Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Twenty Things I Learned About Being Stuck in a Hospital Bed

1. Any motion picture that has been "Edited for Television" is missing most of the scenes that explain the plot.
2. A dropped ball of yarn will roll directly UNDER the hospital bed completely out of reach of my extendable "grabber" only when my boys and husband are out of the house.
3. The phone will only ring if I’ve fallen asleep.
4. It will be a wrong number.
5. It is not a good idea to try to turn a heel after taking Vicodin unless experimenting with yarn sculpture was the actual end goal.
6. No television commercial which sells perfume makes sense.
7. Jeffrey Goldblum utters the phrase "Must go faster, must go faster" in the movie, Jurassic Park in the scene where the tyrannosaur is chasing the jeep. He says the same thing in Independence Day when the aliens are chasing him and Will Smith through the alien spaceship after they launch the bomb.
8. Four dogs cannot physically occupy the same place of honor on a hospital bed – although they will try.
9. It is quicker to have a 12 year old reset the "Tivo" unit than trying to read and understand the Instruction Manual.
10. If you ask your husband or son to retrieve a set of double pointed needles from the other bedroom, they will bring three needles of one size and two of another size, then look utterly mystified when you tell them they brought two sizes, while arguing that all the needles are the same length.
11. ALWAYS inspect the laundry basket BEFORE the load is washed when your sons offer to "do the laundry for you".
12. The more annoying the television ad is, the more likely it will air over and over and over again throughout the weekend. A funny or cute commercial is seen once.
13. A walker is not a suitable substitute for a swift when winding balls of yarn from skeins.
14. The instruction "drink plenty of fluids" is in direct opposition to the instruction "limit the number of times in and out of bed during the first three days after discharge".
15. Husbands get cranky when you wake them up a 2:00 a.m. for a glass of water, then again at 3:00 a.m. to help you to the bathroom.
16. Hospital tape is designed to stick to everything EXCEPT the bandage it is holding is place.
17. It is quicker to have a 12 year old turn off the Spanish subtitles you accidentally turned on than trying to read and understand the Instruction Manual.
18. Boys are not amused when you tell them that the skein of yarn they brought you after spending thirty minutes searching through your stash is the wrong dye lot.
19. "Tastes just like homemade" really doesn’t.
20. Sponge baths are no substitute for the real thing.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Farewell to Dallas

Thus far, 2008 has not been a good year at all.
In March, I caught the flu and was very sick for nearly six weeks.
Then the economy has been taking its toll on my business, meaning that although I am doing the work, I am only getting partial payments, or in several instances, notices of bankruptcy filings where I am a named creditor. This means lots of appearances in the federal courthouse to stay on the list of creditors who are apportioned something.
In June, one of my workers announced she was getting married in July. Apparently, getting married leads to total lack of common sense and she opened an email with a "greeting card" attachment. Now, I have a very strong rule with regard to my office computers which is as follows: -- NO emails are to be opened unless they are on an approved list of senders and the original email address checks out (which generally means we call and determine if we have been sent the email). I have very good and very expensive virus software. All of which was useless when "Miss-19-years-old-and-I’m-in-love-and-what-if-the-card-was-sent-from-Prince-Charming?" decided to ignore office policy and hit the "open the attachment" button in the email. You guessed it – after ten house calls from my computer whiz, restoration of my backup files (which thankfully were not corrupted) and entering two weeks worth of work, we were back in business.
That same month my quarter horse, Dallas, developed colic in the intense heat of summer in Fresno. It was 112 Fahrenheit when Dallas started showing signs of distress. I immediately called his vet who came out and treated him. Dallas was given pain killer, mineral oil, antibiotics and lots of water. We kept him walking for almost 26 hours straight. It was touch and go, but he pulled through. The vet was concerned that another bout of heat would be bad for Dallas at 27 years of age.
But now my left hip was hurting so bad that I could barely walk, sit upright, stand, or lay down for any length of time. I was referred to an osteopathic doctor who determined that I had no cartilage left on the top of the femur. So off to the surgeon for a total left hip replacement on August 27th. All went well until they were "seating" the prosthesis and split the femur to my knee. (In layman’s terms, the bone broke in two) That required installing clamps around the bone before continuing the original surgery. I’m home as of yesterday but have been cautioned that I will have limited mobility for at least six weeks before the leg becomes "weight-bearing". Translation – I get to walk with a walker or crutches until mid October.
Fresno was 107 Fahrenheit yesterday. This morning, Justin went out and Dallas was down. Justin took me out to the barn in the back of my car and Dallas got up for me. But when Dr. Stabbe got here, he told me that Dallas’s heart rate was 85, there were no bowels sounds detected in his intestines, his temperature was subnormal and the rectal exam showed the intestines were bloated and twisted. Dallas was in a lot of pain and Dr. Stabbe said that he was "not confident" that treatment would save him. Dallas has been a cantankerous and crusty character, but he was been my faithful companion for fifteen years. I was not going to put him through the agony for a slim chance of survival. We did that in July and here he had now coliced again less than five weeks later.
Dr. Stabbe offered to go his horse trailer and take him to his clinic and euthanize him there since I was not in any shape to load and drive Dallas by myself.
Dallas left my house for the last time 15 minutes ago.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Endless Afghan -- Twenty Two Down - Eighteen to go

