Monday, June 25, 2007

I Married a Colored Man

Tony eats cherries fresh from the tree this morning.

When Tony and I were engaged he had to have his wisdom teeth removed. He has a serious bleeding problem, actually a clotting problem. He doesn't have enough of the sticky little cells called platelets in his blood. Platelets are the bits that glue together at the end of a broken capillary and keep it from spilling any more blood. So when the teeth were pulled he bled and bled and bled and bled. Then he swelled up like a pumpkin head and bled some more.

He also bruised, from his temples to the waistband of his pj's, which is as far as good girls saw of good boys in our distant youth. He could have been bruised to his ankles. When I say bruised, I mean he was (seriously) the color of a ripe eggplant. Finally he started to improve. You know how a bruise turns that sickly green color as it is clearing up? He turned as green as the grass in Yankee Stadium. He looked absolutely terrible.

At this point he met my parents for the first time. They thought he was a Martian, but I explained that no, he was just a Canadian and they all turned that funny color in the spring. Thankfully he had a "serious" disposition, which pleased the parents, who apparently feared I'd taken up with a circus clown. They preferred a serious (though green) Canadian to a practical joker with a spinning bow-tie and trick suspenders.

Once I explained that he was actually just bruised they felt better about his color. But several times in our marriage I have found myself married to a colored man. Usually a piebald, spotted black and blue one. He hit his head at one point when his platelet count was low and his ability to clot almost non-existant. You could see the bruise spreading under the skin. During those frightening years a touch could bruise him. Blood tests required that the arm be packed in ice and elevated afterwards. Blue arms, swollen black hands.

Thankfully now there's medication to take care of his problem. A bit of inhaled steroid goes a long way toward keeping his ability to clot intact. His platelet count will never be more than half of what yours likely is, but it is enough to keep him reasonably intact.

He lost a lot of blood during this surgery. He's a little white under his tan. Except that if you look at the poor leg you think of that kid's song about singing a rainbow...

"Red and yellow and pink and green,
purple and orange and blue.
You can sing a rainbow,
Sing a rainbow,
Sing a rainbow too."

I have a rainbow husband. I married a colored man.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

You Can't Unbreak an Egg

We had such a pleasant week - till Thursday night. It was hot, but not oppressively so. Wednesday we'd taken opportunity to use the portable washing machine I bought some time ago to wash the smaller items of clothing, and we went to town to pick up the food dehydrator I'd ordered the week before.

I picked some cherries, pitted and sliced them and dried them overnight. These will be lovely on cereal on a cold January morning. Late Thursday afternoon I decided to dry another couple of pounds of cherries, and Tony helped by spreading them on the dehydrator trays. They have to go skin side down, which is not hard, but is fiddly. While I pitted and sliced, he loaded the trays. For some reason it was "Broadway Tunes" day, so we regaled Salvador with our version of the old Barbra Streisand hit, "Second Hand Rose"....

...even our pee-ah-no in the pahhh-lah
Father bought for ten cents on the dollll-aaahhh...

When the trays were filled Tony said he'd put the top on them and start the dehydrator, which was sitting on the table just outside the door.

I said, "You go out, I'll hand the trays to you,"

"Nah," he answered, "they're light, it'll be ....."


And he was lying on the ground outside, trays in every direction.

I said, "Are you alright?"

"Yes," he said, "but I've broken my leg."

And he had. Oh boy. I just froze up. I absolutely froze.

Neighbours ran from every direction. Thank God the guy across from us (Don) is an EMT. He told me to get a blanket, a couple of pillows, and some ice. I just stood there like a lump. I think he said it three times before I was even able to move. By then our neighbour Stacy had run home and gotten a large bag of frozen peas from her freezer which they put that on the leg.

