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Deborah and Alan and Sally’s birthday

We had a dinner to celebrate Sally’s birthday, and also to celebrate the conclusion of Deborah’s editing of her professional development materials. Roast lamb and potatoes and carrots and a spice cake with coffee icing. And rather too much wine.

Deborah told us of her family reunion in Washington last October where she tried to tell her family about her life since Alan’s illness, her psychiatrist sister who couldn’t cope, her youthful trip to Israel when she fell in love with an Arab to her father’s shock and horror, Alan’s driving (awful apparently, even when he was well). The time she and Alan visited an old cousin of her father’s in Florence, only to discover that her father had been disowned by the family when he married a gentile.

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A trove of gourds

These are Finger-leaf Gourds, which are being revealed all over the wash, I guess because the frost has bitten their cover away, and they are ripening to bright lemon-yellow striped with green.

Also saw the Cooper’s Hawk again, and a perfect glossy black Phainopepla.

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Jonathan and Sheila

Jonathan and Sheila arrived on Sunday night, in the middle of Tucson snow-storm, the likes of which I haven’t seen since our first Christmas in Tucson, and our only white Christmas, in 1987. They brought this bottle of 1978 Bordeaux, from Sheila’s father’s cellar. The aroma was sun-warmed fennel and forest leaf-mold. First taste was of acid, there was no tannin left. But the final sip at dinner was a delightful tangy balance of acid and fruit, like fresh orange juice.

It was a stressful visit—Jonathan’s temper always on the verge of boiling over, clashing with Abby, loud demands for attention running at high tension from breakfast to bedtime. They had just come back from a trip to Egypt with Felicity and Oliver, which had been delightful but also tinged with family drama (although perhaps that’s normal). Stress-producing phone calls from Felicity throughout the week. Sheila was glad of Amy’s acknowledgment of all this, and was her usual stoic self, walking on eggs through life. Still, it was good to make contact with such good old friends again—all their sins are long past the statue of limitations, just as any imperfections in the wine.

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Sally’s Winter formal

It doesn’t seem that long ago that we took a similar photo of Nell as she headed off for her first Winter formal. But I guess she was a junior then, so it is only four years ago. Sally went to IHOP with a group of friends afterwards. Abby, who was working, dropped her off there and picked her up around 1:30 am. Sally laments that she doesn’t have a tight-knit group of friends. She has individual friends that she spends time with—Emily, Carissa, Jessica—but no social group like Nell had. Abby had many acquaintances, but floated between groups.

Sally is discovering the world of intellectual enthusiasms in a way that I remember from my own childhood: languages, political argument, science (Darwin), reading, painting, introspective walks. There’s one conservative boy in her Spanish class who drives her crazy, wakens in her the urge to debate. I so well remember the tension between rebuttal and dismissal buzzing around in my head for hours.

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Frost-bitten Hackberry

We’ve had some very cold nights, and the Hackberry bush, which has been green all winter, has turned this fall gold just  at the time that Tucson normally starts to feel spring.

Saw a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk. It exhibited a behavior which I thought I had seen a few days ago but had not been sure about: flew from one telephone pole to another, picked up a small mammal or bird it had cached there and flew off with it.

Also saw a flash of what might have been a Green-headed Towhee—right sort of shy behavior fleeing from inside a bush and a glimpse of gold and green.

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Juvenile Cooper’s Hawk in flight

He was perched on a phone line right in front of me, then flew off to the conifer on the west side of the wash. As I was photographing him there he did a perfect touring circle in flight, returning to the tree.

pik. Clear view of the black stripe down the back of the neck.

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Amy’s birthday

I was in New Orleans, but Abby made this cake for Amy and Sally delivered my present, the photo book of 25 years of marriage.

In New Orleans I had a nice hotel, the Omni Royal, in the French Quarter. It was much nicer than being out on Canal Street in the conference hotel. There was a rooftop platform with a nice view, and an exercise room which I used a few times, a quiet bar, a sunny room with view of the river … a good place to get some work done. The restaurants were expensive, but we found some good ones, in particular Cochon, with memorable ham hocks and grits, and August, very fancy, where I had oysters served three ways and duck with its liver.

We had the consortium meetings before the joint math meetings this time. Yet more talk about what to do with the algebra book. There seemed to be a fair amount of buzz about the Institute at the joint meetings. Whether it will last who knows.

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