This block is featured in The Great North American Afghan and was designed by Deborah Newton of Providence, Rhode Island.

It was very easy to knit. I cast on while waiting for our flight from Seattle to San Jose last weekend. I was at the halfway mark when the plane touched down two hours later. I can't knit in the car (I get motion sick) so I had to wait to finish it this weekend at my Saturday morning knit together.

I blocked it Saturday afternoon and this morning I have yet another square completed! Although I am now more than halfway through my goal, there are still 18 more squares to knit. I have been thinking that I may modify my plan and add a large border and keep all the squares on the top of the bed. I 'll have to play with the measurements.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Great Backyard Bird Count

Dan and I decided to fly up to Washington for the weekend. We arrived on Friday morning. Dan immediately started working on his amateur radio equipment. I filled my birdfeeders and set up my camera for the "Great Backyard Bird Count".
The Great Backyard Bird Count is a four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent. Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts.
Participants count birds anywhere for as little or as long as they wish during the four day counting period. They tally the highest number of birds of each species seen together at any one time. To report their counts, they fill out an online checklist at the Great Backyard Bird Count web site. As the count progresses, anyone with Internet access can explore what is being reported from their own towns or anywhere in the United States and Canada. They can also see how this year's numbers compare with those from previous years.
A Black-capped Chickadee at the feeder.
This was the first time I had seen a Red Breasted Nut Hatch at the feeders.
A Steller's Jay watches the smaller birds.
And a Spotted Towhee cleans up the spilled seeds.

On Saturday morning I woke before sunrise and dressed for a walk at the Theler Wetlands. The Theler Wetlands covers some 75 acres near Belfair, Washington and the Hood Canal. An agreement between the Wetlands and the Washington State Department of Fish and Game has allowed development of a trail system encompassing 135 acres. Four separate trails are open to the public free of charge during daylight hours, seven days a week. The site is a popular stop for birdwatchers and photographers. There is a wonderful variety of birds throughout the trial system. I arrived ten minutes before the gate was unlocked. When it opened I started down the trail. I saw.......

.........a pair of Mallards........ ......and Northern Pintails.........

........and some Green Winged Teals. I had never seen this one in the wild before although they are apparently fairly common in this area.

Further down the path a stately Great Blue Heron surveyed the trail. .

and overhead -----a sight I never tire of --- a Bald Eagle in flight.

The weekend ends far too soon. Dan and I closed up the house and headed home Monday afternoon. I can hardly wait for Spring Break.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Endless Afghan - The Twenty First Square

I have been working on the afghan as much as I can. I would like to finish it this year but, quite honestly, that may not be realistic. But whether I do complete it or not, I am having a great deal of fun which each square.

