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Showing posts from December, 2007

Free Bird!

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... Here's a wonderful narrated slide show about one Double-Crested Cormorant that survived the recent oil spill. I was actually surprised to see this particular animal because, for some reason, almost no cormorants were brought in to care as a result of the spill. Not seeing these animals at the wildlife center was quite perplexing. We should have seen them. They would have been directly in the path of the oil spill. Because these birds are the least waterproof of our local waterbirds, there is a theory that the oiled birds were unable to make it back to land, and that the oiled birds simply drowned. Anyway, this slide show (click here ) takes an rather long time to load, but it is quite interesting. I really enjoyed seeing all the people that I worked with on the oil spill response. And, yes, by the end of it I was crying big slobbery tears. I'll admit that I was a little surprised that someone decided to name the animal in the slide show. This runs counte

Another Blog About Birds

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... We went down to Lake Merritt this afternoon, and managed to locate the mysterious hybrid duck. Word on the street is that he is the offspring of a Barrow's Goldeneye and a Hooded Merganser . Sadly, something spooked the entire flock, and they flew off shortly after we arrived. Mating season has commenced, and this pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes charmed us both. They were inseparable, and he would chase off any encroaching females. It was a sweet sight. (Much nicer than what passes for "love" among the Mallard Ducks.) We spent a good deal of time trying to get another look at the Tufted Duck, but to no avail. I'm really a pretty sad birder. At least I can usually locate the big, showy, obvious birds.

A new job for Robb?

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... A while back, Robb met with a vocational counselor whose task it was to assess Robb's employability. One of the things that came out of this meeting was a rather entertaining list of potential job. However. The fact that Robb has to lay down repeated throughout the day, makes employment a bit tricky. Additionally, Robb walks best when waist deep in warm water, and cannot pick things up off the floor without using some kind of a grabby-stick tool. So, for a while, we were pondering the options of having Robb become an Amazonian field biologist, preferably with loads of assistants. But then we saw an interesting documentary about the Greek Sponge Divers in Tarpon Springs Florida, and we realized that this could be the perfect job. Robb could walk -- slowly -- along the bottom of the tropical ocean, and use his long handled rake to harvest sponges. I could sell the sponges to all of my scenic and decorative painter buddies. And we could be working in nature. Sin

Don't you be that ickeroo. Get hep, come on, and follow through!

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... I keep forgetting to mention that the tests came back. I did not expose Robb or my co-workers to hepatitis. Hep-hep! Hep-hep! Now, don't you be that ickeroo, Get hep, come on and follow through, Then you get your steady fool, You make the joint jump like the gators do, The jim, jam, jump on the jumpin' jive Makes you like your eggs on the Jersey side, Hep-hep! Hep-hep! The jim, jam, jumpin' jive, Makes you hep-hep on the mellow side; I think this calls for a celebration!

Urban Birdwatching

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... Robb and I live in Oakland California which, by any measure, is a big city. But in the middle of the city is Lake Merritt, a wonderful haven for wildlife. In the winters, the lake is home to a huge variety of migratory waterfowl. It is sort of crazy how great the bird watching is. It is also really wonderful to be able to get up close to nature when we're not feeling up to a lot of travel. Last weekend, I had heard that there were a few "odd ducks" out on the lake, so Robb and I went out to take a gander. (Sorry.) The lake is home to hundreds, if not thousands of scaups , and in among them was a solitary Ring-Necked Duck. Mister Ring-Neck is the bird in the top of the photo. It took a sharp eye to pick him out of a fast-moving flock of ducks. You'll notice that he has a darker back than the scaup, as well as a white marking on his wing, and a totally different set of marks on his bill. In this light, you can just barely make out his reddish neck-

Sitting Duck? Duck Soup? Lame Duck?

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... I keep telling myself that I'm getting better, but I think I'm really saying that because I'm impatient with the poky pace of my recovery. I had more blood tests done and while my "liver levels are normal," I'm still in a lot of discomfort. I get instant liver pain immediately after eating anything, and I'm still flirting with nausea. Robb is such a better patient than I am. Look at this male bufflehead. He's all spunky and smiley, just like Robb. The female seems to be having a more difficult time, particularly when food is involved. That's me. Biting off more than I can chew, and then struggling like an idiot. I keep trying to get back to my normal pace of life, and instead I over-exert myself (doing really simple activities) and make myself really ill. Did you know that there's a direct correlation between a short, leisurely bike ride and a long, nasty bout of nausea? Robb and I were suffering from cabin fever, and I

Comfort and Joy

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... I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. Ours was very quiet, and low-key, which was just right for us. I didn't have the energy to haul a Christmas tree up three flights of stairs, so Robb and I bought a palm tree instead. I could not be more pleased with how it looks, decorated. I like the semi-traditional, semi-demented aspect of this tree. I made this scarf for Robb. So many scarves are not reversible, which drives me a bit batty. I try to always knit scarves that look nice on both sides. I made a version of this scarf for Martha a few years back. Of course, when I sat down to knit this one for Robb, I couldn't find the notes I made about Martha's scarf. I wonder if I came up with the same stitch pattern on both of them, or if I invented two similar almost-reversible chevron patterns. One side of the scarf has a column of stitches, and the other side has a groove, but I think both look nice. I knit the scarf in two pieces in order to get the

Happy Holidays!

