Monday, May 28, 2007

what a day!

I finally got rid of the chicken in my steering hand that says don't cross to the wrong side of the street. Success does that... :D

I just had a fan-fucking-tastic day today with my friend R, who's been a falconer for probably 30 years, most of it as dirthawker and just the last four or five as a longwinger. I asked him to run the camera, which he did not do at all < shrug >. I wanted to try to get the bird to go out the passenger side, so we caught one and slipped the HH off it. On our way to finding a place to set up the bag, we caught another one. So now we had 2 crows. We found a good spot, set up the crow, P caught it (doesn't truly count as #3, but in his mind it would). (He was still a bit hesitating to go out of the window, so I may have to do it again sometime.) I pulled off a wing to feed up P, and R, who was holding crow #2, decided to let it go right then. However, I hadn't actually secured P to the glove yet, so he took off after #2, which wasn't flying all so hot. The HH caught up with it and #2 became #4.

And all of this is done in 1 hour.

I had been satisfied with 1 crow per outing, but it's like my inner eye opened or something... I predict a pretty exciting summer. The hard part is going to be figuring out what to do with all these crows.... R took one to feed his molting birds, and I suppose anyone else I know could use a few. It's good meat, red as jackrabbit and will stick to your hawk's ribs even more than quail.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


The box has been sitting in my living room for nine days, and I just found the courage to open it. Courage isn't the right word at all, though. I was waiting for the right moment, when I had no worries or tensions, when I wasn't thinking too much.

I've never seen a cremated person before, not outside the urn that is. It was about 10 pounds of cream-colored powder, slightly gritty, unusually heavy for the volume. There were small chips in there, bone they say, 2 x 4 mm at most. It smelt like nothing.

I set aside some in a small baggie and put it inside one of the Russian lacquer boxes she collected. I'm going scatter that part in redwood forest, which she loved more than the ocean. It's not legal, so I can't do it as official ceremony, and none of the parents could handle driving the winding road up to the forest anyway.

It's funny. Most of me considers the ashes to be $2000 of legally mandated nothing, it has no connection to the person I loved. And a little bit of me, the superstitious part, says to put these things in their proper places: the ocean, the forest, and keep a little bit for me or posterity or something.

What is reality, papa? :)

Friday, May 25, 2007


This bird makes falconry so easy. Third in eight days, who could ask for more?

No picture today, it all looks the same. Video would show the fine points of flight. I have a tape camcorder and a Dazzle box, but the box doesn't work with anything after Windows 98, and the resulting quality is terrible. So I need a digital camcorder, and I need to enlist a friend to run it.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

another carhawking vid

This one's pretty good, more clear, but they should have gotten more footage instead of rerunning scenes. Harris hawk on crows, Coopers on starlings.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

the cool bird

This is starting to work out really nice. This was caught in flight.

And now I have no idea how I managed to live without a camera phone

Saturday, May 19, 2007

the letter

Today I started writing a letter to the mate. I guess it's a form of diary, where I talk about what happened today, have random thoughts, share an inside joke, say I miss her and wish she was here to experience all these things. She thought the carhawking was great but will never know I took that first crow with P.

I bought a new black suit yesterday, and I need to work up some words to say when we scatter her ashes.

I've had two dreams about the mate, both shining and happy. In the second I was lucid enough to know she was dead, but I was glad to get a visit. In my semi-superstitious mode I can interpret upset in a dream as unresolved feelings, and I'm pleased that it appears I don't have any.

But I also sense a separating between my face and my heart. Well, they've always been separated, but it's stronger now. Outside, I must have manners and do things as convention dictates, say the right words to the relatives. In the letter, I can say the truth, speak my mind, as we did when she was alive. Recently I noticed that when talking to people, I stammer a little bit, my words don't come out as organized as usual because of the crowd of thoughts. Here's hoping this isn't a permanent condition.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

first crow

Well, hardly his first crow, nor mine, but our first together. It really went like a dream.