This block is from the book, The Great American Aran Afghan. It was designed by Marian Tabler of Cincinatti, Ohio.

The twin cables wander back and forth throughout the square giving the block a "bas relief" look. Best of all, it knit it up exactly at gauge!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Monterey Bay Aquarium

On January 29th, Justin, Kenny, Miguel (Kenny's friend) and I headed to Monterey, California to see the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is located in a former sardine cannery on Cannery Row, is one of the largest and most respected aquariums in the world. It has an annual attendance of 1.8 million and holds 35,000 plants and animals representing 623 species.

The Aquarium has preserved sections of the original cannery as part of its exhibits. Shown here are two of the original boilers.

Among the aquarium's numerous exhibits, two are of particular note. The centerpiece of the Ocean's Edge wing is a 33-foot (10-m) high tank for viewing California coastal marine life. In this tank, the aquarium was the first in the world to grow live California Giant Kelp using a wave machine at the top of the tank (water movement is a necessary precondition for keeping Giant Kelp, which absorbs nutrients from surrounding water and requires turbidity), allowing sunlight in through the open tank top, and pumping in raw seawater. The second exhibit of note is a one million gallon tank in the Outer Bay Wing which features one of the world's largest single-paned windows. The window is constructed of four panes seamlessly glued together through a special process. We were excited because for the third time in the Aquarium's history, the Outer Bay was the temporary home to a juvenile Great White Shark. It took a while for us to spot the shark as it swam in the Outer Bay tank. He wa a dark grey-blue and blended into the background. But once we finally located him, we could see that the Great White had an entirely different build than the Hammerhead sharks and the Galapogos sharks which were also part of the display. He was heavier and his jaws were larger. Twice, as the shark swam by, he stretched his jaws and we could see his teeth --- rows of very sharp triangles. Overall, it was quite interesting to see him. And it turned out, it was also the last weekend he was on display. On February 5th, 2008, he was returned to the Pacific Ocean.

Perhaps my favorite exhibits in the entire aquarium are the jellyfish. "Jellies" live in virtually every part of the ocean and come in a dizzying array of shapes, sizes, and colors. Some, like the aquarium's box jellies, are no bigger than a thimble. Others, like the Arctic lion's mane, have umbrella-shaped bells that reach 7 feet across and tentacles that stretch 100 feet or more. Jellies often use their tentacles to sting and snare prey, such as small fish, while drifting with the current. Mediterranean jellies are also called fried egg jellies, for obvious reasons—namely, their smooth golden globes on top of their brown bells. But despite their beautiful purple and white colors, these jellies are no treat in Mar Menor, a coastal lagoon in Spain. Fertilizer runoff there led to an oversupply of the plankton that’s a staple of the jellies’ diet. Now there’s an oversupply of jellies, too, threatening fisheries and tourism.

Like a large bird egg cracked and poured into the water, that three-foot, translucent bell is yolk-yellow at the center, with hundreds of tentacles clustered around the margin. The egg-yolk jelly is one of the larger species of jellies commonly found in Monterey Bay. This massive jelly usually drifts motionless or moves with gentle pulsing. Acting like an underwater spider web with a mild sting, an egg-yolk jelly captures other jellies that swim into its mass of tentacles.

Nearly as beautiful as the jellies are the Anemones. Sometimes called flowers of the sea, Anemones are ancient and successful animals. They lack heads, but have a ring of tentacles around a mouth that opens into a tubelike body cavity, where food is digested. Anemones are voracious feeders that eat almost anything. Stinging cells (nematocysts) on their tentacles paralyze small prey animals. Anemones can even ingest small crabs and then spew out the shells.

After we left the Aquarium, we drove along the famous "17 mile drive", a scenic road through Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach before heading back home. Much of this highway hugs the Pacific coastline and passes famous golf courses and mansions. Along the way, we saw sea lions, whale spouts, and sea otters along the shoreline as we drove. All in all, a wonderful time was had by all.

