very pleased with my company. I beli

Back to Normal, or what passes for normal around here

... Robb and I enjoyed a lovely weekend. We went cycling on the Bay Trail late Saturday afternoon. Despite the fact that most of the migratory waterfowl have long since left the Bay Area, I had the very great pleasure of getting up close to a mixed colony of diving ducks. This is a Surf Scoter . He is my favorite diving duck. What a handsome fellow! I had never, ever seen one of these out of the water, before Saturday. Here is a juvenile Surf Scoter. I was sneaking up on the adult, and didn't actually see this bird until I was almost standing on top of it. And that beautiful male Scoter, again. Hanging around the Scoters were a pair of Scaups, and a female Bufflehead. The female Scaup had a horribly injured wing. When Robb and I first moved to the Bay Area, we volunteered at a rehabillitation facility for injured waterfowl. Based on our experience, we feel that this girlie is actually in good health, but won't be migrating anytime soon. We wondered if the male Scaup

I'll Have Mine with Noodles

On Friday I drove over to the swimming pool I've been using for the past few weeks only to find it closed. A minor inconvenience, yes. But it made me realize just how much I've been relying lately on access to a pool. I have an aquatic therapy session once a week at a local YMCA and lately I've been going to another pool in Berkeley which has time set aside just for seniors and people with disabilities. This pool is fantastic-- a great community of regulars who've gotten to know each other over time, a friendly staff, a $2 admission charge, and 92 degree water. Okay-- the facilities are quite run down, underfunded and in peril of closure but it's what we've got. I spend most of my time in the water doing what some refer to as "vertical exercise," that is, I stretch and walk in the shallow water and do something like treading water in the deep end. Not a lot of swimming for me, yet. The walking is an amazing experience. Wearing a flotation devi

There's No Place Like Home!

... The past three weeks were so unbelievably hectic that I feel like I'm still recovering. When I got home, I had some lunch with Robb, and then conked out and slept for sixteen solid hours. I've repeated this marathon snooze-fest a couple of times, and think I've finally caught up on my sleep. I had all sorts of crazy notions about being bored and lonely, and so I brought a number of unfinished projects, which didn't even get unpacked from my bags. The truth is that I was lucky to feed myself, and get my clothes washed during this time. When the hotel caught on fire, the laundry facilities were closed down, so I ended up bringing home a suitcase full of dirty paint clothes. I have such class. I'm glad to be home, and now that I'm no longer feeling like the Walking Dead, I'm going to catch up on all my neglected projects. I promise.

How To Create a Faux Tile Floor

Eurydice The first step in most scenic art projects is the process of making samples, to figure out which materials and colors are going to work best for the project. On the left are the research images that the designer has provided. My samples are in the middle of the photo. The brown thing on the right is a prototype for what will be our large stencil. The carpenters cut out the stencil on the CNC router table. The stencil is based on drawings made by Scott Bradley, the scenic designer. When we did this project at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in 2004, I cut this stencil out by hand. Call me crazy, but I really enjoyed that part of the project. In order to have the most seamless floor, the floor was be painted on the back side of regular old flooring vinyl. Why is seamless important? Well, they'll be dumping hundreds of gallons on the stage every night, and we want to keep water from seeping into the flooring I primed the vinyl and when that had cured, painted the colors that the g

A Whirlwind Weekend With the Wench

... I have been asked on more than one occasion what my pal Cyndie, the Lock Wench, is like. She's a creative force of nature, with boundless energy and spirit. She's hilarious, and wicked, and about the most caring friend anyone could hope to have. Since Robb was unable to travel, the Lock Wench was my date for Erica and Chris' wedding. I stayed at her delightful house, home of the famed antique padlock collections. Despite the fact that I had a four-hour drive ahead of me, we went out for a short letterboxing jaunt at a local cemetery. The patterns and textures were just incredible. And the letterboxes? They're really astonishing, but I'll leave the particulars up to your imagination.

Erica and Chris get married!

... Although the wedding was a little over a week and a half ago, my crazy schedule and lack of internet access have kept me from sharing photos from Erica and Chris' wedding. Anyone who knows Erica and Chris will not be surprised that their wedding was the perfect expression their love and creativity. Erica and Chris are simultaneously really funny and really smart. They both have an infectious sense of curiosity and a deep moral core. Of course their wedding was as unique and delightful as they are. Erica designed her dress, and spun and knit her gorgeous lace shawl. And Chris made all the rings. The Buffalo Botanical Gardens were a glorious choice of location, and the weather was perfect. Every bride needs a gigantic topiary T-Rex to bring good fortune to her marriage, right? All joking aside, both Cyndie and I bawled our sentimental eyes out at the wedding. There were huge, incandescent smiles and lots of happy tears at the ceremony. And at the reception there was more

Manhattan and Brooklyn

.... I worked my last day on the Eurydice project at the theater, instead of in the scene shop. After all this effort, it was nice to see the show finally coming together. That's looking up the one of the walls that we covered with all of those hand-dyed letters . The entire set slants, which is wonderfully uncanny. Once I had finished my work call, I met up with my sister and her family in Brooklyn. We had a lovely afternoon, and the following day we went out to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. It really was a perfect spring day. The flowers were blooming, and the photographers were springing up in the most unexpected places. That's Neil. And this is Lindsay, making her contribution the the art of photography. Martha and I also stopped by the Brooklyn Museum, to see the Devorah Sperber exhibit. Because we have so much in common, Martha knew that this artist's work would strike a note with the art-geek-magpie in me. She uses spools of thread, which she suspends on chai