Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tonight my living room was full of friends and midwifery clients and one rambunctious dog. We ate cheese and crackers and chocolate and brand new grape jelly and grapes and gluten free banana bread. We had one real baby here: Ivy who's seven weeks.

Why, you may ask.

Well, tonight was the premier of Call the Midwife from the UK on PBS so we all had to watch it together. And we had an ad at the very beginning. Ha!!! We screamed so much when the ad came on, we couldn't hear it.

My grape jelly is beautiful this year. You'll be getting a shipment, Radish dear. Because we had such a dry, sunny summer, the grapes got dark red and very sweet. We had rosemary crackers with Vermont cheddar and a dollop of jelly. Ambrosia.  

Friday, September 28, 2012

It is now grape jelly making season. That's right, folks. Time to pick, wash, pluck, squish, boil, strain (let sit overnight), then measure, add sugar and pectin and pour into jars freshly pulled from boiling water, caps on and ta-da, the sweet 'ping' of the caps sealing. Then we pile them up in a wee pyramid where they filter the sunlight through their (this year) rosy deliciousness.

Because of all the sunlight and warmth this summer, the grapes are actually pink-purple so the jelly will be so pretty.

For the rest, there will be massive sticky counters, floors, bowls, stovetop, etc. And burned fingers. And I hope to heaven the jelly jells the first time around. Otherwise, there is the sadness of decanting all the jelly and starting over. It'll all be fine this year.

O, a bit of the extracted juice is the best grape juice I've ever tasted. Ever.

I"m watching the Wallandar series again. If you turn away, you don't understand a thing. Unless you know Swedish, which I don't. It does make the spit fly when they're being emphatic. And Wallander is always eating sandwiches, a kind of torture if you don't eat any gluten. I'd give someone my car for a slice of crunchy bread dipped in olive oil. But then I'd eat the whole loaf.

And I bought Halloween candy today. I buy the worst stuff so I'm not tempted to eat any. This year it's sweet-tarts, yuck. No chocolate. And Halloween is my clinic day this year. I need a costume. Something that won't scare toddlers.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

We're at the top of Mt Washington, me and Felix and Holly. It was one hell of a hike. Loose rock almost all the way with steep switchbacks. Coming back down sucked. And we passed a bunch of mountain rescue people going up as we neared the parking lot. Uh-oh. Someone rock climbing fell and broke his ankle.


I am mighty glad to be in one piece. Holly fell twice. When I got home, I took an epsom salt bath and lay on the couch while my legs twitched and my feet made small yelping noises. My feet hurt all night.


I love hiking. I want to hike until I no longer can. We saw no one while we were hiking. The popular hikes are a) easier b) shorter c) less steep. The peaks are so great and this time we decided to go all the way to the top because we were stopped by snow so many times this year. Since I'm no longer a runner (sob), I can have my painful, exciting and possibly dangerous adventures in the wild. Just say no to bear encounters.

Felix slept all day yesterday. He was pooped too. Today he had a bath and a haircut. He looks like a real poodle.

Monday, September 24, 2012

I'm watching Giselle with The Incomparable Rudolph Nureyev, o he of the cheekbones and impossible leaps. In my birth splattered scrubs. The biohazard look. On the couch. I swept, did dishes and fed the creatures. And that's about it for today. Another fine babe in the world. She cried a lot and had some dandy clear lungs.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

We went to the Pulalup Fair. Silly really to be delighted in a barn full of chickens. But they're so pretty. O the roosters are so glorious. I know they're not allowed in Seattle but just one, maybe. The neighbors would not approve.

And the piglets.  And the gorgeous draft horses. Gorgeous. We avoided the (er) food. We found salad and deviled eggs. No cotton candy or curly fries or caramel apples.

We rode the Ferris Wheel. Tame. The Rocket would have made us throw up. At least. I think all my clothes would have come off too. There were a lot of elderly folks with walkers and wheelchairs. We can still walk unaided.

O and we watched a dog obedience trials. The 4-H kids with their goldens and beagles and blue heelers. Felix needs some work, clearly.

