Sunday, January 30, 2011

Venus and Our Moon

I like checking in with EarthSky to see what I might be happening in the night and pre-dawn sky.
I mostly like confirmation of what I think I'm seeing.
Lately the winter mornings have been breathtakingly clear, and Venus has been shining so brightly in the eastern sky. My twin brother asked me, "Hey Robsy*, what bright star have I been seeing when I've been driving to work early this week?"It's VENUS! You're seeing a planet, I practically squealed. A planet! Michael was so jazzed by it. Do you all find that as thrilling as we do? I hope so.

*My father used to call me Robsy Bobsy Biddly Boo, when I was little. The Robsy part stuck.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Drop Of Water

Not a world in a grain of sand, but a forest in a drop of water.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

All That Love Made Tangible

Ever since I was a little kid, I've had a hard time turning off my brain at night without watching a little television for some much needed alpha wave relief. I still do that, but modern television stories are so mind-numbingly vapid or alarmingly violent, that we rent older TV shows from Netflix, just to be reminded of what good writing is all about. We've gone through all of Six Feet Under, West Wing, and are just about wrapping up the early 90s masterpiece: Northern Exposure. Truly delightful stuff and really quite prescient about global climate change and gay marriage!

A few months ago while we were watching Season 3, there was an episode where Dr. Fleischman is awakened in the night by his windows rattling and a ghostliness swirling around his cabin. He is unnerved by it and learns that a previous tenant many, many years earlier had committed suicide in the house. So, the good and kind people of Cicely, Alaska decide to hold an exorcism, but Fleischman objects. He is reminded though that, without friendship there would be no one to mourn him if he passed away, like the poor soul haunting his house. So, he throws a barbecue for the town in a show of friendship. There were simultaneous storylines, as is the usual fare for Northern Exposure, and the episode ended with many of the town's people in Dr. Fleischman's living room posing for a group portrait. It was a scene of great support and love. This piece of music came on.

It was that scene of support and the music that tugged at me. We have that piece of music on our iPod (I have no idea where we got it). So, the next day, I turned it on to hear it again, and have been listening to it ever since. Bobby McFerrin wrote it as the score for the documentary: Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt, which tells the story of the NAMES Project. That generous outpouring of love and remembrance, stitched together into a quilt that covered a fair distance along the Washington Mall. And that sound of Bobby McFerrin's voice singing something to us about those common threads. All those names. It occurred to me that the quilt is about all that love made tangible.
So, I am thinking of quilts, and am suddenly reminded of one of the last cards I sent my father while he was struggling with cancer at the end of his life. I had found it at my favorite hippie card shop (now defunct), Aries Arts, in Capitola. It was late 1991. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was the perfect card to send him. That beautifully painted scene of an old man wrapped in a quilt with all those loving scenes and memories patched together to keep him warm and comforted. It was just what I wanted to do, to wrap him in something that would heal and keep him whole. Something like love made tangible.
And then there is this quilt, the one sent to Roger just after his surgery last summer. A quilt made of patches sent from people we know and people we have never met. A wonderful friend, also someone we have never met, put these patches together. Wrapping it around us is like hearing those voices singing about common threads. Our hearts rise to the familiar sound, safe and comforted. We are warmed by this love made tangible.

But here's the really crazy and interesting thing about that Northern Exposure episode, Season 3, episode 17: Lost and Found. It aired on Monday, March 9, 1992, and would have been the last Northern Exposure my father could have ever watched, he died 5 days later. Life's beautiful common threads.


On a very sad and somber note, Roger and I want to bid a farewell to a fellow blogger and Facebook friend, Jim Otterstrom. Jim's blog Earth Home Garden was one of the places Roger and I checked in on a very regular basis. We never met Jim, but we felt in him the deep sympatico of aging hippies and tribal connection. For five years we've held a long-distance conversation that ended on Saturday, January 22 when Jim died. We had a long cry over it and will raise our glasses in his honor. Perhaps we'll listen to Common Threads and know that life is really about love made tangible.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hello From the Quiet Side

We're feeling quiet here. It's winter, but the weather feels like spring. Warm and sunny with temps in the 60s. Roger is two days away from completing Round 6. Only two more rounds to go. Side effects are more noticeable at this point in the treatment. We are counting down the days.

