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Yesterday, someone asked me what we were doing for Valentine’s Day. My response:

“We’re going to go stand in a muddy field in the rain so Scott can watch me take dead birds out of my dog’s mouth. You?”

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Wanted: pre-teen, lightly used

After the classroom experience on Tuesday, I am now in the market for a 10-13 year old child. Must be literate and interested in learning about new things. If anybody hears of one on the market for a reasonable asking price, please let me know. I just don’t want to make my own from scratch.

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Never, Ever Volunteer

To pick up nowhere near where I left off…

Back in December, I made a rash commitment to give a presentation (otherwise known as the Dog and Braille Show) to a class of Junior High students. It’s next week.

I knew not what I did. Their teacher recruited me when I was innocently sitting in the park. At the time, the date seemed a long time in the future and hence not worrisome. Now, with it looming, I’m wondering what on Earth to do with a classroom full of Junior High kids.

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San Diego

Here it is two weeks later and I’m reporting in. But these days, that’s about my operating speed. Oh, well.

We spent the weekend of June 27-29 in San Diego for a wedding and then a couple of days of R&R, returning on Sunday evening. As well as the wedding, the weekend encompassed brunch (which impressively occurred at 8:30am—less unch than br, in my book) with the happy couple and the rest of the out-of-towners the morning after the wedding, a trip to the Zoo, the beach at sunset, a couple of dips in the hotel pool and a leisurely soak in the hot tub, some wandering around Old town San Diego, lunch with wonderful, fresh tortillas and my second experience of what I declare to be the best pizza I’ve ever eaten.

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There is a woodpecker nest in one of our dead walnut trees. There was a nest there one of the first years we had the house (one of our reasons for keeping the dead trees, along with the fact that they make great posts from which to suspend a hammock and that it costs an arm and a leg to have mature dead trees removed) but I don’t think there’s been a nest there for several years.

We have a lot of woodpeckers around, in part because the giant Valley Oak in our yard is a granary tree where birds and squirrels store their winter caches of treasure. There was one –or several, who knows—who used to sit and peck futily on the gutter drainpipe. You’d think it would have noticed its efforts were ineffective, but it kept it up and came back for more. Presumably, this is not the woodpecker who’s reproduced in our dead walnut tree.

I heard a woodpecker over there pecking on the tree the other day, and today, Scott spotted an adult hanging around a hole in the trunk. A little while ago, I heard this amazing little sound—a tiny, high-pitched Woody Woodpecker chuckle. It was like Woody on helium.

Scott has spotted a little mouth just inside the hole. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a good telephoto lens for the camera, so no detailed pictures.

Update by Scott:
I've uploaded the best two shots I took on Flickr. I think they turned out ok despite extreme cropping.


More & More Spam Report

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Oceanic Musings

Today, I miss the ocean.

What I’m less sure about is whether missing the ocean means wanting to be near the beach, breathing in salty, ozone-washed air, splashing in the waves or listening to them wash and crash on the shore or if, today, it’s something a lot more primal than that: longing to return to the sea; to submerge, shedding feet for fins and lungs for gills.

I’ll let you know if I figure it out.

Who said That?

You know how you always think of just exactly the right thing to say after it’s way too late to say it -- usually long after the fact? Well, *I* usually miss the opportunities for smart come-backs, anyway. There’s a lot of time to think up these things later while I’m walking home down El Camino or on buses or trains, though.

But every so often, my mouth falls open and something comes out which takes me by surprise.

This morning, I was at the vet’s office to get Justin’s nails trimmed. It was absolutely bucketing rain outside at the time. Justin and I were both soaked.

The following conversation ensued:

Receptionist: “You’re not walking, are you??”
Me: “Uh, yes. It’s how I get places.”
Receptionist: “But it’s pouring out there!”
Me: “Yeah, but I don’t have a lot of options.”
Receptionist: “Is your husband at work?”

I opened my mouth with the intention of simply saying “Yes, he is.” What I heard myself saying, instead, was:

“Yes, well, he tried quitting so he could chauffer me around, but we got tired of foraging for nuts and berries and road kill just isn’t what it used to be.”

There was a long silence. Then she said “Oh, I see…”
. I *think* she got the point. Either way, I felt quite self-satisfied. It was one of those rare moments when the words happen to come out the way they would if I planned what I was about to say. What I wouldn’t give for more of those. I doubt it would much improve my ability to communicate, but at least I’d keep myself amused while I suffered the inanity.
On Tuesday evening, I did this totally amazing thing; something I’ve done only once before in my life. I exercised my right to vote by secret ballot-- Yep. That cornerstone of modern democracy-- taken for granted by most (property-owning) men (and later women) in this country since 1892 (with the exception of wierd practices like caucuses.) Heck, Ugandans voted by secret ballot 13 years before I could.

Most people in America take this so much for granted that they’ve probably never given it a second thought. While they may have thought long and hard about the efficacy of electronic voting, discussed the issue of voter fraud, pondered the concept of free and fair elections and joked about hanging chads, I imagine few have ever doubted that they would be able to cast a ballot without having, by necessity, to reveal their choices to total strangers and trust said strangers to complete the ballot according to their wishes. That idea would appall most voters in tiny, developing nations. But I and millions of other blind and disabled Americans have had to do exactly that until very recently.

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Thoughts While Awaiting a Client

I wish I could stop coughing. I’ve been sick for a week. Last week, I was much worse—I ran a fever from Wednesday through Saturday and a couple of those days I couldn’t even pry myself out of bed for more than a few minutes at a time. Going as far as the bathroom was exhausting. Thank goodness, no gastro-intestinal involvement, but even so it’s about the sickest I’ve been while unhospitalized in many a year. I don’t think I’ve cancelled client appointments for anything short of hospitalization except once for a migraine. I cancelled appointments three days last week.

Sigh, groan, bitch whine.

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Oops. Must go. The Beagle has landed.