Last night I went to Rebecca's reading. She was splendid all in black with black slippers. She read Henry poems. I don't think I breathed while she read. I didn't want to miss any words. The women poets were mostly good. The men, well, there is craft and then there is...uh, do I dare. It is uncivil to be critical. However, I can't help it. The old boy's club. Sigh.

Meanwhile, I'm still in my bathrobe with a towering pile of poems next to me. My task: enter them into my new(ish) computer and throw them onto the external hard drive so I'll have them even if this computer dies/gets stolen/blows up. Can't send them out if they're on bits of paper. All the years of workshopped poems and others.

Hey, I put all my music on the hard drive. I can do this with poems too. Besides, I'm in the mood. Inspired by last night. I rite good, I do. All I have to do is go to a reading to know this.

Rebecca, thank you. For everything.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

There's a plumber in the basement, replacing the toilet in my MIL. He has no teeth. Or maybe he left them home. When I saw the footage from Katrina and all the folks with no teeth, I knew that was real poverty. When you're poor, you can't get your teeth fixed. You can't even afford dentures.

This beautiful morning, I'm mad at our greedy CEOs and politicians and other 1%ers. They aren't any happier but they sure cause suffering for so many people. Too many to count. Their mommas didn't love them. So they're gonna live on vast tracts of exclusive land in giant houses and be separated from the ordinary folks who struggle and scrape to feed their kids and pay the rent.

I don't feed equanimity for them. Ort kindness. Sometimes I do.

But not today. Nope.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Since my, ah, fall yesterday (see previous post), I feel like someone has been beating me all over my body with a stout, wide board. If the dog needs a walk, we're going to be very slow.

On the positive side, if we were still in the mountains facing another day of backpacking, I'd be having arnica and ibuprofen for breakfast.

Actually, that's a good idea. And some ice.

And you know I'd do it again.

Hey, I didn't break anything. I MADE IT OUT.

And Cheryl Strayed, in her book Wild, walked, what, 1500 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in boots that were too small.  (are there too many commas in that last sentence?) By herself. Her pack was so heavy, she couldn't walk upright. She called her pack 'Beast'. Granted, she was a mite younger than me. But she was coming off heroin.

Another beautiful cloudless day in Arizona, formerly known as Seattle. It's unnerving to have one nice day after the other. We're not used to it. It makes us anxious. It's not right. We have umbrellas and raincoats and boots at the ready. We're hearty and resigned. So this is damned weird. LA is like this.  Not the NW. Here, we're proud of our weather induced depression.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

So me and Holly backpacked to Ollalie Lake and Pratt Lake and all around.

And my elderly bladder got me up from my Thermarest so I could stand under the night sky o stars o stars o stars.

We heard an owl after dark. We saw a river otter in the lake and rolling around on a log. We ate dehydrated eggs for dinner. And some carrots. In the morning, I held pumpkin seeds in my palm and a jay sat on my finger and had breakfast. Her legs were shiny and black, like her beak.

Coming back, I tripped over a root and landed on my left side, wham! I raised a lump on my left shin the size of a grapefruit. When you have 40 pounds on your back and you're going over, there's no help for it, you go over like a tree in a wind storm. I lay there for a while, feeling sorry for myself. Nobody is gonna come along and offer to carry my pack and airlift me out. Nope. I got up and kept going. And it's one of those times when crying doesn't work either. I did cry about my mother for a while. I blew my nose on my sleeve. And every switchback was possibly the last one and we would be at the car and we could sit down and take off the hated hiking boots and go to Triple X Root Beer joint in Issaquah for fries.

You can tell who the day trippers are. They smell nice. They're wearing brightly colored shorts and sneakers. They may be carrying a bottle of water. Or not. The true backpackers are nasty. They're dirt streaked and have bandanas tied to their tangled hair. O, and injuries. And bug bites. They have survived and can now go somewhere for junk food. Deservedly.