Someone dialed 911 and someone else ran down to the entrance to direct the ambulance. They propped his leg, wrapped him up. He was talking and even joking, but he didn't look good. I just stood there. I couldn't remember where his medical records were, or where his meds list was. I finally got the case he keeps his meds in, took out his meds and put his shoes in it (??) and took that to the hospital. Did I say I was a little shell-shocked?

The ambulance arrived within four minutes, they loaded him onto a clam shell frame, a small amount of screaming involved there. They gave him nitrous oxide before they moved him, which helped ease his pain but it's a bumpy four minute ride.

Once in the local hospital they doped him with morphine, x-rayed him, and realized that this was too complex a break to be fixed in this hospital. Arrangements were made to transfer him to Penticton Hospital, about 45 minutes away, in the morning.

I went home at 1:00 am, had a shower, went to bed, couldn't sleep for worrying about him, so got up and went back to the hospital. They had transfered him to a bed in the ward, and told me to go home and come back at 7:00.

After an entire hour and half of sleep I was up and went back to the hospital. They arrived to move him within about 10 minutes and I followed the ambulance to Penticton.

These hospitals have the most wonderful staff. The doctors are human beings who joke around, speak compassionately, and give the impression that they actually care about their patients. The Orthopedic Surgeon was waiting when we arrived in the ER, and spent a good hour with us. The Internist spent an hour with us at the bedside in the ward, the Anesthetist came by for a good chat. Everyone was extremely supportive and friendly.

It was late in the day (Friday) by the time they had all the decisions made, but they wheeled him away at 6:45 pm and he was in surgery until almost 11:00 pm. They called as soon as he was out of surgery to say he'd come through it fine, and was doing well.

The surgeon showed me the x-rays they took in the OR when we were in visiting today. He said the breaks were even more complicated than they had first believed. He broke his tibia (larger bone in the lower leg) in two places, with one of the breaks greatly displaced, almost came through the skin. It also had a series of spiral fractures running the length of the bone. They inserted a rod down the centre of the bone and put two screws top and bottom. The smaller bone, the fibula, was broken into four pieces, and required plating to repair.

He looked a bit pale today but his pain level was considerably reduced from yesterday. Ian arrived from Calgary late last night and we went to Penticton this morning. Tony was eating lunch when we arrived, so he didn't break his appetite. He was quite tired and drifted off to sleep any time the conversation lagged. We left to go get some needed supplies and let him sleep for an hour.

They were talking about sending him home tomorrow but he couldn't get inside if he came home. He'll be on a walking frame and crutches for weeks, if not months, and there's no way to get him up that step ladder on crutches. Ian will begin building steps and a deck tomorrow. With hand rails.

Poor Tony, but it's his first broken bone, if you don't count a fractured skull. Hopefully he will never do this again!

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Day in Paradise

We keep thinking we died and woke up in paradise. But wait, we still have to do laundry, so that can't be right. If this were paradise our fig leaves would be self-cleaning.

But if it's not paradise it is very close. Right now the cherry trees are heavily laden with deep red, incredibly sweet cherries. It's good that James and Cathy don't come and weigh me every day and charge me by the pound! I pick a bagful, come home, wash them and proceed to eat them.

While I pick cherries I breathe in the scent of the lavender that is blooming so profusely right now. Lavender is my favorite fragrance, delicate, brisk, clean, no heaviness or cloying sweetness.

The last few days have been cool and lovely. We did turn the air conditioner on for about an hour day before yesterday in the late afternoon. It had rained earlier and it was very humid. A few minutes sucking power from the line and our little AC had cooled it down to a very tolerable 80 degrees. We don't really want it any cooler. We are comfortable with 80 - 85. I worked for a lady once who kept her house at 60 degrees. I'd go out into the 100 degree heat and just feel sick.

We went to town yesterday and shopped till we dropped so today we're both a little flat. But, nothing is on fire so there's no rush to do anything. I reorganized that dratted kitchen pantry again. That's an on-going chore. Tony put together the little propane BBQ we bought, so we can grill a steak or a piece of salmon outside on hot days.