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... Best wishes all through the year. ...

Holiday Wishes

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... It's the most wonderful time of the year, says Linguine. This was our Christmas card a few years back, and I still love it. We just didn't have the energy to make cards this year. Here's our holiday message for everyone: No matter how challenging (or downright bad) things can seem, there is always, always something to smile and laugh about. Please keep that in mind all year long.

How to build a brick wall, without using bricks

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... Here are some photos from the show we've been painting. Since I've been sick, I have been coming into the shop in the mornings, getting my painters set for the day and then going home around lunch time. I could not be more pleased with the work that everyone has done! We start with a wooden structure. Since this show, like everything we build, has to fit into a truck for transport to the theater, the locations of seams are very carefully chosen. The carpenters apply sheets of molded plastic bricks. We caulk the seams between the sheets of brick, and then we paint everything with the color of the mortar. Based on the research provided by the set designer, we mix a variety of brick colors. Foam rollers are cut to the width of our bricks, and the paint is rolled on in a comesy-goesy manner. To avoid a cartoony appearance, we apply many layers of paint. Right now, the bricks are all painted, but everything looks too clean and new. We apply all sorts

Forget Santa. I want a visit from the Green Fairy!

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... Everyone needs a goal, not matter how silly or frivolous. Robb has been dreaming of being well enough to go snorkeling in Kauai again. I'm not recovering from anything as serious as Robb's spinal cord injury, but I realize that I've been imagining the day when I put Hepatitis behind me, and am allowed to have a drink again. And I know exactly what I'll have to celebrate. Robb and I had been amusing ourselves by playing a torturous game of Forbidden Food Pairings. We would think up all the things that -- due to the compromised state of my liver -- I'm not supposed to ingest right now, and imagine how enjoyable they could be. Chile Rellenos and a nice salt-rimmed margarita. Vegetable Tempura and Sapporo. Basically anything deep fried with a nice cold beer. You get the picture. Those all have their charms, but what I'm really fantasizing about is a perfectly served glass of newly legalized and locally-produced Absinthe. Absinthe, The Green Fair

have yourself a merry LITTLE christmas...

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... Remember my anti-consumerist rant ? Where I advocated limiting Christmas buying? Well, since I've been fighting the Hepatitis, I've had no energy at all to do ANYTHING for Christmas. I've done the bare minimum to keep things progressing at work, but when I get home, I just lay on the couch feeling dreadful. I kept telling myself that "tomorrow I'll feel better, and I'll get some shopping done" but that never happened. Prior to getting sick, I was too busy with the bird rescue and house guests to shop. I've think I've missed the deadline for online shopping. I'll be giving Robb some pieces of an unfinished sweater for Christmas, at the rate I'm going.

Everyone Gets an "A" Today!

... Now that his parents have gone home, Robb is busy again with his intense self-imposed schedule of physical therapy. Generally, he works in the pool and cycles, but while his parents were here he did much more walking. As it turns out, walking -- particularly in large crowds -- does not suit him right now. I, on the other hand, am supposed to be taking it easy. Everything I read about recovering from Hepatitis A recommended bed rest, which I immediately dismissed as "being for people in the Nineteenth Century." What I'm realizing is while I can push myself beyond my current levels of energy, I really shouldn't . Over-exerting myself is potentially damaging to my liver, and I need to give myself permission to slow down. I'm going to be working half days, but yesterday was a pretty full day. The nurses from Alameda County's Board of Health visited the shop and interviewed all the staff. If I had to hear the phrase "fecal-oral contamination&qu

Anthropomorphizing, or whatever...

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... Tonight is our building's annual holiday party. Every year, we buy a big tree, and decorate it together. Everybody brings nibbles, and we all hang out in the lobby and catch up on the gossip. Because I'm sick (and a total slacker), Robb baked the apple pie for the party. As he was taking it out of the oven, he burst into laughter. "This pie," he laughed, "looks like a Mean Cat ."

Hep Hep Hurray!