I still have the smell of dry forest path in my nose. It's a combination of pine needles, dust and sweet high air. And the vine maples are beginning to turn red and gold. It was worth it. Always.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A musical interlude

All this glorious summer long I've wanted to put on a backpack and sleep out under the stars. So Saturday Holly and I will do just that. I dragged my knapsack, tent, flashlight, cookstove etc out of the garage where it all sits on the back deck, soaking up the sun and killing all mold spores. We can't figure out what to eat because the freeze dried stuff is icky. Usually I've eaten it half cooked and crunchy. Half cooked crunchy lasagne in a bag, yuck. So maybe cuz it's just an overnight, I'll bring real food, some veggies and humous. And plenty of water. And no dog.

Speaking of Felix, the dog. He was attacked yesterday by two vislas. One bit him on the butt and I didn't notice he was bleeding until he went in the lake. One perk for having a white dog; you can see blood. If he were black I would have missed it.

The lady who owns the dogs was trying ineffectually to get them away from him. Fancy house, Maserati in the garage, big empty rooms with furniture just so. As soon as I realized he was hurt I marched back to her house and got her number. Today I taped a bill from the vet on her door. Humph!

Let's see if I get a check in the mail.

I eliminated all grains from my diet and I've gained weight. Whatever. Today I'm going dancing and I don't care. As long as I can get off the floor without help, I'm ok.

Seattle is showing Stop Making Sense, the Talking Heads music video, on the big screen. I'm going. I saw it with my friend James back in the day. We were so excited we bounced around in our seats like four year olds.  I loved James. He was from the Big South and he loved pecan pie so I made it for him even though I thought it was gross. Karo syrup, what the hell is that? My girlfriend at the time was from  New Orleans so they were in pecan pie heaven. They'd sit outside and smoke dope and I could hear their slow drawls from the kitchen. We'd cook dirty rice and beignets and when she would go home, she'd bring back pralines. Now those were delicious. Homemade and stuck to wax paper. She also sat at the dinner table one night and sucked crawdad heads while the children and I watched in horror.

James died of AIDS before the cures came around and the country (read Reagan) got it's head out of it's ass. Those days were so horrible and frightening. I lost a lot of friends then. And we marched and protested and wept and took care of our own.

So James, wherever you are now, my sweet man, I'm gonna go see Stop Making Sense and bounce around in my seat like a four year old. I'll enjoy myself for both of us.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Today it is that day, that awful day.

And we had a birth, a lovely birth with a gorgeous Brazilian mother and her goofus husband. She labored so quietly I wasn't sure she was doing anything except that with her third baby, she should know. And indeed she did. With contractions, she would make a little face, barely noticeable. She asked that we not 'stare' at her because she was shy. So we didn't. We moved over to the other side of the room. I closed the blinds. We whispered. She was so quiet. Her husband put on some latin jazz. When she had pushed in the tub for a while, I suggested that she try the birth stool. With two pushes, she had her daughter.

She had blue painted finger and toenails. She was wearing blue and white beaded bracelets. After the birth, she put on a brilliantly colored dress and wound her hair and fastened it with a shiny clip.

We helped them get ready to go home. She wanted her own bed. With the baby tucked into the car seat, off they went in the late afternoon.

While NYC mourns and remembers, as we all do, in Seattle there is a wee babe named Clementine with her mother's eyes and her father's mouth.

Sweet dreams, dear families.


Sunday, September 09, 2012

Stevie Ray Vaughn and Albert  King.      Holy shit.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

graphic post-enter at your peril

Ok, so we had four babies yesterday. I came home with vomit in my hair. A total biohazard. I fell asleep on the couch and went to my real bed at 8:30 and I don't think I moved for eight hours.

This morning, I gardened like a fiend. The dog needs his walk and then there are some babies to visit.

The life of a midwife.

O, I did take a shower. Actually I took three showers, between births. And then there was the vomit. I've been peed and pooped on. Of course there's blood and amniotic fluid. But vomit? it was a new one for me.

I'm well acquainted with body fluids. I figured out with my student that I haven't had spinal fluid on me. Or bile. Snot, sure.  But no bilious humors.

So I guess I haven't experienced EVERYTHING yet.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

I'm already tired. I watched a docu of Dame Margot Fonteyn last night, falling asleep and waking up. She married a ner-do-well from Panama, she ran guns, her Panama husband got shot and was paralyzed forever but she took care of him, she danced until she was very old, much older than any dancer ever could and she fell in love with the impossibly beautiful cheekbones of Nureyev. He was 23, she was 42. She never had any money and was buried as a pauper in Panama.

