Showing posts from January, 2008

Two Years

We can't let the day go by without observing this anniversary. It was two years ago today I climbed up a seven foot ladder and did not climb back down. It's not really a day for celebration and I've certainly got enough time for reflection on the other 364 days of the year, so I guess I just focus on my big toes. My great toes seem to have woken up a bit more this past week. I can move them almost without thinking and without a concentrated force of will. It doesn't change much for me physically, but it does make me smile a lot. So... yes. No more of this anniversary-talk. Today is Big Toe Day. I bet if I write my representatives in Congress, by this time next year we'll all be celebrating National Big Toe Day or Big Toe Recognition Week. (In my opinion the Opposable Thumb lobby has been grabbing the headlines for too long.) So Happy Big Toe! Now let's get out there and celebrate!

To Be Determined

There's a fine line between stubbornness and determination. Really, I think it's more a matter of whether you're annoying someone (stubbornness) or achieving a positive outcome (determination). Three times a week I get myself over to the pool at the local YMCA. The exercise is a life line for me. It's one of the cruel ironies of my situation that relaxing, resting and taking it easy makes me feel physically worse. So, I push myself a bit. The other day I was in the water and glanced over to see another pool "regular" come in. Now, I've always taken note of how people walk (it's the actor training, I guess), lately though, I'm fascinated by it. So, as I watched this lady stride across the room, a sprightly spring in her step, I suddenly remembered overhearing her tell somebody her age— 86. Here was the 86 I had always envisioned for myself— a vibrant, energetic 86. At twice my age, this lady could easily run circles around me. Obviously n

A Formal Thank You

... One of the twenty five organizations that are part of the Oiled Wildlife Response Network , and who participated in rehabilitating oiled birds after the Cosco Busan spill is Sea World in San Diego. Sea World is owned by Anheuser Busch. There is a huge Anheuser Busch brewing plant just down the road from the International Bird Rescue Research Center, which is where they hosted the volunteer appreciation event that I attended today. Sea World even flew up some of their "Animal Ambassadors." In fact, they sent the same species of penguin that IBRRC is helping to save at an oil spill in Argentina , right now. (Do click on this last link! The video of diminutive penguins being released into the wild is astonishingly adorable.) I was telling Robb about all this, and our conversation went along these lines: "They sent a penguin to a party?!? Wasn't he over dressed?" Silence. "He must have been so embarrassed." Silence. "I'm sorry, what were

Betty Adams

... I haven't been able to collect my thoughts about my maternal grandmother, who just passed away. She was a wonderful woman, who taught me to love and appreciate the natural world. Here she is on her 90th birthday, with my sister and great-grand-daughter Lindsay (who turns four this weekend).

Another Close Call

Other than an intern, I have no full-time staff. I hire painters on a per-project basis, and so all of "my" painters have a number of jobs, other than working with me. We've been very busy on a fun show, but yesterday one of "my" painters had the day off because one of her other jobs had a big work call. And yesterday, this wonderful painter had a very serious accident. I'm still a little unclear on the details, other than that she was working twenty feet up in the air in some kind of antiquated cherry picker, and somehow the whole thing tipped over, and she came down, crash-landing into the theater's seats. Other than a bruise on her back that's the size of Nebraska, she's apparently fine. This girl is so unbelievably lucky. She could be dead. At work this morning, she and I had a long talk about her legal rights, California State's worker's comp system, and safety in general. I told her to take as much time as possible to be certain tha

Liver and Leave 'er

I'm having an ultrasound scan of my liver this morning, because I'm still feeling sick with the symptoms of hepatitis a. I'm tired of having this illness, and that gives me increased respect for Robb's patience since his spinal cord injury. He has a far better attitude than I ever could hope to have.

I said, "Owl Omelette!"

... One of my techniques for spotting rare nature is to mosey up to the person with the nicest binoculars and politely ask them if they are looking at anything interesting. Since I haven't been taught the Secret Bird Nerd Handshake, I've learned that I've got to be cautious about approaching people with multi-thousand dollar optics. These Serious Birders often treat idiots like me with undisguised disdain. Today, neither Robb nor I were feeling up to much activity, so we decided to go down to Lake Merritt to see if we could get a better look at the Tufted Duck that has been hanging around. We brought our camera gear and spotting scope. A little chatting with the local birders clued us into the fact that there was another rarity on the lake; a Long-Tailed Duck (formerly known as the Oldsquaw). Just like the Tufted Duck, this seabird isn't supposed to be found anywhere near Downtown Oakland. Almost immediately, Robb spotted an odd duck on the lake. He set up our s

Think Good Thoughts

... Please send best wishes to France, where my dad is undergoing some very serious surgery. I'm not going to discuss the particulars, because that's his story to tell, not mine. Robb and I send loads of love, and are hoping for the very best outcome.

By the Beautiful Sea

A while back, I started emailing someone I only know via the internet. Robb calls this group of people my Imaginary Friends. They are mostly artists or scientists, fascinating people, all . This particular Imaginary Friend, John, is a docent at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, and takes the most awesome photos from the tidepools there. Robb and I set a date to meet John at the tidepools, and we invited Sheri and Cricket to come along. I spend so much time with them at work, but we rarely hang out, otherwise. We all piled into the car, picked up some picnic food at the farmer's market, and drove to the beach. Robb had given me a new lens, and I was hoping to try it out on something other than quasi-pornographic photos of knitting. I think the photos I took today were simply hotsy-totsy. Do click on them for enlargements. The first batch are all sea anemones. The top photo is a detail of the stinging tentacles of an anemone. Those little light colored things are grains of sa

The Show Must Go On

... We opened another show this Wednesday. It's a fantastic, sharp, funny piece about gentrification in Brooklyn. We have to finish the scenery for the next show in a week.


