Saturday, October 25, 2008

Birthday weekend sightings

I spontaneously woke up at dawn this morning -- I love it when that happens, but I usually have to wait for the shorter days of fall and winter. When Steve got up, we decided to take Sunny out for a walk in the schoolyard behind our house. She ran to the far end to poop, and as I was walking over to pick it up, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. A large, gorgeous fox has just run across the street and into the schoolyard through an open gate by the road. I called to Steve to get Sunny on leash, then we retreated behind a tree to watch the animal, which trotted quite familiarly down the fenceline and towards our yard. I was glad that I hadn't let the chickens out yet -- I'd been watching them in their coop as I did dishes earlier and had decided they looked content enough to peck around in their small run, so I'd left them in there. The fox was clearly familiar with the schoolyard and tried to get through a closed gate in someone's fence when Sunny finally spotted it and started barking. It gave up and ran back to the road and trotted up the shoulder out of sight.

A lap of the schoolyard later, Steve pointed out a large, hot air balloon floating over the backyards on our block, fairly low to the ground. Sunny started barking fiercely at it but as it approached and passed overhead, she was barking from behind our knees, trying to hide from it. As soon as it passed by, she ran for our front door and begged to go in, which I'm certain is a first for her. The kids and I have been reading Brisingr, the final book in the Eragon/Inheritance series, so I joked to them that she must have thought it was a Ra'zac!

Steve and I continued our morning ritual of walking in circles around the block (we use Sunny as our kid monitor -- we know they're still asleep if she's still sitting in the bay window watching for us) and he pointed out what a gift such sightings were on a birthday weekend!

For my actual birthday yesterday, we had a series of lovely family outings, starting with breakfast at our favorite downtown coffee shop, followed by a Goodwill visit for Maddie's Orc costume elements and canning jars and other little treasures, including a pure copper collander that's probably worth a ton for the metal alone.

We got giant pumpkins to carve from the city-run children's farm in Martinez park, then decided to return in the evening for its trick-or-treating event, which was very charming. Oh, and we hit our favorite feed store for a load of spoiled straw for today's gardening workshop (more about that in a moment) and to coo over the baby chicks. The wily feed store owner nearly talked us into getting some more chicks (I'm trying to hold the line at 2 more, as six is the max the city allows under its new backyard hens ordinance, so it seems reasonable to abide by that even though we aren't actually legal to have any here in the county) but we may wait until after we go to California at Thanksgiving.

The chickens are producing regularly now, though I'm not sure that our Buff Orpington is laying yet. We get three eggs most days, sometimes two, which is good considering that birds lay less when the days shorten. Steve has pinioned them (a skill he learned in his pet bird owning days) which I was afraid would be a traumatic event but wasn't any worse than a haircut. But it does keep them from flying to the top of our six-foot fence and into the neighbor's yard, where a large black dog known to kill birds resides. At first, they made an awful racket when they were laying and I was terribly worried about them, but they seem to have got the plumbing working smoothly and now they only call when they're done, either in self-congratulation or to let the next hen know the nestbox is available.

I'll post more later today, but I need to get ready for this Grow Food Not Lawns workshop we're hosting this afternoon, and Maddie's impatient to have the computer and work on a story she's writing. Imagine, eager would-be gardeners coming to our house to help build a no-dig raised bed for us. Such a deal!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pain in the neck

First of all, Judith is doing very well, she's bounced back remarkably, and should be able to leave the hospital in a couple of days. What a stunning week in someone's life. With any luck, she should regain energy that's been missing since April, when she was (no-doubt mistakenly) diagnosed with post-viral fatigue syndrome. (Fatigue is the number one sign of a heart attack in women, but her doctor missed it, probably because she doesn't have heart disease in her family, her energy levels fluctuate based on how well her cortisone medicines are managed and she keeps herself busy enough to justify fatigue...)

Steve returned from Iowa on Monday, as I was developing the worst stiff neck of my life. By Tuesday morning I headed into the medical clinic to make sure it wasn't more than just a neck ache, as swallowing was often quite painful and there was no position i could sit or lie in in which the pain wasn't strong. Sent home with some muscle relaxants and instructions to keep taking ibuprofen, it took another day for me to feel noticeably better. I'm cautiously optomistic that this is fading, though I don't know how much of my relief is just from the muscle relaxants finally kicking in. Sigh. Fine mess for a massage therapist to find herself in, eh? I have done a good deal of triggerpoint work on my neck and upper back that seemed to jump start the feeling-better process. It's making me realize how much help neuromuscular therapy can be, and making me think about restarting a practice here, once I'm fully recovered, of course.

Unfortunately, all this was unfolding in the middle of my folks' visit, so they've been having to shift for themselves on meals and doing a ton of housework and playing with the kids. I'm very grateful they're here, just wish I hadn't been out of it for so much of their visit. They leave tomorrow for Cindi's house and the next day for a week in Hilton Head, SC, then we'll see them again after that. It's great to have them around. They're currently househunting here, looking for a second home and I'm holding my breath that they'll find something they like!