Audubon Society Meeting
July 6, 2006
We’ll start with knitting today, but we’re not going to end there.
When cranking out yet another tweed mitered square begins to tax a girl’s imagination, I go hang out with my sock. (Tweedy is going well, don’t worry. But it IS a blanket, you know.)
Part of a sock, actually. This is Sock Number 7 (I’m starting to sound like Howard Finster, who consecutively numbered each of his paintings to the point that at the bottom of a painting you’d see “#34,309.” Come bonk me on the head with a mallet if I make sock #34,309.)
Ol’ No. 7 uses that lush sock yarn, Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock. (I think. My yarn taxonomy skills are wasting away this summer, what with the relative lack of yarn shops in my life.) It’s purple all right, but a warbly purple that moves around just the way I like a color to move.
The pattern is the Child’s First Sock (Made for a Woman with Big Feet) from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush. I bought this book at the Flagstaff, Arizona, Barnes and Noble last month, when I snuck away from the fellas to see if a person could find a sock book in Flagstaff. A person could.
What a great book. Really great patterns, including the exotic idea of a bed sock–“Here in Victorian England, we’re covering our bodies all day, every day.”
I am here to tell you that knitting a lace pattern in a sock is a very different experience from knitting a plain old ribbed sock. It’s just not the same at ALL. I’m finding myself having to Pay Attention, at a level that I tend to reserve for projects I want to wear at eye level, visible to all, available to be complimented or at least commented upon. Not for a project that’s going to live its life inside a shoe.
I’ll keep soldiering away, but the empty-headed pleasure of the plain old sock is what I really crave.
Next Topic: BIRD TALK
Apologies for not providing a proper bluebird update until now. Believe me, it’s not like I haven’t been thinking about them, or keeping my little birdwatching diary. Or taking dozens of pictures of them. It’s just that getting online is kind of tricky up here in Monteagle. Here’s how it has gone since I last reported.
Saturday, July 1:
One, two, three beaky heads poke out in the door in various permutations all morning. The mom is going to need to start taking Xanax before long; she is freaked that humans have shown up. I tell everybody not to use our kitchen door, for the duration, in hopes of giving the mom a little peace.
Dad keeps the bugs coming, cool-headed fighter pilot.
At this point, we had to return to Nashville over the past weekend for a memorial service which ended up being a tender time. It was Hubbo’s grandfather, Big Daddy, who died two years ago and who wanted his body donated to the medical school at Vanderbilt. Well, we finally bade farewell to this great person–the one whose swingy piano-playing inspired the Big Dotty piano bench cushion. (Now THAT’S a legacy, right?)
I was doing great at the Temple Cemetery until the rabbi, a young woman with a great voice, said, “And now Albert has left the circle of family . . .” I looked around the circle of family and realized that our generation is starting to look suspiciously like the Grownups in the family circle. Booooohooooo! I looked down and saw all the markers for the Beloved and Departed Relatives Previously Known as Grownups. Booooooodoublehooooooo!
Sunday, July 2:
Much fambly fun, but no bluebirds. No bluebirds? Ack!
Monday, July 3:
All weekend I worried that the babies would take off while we were gone. But upon returning on Monday, I found them sticking their actual heads out their porthole:
Yay! They didn’t leave!
They look less like pteradactyls than they did even two days ago, and their round heads look sort of like Flipper the dolphin.
They’re heavy into sunbathing, and they rest their beaks on the doorway for long periods. One of them lounges with his mouth WIDE OPEN, like some Venus flytrap.
At one point, a bug flew in, and the bird just about flipped with surprise.
The big observation yesterday is this:
At the time I took this photo of the mom on a nearby gutter, bug in mouth, ready to feed, there was another female bluebird feeding the babies. TWO MOTHERS. HUH? It turns out, after my wikiresearch, that sometimes the first batch of babies grows up enough to help with the second batch. Blended family. Or polygamists. So 21st century . . . or 19th century . . .
Tuesday, July 4
The birds? One of them sticks half his body out the door.
This one is clearly the overachiever bird–I can recognize this one because his (her?) head looks smoother than the other ones. I think I see a fourth beak today. It’s like Loch Ness in there. I really wish I could see what the deal is inside that squalid little condo.
They have figured out that the little bugs flying outside the door are Food, if they catch them. The birds are terrible at catching them, but they do try.
