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Showing posts from November, 2010

Junk Food for Bees?

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... Here's an interesting article that ran in today's New York Times . It seems that the beekeepers in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn were noticing that their bees were producing freaky candy-red honey. Was the local maraschino cherry factory to blame? While this may seem silly, it does point to a deeper issue of beekeeping. Many, many beekeepers harvest every drop of their bees' honey. They then replace the bees' food with high-fructose corn syrup or other foods based on sugar, which in turn is stored in the honey combs. So, the honey you're buying at the supermarket may not be honey after all. Years ago, honey was sold in its wax comb, so that consumers could see that the vendor wasn't selling a false product. Nowadays, even an "all natural" presentation won't tell a shopper if the honey was made from the nectar of flowers, or from a vat of corn syrup. It's a crazy world we live in. We humans sure are good at making a mess of things.

Feeling a Little Punchy

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... While many of you are gorging on leftover pie, and wondering why your pants all have spontaneously shrunk, I've been at work. Saturday was supposed to be the day that I could sleep late, before heading in to work. But the universe had other plans for my slumbers. Sometime in the middle of the night, Robb punched me in the face. I woke up to the sensation of a fist slamming into my nose. When I protested, Robb informed me that he had been fluffing his pillow. He had no memory of this in the morning. One Year Ago. Levitating Cat Food. Two Years Ago. Black Friday Tragedy. Three Years Ago. Freeing Wild Birds -- Video Footage. Four Years Ago. A Thanksgiving Tragedy.

Nothwithstanding a few drawbacks, there is still much to be thankful for this winter.

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... Wishing everyone a very happy Thanksgiving. I'll be working most of the weekend, so that we can open one of our two "holiday" shows. A year ago. Persimmon harvest! Two years ago. Wine, in the South of France. Three years ago. After weeks of volunteering at the bird rehab hospital, I'm invited to release healthy birds back into the wild. Four years ago. Robb starts aqua-therapy.

Trigger Finger

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x As if I needed yet another excuse to see a doctor... today I went to see and orthopedist where I learned that my clicking thumb is called a "trigger finger." I got a cortisone shot and a one-page handout explaining how much it's going to hurt and for how long and how normal that is. Frankly, an aching thumb's got nothin' on a broken back. (camissonia: This is Robb giving Sean Connery a run for his money -- he played 007 on stage about 15 years ago.)

Back

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... Today was my first day back at the pool since fracturing a vertebrae four weeks ago. It was great to be back in the water. I've had next to no physical activity this past month apart from some household chores and my muscles were letting me know it today. Before all this recent trouble, I was doing my one hour workout about three days a week. Today, I was amazed at how a relatively short hiatus from regular exercise could have such a huge effect on my strength. Fortunately, as I predicted, much of my time in the pool today was taken up by catching up with my friends there who had been speculating about my absence. Normally I swim laps for thirty or forty minutes but today I was content to paddle, wade and tread my way across the shallow end while chatting about FDR, cortisone injections, Sharon Springs NY, and the carbohydrate content of sake versus whiskey.

Complementary Colors

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... Remember the Color Wheel? Remember the notion of complementary colors, located across the wheel from one another? Well, during my very busy weekend, I noticed a few lovely pairings of blue and orange. The few persimmons that grew on our tree this year are ripe, and the local birds didn't lose any time in finding them. This Western Scrub Jay is feasting. And this slug is probably having a fine meal of orange fungus on the side of a fallen log. (How was everyone's weekend? I worked all Saturday. Robb and I refinanced our house with a door-to-door notary on Sunday. I went to the grand opening of a fiber studio in Oakland, and most of the meeting of a local hand-spinning guild. And I went hiking.)

Meanwhile, back at the Theatre...

... ... I haven't written much about the project we've been working on at the theater. We're doing a project with Lemony Snicket and Phantom Limb. It's beautiful, and it's eating our lives. Right after that, we're bringing back Mary Zimmerman's Arabian Nights , which I never got to see the first time. Then we have to pack and move our studio. Then it's Christmas. And then we open two more shows back-to-back . You'll forgive me if blog posts are not as frequent or elaborate as usual. This is going to be a long, arduous couple of months.

Personal Jet-Pack

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... This is pretty much what Robb's new back brace looks like. Can anyone advise us on where to buy rocket fuel?

Medical Care for the Boys

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... One of my favorite Far Side cartoons of all times. (Can y'all read the caption?) Over three weeks since he broke his back, Robb is finally finally getting his brace. We're trying not to be overly annoyed at the delay. He's also having another xray or ct scan, to check on the healing of his broken vertebra. And the Little Dude is going to to the vet for his second round of immunizations, and to get -- uh - "tutored."

