Thursday, September 27, 2007

If Waxwings Talked

Psst... here's the idea
Let us gather together
Maybe change the world

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

graphic evidence

okay. so i panicked about having high blood pressure. half the country does; well, half the country has high BP, i don't know if they all panic about it. and worrying about it can't help. the report:

left ventricle wall thickness is normal (no damage from high BP) and systolic function is normal. abnormal left ventrical diastolic filling is observed, consistent with impaired relaxation (this is about my heart, not my general attitude). the other ventricle and both atria are normal in size. there is no evidence of aortic insufficiency. there is mild aortic valve stenosis. there is a trace of mitral regurgitation. there is a trace of tricuspid regurgitation. there is a trace of pulmonic regurgitation. there is no pericardial effusion. the aorta appears normal. the main pulmonary aorta appears normal. no pulmonary hypertension is noted.

conclusions:
1. mild aortic stenosis.
2. evidence for diastolic dysfunction.
3. chordal systolic anterior motion.
4. mild mitral valve leaflet thickening.

this is not life threatening (yet), but i do need to have lower BP. below is a chart of my BP. i'm not rigorous about the time of day i check my BP, so the three data points are morning, afternoon, and evening. i began treating myself with an herbal product called Hypavera on sept. 14. as i hope you can see on the chart there is not a noticeable change in BP after that. so after a conference with the doctor on the 20th, where he explained all this and gave me scrips for hydrochlorothiazide (a diuretic, which is supposed to help my body get rid of sodium, which is the cause, somehow of high BP) and Klor-Con (potassium chloride, to replace the potassium that the diuretic leaches out of me). i started those on the 23 of September. i'm a geezer with pills.

you may have to click on this chart to get a big picture to see the words and lines clearly. the upper lines are systole. the dark blue is actual daily readings. the yellow line is an average. the lower lines are diastole. the pink is daily readings, the light blue is an average. in any case the upper lines, systole, are mostly close to 160 and the lower lines, diastole, are roughly varying a bit around 100. not good.

too much technical stuff? too much for me too. i still feel good. robin says i look good. who am i to blow against the wind?

in other news....we have ripe datil peppers! bright yellow! i cut open some green ones 2 weeks ago, saved the mature-looking seeds, and put the sliced peppers in a jar with olive oil. wow. datils are HOT. now i have the very two ripe yellow datils in the picture, sans seeds, in another jar of oil. i put the pepper oil on all sorts of food. very tasty. the weather has turned cool so i don't expect all the datils still growing to ripen completely, but even green they are tasty and tangy. when the plants start to wilt i'll pick all the remaining fruits. and take pictures of the harvest.

capsiaicin, the hot part of peppers, is reputed to have beneficial effects on health. thank you FC for sending me seeds to these very interesting plants. peppers are measured on the hotness Scoville scale. datils are about 30 times hotter than Jalapeño peppers

Tabasco Sauce (tabasco pepper = 2,500–5,000

Jalapeño Pepper = 2500–8,000

Cayenne Pepper = 30,000–50,000

datil peppers = Scoville measurements between 100,000 and 300,000, about like habeñero

Monday, September 24, 2007

This Is Almost Everything

I had a post all ready for last Friday, but something happened. Not anything dramatic or in particular, just a quiet realization that what ever we have to say about the world doesn't really matter, so we might as well just go quiet. So we did. We still feel like being quiet. Not exactly the best thing for blogging, but that's just the way it goes. So here are a few things we've seen lately. It's not much, but it's almost everything. We're okay, we just think the world is in such seriously bad shape that it takes our breath and our voices away.
This fly (we think it's a fly, it's got a single set of wings) was found dead, but in stunningly perfect condition. It's been a few days, and look at it. How it died like this, absolutely pristine, and lying at the threshold of the greenhouse is anyone's guess. We're keeping it.

While I was weeding in the new fall carrot bed, I noticed this perfect jawbone among the leaves. Roger thinks it came from the compost. That makes sense. I'm sure someone out there can identify which rodent this set of little teeth helped keep fed for a while. Check out the lines on that palm. Please feel free to read and tell me my fortune.

This caterpillar was walking up our window. I couldn't resist the view of its underside. Those great feet, the little false (they are false, aren't they?) eyes, and the strands of dust or web around its head, the telltale signs of where its been.

A red-breasted sapsucker in our willow tree. First time. We could hear it tap tap tapping, as it moved around the tree. A lovely faraway sound.