I owe everyone I can think of a phone call. I've been so run down from the hepatitis. I get home from work and I'm nauseous and useless. When I'm finally feeling better, things will improve.

On his Toes

... Although Robb is able to walk in a fairly normal heel-to-toe manner when he's chest-deep in water, his motor neurons still aren't sending enough information to allow him to support his weight with the front part of his feet. Because Robb supports his weight on his heels when he walks, he has completely lost the callouses on the pads of his feet. Alas! His second career as a dancer with Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo will have to wait until his recovery has progressed further.

We can't save them all, but we have to keep trying

... Let's start with a bit of Cute, since this blog doesn't contain very good news. Here's a gosling that was under care when Robb and I first volunteered at the International Bird Rescue Research Center in 2003. Since it had no companions and no parents, the rehab staff gave it a mirror and a feather duster for company. This little fellow stood a very good chance of survival. Sadly, the scaup that I picked up off the street the other day did not make it. Because her eye was bashed in, she was unreleasable, and had to be euthanized. Because of their anatomical structure, ducks like this scaup are not able to take flight from dry land. Had I not picked her up, she would likely have been hit by a car or been mauled by a dog. I know I did the right thing, even if I hastened her death. (Are tears welling up in my eyes as I write this? Of course they are. QUICK!!! LOOK AT THE GOSLING!) California has been battered by severe storms recently, and many birds have been aff

The 100,000th?

Are you our one-hundred-thousandth hit? It's going to happen in the next twenty-four hours and we'd love to know who finally flips our odometer. Leave a comment and let us know.

Duck in a Box

... As I was driving up to my shop today, I saw a duck sitting along side of the road. Clearly, it is unusual to see waterfowl sitting on the ground next to the warehouses and railroad tracks in West Oakland. A casual glance told me that something was amiss, so I threw my raincoat over the bird, and brought her inside. Chances are, she was hit by a car while flying over the freeway, or that she mistook the wet road surface for a creek, and crash-landed on the asphalt. Poor thing. Sheri and Cricket didn't even blink when I walked in and greeted them with, "Hey guys! Guess what's I've got in my raincoat? It's an injured scaup!" They immediately found a cardboard box, cut breathing holes in the sides and put a towel in the bottom. My painters are wonderful women, and are game for whatever craziness I toss their way. I spent my lunch hour driving my little duck friend to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum's rehab hospital, and tonight she'll be transferre


... Here's a fascinating quiz I found online. Unlike many of the quizzes one sees, ("Which steam-punk cliche are you?" "Find your secret admirer!") this one has some real substance. Click this link , and then select the presidential candidates that you might be considering. Answer the questions you agree or disagree with (skip the ones that don't apply) and you'll see which candidate's stated views are most in line with your own. Are you all willing to share your results, and if you were surprised by what you read?

Where's Lisa

My painters and I have been working twelve to fourteen hour days. Things are going well, but we're getting rather tired. Tomorrow is the photo shoot day prior to the show going into previews, so we've had a lot of loose ends to tie up. I'm sorry if I've been out of touch. This is just an occupational hazard that comes from working in theater. As far as that "taking it easy" thing I'm supposed to be doing...... Well, that will have to wait until the show opens.

The Kindness of Strangers

... A mysterious friend has signed me up for a membership in the Handspun Yarn of the Month Club. What could be more delightful than that?

Wall Touching

... I have spent a lot of time painting scenery for opera companies, which has allowed me to see many, many operas over the years. It must be noted while opera singers are admired for their astonishing voices, they are not known for their acting skills. Somewhere along the way, Robb and I started noticing a peculiar acting tic, common to many opera singers. When a singer wants to indicate emotional distress, they often indulge in Dramatic Wall Clinging Behavior. Here, a famous opera director (left) demonstrates this technique (otherwise known as Wall Touching or Cockroach-ing) to one of his singers. Robb and I find Wall touching inexplicably amusing. It entertains us, for all the wrong reasons. A number of years ago, Robb was involved in one of those bizarre projects that you secretly hope nobody you know is ever going to see. You know what I'm talking about, a project where the pay is really good, but everything else about the project is stinky beyond measure. Robb was starrin

Gray Matters

... It has been rainy and gloomy here in Sunny California. Robb seems to be going through a low-energy period, and I'm still struggling with the symptoms of hepatitis. I know I'm feeling a lot better, but I'm still not what I would define as "well." At least I have the energy to knit, again. The sweater I'm making for Robb (pictured above) is a never-ending project. I have to knit over three thousand stitches in order for the sweater to grow an inch in length. I swear, I'll be ninety-seven years old by the time I finish it.

Water, Water Everywhere

We are in the middle of a series of storms here which promise to give us about a week of heavy rain and scary wind. Yesterday Lisa and I awoke to a deluge outside, rain coming down in buckets— most of it going sideways at 45 miles an hour. So naturally, I decided to go swimming. The pool at the YMCA has become like a second home to me. For an hour and a half, three or four days a week I can leave gravity behind: float, walk, swim and feel capable and confident. I've recently discovered the importance of having a physical activity I do well and feel good about. The water is a great equalizer. I can forget all about the things I can't do while on dry land. I've found no other activity, even cycling, from which I can get an aerobic workout. I've likewise found no other activity which can relieve my muscular spasticity. I always leave there feeling hopeful, exhilarated and completely exhausted. Now I just wish I could feel as positive about this rain.