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Hepatitis A or B Originally uploaded by von_brandis All kidding aside, I'm feeling really sick. It seems that my stubborn, macho attempt to "work through" my sickness was quite stupid. The liver (an organ I'd never given any thought to at all) is where we get our "bursts" of energy. Exerting myself physically apparently puts a lot of strain on my liver, which makes me feel really dreadful. The good thing is that I managed to get the strain of hepatitis that leaves no permanent damage behind. The bad thing is that there's no treatment. I just have to refrain from physical activity, and hope the nausea goes away soon. Don't you love the stuff you find on Flickr ? The artist gave me permission to use this image.

A Jaundiced Viewpoint

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... "Jaundice" is one of those great words, that the average Twenty-First Century American doesn't get much chance to use. It comes from the French word for yellow, and describes the astonishing change in skin and eye color that results from increased bile levels in the blood, due to liver disease, as well as the (incorrect) idea that a person with jaundiced eyes would see everything through a distorting haze of yellow. Apparently, jaundice manifests top-to-bottom, starting at the head and ending with the feet. And it clears up in reverse order. How odd. Years ago, when we lived in Dallas, Robb's physician noticed that the skin on the bottoms of his feet were a bit yellow. Robb didn't have jaundice. He had access to loads of cheap tasty mangoes, which are rich in beta-carotene, and really can turn your skin yellow. I had a college room mate who tried to do this on purpose by eating huge amounts of carrots. Ah....those crazy art school days.... jaundiced ad

Look What I got!

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Robb and I observe an occasional Holiday Tradition, where one of us gets stupidly sick. And oh boy! My present (pictured to the left) came early this year! I am the lucky recipient of Hepatitis A, the cause of my nausea. This rather rare virus is transmitted through the most disgusting circumstances, and I will be getting a phone call from the local board of health to discuss all the restaurants I have frequented recently. I am also going to have a totally unpleasant chat with my co-workers because of the revolting present that someone left for me to clean up last Friday. I was probably already sick when I dealt with this, but clearly, a person who does this sort of thing is unlikely to be a scrupulous hand washer. And no, I am not making any of this up.

Out for Blood

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... Robb's paralysis affects not just his muscles, but also his internal organs, so from time to time, he needs to get their well-being confirmed. He went off to "Pill Hill" to have blood drawn for tests this morning, before spending a day with his parents. (They took the Alameda Ferry to San Francisco and played tourist.) I've been feeling horribly queasy since last Thursday, and let me tell you that being the Cheerful Hostess isn't so easy when you're spending a lot of energy considering the merits of throwing up. Wine tastings lose much of their charm under these circumstances, and work is a drag. So, I got a doctor's appointment, and was told that I had a lot of fluid inside my ears and that it was likely that I had one of the weird stomach viruses that had been making the rounds. For good measure, the doctor ordered a battery of blood tests. I spent a long, long time in various waiting rooms, and had a lot of blood drawn. Right now, I'

Sunday at the Beach

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... Robb and I took his parents out to Point Reyes today. We thought they would really appreciate the beauty of the Pacific Coast. And, it gave them another chance to see how much Robb has improved since last they saw him. We still take a lot of breaks, but I think it was pretty eye-opening when Robb was able to help Joan up a sandy hill. Not only did he give her one of his trekking poles, he also offered his arm as support. It was a beautiful day. I think back on Robb's early therapy sessions, right after he had left the hospital, and how we joked about him learning to balance on sand. Being able to walk on the beach is an Essential Life Skill in California! As usual, I acted as some kind of goof-ball Court Jester. I thought it important to introduce Joan and Bob to kelp, and tried to convince them that kelp was gigantic scallions, suitable for soup stock. Wildlife was present, in a wide range of sizes. As Robb was working his way down to the beach, I spott

A Little Perspective

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... Robb's parents have been visiting, and I think they must be totally delighted to see how well Robb is doing. Hearing about Robb's fantastic attitude and his incredible discipline is one thing, but experiencing it first-hand is another. We've been enjoying some beautiful California weather, and on Saturday went out to Napa Valley to Wine Country. (Thank you, Amanda, for your great advice!) As much as I love unspoiled nature, I've always enjoyed the patterns that regularly planted crops create. I love driving past cornfields, and seeing all the alleys between the rows. The Robert Mondavi winery was very pleasing, visually.

Family

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... Robb's parents arrive today for a ten day visit. I can only imagine how pleased they will be with how well Robb is doing. The last time they saw each other, Robb was still wearing a full-torso immobilizing brace, wasn't driving, and was quite fragile. So much has improved since then!

Dreamy

... This morning I dreamed that Robb had been sent to prison. His cell was actually rather nice nice, all clean white surfaces. But he didn't have much room to move around. I was allowed to visit, but there seemed to be all sorts of unstated rules about what he was allowed to do, and own. He was spending his energy taking the things he did have and adapting them to other uses. We didn't know why he was in prison, or how long he would be there, but we had resigned ourselves to making the best of the situation, and facing things with good humor and resourcefulness. If that isn't a metaphor, I don't know what it is.