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Showing posts from January, 2010

Four Years

... It hardly seems appropriate to "celebrate" the anniversary of Robb's spinal cord injury. I mean, what are we supposed to do: light candles on our cupcakes, or break open a bottle of bubbly? We could take a hard look at how far Robb's condition has improved since he broke his back, but honestly, we do that pretty much every day. The thing that's been rattling around inside my brain today is how many of our blog readers never knew us, before the accident. I have to say, I still have a hard time adjusting to the ratio of friends who knew us before Robb was paralyzed, versus those who met us since that time. But, rather than being weirded out, why don't we celebrate all of the our old friends, and all the people who have come into our lives since that day, four years ago? *Clink.*

A Taylor-Made Hive

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... Our friend Taylor keeps bees in her backyard in Alameda. They're remarkably mellow ladies. When Taylor heard that Robb and I wanted to start beekeeping, she generously offered to give us part of her colony. Bees have a fascinating social structure (click for video), and one of the things that's particularly interesting is how in the spring, bees will often voluntarily divide their colonies . The reigning queen and half of her bees, will leave behind a safe home and all of the honey that they've worked so hard to create. They fly off in a group , and look for a new home . The remaining bees will breed a new queen, who will (hopefully) mate and carry on the life of the hive. The fact that the queen leaves all the colony's resources behind strikes me as quite amazing. It seems really selfless, because -- other than what they're carrying in their stomachs -- the bees are leaving everything behind, to start a new life, and to let a new generation of

Hummingbird Cuteness!

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... Today was an unexpectedly sunny day. Robb and I were sitting out in our garden, eating breakfast, when a hummingbird flew up to the crocosmia plant . I'm not sure what it is about this plant's leaves, but they have some quality that makes water bead up on them. The hummingbird enchanted us, by drinking the dewdrops. And then he started rolling around on the leaves, and taking the tiniest bird bath imaginable. It was insanely adorable.

This is good for a smile

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Planting Seeds as a form of Optimism

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... I sowed lettuce and radish outside, last weekend. Robb doesn't believe he likes radishes, but I intend to prove him wrong. Radishes, when young and fresh are delicious. We've got all sorts of seeds germinating in the room that will some day be an office. Up until last week this was the Crap Dumping Room, but Robb's been trying to weed through all of our random junk, and get us better organized. Our tomatillos have actually sprouted. There's a tiny, fuzzy, pale root, just poking out of the bottom of each seed. It's very hopeful. Back when I spent my summers in Cooperstown, working for Glimmerglass Opera, I used to start plants in Maryland, and then drive to New York with a car full of baby plants. Eventually, the tomatillos all re-seeded, and Ellen and I started buying plants from her friends who owned a garden center. As a frustrated garden-less urbanite, I wasn't going to miss one second of growing time. Nevermind that I was only living at th

As Right as Rain

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It has been raining for what seems like forever. I'm happy about this, because California has been in a multi-year drought . But at the same time, I'm tired of the gloom, the mud and the chill, and the damp miserable-ness of my perpetually cold feet. This lovely photo of backyard crocosmia leaves notwithstanding, the Bay Area looks really depressing right about now. Robb has been having a hard time, with wracking muscular spasticity. He missed Ashely's baby shower on Sunday, because his body, from the navel down, was in a state of unending spasm. In addition to being freaky and painful, this is also really exhausting. Imagine your muscles clenching themselves over and over again in waves of gripping spasms, and then imagine how tiring that would be. Now imagine this going on for hours. Robb has been cooking the most delicious food lately, including this beautiful spinach pasta. He got it into his head to make egg noodles some time last month, and since then, w

Taming the Tigers

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... Yesterday, for the first time, the feral cat that we call Cardigan sat on my lap. And today, Robb was honored by Cardigan's trust. Cardigan's brother, Sleeves, seems pretty disgusted by all of this. I won't lie. Cheese was involved.

Uncluttering the Garden

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... The last seven days have brought us nothing but gloom and rain. Incredibly, the only clear day fell on a Saturday, which meant a chance to get outside. (We're due for another week of rain. Sigh.) The garden at our house has a number of terribly neglected rosebushes. I know next to nothing about roses, but even I knew that one of my bushes was being swallowed alive by the out-of-control crocosmia . To let you know how bad it was: Robb didn't even realize that there was a rosebush inside the crocosmia leaves. Today, I spread a tarp on the sloppy-wet ground and set to digging. I don't seem to own a trowel, and my wonderful digging knife is at work, so I used a shovel to do the loosening, and then switched to a pie-server for the delicate work. Say what you will, we primates are good at adapting tools to suit our needs. I cleared out all the large bulbs (actually corms) and all the baby plants that were choking the rosebush. I don't have long-term plan

Snapshots from a California Garden

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... Just outside our back door is a beautiful dwarf lemon tree. We don't know what variety we've got, but we love it. The fruits ripen to a beautiful globe shape, and I think they have an almost peppery fragrance. The fruits are ripening, just now. I really enjoyed having an endless supply of lemons when I was sick with laryngitis, a few weeks ago. Citrus are incredible trees, because they simultaneously have fully ripe fruits fruits and brand-new flowers on their branches. The flowers have an intoxicating scent, that seems significantly more fragrant after the sun goes down. If even half of the flowers on this tree develop into lemons, we're going to be in Citrus Heaven next year.