Otherwise we are sitting her watching the birds gobble bird seed from the feeder and on the ground below. It's been so much fun to watch the mama and papa sparrows feed their babies and teach them what to eat. One puzzled youngster wasn't quite certain what to do with the unhulled sunflower seed his mama popped into his mouth.

He turned it around and around and around, cocking his head this way and that until he finally determined that he had to get through the hard nasty part to reach the yummy bit inside.

Well, the afternoon is trickling away and I want to go pick some cherries for my afternoon snack, so I am going to post this and go away.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

What Time Is It?

Time for cherries to turn red!

All over the park the trees are covered in cherries in varying stages of ripeness. The one at the back of the Tinpalace has almost-ripe cherries on it now, as evidenced by the photo.

I had intended to wait until these beauties were at the peak of perfection before picking them, but if we want any I guess we'd best pick NOW. We went to town briefly yesterday and came home to find strangers standing in our yard, one up on a chair, stripping off everything he could reach. Once he was done with our tree he went to the neighbours and did the same, carrying plastic bags which were loaded by the time he returned.

Now I can't reach any of the ripe cherries in my own yard, even standing on a chair, since he was a lot taller than me. Oh well, if I don't get my fill here there are cherry trees all over the valley. I'll just buy some. No point in getting exercised about it. (Later edit: When I wrote this I had no idea just how many cherries were hiding under all those leaves. I could pick and eat for a year off of these trees alone!)

I've also included a picture of the growing apricots on the old tree which was at the back of the Tinpalace in our former spot. The apricots are clustered as thickly as grapes on the boughs I couldn't reach to thin. It will be a couple of months before these little beauties are ripe.

We picked up the air conditioner on Tuesday, but darn if it wasn't too big for the window. (sigh) We worked at removing the frame of the screen, but didn't have the right tools. After a couple of hours we broke down and called Gary.

He arrived yesterday morning and removed the screen frame, but the AC was still 3/8ths of an inch too wide. I threw caution to the winds and suggested we cut the frame away in that area, and Gary went home for a reciprocating saw. He cut away the frame in the area we needed and he and Tony installed the troublesome machine. Ahhhh....

It takes only an inch or so of room inside, where it projects above the front shelf. It is under cover, since the awning for the front window protects it from both sun and rain. It is on the cool side of the trailer, come afternoon. Poifict!

Today the forecast is for 70 degrees, and the entire week is supposed to be cool and wet. But summer is coming and air conditioning means we will not crumple up in the heat like little saggy balloons. And poor Sal, in his luxurious fur coat, will not pant and complain as he did when it hit 95 and above last week.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

And the Beautiful Rains Came..

Ian took this nice photo of the Tinpalace from the back when he and Julie were here a couple of weekends ago. My flowers on the bumper are overflowing now.

After several days of hot weather, which occasioned sitting in the garden, migrating with the shade, getting sunburnt, spraying myself with water, slinging a wet hand towel around my neck and wearing a shocking lack of clothing (my apologies to the neighbours!) it finally cooled yesterday. We woke at 6:00 am to the patter of rain on the roof. Is there a more lovely sound?

Yesterday two pairs of sparrows brought the youngsters out for dinner. The kids, five to a brood, were mobbing their respective parents, with gaping mouths and the "shaking wing" bit that says, "FEED ME!".

The parents brought the kids to the feeder, put seeds in the little open beaks a time or two to show them what was available, and then began pecking the bejabbers out of any baby that begged. Talk about your tough love!

One little male was insistent that his mama should feed him. She chased him all over the driveway, giving him such a thwacking. He soon decided to investigate the menu rather than risk tenderization at the hands of a very irritable mother. (Having raised a house and yard full of hungry kids I can tell you that some days you feel like doing just that.)