The Endless Afghan - The Twentieth Square (or only 20 more to go!)

Last Monday, our receptionist had the flu but came to work anyway. When Bear found out she was sick, Bear immediately sent her home but apparently, not soon enough. On Friday, I felt the first chills and slight headache. By Saturday afternoon, the fever had arrived as well as chest congestion and stuffed sinuses.
Since it was obvious I wasn't going to be out and about over the weekend, I settled into my easy chair, wrapped up in a blanket, and picked up my knitting. I decided to knit a square from The Great American Aran Afghan.
This square was designed by Barbara McIntire and features Celtic cables as the centerpiece as well as the borders.

As with all cables, it was important to pay attention to the direction the cables crossed each other. Once I got the pattern memorized, the square knit up quickly. It blocked beautifully. Only twenty squares more to go.........

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Road Trip -- Law Office Style

Each year, I try to do something special with my staff to show them how much I appreciate their hard word and dedication. One year we went whale watching in Monterey Bay, another year it was dinner and a show in San Francisco. This year, I flew my paralegals, Bear and Molly, to Washington for a four day respite after the long hours we all put in in December. Our first night in Washington, we were greeted by this clever couple. The raccoons apparently thought that I had filled the bird feeders for their exclusive use. Unfortunately for them, I hung the feeders too high for them to reach. The pair tried for over an hour to crawl up the outer post, all in vain. They finally gave up.

Neither Bear nor Molly had ever been to Canada. They were excited to go so we had planned a day in Victoria, British Columbia. I asked my neighbor, Lennie, if she would like to join us and she said yes. On Sunday, January 13th, 2008, we caught the ferry from Port Angeles and headed for Vancouver Island. While we waited in line, I filled out the customs forms for our group and discovered it was Lennie's birthday!
Once we cleared customs into Canada, we headed up the street to do the tourist thing. Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia. Lennie, Molly and Bear posed in front of the Inner Harbour.
One of the prominent landmarks along the Inner Harbour is the Parliment Building. The Parliament Buildings were designed by a 25 year old creative architect named of Francis Rattenbury in honor of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. Construction began on 1893. Construction of the Parliament Buildings utilized, as much as possible, local materials, resources, and expertise. Granite rock foundations were brought in from nearby Nelson Island, the facades were imported from Haddington Island, and much of the brick, lime and Douglas Fir were from Vancouver Island. The Parliament Buildings were completed in 1915.Equally impressive is another Inner Harbour landmark, the Fairmont Empress Hotel. This 460-room hotel was built in the Edwardian style and was recently restored to its original grandeur, complete with antique furniture and luxurious d├ęcor. Considered to be the most photographed attraction on Vancouver Island, The Empress was also designed by Francis Rattenbury. It opened in 1908. This year it celebrates it 100th anniversary.

Molly takes a pictures of the Empress Hotel while Bear and Lennie look on.
We next headed to the Royal BC Museum. The first thing we saw in the lobby was John Lennon's "Yellow Submarine". This car was manufactured in 1965 by the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited, Crewe, Cheshire. The car was fitted with a limousine body by Mulltner Park Ward and finished in Valentines Black. When completed, the Phantom V was then delivered to John Lennon on June 3, 1965. The car measured 19 feet long and weighed three tons. It was originally painted black with chrome trim.
John eventually became restless with the "matt black overall" and decided to paint the car "psychedelic". A Dutch team of gypsy artists did the work. They designed and painted a pattern of scroll and flowers. The newly painted psychedelic car drew public outrage. In fact, an old woman, in London’s downtown, attacked the car using her umbrella and yelling: "You swine, you swine! How dare you do this to a Rolls-Royce." Obviously, the Rolls-Royce is passionately regarded in England as one of the many symbols of British dignity!
The Beatles used the Rolls exclusively in their heyday from 1966 to 1969. After the band broke up, it was donated to a museum.

