Monday, March 31, 2008

Duck Spa

Our pond is very small. It's really a large puddle with a pump and a little waterfall. In real estate jargon, it's called a "water feature." For the past four years there were goldfish in it that reproduced and multiplied just fast enough to keep the pond populated, after the ravenous heron had had its fill in the late fall. This past fall, though, that's not what happened. Only one fish survived. We saw it when we came home from California, but even it disappeared shortly thereafter. The pond bottom has Colorado River rock, smooth and pretty stones in pinks, blues and whites over standard pond black plastic. The rocks are covered right now in probably a half inch of thick muddy muck. Because there are no longer any goldfish, we considered rigging a system to clean the muck out so the pretty rocks could be seen, and potentially be a selling point for someone who is just gaga for ponds with rocky bottoms. We casually talked to the septic inspector about how to get the muck out, and he told us he would sell us a muck-sucker at a great deal, if we wanted it. We said, thanks, but no thanks. We let the muck be.

A good choice as far as these mallards were concerned. They arrived on Saturday and made the pond their private spa and rec center. They snoozed lazily on the ground most of the day, like vacationers on cruise ship lounge chairs, and woke only to take a paddle around in the water, turn their little bottoms up and eat what ever was wiggling and squiggling in that mucky mess. They couldn't have been happier. In fact they celebrated by doing a lovely little courtship dance that ended in wild duck sex right there in the pond. We watched while we were cooking dinner. Entertained mightily, I must say.

As with all creatures if you watch long enough you start to notice details about their particular behaviors. Ms. Duck seemed to not be able to stop moving her wings, even when she was sleeping. There was a constant shaking motion like she was trying to rid herself of pests, and never quite could. We wondered if they had sought refuge in our yard because she had some kind of nervous affliction. Mr. Duck was solicitous of her, and stayed awake to guard while she slept fitfully. They were quite the romantic couple. We thoroughly enjoyed their weekend with us. Something scared them off around 4:00 pm on Sunday. We hope they'll be back. I was already planning on finding their nest, which I was sure they were going build here. We'll keep you posted.

On a different note:

I would like to thank each of you who left comments on my osteoporosis post. If you are reading here Monday morning around 8:30 am Pacific time, I'm at a lab having blood drawn to measure my Vitamin D levels and a metabolic panel. My doctor took a conservative approach, wanting to see what's going on with my calcium, magnesium, phosphate, etc levels before she prescribes some therapeutic intervention. I greatly appreciated all of the input from your comments. I learned a lot, and I certainly will stay away from bisphosphonates. There are other interventions that I will be exploring. I will say this-- if care and compassion could build bones, then after reading all that you wrote, I would be strengthened for a lifetime. I can not thank you enough for your good wishes.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I'm Melting... Melting

my hopes are now dashed
damned unreliable bones

The results of my latest bone density from March 14th are not good. The higher the negative, the worse the news (boy is that ever true). Here's what the most recent three years of tests look like:

Hip density -1.5 Lumbar spine density -2.4 (increased fracture risk)

Hip density -1.8 (increased fracture risk) Lumbar spine density -2.7 (high fracture risk)

Hip density -2.5 (high fracture risk) Lumbar spine density -2.9 (high fracture risk)

I'm worried about these results and have an appointment with the doctor on Friday. I'm much too young for my bones to be this fragile. It's really quite serious. I spent the last year taking calcium supplements, eating a high calcium diet, and walking as often and as much as I could. I thought I was doing the right things to prevent further resorption of my bones. I'll probably have to go on one of those drugs, you know the ones I mean. I'll turn into Sally Fields, happy that I only have to take one pill a month, even if it wrecks my esophagus and stomach. Hey, I'm worth it.

Please be reminded that my diminishing hip density does not in any way reflect just how hip I really am.

Wish me luck.

(Above photo borrowed from the internet without permission.)

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Return of an Old Friend

All robins may look alike, but this is the one we know. The one whose return we anticipate. We first noticed him in 2006 when he stood out from all others, with a stick protruding through his chest and out his back. It was a superficial wound, and he didn't seem hampered by it at all. Still we watched and were concerned about his well-being. Knowing there was nothing we could do to assist him, we nicknamed him "stick robin" and just let him be.
He returned in 2007, and we were absolutely thrilled to see him again.
This year, we are blown away. We think he looks robust, full-chested, and older. The stick protruding from his chest seems less obvious, we suspect because of how puffed out he is in the early spring rain. What a survivor! Robins can actually live up to 14 years but most die by their 6th year. How ever long this little guy lives, he's definitely one rockin' robin.

Roger said having this little robin show up year after year is like having a recognizable banded bird. I think he's got that absolutely right. Banded by natural circumstance, telling his own story of survival.