His Name Is Smog

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... It took me a stupidly long time to figure out this cat's name. I wanted to give him a name that alluded to his tarnished silver color, and also to his oddly dragon-like appearance. We're calling him Smog, partly because he's a gritty, urban, California cat. Partly because Smaug was the name of the dragon in The Hobbit. And partly because he's a mongrel or "moggie." I can now admit that I wasn't sure he was going to live, when I brought him home. He was such a wreck of a cat. Scrawny, flea infested, with a shattered pelvis and horrible digestive issues. He's becoming a beauty. Despite the rough life he must have lead on the streets, he's utterly fearless, and entirely playful. And he's going to be HUGE.

Driven to Distraction

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... cute, huh? Not surprisingly, I'm stiff and sore the day after being rear-ended yesterday. But I'm counting my blessings. This could have been so much worse! I know it has been said a million time, but I'd still like to remind everyone to PAY ATTENTION WHEN DRIVING. This woman was retrieving a fallen backpack, and stopped watching the road. And she slammed right into my car. I can't tell you how many near-accidents I witness, where the offending driver is sending text messages. Heavens to Betsy, people! If you message is so stinkin' important, pull over for fifteen seconds, and give that message your full attention. I'll also take a moment to say that people who insist that this is a "teen problem" aren't paying attention. Most of the offending texting drivers (and phone yakkers) that I see on the roads are in their twenties and thirties. If you're justifying this behavior because you think you have so much driving experience

Curses!

... Neither of us are feeling so great tonight. Robb has a fever. And I was rear-ended on the drive home from work today. I swear, my huge bright red car must have some kind of invisibility feature, because this is not the first time that someone has drive right into me. At least this time, no damage was done, and the other driver didn't hit-and-run. My neck is sore tonight, and I'm not looking forward to tomorrow.

Little things that bring happiness to a weekend.

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... Robb has been cooped up in the house, ever since he broke his back three weeks ago. He's only left the house for medical appointments. On Friday, he drove himself to the grocery store. He was happy that his car started, since it had been sitting in the driveway for weeks. I think he was pretty happy to have regained some measure of independence. He did admit that he got really exhausted, walking through our tiny local market, and ended up forgetting one of the main things that he wanted to buy. But he did it. (I may as well admit that the idea of Robb driving so soon after his injury made me very nervous. I'm happy that it all worked out so well. And I'm glad he decided to make his first outing one that was close to home.) For whatever reason, Robb was never issued a back brace/cast/support device. At this point, he may not even need it. He still cannot stand for more than a few minutes, but he is able to stand, without the orthotic device. We had several lovely

Italian Lords and Ladies

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... When we first looked at our little house, the Italian Lords and Ladies ( arum italicum ) in the back yard were putting on a lovely show. They were planted under the (dying) mulberry tree, where they looked very pretty. I'm now beginning to think that these plants are Serious Garden Thugs. Every single time I stick a shovel in the ground, I unearth arum bulbs. Hundreds and hundreds of arum bulbs. From what I've read, this European native is considered a pretty serious pest in most of North America . They spread like crazy, and may cause contact dermatitis. I'm really not sure what to do with the bulbs. Should I keep them, because they really are quite attractive and the shadier areas of my garden are so barren, or should I toss them into the "green bin" and send them off to be composted? Would it be horribly irresponsible to mail them to fellow gardeners? I'm torn. And I may as well warn blog readers that I'll probably post an almost-i

Visiting Hours

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... Thanks once again for the cards and good wishes ... and the books! I am feeling much better this week, although I am going a bit stir-crazy. So, if you find yourself in East Oakland, we'd like to invite you to stop by for (brief) visits this weekend. It looks like it will be a great couple of days for hanging out in the garden. We might be peeking into a beehive or two, and you might not be allowed to leave without some leek transplants. (Our minimum order arrived yesterday and it's enough to start a small leek farm.) We will give one bit of visiting advice: anyone who is unimpressed with the state of our housekeeping is more than welcome to vacuum. Real friends will keep their mouths shut about any dust bunnies that they might notice. A year ago. The awesomeness of pelicans. Two years ago. Cheese in France. Three years ago. Understanding the volume of an oil spill. Four years ago. Utterly absurd job advice.