Our first pass at it was from the passenger side, but I didn't stop. Either he was gonna jump while we were moving, or not. He didn't. I continued down the road about 75 yards, turned into a parking lot and got him on the glove. Opened the window fully. He could see the crow from where we were, but we had to wait while some cars passed.

We pulled out, got to maybe 25 mph. I gave him his push fairly close, and the timing was perfect, just as you might see in a carhawking video. The crow didn't have a chance to get up. I think he looked as surprised as I was.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

medical equipment donation

I got a lead into a place in San Francisco, CFHI, that will accept the leftover home medical supplies. Friday afternoon I wrote an email describing what I had, and asking "Where do I go to get them to you?"

Today I received a form letter email from Harini Krishnan, which included the line "We would be delighted to accept all the supplies that you would like to donate that you mentioned in your email." This was the only line that seemed like a personal response to my message. In addition to it being rather ungrammatical, it was bolded and underlined, apparently so it would stand out from the lengthy rest of it (83 lines/440 words) which was largely irrelevant. As I said, a form letter.

It continued on with "If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, and you would like to drop off your donation directly to the CFHI office, kindly let me know so that I can send you information about our office times, directions and parking."

Well... I thought I had said exactly that: "Where do I go to get them to you?" Already annoyed by the long form letter, I fired off a message saying Yes, this is what I said, and I would rather people read my letter and reply to the questions in it.

This led to a few salvos back and forth between me and Harini wherein I maintained it was rude and disrespectful to a potential donor to not bother actually reading what they had to say. Harini maintained s/he had been extremely polite and it was I was not. And my message was apparently unclear to Harini:
in your email you said "Where do I go to get them to you?" NOT that you lived in the Bay Area or that you wanted to drop off the donation.

Hello? Could 'Where do I go to get them to you?' be interpreted any other way than saying 'I have a donation that I want to drop off'?

In any case, Harini concluded with:
CFHI is a small organization with a small staff. I am a parttime employee working for 12 hours a week answering 250 enquiries a week. It is difficult to offer a personal response to every email. Your email to me was offensive, rude and bitter. We refuse the right to accept donations from individuals like yourself only interested in finding faults with small organizations like ours rather than truly
helping a worthy cause. CFHI has more than 250 donors who are more than happy with the gratitude and respect with which we treat them.

Whine, whine, whine. (And what is this "we refuse the right to accept"? It should be "we reserve the right to refuse." Major Freudian slip here, Hariri. This, I believe, explains why s/he uses form letters to communicate and didn't understand when actual people write actual words.)

At this point I emailed VIDA, a similar international agency but even smaller than CFHI. I deliberately worded my message the same as my message to CFHI. Within 4 hours I had a four-line reply:
Thank you for your donation. Attached you will find a list of items that we accept. Attached are directions to the VIDA warehouse as well. Thank you for all of your support.

Clear, competent, fast, brief but polite, no problems understanding me. They get my donation.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


I'm thinking of having people come by the house for a not-quite-a-wake. This is ultimately a good idea, but the reality is less than ideal.

When you live in one place a long time (15 years), you collect stuff, you don't throw it away when it's broken or you don't find an out-of-the-way place for it. Or you do find an out-of-the-way place for it and never find it again, and have to buy another. Or you feel this bit of scrap whatever will come in handy one of these days, so you have to keep it. Or you're just too plain lazy to get rid of crap you never look at anyway, so you stop noticing it's there.

And when one of the people living there is too sick to do much, and the other one is working, and the first one gets really sick, it all goes to hell. Things land where they're dropped and stay there like leaves.

I'm finding my house is like the fucking Amazon. Layers and layers of crap.

Cleaning, well, that's why maid services exist. But what it really needs is a severe dose of re-organization, the kind corporations go through.

Edit: yeah, it's coming along. I seem to have misplaced my Bluetooth headset for the phone, though. The phone keeps beeping to say it's connected, then when I get out of range, beeps again to say it's dropped. Everything I own needs a beeper these days.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

no, not a dream! sheesh! yes a dream

Last night I dreamed she had sneaked out of the hospital and came up the back stairs, wearing the hospital gown and with her PICC line dangling. I gave her a great big hug and she sank into me and slowly disappeared... nice...

