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Showing posts from April, 2008

On the Other Hand

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... There's a convention in literature that idle aristocrats have satin-smooth hands, while laboring serfs' hands have been roughened and distorted by their work. To my mind, it seemed awfully convenient that the most casual reader can discern so much about the book's characters by observing their strong jaws, or noble brows, or aristocratic hands. I always scoffed at this sort of thing as being on par with characters who succumb to fits of hysterical fainting and brain fever. However, there really seems to be something to this soft-hands-of-those-who-don't-toil thing. Since Robb has not been working, his hands have become freakishly soft. You can look at the photo of my lunchtime companion (pictured above) to get an idea of the texture of my skin. I may have long aristocratic fingers, but I am a manual laborer.

Sock it to Me

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It used to be that Robb was unable to sleep with socks on his feet. It was just one of those things. I don't like pointy objects near my eyes. Robb didn't like wearing socks in bed. And now, because the messages that his damaged nerves send his brain are so jumbled, Robb is unable to bear the sensation of sheets sliding over his naked feet. He now cannot stand being in bed without socks on. Thanks goodness we have sock-knitters in our lives! There was a period of time when Robb could only sleep if he was wearing the super-soft alpaca socks Martha made him. Nothing else would do. How do you like this illustration? It is by an artist named Tina Berning .

More Cuteness! With Some Weird Stuff Thrown in For Good Measure.

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... I was finally feeling well enough that the cabin fever and boredom won out over my cold, so Robb and I saddled up the bikes, and headed down to Cesar Chavez Park, where he had seen Ground Squirrel babies. Few things in the world are cuter than Ground Squirrels, but their babies are so adorable that it could make a sane person's brain hurt. They are tiny, just a bit bigger than an eastern chipmunk, and smaller than a gerbil. Unlike their fearless parents, baby Ground Squirrels are shy and timid. But they are clearly very curious, if you are patient and very quiet, you can watch them, exploring their world. "What does this rock sniff like, I wonder?" "Are sticks tasty?" Ground Squirrels aren't the only ones with new families. Canada Geese are very good parents. Robb and I have noticed that they often have an "auntie" who helps raise the goslings. In the case of this family, a gull was harassing the little ones, probably with th

Well

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... While I do have enough good sense to not call up ex-boyfriends during protracted bouts of insomnia, and I often remember to let angry emails sit over night before I decide to actually send them, I apparently don't have enough self control to avoid worrying our loud whilst soaked to the gills on cold medicine. I must be getting a little bit better. I've been able to concentrate long enough to finish the neckline on my two languishing sweaters. Now I need to regain the brains required to lengthen some woefully short sleeves, and figure out how to make armpit gussets. I know you're all dying to hear all about my armpits. Let's see how much self control I can exercise on this topic. Like that candy heart? You can have one , too.

Un-Changing-Ness

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... I've used this photo-montage, before on the blog but it tells the story of just about every cold I get. I'm flat on the couch, reading Edwardian children's literature, and being trompled on by an affectionate fluffy kittycat. Beloved cats pass away. Worn-out furniture is eventually replaced. Different books are re-read. I have to confess that I've been feeling pretty stuck, and being sick doesn't help my mood. While Robb seems to have an infinite supply of Great Attitude, I've been doing a huge amount of worrying lately. Worrying about our finances. We're living on way less money than we used to. And that's saying a lot, considering that we are both artists. Worrying about my career. Have I "topped out" in my field? If I want to make a change, will I be able to afford to go back to school? Am I too old to ponder a radical career change? Do I even want to change, or am I just suffering a temporary period of discontent? Worr

Stronger Than Ever

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When I was in the hospital a therapist told me he heard that, for a paralyzed person, taking a shower was the cardiovascular equivalent of an able-bodied person running up a flight of stairs. That idea stuck with me and I remember later thinking as I was struggling up a flight of stairs and out of breath, how many showers does this equal? And still later as I reached our apartment door with a bag of groceries: How many Everests was that? I can go up and down stairs a bit faster now. When I first got home, it took about three and a half minutes per flight –– with someone guarding my every step. But I still get out of breath every time. So it occurred to me to wonder, is my average trip to the store equal to an aerobics class? Well maybe it’s not that intense but I think I’m seeing some of the benefits. I’ve been noticing that lately I can cycle faster. I can swim an entire pool length on a single breath. At a recent doctor’s visit, a nurse who didn’t see me walk in, took my puls

"Oh, and you can file it under Tongue!"

... Robb just came back from the kitchen, laughing. "I've got to stop doing this," he said. Apparently, he's gotten into the practice of popping pills in his mouth before getting a glass of water, and by the time he gets the glass and the water, he has forgotten which pills he's put in his mouth, and has to go over to the hall mirror and examine his tongue.

When We Grow Up, We Will Be Dignified and Fierce

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... But right now, we are goofy-looking, cross-eyed, and we have mouse-blood milk-moustaches. (Click on this photo for a larger view. If you are like me, it will make you snort with laughter.) Here is one of the parents, watching the photographers, watching the babies. Some animal parents leave their offspring to fend for themselves, and some, like these owls, devote a lot of effort to raising their young, and teaching them everything they'll need to know to be successful on their own. Here's an interesting article on Wikipedia .

