Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sights and Sorrows

We've been distracted by beauty and pain. Stunning sights of sleeping sea otters and stories of rage and murder. We were supposed to be on the road today, Sunday, heading south in our rented 2007 dark red Malibu (such a nice car, alan) for Thanksgiving, but Roger has been sick for days and days, in bed--in pain. It's so unlike him to yield to pain like this, he's been known to have a root canal on a very vital tooth without novocaine. Roger's tough. This pain has laid him low. All I can say is that we've been to Urgent Care and the pharmacy, and there will very likely be a colonoscopy in the near future. Need I say more? Probably not. We are worried but mostly about the unknown, of course.

The old neighbors whose family had the house next door for probably as long as Roger's family has had this house, sold their place a year or so ago. The new owner, a real estate mogul-tycoon had the place gutted and is erecting something that seems slightly larger than the original footprint. A lot of wrangling with the zoning and coastal commissions. I write about this because the former owners were fantastic gardeners and loved to feed the birds. I noticed their old birdbath had filled with a bit of drizzly rain water the other day. A few birds were enjoying a bath in the stingy puddle. So, I went over and poured some nice clean water into the bath. The next day we were treated to this: a Townsend's Warbler bathing and looking happy as ever.
It made me a bit nervous to pour that water into our neighbor's birdbath because we had just heard a story about feuding neighbors that ended so badly, two people dead, and a 72 year old man in prison facing a death penalty case. The story has special significance for Roger and me because the husband of the dead couple, shot to death in their front yard, was Roger's oldest friend's law partner. He had been shot by his next door neighbor, with whom and he and his wife had been feuding for years, over an easement. An easement. It's the kind of thing that just makes you scratch your head and wonder, how did they let it get to this? I've been reading some of the newspapers articles covering this horrific crime, and it just seems to have come down to insanely bad neighbors and long-held grudges. After hearing a story like that, what was I doing going over to the neighbor's front yard, pouring water into the birdbath? Being a good neighbor? Well really, I rationalized, nobody actually lives in the house yet. It doesn't have any fixtures or even mud on the sheetrock. I assumed nobody even notices that the birdbath is there, with all the construction going on.
Our walks have been limited, as you probably guessed, so I am entertaining myself with the neighborhood birds and trying to stay out of trouble. Our last walk was on Wednesday when Roger, my twin brother, and I hiked around in one of the local redwood forests. It is always a revelatory experience to walk among the coastal giants. The day before we had been to Elkhorn Slough and seen beautiful shorebirds, tentatively identified as Curlews and Godwits. We saw families of Harbor Seals curled up sleeping. But it's the Brown Pelican in breeding plumage that knocked me out. That, and the Sea Otters floating about in their peaceful slumber, struck us as truly incredible sights.

We may leave for points south on Monday. We'll see how Roger responds to the medication. It's a foggy Sunday. So thick, I can't even see the neighbor's birdbath. It's probably better that way.

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