But what a life.

And Lynn called at eight this morning to tell me there are two ladies in labor so I better get ready for anything today. We have SO MANY women in dates at the moment. We could have a major pile-up. And I'd prefer to lie in the hammock today, sipping margaritas and listening to Beethoven's 5th. I better go get my equipment from the clinic and walk the dawg. If Margot danced on bloody feet, I can be up all night for a few nights with a laboring woman.

Sheesh, what a whiney baby I am.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Today I went to the spa and got scrubbed within an inch of my life (as my mother would say) and now my skin is as soft as a baby's bottom.

What my skin looked like before the spa:

And I embarrassed myself by crying on the table in fromt of the nice Korean lady who was scraping off my dead skin. All the sadness and misery of August caught me up. I was so adult and available and everyone wanted to talk to me and I'm the 'boss' so I guess I felt like I had to keep it together. And I did. Until today. I didn't weep and wail, just let the tears ooze out while I lay face down. Now I feel hollow and empty. Emptied out.

But my skin is creamy. The ladies at the spa make you stay in the 104 degree tub for way too long so your nasty skin will be easier to get off. Man, I was woozy when I got out. I lay on the plastic lounge chair and had hallucinations. The skylights kept crossing and winking.

I have no idea how I drove home.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

This morning, Lola, as usual, was meowing and meowing. When I called her to my bed, she didn't hop up but stayed on the floor. I peered over and thought she had a rodent in her mouth, but no. She had a bird. Not just any bird but a hummingbird.

Hummingbirds are magic. Their heartbeats are over a 1000 per minute Look them up here and fall to your knees in wonder.

So I extracted the wee thing from Lola's mouth, cursing cat nature and it's nastiness. The bird's wings were flattened out and a few green feathers stuck to my  hand. Her heart felt like an electric vibration in my palm. I thought, what to do? I kept muttering 'sorry, sorry' and 'better luck next life' while watching her for any perkiness. I folded her wings down against her body and her body was moving with her heartbeat. I held her in my hand and went to Deb so she could help me. She didn't have any ideas so I went back upstairs continuing my hummingbird prayer. She continued to live. I thought, maybe she'll die in my hand and I can be her witness, so much coming and going all the time. She was about 5 inches long with white and green feathers and the tiniest needle beak. Then she turned her head and looked at me. Hummingbirds have very small faces. I decided to hold my hand out the window so if she were recovered enough she could fly away. Then she looked away and back again and whoosh---she whirred away to the oak tree.

Later in the back yard, a hummingbird flew low over the deck with a flash of white.

With all the heartache of August, I took this as a sign that September would be better. Not that I believe in such things. But today I feel blessed by hummingbird medicine.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

This morning, fall is in the air. A fire somewhere in the neighborhood; smoke smell lingers. The sirens yesterday made the dog howl. The chickens mumble and cawk. The cat across the alley is out yowling.    If I leave the back door open, Felix stands on the back porch and barks. At nothing.

Today, Holly and I will go to Annette Lake. Roughly 8 miles in and out. A pretty lake to swim in. Not too much elevation gain and way up the pass. Until you penetrate the tree line, you can still hear traffic.
In a few weeks, we're planning a backpacking overnight.  Maybe to Rainier, the most wondrous of mountains. Sometimes all the mountains are out; the Cascades, the Olympics, Baker to the north and Rainier to the south. Today might be such a day.

I'm grateful I can still hike. Grateful to this older body. Two types of hikers I see; young fit people with dogs, kids, inadequate footwear and no water and older retired folks, all decked out in small backpacks, water, walking poles and expensive hiking boots. The youngsters are careless. Their bones are strong, their muscles and ligaments flexible. They're the ones who trail run. The older folks are more careful and deliberate. They're wearing hats and sunscreen. They walk slowly. They're looking through binoculars at the distant snowfields. We nod at each other as we pass.

Maybe today we'll see some wildlife. Or not. Maybe I'll go swimming and yelp as I hit the cold water.