"Beauty confronts us with the requirement that we place ourselves among...the redeemers, the leaders in the protection of life. Once you have seen the bush on fire, you are not going to get out of the assignment unless you close your eyes to the beauty.... [You] either have to close your eyes or go back to Egypt and set the people free." - Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, "Rising to the Challenge of Our Times"

Monday, October 29, 2007

It's the time of the season for mushrooms

This weekend near Westport, I found some type of Bolete family mushrooms fruiting in the glen...and having looked them up, I'm reasonably sure they are Suillus caerulescens, aka Fat Jacks. I didn't take this picture but it happens to be a picture of Fat Jacks growing elsewhere in Mendocino County near the Frogwood Retreat Center in Boonville. [I'm plugging them in consideration for using their mushroom photo without permission. Sounds like a neat place though. Would be fun to go there some time and tell 'em Fat Jack sent me.]

I haven't found this kind before, though maybe they've been fruiting in that glen by our house year after year and I've just not shown up at the right time to see them. I'm still rather a beginning amateur mycologist and so many of the 'shrooms one encounters are somewhat anonymous, it's a thrill to find one that pretty obviously matches a photo and description. I can't quite explain why it's a thrill. Only once have I eaten something I found, honey mushrooms, after triple checking them in two different books and using the MycoKey web application. Just the easy, free online version of MycoKey seems pretty helpful. Though I just checked and Fat Jacks aren't in there. Mykoweb, the huge database from whence came the scientific description of Suillus linked above, says (in case you didn't quite read all the way through it) that Fat Jacks are "edible, but of inferior quality." Still, it was so fun to find them. I was explaining to a friend how the mushrooms that pop out are just the little fruiting body tips-of-the-iceberg of massive underground networks of mycelium and she found the concept somewhat unnerving. Paul Stamets says that mycelium is the earth's internet. He says quite a lot of things, though. He believes in fungal intelligence.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Week 6 Multimedia Update

Here is one of the clearer drawings I've seen of where the ACL is and what it looks like.

And HERE is the newly installed right ACL of the author, as it appeared six weeks ago Thursday. That shiny pulled-taffy looking bit in the middle.

On the sidebar you'll notice the green Gcast box. I posted a couple updates on the way back to work from the doctor's office today.

Doc says my range of motion looks really good. As you'll hear in my cellphone podcast though, weeks 6 - 12 are actually the weakest time for my ACL graft, even though the rest of me is starting to feel much better like we all ought to be out riding a bicycle soon. What was once a tendon gets somehow changed, by virtue of its relocation and careful reading of its job description, into a ligament. But right now it's at that point where it's tendon personality has been sort of worn down and its ligament personality hasn't been well established yet. So I have to be a bit cautious for six more weeks.

Next victim...Bwahahahaha!

At the co-op today they had these cute lettuce, snap pea, and marjoram starts. Some of them in recycled styrofoam cups, which added to their urban garden charm (kind of looked like the cup was lying by the road, and the farmer picked it up and used it to put the starts in, but I've made that story up based on what I'd like to be true, not what necessarily is).

There are quite a few...vacancies...on my balcony of late, you see. Room for one more, honey?

Really though, I've tried to keep the plants alive, but they've not much will, apparently. I hope my NEW plants are of a more stalwart character. heh heh...heh heh heh...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Message from Annie Lennox

This clip is being shown in conjunction with her tour and new album "Songs of Mass Destruction."


I've been trying to do some things that I've meant to do for a long time, that have been somewhat hanging over me and impeding my forward progress, much like big mean row of defensive linepersons in my head.


I have recently:

• made a list of my expenses and income

• determined that my income really needs to be a bit higher

• taken a flyer to the local law school offering myself for tutoring services (did this Thursday, flyer has to be approved by the Dean, and I'm hoping that when the students get their midterm grades back soon, I'll get a few bites)

• photographed some things for e-bay that I will list this weekend

• made a commitment to sort out some old bills by the end of the day today (though what is the 'end of the day' may be open to interpretation)

• decided to stop avoiding the library and pay my fines today so I can check out books again (though I've not yet left the house today, this is something I'm intending to do)

• taken some things to a jewelry store to find out what the cash value might be

• thought about playing my guitar on the outskirts of the farmers' market, but slept in and stayed in my pajamas half the day instead (so far)

• vacuumed, because you can do this wearing pajamas

• made some payments toward my sleep debt

• decided to make a get well / birthday / el dia de los muertos card for my sister (why send three cards when one really good one will do?)