Waking up can be such a Drag

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... Now, for no reason, a transcript of one of my dreams. I've been keeping a dream journal over on Facebook, but this one had too many character so I'm going to share it with blog readers, instead. Dreamt I was the historical Casanova, and in addition, I could time-travel and fly. At one point, I was climbing (as Lisa) down a steep wooded ravine with Robb, helping him find the safest path. We were being passed by Northern Californians who were on their way to pick up their horses, and change into the ethnic clothes of Eurasian herders. Later, I was captured by someone passing themselves off as the new database manager at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, but who was, in fact, a super-evil Bond-villain, set on a course of world domination (as ever). I escaped temporarily, but then made some kind of deal that everyone would be saved if I could party-crash my own outdoor funeral cross-dressed as a beautiful 18th century noblewoman. Somewhere in all that, my (Casanova's)

Dreaming of Spring

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... I've been laid up with bronchitis and laryngitis for about a week. I've been working half-days, and coming home and conking out. I had been a bit worried about getting sick, with the same bad chest cold, over and over again, but it seems that quite a few of the people at the theater have the same complaint, so I'm going to stop fretting that I've somehow ruined my immune system, and get on with my life. We're due for a week of rain, so Robb and I took advantage of a beautiful Saturday, to do some outside work. I consolidated and moved my compost. It's quite incredible how this pile is digesting garden waste and food scraps. We cook from scratch, every day, which creates a lot of compost fodder. And yet miraculously, we don't have a huge stinkin' heap of rotting vegetables in the back yard. What we've got is a dark brown forest-smelling pile that converts veggie trimmings into food for our garden. I bought Robb a portable table saw fo

more than a sore throat

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... While Ellen was visiting, I was coming down with a cold. At the time, I didn't realize that I was getting sick, but I was aware of being crankier than I had any right to be. Sorry Ellen. Sorry Robb. Please forgive me for being weird and fussy and impatient and out-of-sorts. So, now I've got a full-throttle case of laryngitis, and a really miserable cold. I can't talk, and I don't really have the energy for conversation, anyway. In between bouts of coughing and dozing, I've been doing a bit of reading, and thinking about how fortunate Robb and I really are. Being sick is no fun, but every single time I take a sip of lemony water or tea, made with the lemons off of our tree, I have to smile. (I've been drinking a lot of lemon juice ... I wonder how long the lemon harvest will last?) Robb and I live in a beautiful place, with access to great food. We're able to cook from scratch, every single day. Most of our food comes from local farmers, relativ

Oh, I *LOVE* this!

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A Splash of Sunshine

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... When our friend Ellen came to visit last week, we spent a lot of our time bird-watching. I'm sure she appreciated the respite from her Minnesota winter, and the California birdies did not disappoint. One of our stops was Lake Merritt, in downtown Oakland, which is always a birding hot-spot. We were wandering around the community vegetable garden (I was curious to see what was in the ground -- I'm still trying to educate myself about the growing season in this climate), and a group of drab winter-colored American Goldfinches caught our eye. They were flitting around, looking for food. Quite unexpectedly, this roundy ball of sunshine joined their flock. He was quite obliging, and stayed more of less still, giving us lots of opportunities to scour our bird book. We thought he must have been a Western Tanager , although his coloration was wrong for this time of year. Nobody else looks this bright, and lives in this part of the country. When I got home, I upl

My winter of Colds

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... I think I have had a cold, pretty much all winter. I've come to the conclusion that our heating system may be part of my problem. After living with steam heat for years and years, our little house is dry. My scalp is so dry that it bleeds. I cough like an eighty year old smoker, every single morning. It's delightful. So, we bought the world's noisiest humidifier. (It's going back the the store.) I wanted the one shaped like a penguin , but couldn't find it locally. I put a saucepan of water on our heating grate this morning, and within about ten minutes there were simmering bubbles. We clearly haven't figured out how best to live with this heating system. (And for the record, the thermostat was set to 66 degrees. I guess it's not a subtle system.) What I really don't understand is the connection between respiratory illnesses and clumsiness and stupidity. Or the freezing cold, sweaty feet.

Exploding Honey from Killer Bees? Hardly. Hysterical Over-Reaction? Well, you be the judge.

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... "Explosive" at California airport found to be honey By Dan Whitcomb and Steve Gorman Tue Jan 5, 9:28 pm ET LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Authorities shut down a California airport on Tuesday after a suspicious amber liquid in a passenger's bag tested positive for explosives -- only to ultimately determine that the substance was honey. Francisco Ramirez, a 31-year-old gardener who had been visiting family in the central California city of Bakersfield, was allowed to return home to Milwaukee. "The substances in the bottles did turn out to be honey. They tested negative for all explosives and narcotics. It is nothing but honey," FBI spokesman Steve Dupre told Reuters. The security scare came as jitters gripped the U.S. travel industry in the aftermath of an unsuccessful Christmas Day attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound commercial flight from Amsterdam using explosives smuggled on board. Meadows Field Airport in Bakersfield, about 100 miles north of Los Ange

Look Around -- Life is Amazing!

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... Sometimes the most incredible things are to be found in the least impressive places. Robb and I were clambering around in some rotting, long-fallen trees in the Oakland Hills, and we found all of these freaky, wonderful, tiny fungi. I know that the first picture shows a bunch of Bird's Nest Mushrooms. My sister and I saw these (or things just like this) in France last winter. Look on th ebottom edge of the wood, and you'll see "eggs" inside of "nests." The "eggs"" are actually teeny-tiny puffballs, that hold mushroom spores. The "nests" are about a quarter of an inch across, so you can imagine the size of those puffballs. Incredible. This, I think, is some kind of Cup Fungus. It was about an inch across. Robb spotted about three of these, all on rotting wood. This may win the prize for Freakiest Find. Each of these little things were less than 2mm across. I have no idea what they are. I think that unles