Roger says he'll do a post on Wednesday, an update on his health report and the amazing datil pepper harvest. It's the little things, and it's all we've got.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Look Into My Eyes

Is it crazy to love a caterpillar? Not romantically, of course, but just that feeling of gladness at the sight of it and gratitude for its very being. Maybe it is, but look at this caterpillar. Tell me he's not beautiful. Not a perfect genius of evolutionary expression. Couldn't you love this creature?
I found this guy crossing the road the other day, when I was walking home from the mailbox. I picked him on the envelope I had just retrieved and brought him closer so I could take a longer look. That's when I saw he had these perfectly beautiful, but false eyes. They were bright yellow with deep blue centers. I looked into them, and they seemed to have more depth than most sensing eyes I've peered into. I was absolutely captivated by them. So I took the caterpillar home to photograph. I found myself talking to him the whole way, explaining that it was a short walk, I wouldn't hurt him, and I would set him free right away. I pretended that he listened with his invisible caterpillar ears.

After I took these pics, I carefully carried the caterpillar into the woods, away from the road. If all goes well, he will become a Western Tiger Swallowtail. Something I will be just as happy to see next summer, and will love as much.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Night Lights

Something woke me at a quarter to midnight last Thursday night. It wasn't a sound, but a very bright light. I didn't remember turning the motion sensor lights back on, but that didn't mean we hadn't. The light was shining in from the front of the house. Strange. I got out of bed and walked around the house to investigate. We live out in the country, there are no streetlights, or close neighbors. So it was eerie and surprising for things to be so bright. When I looked out the office window I could see that there was a car in our driveway, and it looked to have its high beams on, shining right into the spare bedroom and the office windows. I went back into the bedroom and woke Roger.

"Hey you might want to take a look, there's a car in our driveway shining a bright light right into the house."

He jumped right up, threw on his pants.

robin wakes me.

she says i've got to see this light outside. i go to look. WOW!!!!!!!! there is some kind of large vehicle in our driveway with a VERY BRIGHT SPOTLIGHT shining at our house. the spare bedroom is lit up like daylight. i slide into the room in the slim sliver of unilluminated space by the door to cautiously peek out. i can't see shit for the damn spotlight shining directly at me. the office room right next to the spare bedroom is sheltered from the direct glare by a tree outside. out the window here i can dimly see a vehicle with parking lights on in front of the thing with the BIG LIGHT. this is weird. i am not going out there. "call 911" sez robin. i'm on it!

I said, "Please don't go outside. Call 9-1-1."

the 911 operator asks where i am. i give her my name and address. she sez "that's a deputy sheriff out there arranging for a car to be towed, i'll ask him to turn off the light" and hangs up before i can ask anything further. a minute later the light goes out. okay. it's the deputy out there. but still. why is there a car in our driveway? why is the deputy there? WTF?

What? There's a car that needs to be towed from our house and deputies have come to arrange it? Somehow none of this makes sense, and not just because we had been sleeping and it is the middle of the freakin' night.

The deputy turns off the spotlight. Ah. Now we could see that there are two cars out there with their headlights on.

i turn on the outside lights to show that we're alive in here and venture out to investigate. by now there is a wrecker in the road. the first guy i see isn't in uniform, but what do i know about the local deputies, so i ask "what's going on?" the fellow i asked, who turns out to be the wrecker driver, says something like "drunk driver. we're towing her car away." then the actual deputy, who has been looking through the car itself from the side away from me, looks up and says "oh, this woman tried to hide in your driveway when the other deputy sheriff tried to pull her over for erratic driving. he arrested her for DUI." okay then. my work here is done.

With that information Roger came back into the house. There was still a lot of commotion out there. They decided to drive the car out on to the gravel road that leads to our driveway before they hooked it up to tow away. That was nice of them, I thought, but it still took me quite some time to fall back to sleep.

Later the next day when I had time to think about it, it occurred to me that the deputy should have called us to let us know what was going on right outside our front door. What do you think? I wouldn't have wanted him to knock on the door in the middle of the night, but I think we should have been apprised of what was happening out there rather than waking to this eerie and surreal scene. They were content to shine a spotlight on us and leave us in the dark. That is really not acceptable.

Friday, September 14, 2007

What We Did Instead

We're writing this at ten minutes to six on Thursday night in the pacific time zone. We're wondering if we should watch the crazy man that is the president speak? We know we'll be lied to. We know he has no intention to tell us why 160,000 troops should be in Iraq doing something that costs them their lives at the tune of 60 per month, a small price according to John Boehner. Should we actually watch him one more time?
Or should we go out into the garden and photograph metallic green bees, or try to identify the green flying insect we saw on our walk today? (Bev, any clues?)
Should we review this small inconsequential video we shot on Thursday of a heron walking in the fog? (Listen for the fog horn, in the beginning and at the end, a sound of the foggy coast.)
video
Or maybe we should just go out into the garage to see how the fantastic pewter-looking lizard is faring? (Rather well, there were two when we checked. BTW, these are very small lizards, about three inches from head to tip of tail.)
We agree, yes, let's do all of these things before we look at the smirking vacuous face. We'll do all of that, and if he is still talking, we'll go and shovel the compost from one bin to the other before we ever listen.
Ah, the fog lifts, and it's quite beautiful beneath.
**********
Here's a short update on Roger's health. His echocardiogram showed that he has a "slight diastolic dysfunction." The diastolic is the lower number in blood pressure. The systolic measures the heart in contraction, and the diastolic measures the heart when it relaxes. Roger's diastolic measurement shows that his heart doesn't relax as much as it should. So, he has an appointment next Thursday to talk with the doctor about how to proceed. We'll keep you posted.