Preparing for the Winter Garden

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... Summer is officially over, and so I spent part of the last two weekends tearing out spent plants, and preparing my vegetable garden for autumn. I keep reminding myself how horrible the back garden looked when we moved in last year. Even though things are still a huge mess, the current disarray is a vast improvement on where we started. Eventually, I'm going to re-work my garden paths, but for now, I'm using redwood planks as modular paths. My soil is incredibly dense, so I've been adding compost, sawdust and coconut fibers to loosen things up, and to add nutrients to the soil. Coconut fiber, otherwise known as "coir," is a great alternative to peat . It's an agricultural by-product. (Too bad it's shipped from so far away.) I got this block of coir from craigslist. The woman who originally bought it had big plans for indoor worm-composting that never got off the ground. Coir comes in a crazily dense block, which needs to be broken a

Our Thriving Kitten

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... Remember when the kitten I found on the side of the road looked like this? Starving, flea-bitten, and generally a mess? Well, he's doing wonderfully. He's playful, and fluffy and just as sweet as can be. He is so much stronger and steadier than we ever could have imagined. His fur is thick and healthy, and his absurd old-man ear-tufts just keep getting longer and longer. Not surprisingly, since he had to get around with a shattered pelvis, his front legs and shoulders are hugely muscular. The Little Cat has settled into a very contented life, exploring our house and our gardens, and snoozing and wrestling with his big uncles, Cardigan and Sleeves. For a cat who had been close to death, starving and with a seriously injury, he's remarkably fearless and happy. He sleeps on our bed every night, and spends most evenings cuddled up with me on the couch. He also enjoys cozying up to our vintage stove, and slurping up the heat from the pilot light. The Lit

A Riot of Color and Flavor

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... Because I've never had both the space and time to grow them before, this is my first year as a bean farmer. We got these " Trail of Tears " beans from Seed Saver's Exchange , and I'm really delighted by them. They were stupidly easy to grow (although a bit expensive), and they're just so beautiful. I set them down on a vintage lawnchair in the back yard and just about swooned when I saw their crazy purple shadows. This chair was a roadside scrounge from Hartford Connecticut. It also almost murdered my sister. When Robb broke his back the first time, our lives came to a screeching halt. Like it or not, we had to slow the hell down. Our new Life in the Slow Lane gave us the opportunity to take time to appreciate the little pleasures in life. We got to look at things up-close. How about these beautiful not-so-very-black beans? Aren't they beautiful? And what about our flaming persimmon tree? A week ago, it had green leaves. Persimmons are i

Saving up Silver and Gold

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... The day Robb broke his back, I was supposed to start a hand-spinning class. When I called the store to tell them that I wouldn't be attending, and told them the reason, the person on the other end of the phone replied in a way that indicated to me that she was only half-listening, and that she was probably also updating her Facebook status, and picking dirt out from under her fingernails. Me (trying to hold emotions in check): "I signed up for the spinning class that starts tonight, and I won't be able to attend, because my partner just broke his back, and we're at the Emergency Room. Could someone please call me later about rescheduling or about a refund?" She (in a distant sing-song voice): "Oh ... ... ... okay." Me (thinking): don't-start-crying. don't-start-crying. don't-start-crying. I did go to the class last week, and spent most of the two hours right on the verge of tears. It was pathetic. I was pathetic. Earli

Thanks for the Mail!

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... I want to thank everyone who has sent Robb some mail. The notes, the books and the puzzles are all greatly appreciated. I know that Robb is trying to be a good sport, but I really do think he's got to be bored out of his mind. A special thank you to the person who addressed their mail to "Robb with the Broken Back." Our postal carrier refuses to believe that Robb is actually disabled, and won't let us move our mailbox to a place where Robb can actually retrieve our mail. Most days, Robb has to wait until I get home from work before he can read the mail.

We find it all very bracing.

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... Yesterday, Robb was fitted for a custom brace, to help support his spine while his broken back heals. I'm trying not to be too stressed out by the fact that Robb broke his back over a week ago, and still isn't wearing anything like a cast. Instead, I'm using my energy to imagine what his new back support device might look like. What do you think? I have no doubt that Robb would rock any and all of these looks.

we want to hear that you voted

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... Please leave a comment, telling us that you voted today. (And please be respectful of the variety of viewpoints held by blog readers.)

No, Really!

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... I'm terribly embarrassed that people thought that the list I wrote was a "please buy these things for us" type list. It was just a stupid count of things that I had bought for our household, after Robb broke his back on Monday. Please don't send us blankets, or yarn. We have plenty of both. Your good thoughts are more than enough.