Monday, July 25, 2005

Going batty...

Saturday morning when I drove to the fire house to pick up N, he said “look what I have, Mom.” It was a little blond bat (LBB) with a badly broken wing that had crawled out from under one of the fire trucks and it was sitting inside his fire cap. I assume it had flow into the cavernous area, crashed into something, broken its wing. and fallen to the floor. We brought it home, put it in a tub, and then tried to figure out what to do with it. Conservation office was closed. I guess people with problems requiring help from a Conservation agent are out of luck between 5 pm Friday might and 8 am Monday morning. I was able to give the LBB some water with an eyedropper. Then I called the local vet to find out if anybody in the area would treat a bat with a broken wing. In a nutshell: nobody will treat a bat with a broken wing because the likelihood of rabies is too high. Apparently, healthy bats don’t have accidents and break their wings. Best thing to do is put the bat down and then take it to the health department, he says, oh and by the way, you can get rabies from the bat even if you don‘t get bit. All you have to do is get its saliva or blood into an open wound or your eyes or nose.” Before I could even tell R this news, R comes in “I don’t want you to touch the bat at all. I’ve just been on the CDC’s Website yadda yadda (horror story of 4-year-old girl who dies of rabies after a bat spent the night trapped in her room.) The LBB bat was dead by Sunday morning and I buried it (I would like to have its skull, so I put a stone over the spot and will check back in a few months). Fast forward to evening: The new room we added on to our house is accessed from the outside by a stairway at the back of the garage. We keep the door there open because, for the time being, the whole-house attic fan vents into the new room (R will be cutting attic vents for it shortly and covering the access into the attic). We turned the fan on at around 7 p.m. to draw in the cooling night air. I shut off the fan just before we went to bed, and went to close the door to the new room and discovered a bat swooping through the room with barely a whisper. We turned the light on in the stairwell and in a minute or so the bat swooped out into the night.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Try it, you'll like it

My dear husband has no sense of adventure when it comes to new and unusual foods. He is especially not interested in the yogurt I have been making at home for many years.
Me: You really ought to try this.
Him: I don’t drink spoiled milk.
Me: It’s not spoiled milk! It is perfectly fresh milk that has lots of friendly bacteria in it that will help your digestive system.
Him: I don’t drink spoiled milk.
Me: Come on, just take a little. The taste really does grow on you.
Him: So does fungus, but you don't eat it.

Monday, July 18, 2005

LeeLee’s lulus

I was given a Hawaiian name that has given many people difficulty over years. They have trouble saying it, they have trouble spelling it. My husband often calls me Lee when he speaks about me to other people. A co-worker called me LuLu. My very first nickname—LeeLee—was given to me by my aunt, Betty Davis, who was my father’s older sister and a very brilliant woman. She had a PhD from UC Berkeley in zoology, specializing in parasitology and protozoology. In the years shortly after I was born, she was a research associate at Children’s Hospital and at USC, and so she and Uncle John lived nearby. We spent a lot of time with them, my first legitimate memory is of the fishing pole I received on my third birthday at their house. In 1953, they became the directors of the Hastings Natural History Reservation in Carmel Valley, and we still saw them often, both at the reservation and on camping trips. She had a tremendous influence on my life. My love of nature, which I never outgrew, came from her and John (he was an ornithologist). I persist in collecting dead bugs (she gave me a huge bug collection when I was a kid) and reptiles (we had a gallon jar of dead lizards and snakes at home). The former are pinned on a corkboard and, following her example, the latter in jars and bottles of alcohol or formaldehyde (latest find: a small copperhead killed by a co-worker). I didn’t know it then, of course, but the occasion of this picture – lunch at their house at Hastings Reservation in 1978 – would be the last time I saw Betty and John alive. She died of a brain tumor in 1981 and garnered a 27.5-column inch obituary in the Carmel Valley News. Uncle John died of cancer a few years later. I miss them.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Christmas in July

My Christmas cactus gets very confused when I put it outside in the late Spring. It was glorious for most of June, and now just a single bloom is left.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Blood from a turnip

For many years, I could not give blood because I did not weigh enough. When I entered the 10th grade, I stood 5’4” and weighed 96 pounds. I was skeletal, and I am sure if it had been 2005 instead of 1965, there probably would have been child welfare investigators at my parents’ door, having been hotlined by school teachers wanting to find out what was going on. By the time I was 40 though, I had quit being skeletal thanks to age and quitting smoking. And now, I am heading for serious trouble. I look like a turnip standing on toothpicks (I have my father’s skinny legs). Not weighing enough is no longer an issue and now I am happy to give blood when the Bloodmobile makes its regular appearance in the basement of a local church. Only getting the bloodd is now the issue. I am a hard case, they say. On a rare occasion, when a good technician is working that draw, it goes well – the needle slides right in and the blood fills the bag. But more frequently, it can get painfully unpleasant. Today the old "can't get blood blood from a turnip" saw applied to me. Three technicians ended up getting involved, and I came home with punctures in both of my arms–and my eyes leaked a little bit while they were roto rootering around in there–but not a drop of blood flowed down the tube and into the bag. I didn't help myself to the refreshments they offered (cookies, mostly). I'm going on a diet, but after what I went through, I figured they owed me a t-shirt, so I took one.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Jose can you see

That was the punchline of a joke about the Star Spangled Banner that was popular back in the early 1960s. Joe and Sara, who ever they may be, have offered a fun little July 4 experience at their Website. Try it out at As a kid, July 4 centered round fireworks. Mom and dad were careful with their money, so not much was spent on fireworks, which were still legal then. They’d get a few boxes of sparklers, some Piccolo Pete’s, some “slugs,” and perhaps a few Roman candles. However, the neighbors, who were three elderly people raising a granddaughter my age, did have money to burn and so they would buy a big assortment of fireworks and bring it over to our house for my father to set off. What can I say – what kid doesn’t like fireworks? Our son was no exception, except we were even tighter with our money, I think, then my mom and dad. Sometime in the mid-1980s, my parents came to visit one year on July 4. We had gone to the fireworks stand and bought a small assortment of fireworks, including various sizes of bottle rockets. Bottle rockets? A small firecracker-type affair (plus propellant) on a stick that is placed in a soda bottle. When the fuse is lit, it shoots high up into the air and makes a very satisfying bang. One bottle fell over as my dad lit the fuse and the rocket came shooting in the direction of my mother. It missed, fortunately. But perhaps the most meaningful activity for me on July 4 in years past has been the tradition on National Public Radio of well-known people reading the Declaration of Independence. It’s quite moving