Here are two sightings from the past few days.
A Nuttall's Woodpecker, a local California species.
One of our little bucks, looking in the window one morning, while I was making tea. I'm pretty sure I was whispering hello to him, at the moment.

We're looking forward to a sunny warm week, even with the doctor appointments and blood tests.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sky With Mud On The Lens

I don't know why it didn't occur to me to look at the camera lens before I started to photograph this most amazing sky of clouds, but I didn't. We have been hiking around on the very muddy trails lately and definitely kicking up a lot of red mud everywhere (the camera lens?). Also, we ran into a VERY friendly pup on the trail that over-exuberantly decided it loved us and wanted to jump all over us with its muddy paws. We didn't mind, but it knocked the lens hood around on the camera and loosened it (unbeknownst to me) which you'll see in the upper left hand corner in some of the photos. I totally love these pics. They're so representative of the beauty and chaos of life.

Then I reviewed the photos in the camera to see if I was in any way capturing the amazing sight of these clouds in this sky. That's when I saw it. Holy shit! There were spots all over the place. So, I cleaned the lens with my cotton teeshirt sleeve (I hope that's not a terrible thing to admit), and took a few more even though the sky was already changing. I didn't even think about the lens hood. D'oh.

Oh well, c'est la vie. It's not like it's really possible to capture the sky-size beauty of the sky without a wide-angle lens. That never stops me from trying.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Buck Came Back

We were surprised to see the buck sniffing out the bird feeder. That food must smell pretty good. Roger thought he would smash it down, but we both thought it was worth waiting see what he was going to do.
Turns out he didn't knock the feeder down, but he did show us what "scraping antlers" is all about.

He did not mind our presence at all. He had important instinctive messages to send.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Multiple Online Personalities Disorder

Our friends on Facebook have seen these profile photos.

Roger and I want you to know us here the way they do over there.

So, here are some of the profile pics we have posted of ourselves in the past year.

Sometimes we scream about politics and life.

Sometimes we just look friendly, happy, serious, and utterly human.

Now you and Facebook know the Bums equally well!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

sauna now

we have a usable sauna. we first used it dec 17 at 3 pm. i was just finishing the benches when the heater arrived by FedEx that morning. the driver came out with the box of sauna rocks, and mentioned something about the small box being pretty heavy. i told him, it's a box of rocks. he was amused. i am a bit tardy in posting here about it. i've been lazy, and slumming over at Facebook.

when i googled "sauna heater" one of the distributors listed for the brand we liked (Tylo) was Almost Heaven and their website had the lowest price i could find. so i phoned Almost Heaven (does AT&T go even further, to heaven itself?) and spoke with the wonderful Art Glick there. in the course of our conversations and emails, we learned that art is, aside from charming and competent, a fan of the beats know, kerouac and those guys... and a deadhead. the bums stumbled into the right place.

the sauna room still wants a bit of trim and a finish floor, but we have light and heat and comfy benches to lie on and a way to have music. the outside of the building is still bare plywood. the seams are sealed with roof cement. we will finish the exterior with cedar shingles. later. the anteroom has insulation installed, but there is nothing but plastic film covering it. we moved martha's bench from the pond to the anteroom.

we had enough redwood from our previous saunas to do some of the interior walls so i used cedar up to 3 feet and our antique, sweat-stained redwood from there up. we lean back on very familiar walls.

the cedar we get is six foot dogeared rough cut fence boards, five eighths of an inch thick. i don't even want to ask what finished cedar or redwood boards would cost. my ancient belsaw planer (almost 50 years old) smooths one side of the fence boards nicely and then i rout the edges to make a simple overlap joint. i'm going to try to make a tongue and groove joint for the floors.

power tools. the thing atop the sawhorses is a router table. on its right, with the gaudily colored motor underneath, is the belsaw planer. barely discernible behind the router table is a tablesaw.

we bought enough cedar to do the sauna interior, along with the framing and plywood for walls and subfloor, back before the rain began so it was all nicely dry and ready for planing and edging. while the newest batch of cedar was seasoned when sawn, it has gotten soaked by being stored outdoors at the lumberyard, hence the carefully stickered stack of wood in our den.


a short slide show

health update…………………

i'm doing well enough with chemo. absent-minded in a new way, along with a sort of puffy brain sensation, but no overt physical symptoms. three more two week courses of chemo with a week off between each course. i hope i'm a reverse algernon.