Not all of these things have felt terribly good to do or to think about, but I think they will all make way toward feeling better.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Wade in the water children

Besides saving a bit on gas, the one other advantage of not driving is that when someone calls to say they're going to the gym, do you want them to pick you up, it's harder to resist than if it were just you offering to drive yourself to the gym. Today I rode a recumbent bike for about 15 minutes and actually worked up a little sweat. Had a sensation of exercise. Then did some upper-body stuff, and some of my PT exercises, and headed for the therapy pool (has a higher temperature than the lap pool, and no lanes).

As I hoped, there was aqua jogging gear in bins by the pool so I strapped some weights to my ankles and put on a styrofoam belt, and tried it out. It felt good to be out in the sun, and to be able to move that freely. I'll ask my PT about it tomorrow. Not sure if it's better to use the ankle weights or not. I liked the resistance and the help keeping myself pointed in the right directions, but from the articles I've read today it sounds like part of the workout comes from trying to maintain your balance and position in the water. I read that it is actually a comparable workout to running on land. I'm not yet fully convinced, but I want to try again. Would be great to start getting some running muscles back. 'Running' in the water feels like trying to run away in a bad dream when you can't get any traction. Apart from that, great fun. My legs move back and forth, but are they running? Doesn't feel like they are. Maybe next time I'll see what it's like to try 'running' in the pool for 30 minutes at a time. I could do a whole mini triathlon, just in a slightly mixed up order. Bike, swim, run.

People ask how long I have to wear my giant brace. If I was actually told this information I don't remember. I will definitely wear it (other than around the house, when I don't) until my next appointment with the doctor on Oct. 22, when he will be ever so impressed by my progress, and perhaps will tell me I can downgrade (upgrade?) from Forrest Gump (it even makes that clickety-clackety sound) to my stealthy sports coupe brace.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

What's next

Report from week 3: On Thursday I had to lie down on the floor in my office because my lower back was so sore. All the hobbling around finally got to it. I've been using my cane instead of my crutches for several days, greedily wanting at least one free hand, and I'm wondering if I need the crutches to distribute weight better. If they might have some function other than just stability for my knee.

Heat feels good on the back, though. Still sore but I hitched a ride to the gym last night, where I discovered there is such a thing as a recumbent stair climber, with handles for upper body resistance. Such a device was never on my workout radar before but it seemed like just the thing. Also rode a stationary bike. I can't go fast enough with enough resistance to raise my heart rate much or even break a sweat. But I'm trying to remind myself that the motion and muscle strengthening is the important thing. I get that back, I can have all the cardio I want. I sat in the spa for awhile. All of it felt pretty good on the back.

So as alluded in the heading of this blog, I have some announcements. After much deliberation and cost-benefit analysis, I have decided to retire from playing tackle football. But I am hoping to try out for the position of Official Minstrel in addition to Rage Groupie, and avid team proponent, short of donating further limbs. I just can't do this again. 'This' meaning not only the colorful photos in the preceding posts but everything that goes with them; that it is a stunningly gorgeous autumn day and I'm staring at my bike and can't ride it. And I'd like to still be riding a bike in my crone years, which (whatever some people say about me) I've not reached just yet, and I'll need at least a little knee joint function left to do that. The bit of arthritis Doc cleaned up in my knee is probably more to do with all my pre-football running, but getting more beat up won't help it. And I'd still like to be able to run when I feel like it. I have talked to teammates for whom the opportunity to tear 'em down on the field is so satisfying as to be worth the risks. Maybe if I were a bit more aggressive in spirit and burly of build, that would be true for me too. If I need a combat sport outlet, and I might, I think jiujitsu might be a better choice. Something where relative momentum and mass are less important details. Meanwhile, I want to ride my bicycle.

Which brings me to the next big thing. In May 2008 I will be riding my bike in the NorCal AIDS Challenge, a 325 mile / 4 day loop of the northern Sacramento valley, to raise funds for HIV / AIDS programs. Just seemed like a great way to get my knee rehabbed and the rest of me back in shape, keep my spirits up, and do something helpful, all at the same time. The organizations benefiting from the funds are local / Sacramento area and are oriented toward keeping people housed, fed and cared for. Despite my periodic whining about sore this or that or having to ask people to drive me around for a few weeks, I know that my temporary slight disability is really quite luxurious in the scope of health problems a person can experience. So here is my official Donation Page for the ride. Feel free to visit early and often.