The Royal BC Museum is one of my favorite museums so we headed there as our next stop. It houses one of the finest collections of totem poles in North America and a wonderful collection of spindles and woven articles.
After the museum, we all decided it was time to eat. Lennie didn't want anyone to know it was her birthday, so, of course, we immediately let the waitress know. Lennies was surprised with a huge piece of choclate cake.

After lunch we headed for the souvenior shops. Bear poses with a Canadian Bear.

All to soon, it was time to head back to the ferry. As we waited to clear customs, this car pulled into line. The car is a 1928 Graham-Page 610 Touring Sedan, an antique beauty with original motor, upholstery and accessories, now decorated with decals from car clubs and museums, the names of the 20-plus countries they've visited, and two signs. One says "Driving from Argentina to Alaska." The other says: "Tres Americas -- Una Huella." (Three Americas -- One dream).
The couple who own the car, Candelaria and Herman Zapp set out from Buenos Aires in January 2000 to fulfill a long-held dream: a road trip through the Americas. They figured it would take them six or eight months to reach Alaska--(the car has a top speed of 35 miles per hour) but instead, have been on the road eight years and have covered an incredible 50,000+ miles.
A poster inside describes the car's snaking route up South America, across Central America and into North America, past New York to Nova Scotia and Quebec, then across the continent to California, most of it traveled on back roads. "America has a lot of dead ends," comments Herman.
The car has no radio, no tape player, no GPS, no compass. "We have only the map of the next place we're going to be," he says. "If we get lost, so what?"
Even more amazing is the fact that they have three young children --- the youngest was just 6 weeks old!Planning next to cross Asia for three years, they're financing their travels in part with a book, Spark Your Dream, which they sell from the truck of the car. Here Bear and Molly get their books and pose for a picture.

And you know what? Lennie and I couldn't resist the books either!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Endless Afghan - The Nineteenth Square

I am finally knitting again! Christmas is over, the office has slowed down back to normal, and Kenny’s homework is under control. What better project to celebrate "I-have-time-just-for-me-again" than the endless afghan.

This square is from the Great American Aran Afghan and was designed by Julie Levy.

It features interlocking diamond cables at the center of the square and a single row of diamonds at each of the edges.
Overall, a intricate looking square that is not difficult. And I am now one more square closer to finishing.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Christmas 2007

Last July, as Dan, Kenny, Justin and I pulled out of our driveway in Washington after a wonderful and relaxing summer vacation, Kenny gazed back wistfully at the house and wished that we all could celebrate Christmas together in Washington. During the long drive home to California, I imagined a happy family scene for Christmas, 2007:
My family is settled around a brightly lit and richly decorated Christmas tree. A cheery fire snaps and crackles as it burns in the hearth, while outside the window a lovely white snow blankets the yard. The scent of Christmas candles mingles with the aroma of Christmas dinner. Christmas carols pay quietly in the background as Justin, Kenny and Dan carefully unwrap their packages, all of which are "exactly what they wanted".
Happily deluded by my private dream, in a moment of utter insanity, I said "Yes, let's spend Christmas in Washington."
By October, reality was beginning to rear its ugly head. It started with airline reservations. Any other time of the year (except maybe Thanksgiving) I could locate tickets for $79 to $99 each way. Now, despite the fact that I was making reservations three months in advance, the cost of each ticket was roughly three times that of the National debt. (Apparently, airline companies aren't affected by the Christmas spirit.) I finally located tickets at a reasonable price but they required travel out of San Jose (two hours from our house) on Christmas Eve. Quickly deducing I was not going to be able to find, purchase, and decorate a tree in less than ten hours once we arrived on December 24th, I decided to decorate a tree during my October vacation.
In California, this didn't seem to be much of an issue. All the major stores start to display their Christmas inventory before Halloween. In fact, it is not at all unusual for many of the stores to be sold out of the majority of the "good stuff" by October 20th. But when I got to Washington, there was nary a decoration in sight. After checking ten different stores, I explained my dilemma to the manager of Scott McClendon Hardware. Wonder of wonders, they had a pre-lit, eight foot tree left over from the year before which they were willing to sell to me.
Next I had to locate decorations. After checking with local merchants (and enduring looks that suggested that they thought I was some kind of lunatic), I was finally directed to several gift stores in Seattle, Silverdale, and Shelton which carried Christmas ornaments on a year round basis. The catch was that all of the shops required at least a forty five minute drive to reach --- and all in opposite directions. Four days and seven trips later, I finally had enough ornaments to decorate the tree. I even found a tree skirt, a wreath, and a present for Dan!