Have a great weekend, friends. We'll be back on Monday.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Everything in Season

Venus rises with the crescent moon at dawn.

The deer curls up dreamily with apples.
The salmon begin their end-of-life run up Chimacum Creek.
A spider hides in the sunflower.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Remembrances of Things Past

On September 11, 2001 Roger and I woke in a cabin in Sierra City, Ca. The phone was ringing in our room. It was the first full day of our vacation. We had left Santa Cruz on Sunday afternoon September 9th and driven 250 miles to Truckee, Ca where we spent the night, and the morning drove the back roads to Sierra City. Our plan was to get there some time on the 10th, maybe do an afternoon hike, but to start our hiking vacation in the beautiful Lake Basin on the 11th. Our cabin had a full kitchen and bath, a TV with satellite, a telephone. We didn't have cell phones or a laptop. Primitive by 21st century standards. I had given our travel plans to my mother and my sister. They always know where we are, and we talk everyday no matter what. So even though we planned to be essentially out of touch, we were not out of reach.

The phone rang in our cabin at 7:00 in the morning. I couldn't believe it. Who would possibly call us so early? I picked up the phone with trepidation. It was my sister. She said, "Turn the TV on."

I said, "Are you kidding. It's 7:00 in the morning. No. You have to tell me why first."

She said, "Turn the TV. You have to see what's going on."

I said, "You have to tell me why first, Lynn. You're totally scaring me."

She said, "Planes hit the World Trade Center in NY. Turn on the TV. You have to watch this."

I said, "Oh my god."

I hung up, while Roger fiddled around with the satellite TV and found the news. We turned it on just in time to see the first building fall.

This was the first morning of our vacation. We didn't know whether to stay in Sierra City or drive home immediately. We kept the TV on and thought about it for a while. We made our tea and toast and watched the second building fall. We both said out loud in that cabin, "Osama bin Laden." We knew right away. We did not say, Saddam Hussein. We knew right away.

We decided that we should at least hike that morning and think about what to do while we were out on the trails. We hiked around between 6,000 and 8,000 feet. We cried at alpine lakes. We wondered about our loved ones who worked in NYC (who we later learned were in the throngs of people who walked across the Brooklyn Bridge that day). Our original plan had been to stay until some time late on Friday, but this disaster took all the joy out of our steps.

We stayed all day Wednesday and took a longer and more challenging hike in the high country, but felt hollow and detached from the moment. We decided to pack our car and head home on Thursday morning. We needed to be with our families and our neighbors. We listened to NPR all the way home. We arrived and found our nearest and dearest neighbors, we stood in the middle of the street for a long time talking with them. We repeated every story, every rumor, every fear, every hope.

We knew then that some aspect of our nation's innocence had been taken, but what we hadn't expected was how the Bush administration would steal everything else.

And here we are.

Where were you that day, and how do you feel about it all now?

Friday, September 07, 2007

Heart Movies Heart Sounds

Here's Roger filling out paperwork before the echocardiogram. We like the mix of high and low tech devices.
this is being written just after returning from the hospital on thursday (while eating lunch):

i had blood taken last week and the results are good. low cholesterol. low psa. (the prostate cancer indicator). the vascular screening i had a week ago, a sonogram of various arteries, indicated all is ok. i.e. no aneurysms. today i had an echocardiagram, which is another sonogram, this time of my heart itself, to see if my high bp has damaged my heart. high bp sometimes causes valve wear and/or thickening of the heart muscle itself. the results (a gigabyte of data, according to the sonographer) were transmitted over the intertubes from the hospital here to the doctor elsewhere who will read the recording and then fax his interpretation to my doctor, whose nurse will call me on the phone to give me the news.

robin came along with me today, as she did for the previous test also. (good for my morale) this time she brought the camera. as the monitor showed a live action picture of my heart beating, actually of the valves opening and closing, she took little movies of the action. with sound.