And that is, actually, much of how I'm feeling. A tiny part of me thinks she's just not at our hospital any more. She's in some unnamed other place, but somewhere in the real world, I just don't know where.

The other part is that she's living inside me forever.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

she died

early this morning.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

the wait is (probably) over

The night before last, the mate's O2Sat dipped down into the 60s. Last night, it hit the 30s and she was taken to ICU. They put her on the bipap. In accordance with her wishes, they didn't intubate her. When she regained consciousness she told them she wanted to be out of ICU and back in her regular room.

I talked with her doc this morning. Basically, if a new set of lungs didn't show up today, the mate would probably be in too poor a condition to transplant. The doc said she would check with the transplant hospital to see if there was a potential donation in the pipeline.

There wasn't. I'll have her check again this evening but basically today is it.

Miracles have happened, it is a miracle in itself that she's lasted as long as she has. And it's entirely possible that she will recover sufficiently to last yet a little longer.

In short, I'm not ready to hit the morphine for her yet. But we're scarily close to that point. Odds are not good. She is mostly sleeping/unconscious, and about once every hour or two she is pretty lucid. But because she's been known to turn around, I want to continue her medications and respiratory therapy as long as is reasonable. If she is going downhill for the last time, then a few more bags of antibiotics and a few more vials of albuterol and saline aren't going to make a difference.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

a little scary

The mate is normally headstrong and very much in control. However, these last few days the sense of fear has been pretty strong, so the doc kinda-half-sorta recommended trying more morphine, which tricks the body into thinking it has enough oxygen. We agreed it was reasonable to experiment.

However, yesterday and today in particular the mate was getting spacey and lost. She'd stop in the middle of doing something and just sit. I got alarmed because today she was not responding to my questions but something else, usually a mishearing of what I'd said. She'd forgotten that I'd brought her a coffee this morning, thinking it was yesterday. She was a bit cold in the fingers, though her O2 reading was excellent. And she was really in spaceland, sitting motionless a lot even when she'd said she was about to do something.

She wears a low-dose Fentanyl patch, gets Valium twice a day, and Ativan if a fast effect is needed. Apparently she'd had two morphine doses and two marinols today. Usually she has just one of each. It seemed like this was just too much: she pretty much turned to mush.

Fortunately our night nurse is a very good one; she's competent and responsive, and she likes the mate too. I told her things felt wrong, and she went in with her student nurse. The student automatically asked the mate if she wanted a Valium, and she said yes. But I gave a quick shake no, and the night nurse double-checked, asking the mate how she felt and other questions that determined that she didn't really need the Valium. Our nurse said she'd hold off on the narcotics until tomorrow.

I was totally relieved. Normally, as I said, the mate's very much in tune with how she feels and what she needs, but today she was completely suggestible, saying yes to everything. A less concerned (or less experienced) nurse might just ask the question and go on a positive reply without really sensing a problem.

This is a place where nurses have a lot of power. I pushed ours into a judgement call. I admitted that I couldn't decide which was better: a state where she wasn't having any fear but didn't have much of a brain either, or a having a clear mind but often struck by terrors. She made what was essentially a doctor's decision, to withhold narcotics, and I'm very glad she did.

smarter goose removal

I was thinking about the trillion Canadian geese the other day and the lightning flash of stupidity suddenly came to me.

We have a leash law. All dogs are to be either fenced in, or attached to a leash and under control of their owners at all times when outside. The only place you can let your dog really run free is in the dog park.

A dog park costs approximately $25K - $30K to build, with nominal maintenance costs. The city has two.

The city is considering removing the Canadian geese infestation by hiring border collies and their handler. The dogs are taken on rounds to the city parks to chase the geese several days per week. I'm presently researching how much this costs, but from what I've read, it's an ongoing service of 50 to 100 visits per year, and takes typically 10 to 12 weeks to get the geese to stay away.

It makes more sense to simply kill the leash law instead, dontcha think?