Wednesday, July 5
5:12 am: I am wide awake, which is unusual for me during the summer. I’m awake because I realize that my little talk today will be a disaster if I don’t find out, and soon, whether my laptop will connect to the projector in the chapel where I’m going to be blabbing about knitting. I decide that nobody has ever used a Macintosh in this place, and it won’t work, and I will be doomed to describe handknits using only words. Could there be a more grim hour than talking about knitting with nothing to show? No, there could not. There will be no answer to my question until the office here opens at 8:30.
I decide to clean out the refrigerator as a way to distract myself from dwelling on the fact that my 75-slide presentation is never going to be seen by humans. As I chuck out four jars of dead salsa, I grieve over the sad truth that my presentation will die on the vine.
The refrigerator has never been so organized. Flylady.com would admire the sorting of the jars in the door. Fruits? Right bin. Celery? Left bin. Why do I have celery? Who eats celery around here? Why didn’t I resolve the projector problem last week?
Another diversionary tactic: I dry my hair. Have I mentioned that I got a new hair dryer, a hair dryer that (GET THIS) blows IONS ONTO YOUR WET HAIR AND MAKES IT SMOOTH? Have I mentioned this? You MUST get one of these things. It’ll change your life.
Still worrying about the projector.
I check the bird situation every five minutes or so. They’re awake, but not all that busy. Dad starts bringing stuff, and the babies open up as usual with their desperate FEEDMEFEEDMEFEEDMEs. But when Dad leaves, I notice that their voices have changed. Their cheeps are lower and more expressive. When did that happen?
Why didn’t I check the projector thing last week?
8:05 am: Overachiever is doing something new.
See those little feet under there? He/she has been sticking half its body out the window for the past few minutes, still as a stone. All of a sudden, he pulls his body all the way back in, then out, then in. He gets his claws up on the edge of the doorway.
I realize that something is happening here.
8:10 am: One, two, three–JUMP! He heaves ho, and in a blink he’s gone. I can’t believe it–he’s flying, just like that. He veers right, heads up, and disappears into a tree. It’s a curving flight, not too strong, but he doesn’t wipe out or bonk into the wall.
I’m searching desperately to find him (and he’s definitely a male, bright blue).
There he is, twenty feet up on the branch of a tree. Blue back, white belly. He looks for all the world like any other bird. You wouldn’t know that a minute ago, he was a baby.
I can’t believe I get to see this. I could have been drying my hair or worrying about the projector.
8:12: Number Two is in the doorway. You can hear Dad calling to him. One, two, three–JUMP! Bonks right into the kitchen window, flapping madly, trying to perch on the edge of the window sill.
He can’t get a grip and slides to the ground. Dad swoops down to check, then swoops away. Up rises what looks like a small, drifting ballon, except that it has wings which are flapping madly. He lands on the wood fence (I see that it’s another male), where he sits perfectly still. I get a good look at him. That’s who’s been in that box all this time.
He veers over to the metal roof:
Can he be half as surprised as I am?
8:15: Number Three is not so eager. He puts his head out, but there’s no urgency in it. For fifteen minutes he stares out the window. He’s like Ferdinand the bull or Bartleby the Scrivener.
Dad comes by to exhort him.
Still no flying. Dad calls again. He cheeps in return, but doesn’t move.
8:35 am: This bird looks somehow younger than the other two. He’s up on the edge of the doorway, but his feathers look different from the other two fledglings. I realize it’s a female, smaller than her brothers. She really looks timid. One, two, three–JUMP. She immediately falls to the ground, where there’s a giant hosta. I can’t see the ground, but I see Dad swoop down. I run outside and peer around the corner of the house.
She’s under the hosta, still. I watch, and after a minute she flaps out, gaining only two feet of altitude, and bonks into the wood fence, where she settles.
There she sits. Another five minutes of sitting, fluffing up her feathers, smoothing them. Fluff/smooth. Fluff/smooth. Is she going to fly?
Up she goes, another drifting balloon of a bird, to the metal roof of our shed. It’s a terrible place for a fledgling to land, because she can’t get a grip. She scrambles her way to the peak, catches hold, and surveys the view. She’s off again, landing in a sassafras tree.
8:50: Will a fourth bird emerge from the nest? I wait, but there is no fourth bird.
What a day. What a day: I saw the bluebirds launch, the fridge is clean, and my hair is so very smooth. I don’t even care if the computer hooks up to the projector.