so now i wait for the vast machinery of communication to cough up an opinion on the health of my heart. we hope to have an update here before we post this tonight. (Nope, no update.)
I did accompany Roger to the hospital for his echocardiogram. It was quite an experience to both see and hear his heart beating in his chest. The sonographer, who was incredibly kind to let me take photos, started each session by explaining where she was looking. She'd say, "There's your aorta... your mitral valve... the colors show the blood flow." I started taking still shots, like the one above, but realized I could probably capture the whole thing on video.
video
I found it thrilling to record this image of Roger's heart beating, to be able to watch the movement, the way the valves opened and closed. The sonographer measured points on the screen, then would click something and there would suddenly be color. She explained that the different colors represent the different speeds and directions of blood flow in the heart.
video
Then she clicked something else and we could hear Roger's heart working. The room filled with the sound, like from inside a submarine, from deep under water. Rhythmic, not mechanical, but regular and fluid. Astonishing. It was a sound I wished I could tune into anytime, just to listen - just to verify.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Hello Coyote

We finally took some time away from the serious matters of life and went for a very merry walk. The sun was out for a delightfully bright and cheerful change. So, we headed down to the creek. It's our favorite walk-out-the-door walk, no cars, no major planning.

When we arrived the creek was wide at full high tide and deeply green. We often take the creek walk during low and minus tides so we can walk straight out to the mouth and up the shoreline. At high tides like this one we are limited how far we can go, so we just sit on a great piece of driftwood and watch the world go by. It's mostly quiet of human sounds there. The herons squawk at us in unnervingly deep, hoarse croaks, and the kingfishers chatter in sharp rebuke at our approach. Every now and then a small plane engine interrupts all the other quiet murmurous buzzing, humming, and tidal lapping. Still it's all perfectly peaceful, and why we've come.

The other secret reason we walk here is because we are desperate to see something wild, something that will remind us that the world is not entirely made of bad presidents and lousy health care, or strange public-sex seeking senators and tainted food from China. We come down to the creek because here is where we've had our closest encounters with eagles, and we pretty much know which tree the red-tailed hawk sits in and hunts. We want a rendezvous with them. But wild critters can never be counted on, and on Wednesday they were simply not around. It was quiet. It's just the way it is with wildlife, their appearance always come straight out of nowhere. We haven't even talked about why we've come, we just sit and listen. It's a beautiful day. That's when something tawny catches our eyes. There beyond us toward the mouth of the creek, we see a young predator, a little trickster. What a welcomed surprise, we both laugh a little. We want to leap and hoot and holler, but don't. I just quietly lift the camera to my eye. He sees us right away, of course, and starts to trot away before we've even had time to say, "Hello coyote and thanks."

Monday, September 03, 2007

No Flippin' Way

Okay, we didn't actually flip a rock on International Rock Flippin' Day. We meant to. In fact we kept saying to each other, we should go flip a rock, we should go flip a rock. But we ended up working in the yard and never did made it out to where the interesting rocks to flip are. It was one of those Sundays that started out cool and cloudy and pretty much stayed that way until we went out to clear the late summer flowers that have already gone to seed. That's when the sun came out and baked us. Roger did have to move a rock on the border of one of our flower beds in an effort to get to the root of an invasive blackberry vine. We don't think that counts, although I did say, you flipped a rock.
There have been interesting sightings in our yard, nonetheless. We did see our very first Monarch butterfly since we moved here in 2004. It was happily nectaring on the buddleia. I had forgotten how large and beautiful Monarchs are. Much bigger than the Pine Whites, Lorquin Admirals and Red Admirals. I'm not sure why we haven't seen them here before this, and can only hope this is just the beginning of such sightings.
We also had this wonderfully marked moth on our screen door. It stayed there most of the day and let me get fairly close for this pic. These Syngrapha alias are reputed to spend their caterpillar stage defoliating Sitka and other spruces in the forests of the Pacific Northwest.

Other than that, I devoted a lot of my attention over the weekend trying to figure out how Google actually ranks the pages that show up after a search. My sister has a website for her real estate, and even though there doesn't seem to be anyone else with her name (how weird is that?), her website didn't show up after a google search. So, I started thinking about how to remedy that. I made a blog for her and named it Lynn Hook Real Estate. That brought her up after a name search right away, but after a day, she disappeared. That seemed very strange. So, I started googling her name a couple of different ways to see how and when she would show up. Roger did some research and found that the more sites that link to her, the higher in rank she goes. So, I added her to our blog. Then I added her website to her blog. Now, when we google Lynn Hook or Lynn Hook Real Estate she actually shows up ranked one and two on the first page. She would like her page to show when someone searches on Simi Valley Real Estate. That's going to be quite a bit harder to accomplish. A million results come up after that google search, and I checked fifteen pages, and she wasn't there yet. I wondered if I started to google Simi Valley Real Estate Lynn Hook, and kept at like a fanatic, if that would begin to influence search results. I am still working on it. If any of you have any insights or suggestions, I'd love to hear them.
The light is changing fast and significantly these days, as we approach the equinox. The angle of the sun in fall is my favorite of all the year. In a celebration of that light, we had one of our first pretty sunsets in ages. A beautiful end to the flippin' weekend.