Photos: Stick Robin 2006, 2007, 2008.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Diatribe

Have you ever read the book or seen the movie "Moby Dick" (the one with Gregory Peck). In it Ahab says, "Talk not of blasphemy to me, man, I'd strike the sun if it insulted me." I've always loved that line. The power and anger in it appeals to some part of me. We have been back in Washington a little over two weeks. I can count on one hand the number of times we've seen the sun. Here's the insult of clouds, they part just before sundown and dazzle us with color, after all day blocking the light and warmth from penetrating into our Vitamin D-starved psyches. Oh sure, it's crazy for me to run outside and curse the sky, but that doesn't stop me. The things I've said would make probably make Ahab blush. Too bad.
Nothing seems as beautiful against the same gray sky, day after day. I photographed an eagle flying as low over our yard as I've ever seen. Eye contact, absolutely. But the photos might as well have been taken in black and white. There is a dullness to this winter landscape that seems punishing without end. Sunday morning temperatures were a freezing 30 F. It warmed up to 40F and there was a soft drizzle. Jean Paul Sartre said that hell was other people, but he must not have ever spent time in the pacific northwest.
And then there's the relentless political landscape. What's with Obama's minister sounding like the kind of person who usually stands on a street corner screaming, the one I cross the street to avoid. Why isn't he talking kindly about his god? Isn't that what ministers or reverends are supposed to do when they are preaching in church? Why would Obama ever listen to a man who sounds like that? I'm disappointed. What's with Hillary Clinton? She's acting exactly as I thought she would. What a freakin' bummer. I answered the phone the other day and the voice on the other end said that he was from the Hillary campaign. I said, "I'm not going to give you money. She's not showing leadership, and I totally hope she loses." He said, "Oh, okay." I have had enough. These two Democratic candidates need to be running against the Republican machinery morning, noon, and night. They should be able to distinguish themselves by their arguments, their appeals, their platforms. I'm tired of them running against each other and playing gotcha on things that are irrelevant. At some point we are going to have to sidle up to one of them and plant the transforming kiss.

Our economy is absolutely in the tank, folks. I don't know about you, but we're trying to figure out which is the best-- having a house and land that will continue to lose value, or converting it to cash which will also continue to be worth less. That's about the gist of it, as we see it. I keep saying to Roger, I sure don't want to have to take one of our wheelbarrows full of thousand dollar bills up to the co-op to buy a loaf of bread. Did you notice how the Eliot Spitzer debacle came at just the right time to keep the pundits off the economy trail? Funny how that happens. Like it was planned, or something. Don't take your eyes off the economy. It's a show you won't want to miss.

Well, that's all we've got, friends.

All photographs taken in the yard: The sky at sunset; the low-flying eagle; a tree frog trying to get to the pond.

Friday, March 14, 2008

My Father Rode A Pony Once

I never quite understood why, from the time I was young child, I was always afraid that my father would die. It was a constant undercurrent, an omnipresent fear, and palpable dread. I would lie awake at night and imagine him sitting in a big chair against a revolving wall, straight out of an Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein movie, the wall would turn and then turn back, and the chair would be empty. My father would be gone, gone. That's how I pictured his death.

My father owned his own wholesale produce business, and woke every morning at 3:00 am to go to work. He had to drive some distance to pick up the fresh produce for that day, before he drove around to the small grocery stores (the days before chains and box stores) to sell it. From the bedroom I shared with my three siblings, I could see the kitchen light on, and would get up to join him while he had his coffee and toast. I always kissed him good bye and watched him from the parlor window, as he drove away into the night. I watched until I could no longer see the red tail lights on his truck. Then, I would go to sleep in bed with my mother. I did that until I was eight years old, when we moved from the city to the suburbs. There my bedroom was upstairs, and the light in the kitchen no longer woke me.

When I was 36 years old I graduated from college. Such a late bloomer! My parents flew to Rhode Island from California for the graduation ceremony when I completed my undergraduate degree with honors and distinction. My father bought me a single long-stemmed rose, when he noticed that my self-centered first husband, who was already shtupping his assistant, had bought me nothing to mark the occasion. That rose meant everything to me.

I am my parent's first-born daughter and, in the Jewish tradition, was named for his recently-deceased mother, Rose. My father was a deeply good, but sad man. He loved his family more than anything else. In fact, in some ways, it was all that he loved. It occurred to me very recently that I never knew him when his mother was alive. He was her only, beloved son. It was a role he cherished, and a heartbreaking blow to him when she died in her 50s from colon cancer. Some part of him seemed to always stay in mourning. I could feel it, even from the time I was very young. It was her absence that shaped his aloneness. I am just beginning to understand that my fear of his death grew out of that loss. I seemed to always know I would lose him, as he had lost her. I grieved it long before it ever happen. When I look back, I see that I was a brokenhearted little girl who feared the inevitable future, and he was my brokenhearted father who lamented the unchangeable past. Without talking about it, we simply tried to save each other with love. There was nothing else.