Out Without Robb

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... While we were out yesterday, I saw a sign about a bird walk in Walnut Creek , and made a deal with myself. If the festering crisis at work stayed under control, and I didn't have to stay up overnight to re-paint the stage floor, I would get up at 6am, and go hiking. Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm not a morning person. I love nothing better than sleeping late on the weekends. Bizarrely, this hike caught my fancy, and I was out the door shockingly early. The walk was in Lime Ridge Open Space , a wonderful undeveloped parcel of land in Contra Costa County. This is a view out of Lime Ridge, and into the soon-to-be-open-to-the-public Mangini Ranch , which will (almost) create a corridor of undeveloped land between Lime Ridge and Mount Diablo. As it is, Mountain Lions from Mount Diablo are known to mosey over to Lime Ridge and snack on the local deer populations. The signs posted about the local wildlife made me really happy. They warned human visitors that this open

Working on Walking

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... Although Robb spends a lot of time doing aquatic therapy, swimming laps and cycling, he doesn't do a whole lot of walking. Walking is extremely difficult, and he tires so quickly that his muscles just "give up." Walking also has the unpleasant side-effect of triggering massively uncomfortable muscular spasticity, where Robb's muscles convulsively clench themselves and don't let go. Despite this, I've been worrying that he may be not doing himself any favors by avoiding walking. I was delighted when Robb suggested that we head out to Mitchell Canyon, to see if we could get a gawk at the spring wildflowers. It wasn't the easiest walk, but Robb did remarkably well. The flowers were more subtle than magnificent, at least where we were. There's an advantage to walking slowly, though. You really get to examine your surroundings. Look at the wee buggies on the Blue Dicks ! How adorable! A glorious flower on the trail was Ithuriel’s Spe

Candi

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... Even though I don't have time to write anything, I just had to share these photos of the Belgian " Candi Sugar " Robb made last night. Yes folks, this is really going to end up inside a delicious bottle of beer!

Between Hard Ball and Soft Crack

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... When I came home from work, Robb was in Mad Scientist Mode. He's been reading up on the brewing of Belgian Style Strong Ales , which apparently relies on caramelized sugar for part of the fermentation process. Robb had excavated our candy-thermometer from our soap making supplies, and was baby-sitting the boiling sugar on the stove. Unlike other styles of beer-making, which involve a lot of sitting around and waiting, this recipe required a lot of constant participation on Robb's part. I think he was really hurting after caramelizing the sugar. But, hey....when he's done, we'll have two or three gallons of Belgian style strong ale! That's almost worth it, right? We won't discuss the apparently world-wide shortage of hops, or the fact that Robb has not assembled all the ingredients for this brew. He tells me that if he can't find the correct hops, he'll make a Finnish beer out of spruce twigs. I informed him that in some cultures, serv

So Demented ... So-o-o-o-o-o Cute!

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What could look more like a hideously insane evil teddy bear than a baby Great Horned Owl? How about THREE BABY GREAT HORNED OWLS? (That blob in the middle is a napping owlet who couldn't be bothered with us.) I had been seeing photos online of a nest-full of baby owls, and during lunch I dragged Sheri off to take a look. Robb wasn't available, and I'm not really sure he's up for the climb. I'm having a really hard time, writing anything sensible. These owls are turning my brain to jelly with their evil cuteness. Look at that yawn! In fact, click on that photo. It's even crazier when you see it large. As demented as the owls were, I also had to laugh at the "rat-dog beware" sign that the East Bay Regional Parks posted. Seems that the owls are fierce defenders of their nests, and aren't afraid of attacking dogs or dog walkers. "Dudes! These owls regularly kill and eat skunks ! Your yappy little lapdog doesn't stand a cha

In Support of California's Marine Life

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... Readers of this blog know how much Robb and I value the natural world, and in particular the amazing band of life that exists where the ocean meets the land. So, we would like to ask our readers to take a moment to drop an email to protect the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve , the site of one of the California's most unique ecosystems . This is our favorite spot when we want to see tidepools and new-born baby seals (click these links, they are really awesome), it is where we go if we want a dose of "wild." Many, many letters have been written from the other point of view, which would open part of this (currently) protected shoreline to recreational fishing. We feel that this would have a seriously negative impact on the unique and fragile place. Please, click this link , and give your support to the continued protection of California's coast. On a personal note, Fitzgerald is one of our "special places" where we take out-of-town visitors when we wa

He's Goin' the Distance

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... Robb called me from the trail today because he wanted to share something with me. According to the odometer on his trike, he has now cycled ONE THOUSAND MILES . I would be willing to bet that there aren't many fully able bodied readers of this blog who've cycled that much in the past thirteen months! Very recently, Robb has regained enough foot and ankle strength to enable him to "clip into" his pedals normally. Up to this point, he relied on me to do this, and when I wasn't around, he untied his shoes, clipped them to the pedals, and then stuck his feet int his shoes. This, as you can imagine, was a tedious and time consuming procedure. (Despite this fact, I believe that these photos were taken from the seat of the trike.) Don't worry! We do know the difference between this harmless Pacific Gopher Snake and his venomous cousins.

Wings

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... I'm still feeling remarkably like warmed-over death on a biscuit, and I've been sick long enough to contract a bad case of cabin fever. We were having extraordinarily beautiful weather this weekend, and being stuck inside was just killing me. So around three in the afternoon, Robb and I took a little drive out to Alameda, where we checked on a very elusive letterbox of mine (alive and well) and bought a bottle of Absinthe (to be consumed at a later date). We then headed out to one of the local parks we refer to as We've Brought You Here to Kill You State Park . You know the place, I'm sure. The almost-empty parking lot is littered with glass from smashed car windows and liquor bottles. There's not a soul in sight. And it doesn't look like anyone has stopped by to do maintenance in several years. These parks are often amazing hot-spots for nature-watching, because of their neglect. I had been hoping to see hummingbirds, because the first time we