Speaking of presents..............Oh, oh! The only way to get them to Washington on time was to ship them. Over the next two months, I became a clearing house for Christmas packages. I wrapped and reboxed everything, then made roughly 6,654 trips to the UPS store. Once each box was on its way, I had to track it online and notify my neighbor, Lennie, that a box was on the porch. She then retrieved the box and took it inside. Now add in the stress of the holiday season in Family Law. I began to feel like the Grinch in that Dr. Seuss cartoon. More than once I caught myself walking around and muttering "I must stop Christmas from coming!" to myself. It didn't work.

Before I knew it, it was December 24th. Alaska Airways recommended passengers arrive two hours before the flight to ensure time enough to get through security. Since our flight left at 6:00 a.m., we arrived at 4:00 a.m. Alaska Airlines apparently didn't read their own memo and didn't open Baggage Check-In until 5:00 a.m. Dan ranks waiting in an airport somewhere between having a tooth pulled without Novocaine and contracting a raging case of the flu. He paced in front of the ticket counter for a solid hour. Once it opened and our bags had been checked, we dashed to security. There is a math equation which states that the speed an airport security line moves is directly related to likelihood that you will miss your flight. Needless to say, it was close. Once in the air, there was turbulence.....lots of it. As we bumped and bounced on our way to Seattle, Kenny began to get air sick. You know, those air sick bags DO come in handy.

I was rethinking this whole "Christmas in Washington" thing when we finally landed at Sea Tac International Airport. I was relieved when we boarded the Kitsap-Bremerton Shuttle to Port Orchard, where our neighbor, Lennie, picked us up and drive us the remaining 20 miles to home.

Surprise! Lennie and her husband, Duane, had opened the boxes and finished decorating the house. Duane had hung Christmas lights on the outside of the house. Lennie had stocked our refrigerator. As a final touch, Duane had lit the pellet stove and turned up the heat while Lennie retrieved us.

This is what we saw when we opened the front door.

Kenny helped me finish up last minute issues, including folding luminarias. A luminaria means "light" or "little lantern". In New Mexico (where I grew up), luminarias are made from brown paper bags weighted down with sand and illuminated from within by a lit candle and traditionally displayed on Christmas Eve. These are typically arranged in rows to create large and elaborate displays. Tradition states that the lights will guide the spirit of the Christ child to one's home.
As a fund raiser, Kenny's class sold luminarias pre-cut with a candle cut-out. I folded them, Justin added a cup of dry sand to the bottom, and finally I added a votive candle (they last 18 hours). As night fell, we lit the candles.

Kenny turned on the tree lights and set up the Ipod to play Christmas Carols. And wonder of wonders, the Christmas spirit finally began to arrive. Gone was the stress and exhaustion. Instread, we were a family happily settling down for the night.

Christmas morning was happy and relaxed. We had a wonderful time finally discovering what was in those boxes. Dan found the most adorable sheep for me.
It moves when its back is stroked and bleats. Dan said he went to over seven stores trying to track it down.

After packages, I fixed crepes. Halfway through breakfast, it started to snow!!!

And boy, did it snow! As the snow got deeper, the boys donned hats, coats and gloves and headed outside for a snowball fight.
It was sort of one sided since Justin is so much bigger and stronger. But it didn't matter, Kenny had a great time.

As I stood at the window watching (I'm no dummy -- those boys would have hurled snowballs at me if I had gone outside), I realized that we HAD had a perfect Christmas.