Today, March 14th is the 16th anniversary of his death. That revolving wall turned and then turned back. His chair was empty. My father is gone. Gone.

Missed and loved everyday since. A yahrzeit burns in his memory.
A few unrelated things:
We would like to thank all of you who leave comments here. We are utterly enriched by your presence in our lives. We have no idea why we are so fortunate to have such thoughtful visitors to our blog, but we do, and we sincerely appreciate it. We don't feel worthy of your attention, and will strive to do better and post more. Thank you for continuing to visit.

I was tagged to do the six-word autobiography. I don't usually do memes, but this one only requires six little words. So here they are:

Ten thousand sorrows, ten thousand joys.

The Rufus Hummingbirds showed up on Tuesday, March 11th.

Have a great weekend, dear friends.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Back to Real Estate and Shorebirds

We interviewed two real estate agents to see which one would best be able to market our house. Unfortunately for the two of us, Roger and I always fall in love with people, trust them implicitly, expect the highest of them, and anticipate them fulfilling our dreams. How to decide? Both so kind, so generous of their time. Both with their print outs, explanations, graphs of the market, comps. They have their own dreams, bills to pay, and private lives. How should we pick one? Somehow we sort through the morass of paperwork and choose the one who really loves the house, who sees how the light will be in summer, who understands our detachment and desire at the same time. She says she may already have buyers. They're coming here Monday between 10:00 and 11:00. Already wild anticipation before the house is even listed on the mls. Such is life in the modern world. Maybe they'll fall in love the moment they cross the threshold. We entertain such dreams.

Roger's back is still bothering him. He had been feeling somewhat better, but then not. I'm trying to pick up the slack, but I'm such a slacker, it's hard to muster the energy to go out in the 40 degree temps and sunless gray to rake last fall's leaves and the winter-blown detritus. I do what I can to neaten up the place. I leave piles and piles of stuff in different places, arranged to look like a planned execution of effort. Hah! Will the prospective buyers be fooled? One can only hope, but the yard looks like we haven't lifted a finger in four months. Guess what? We haven't. Hard to fake it.

I did get to go out for a walk with a good friend on Sunday. We headed down to the bay. So good to take a deep breath of the chilled northwest air. This Common Goldeneye greeted us when we walked along the shore. (Blogger wouldn't let me post a picture here. I tried for quite some time.)

So did this little beauty keep us distant company. I think it could be a Horned Grebe. What do you think? (No picture here either. I'll keep trying. Check back if you're interested in the photos.)

Wish us luck. Our world could change in an instant.

Obvious Update: Roger uploaded the photos to blogger for me. By 7:00 am Monday, blogger photo still wouldn't let me in. I can only assume that blogger photo doesn't like me personally. I mean, what else could it be?

Friday, March 07, 2008

All In a Day

We've been having a bit of the blues and the blahs. Roger tweaked his back doing some heavy-duty yard work on Tuesday. A twist in a direction that a few muscles and joints just did not want to go. He's been down since, alternating between ice and heat. I'm sure he won't mind me saying, when he is up and walking around, he's stooped over like an old man. He's not grumbling, and that's a good thing. He says he's starting to feel a bit better. Yay!
Then came Thursday. Suddenly, we had a wild parade through the yard: Golden-crowned sparrows; American Robins; Douglas Squirrel; California Quail; Mallard Ducks.
They all arrived on one day, and joined the hearty crew that had been hanging out around the feeder, the dark-eyed juncoes, pine siskins, spotted towhees, red-winged blackbirds; house finches, and stellar's jays. The yard became our wild, trusted companion again. It yielded birdsongs to break our hearts, and old friends we had missed for winter.
We filled the feeder the other day with No-Mess Northwest mix from Wild Birds Unlimited. Our timing couldn't have been better.
Everyone seemed very happy. Ah, home for now.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Time and Space Are Funny Things

Wake up in drive... go to sleep in Washington. A touch of spring there in the fragrance of narcissus and calla lily buds, a touch of winter here in bare branches and only local birds at the feeder.

We adjust. Sleep in our own bed. Window wide open and temps in the 30s.
Put on layers and layers of clothing, head down to the mouth of Chimacum Creek. The eagles are exactly where we expect them to be. We know which trees belong to them. Watch a river otter take its bounty back to its den. We slow down and check out all the scat and tracks in the hardened mud. Clues. Reminders.

Hear a coyote the second night home.

Rainbow photo taken at sunset Friday Feb 22nd in Capitola, California. River otter photo taken Friday Feb 29th at Fort Townsend, Wa.