Within a couple of hours no one was begging, it was every chick for himself, and they are an industrious lot, though the babies are so small they are almost hidden by the inch-high grass under the feeder. At first glance they look almost the size of the parents, but they are primarily fluff and feathers at this point. The little bodies beneath are so delicate, nothing like their temperament I might add.

Years ago Zak discovered a newly hatched sparrow which had fallen from an inaccessible nest. It was a brutally hot day. Zak got some whipping cream from the fridge - he was working at a restaurant at the time - and fed the sparrow chick whipping cream with an eyedropper. It was fine when I came to pick him up. We bought birdy pablum and raised the darn thing, but it never learned to recognize us. It was a fundamentally pessimistic soul who was sure we were there to eat it every time one of us came through the door. I fed it at 20 minute intervals all day, and Zak fed it at 20 minute intervals once he was home from work.

In the three weeks it took to fledge it never learned to recognize us, or to open its mouth for food. We would load the flat stick we used to feed it, hover, wait for it to scream "Murder most FOWL!", then we'd shove in the food. It would swallow and give us a look that would have been right at home on the face of a T-Rex.

When it got old enough to eat seed and was flying around the room in wild panic every time anything moved we took it to the park and let it go. I hope it survived. Like the sparrow mother, I was at the end of my rope with this miserable, lunk-headed kid.

Today it's raining steadily. It's cool enough for a long sleeved shirt and jeans. Sal has slept for two days, after panting his way through the hot spell. I felt so badly for him. I couldn't do anything to cool him. I squirted him with water, but his coat is so thick his skin never gets damp. I did watch his face and ears repeatedly with a cool wet cloth, which he enjoyed. But he's all fluffy now, as a result of a sort of "washing" he got from being wet several times over with a cloth or the hose.

We don't need that air conditioner today, and probably won't this week, as the forecast is for cool weather, but when it does turn hot we won't be so ill-prepared.

Friday, June 01, 2007


We toddled off to the hardware store this morning and ordered an air conditioner. It will be here in four days. Four hot days. We bought a "cobra" mister, which is a plastic attachment for the garden hose. It emits a fine spray, looks like smoke. It's very pleasant to sit near, and have that cool mist blow over your hot self.

Salvador and I spent the entire afternoon outside. I sat in the shade and read and he slept. He wasn't too sure about the mister but once he caught a drift of mist across his face, he figured out that it brought coolness with it. From then on he'd turn and wait for the breeze to bring it back his way again. He'd lift his head slightly, close his eyes and lean into the mist.

It is too hot to cook, so we're living on salads and cold food. And lots of fruit. I bought a kilo (2.2 lb) container of strawberries and we've almost finished already.

There's one particular pair of quail who hang around and visit the feeder several times a day. We call them Emmett and Maud (don't ask). They are both quite small, she has a limp which makes her walk with a little hop. I wonder if they haven't nested, or perhaps a predator got their eggs? They never seem to be gone long, where all the other quail are gone all day and only come around briefly to eat first thing at dawn and then in the evening.

Emmett is very protective of Maud. He stands guard while she eats, and when another male quail came too near her a few days ago Emmett flew into a rage and beat the snot out of the other guy. Quail fisticuffs!

Maud has made a little dust bath hole at the edge of our driveway, and Emmett stands by while she has her bath, throwing dust every which direction and rolling around like a puppy. If he bathes he does it elsewhere, but he struts up and down saying, "Chuck, chuck, chuck," while she is busy with her toilette.

A few days ago they got split up somehow. Maud paced back and forth in front of the trailer screaming her head off, in great distress. She eventually flew to the top branches of the cherry tree at the front of the trailer and called and called. She was so upset she let me walk right up to her. She looked me straight in the eye and screamed, "EMMMM-ETTTTT???" After five or six minutes I heard his answering, "Chuck, chuck,". She flew from the tree to greet him and they had an emotional and noisy reunion.

So, I'm gossiping about the neighbours, but we do enjoy them. They eat us out of house and home but they are far better entertainment than a movie.