THOUGHTS ON SPRING, ANGRY BIRDS AND BASEBALL

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Spring has sprung, the flowers has riz, I wonder where the birdies is?….Anonymous.

Soehrensia bruchii flowers 4 inch

Spring has definitely come to the desert.  As both my brother and I have mentioned in recent weeks (probably ad nauseam), the flowers in the desert are truly one of nature’s miracles.  They pop up almost overnight and bloom in magnificent colors – brilliant orange, pink, and yellow.    They signal the end of cold weather and the beginning of spring.  Of course, my brother has the advantage of viewing the beautiful flora here in the desert and then returning home to the wonderful climate of Orange County.  I, on the other hand, see the beautiful flowers and know that we will be enjoying springtime for a maximum of – to be on the generous side – 10 days.  Then, like someone has flipped the switch to a blast furnace, we begin our season of “dry heat”.  As I’ve often said when someone mentions that term – my microwave oven is also a dry heat but you don’t see me living in that, now do you?

The other sign that spring has come is that the birds start to fly about in great numbers.  They chirp endlessly – some sort of mating call I suppose.  If this year is any indication, we’re going to have a HUGE bird population in the next few months.  The most annoying birds are the woodpeckers who love the flashing on the roof that surrounds the fireplace chimneys.  Apparently woodpeckers must be related to roosters because at the most un-Godly hours in the morning they begin rat-a-tat-tatting on our roof.  Their constant pecking echos down the metal chimney flue to create the most startling sound known to man.  Or at least that’s how it seems at 4:30 in the morning.  This is such a problem that several men in the neighborhood have taken to shooting BB guns at them – a la the crazy father in “Steel Magnolias”.  There they are, outside before dawn, in all manner of undress, shooting at birds who are laughing their tail feathers off at the idiots trying to shoot them down.  2013-04-06 10.06.01

We unwittingly have found a way to exact revenge on all the birds.  A couple of years ago we installed a glass front door and sidelights, allowing a view to the backyard when standing at the front door.  The picture at right was taken at the door so you get the idea.   Birds, however, are not that smart. Somehow they have confused our house with a landing strip at Sky Harbor.  With the advent of spring, they are on a quest to fly right through our house. Consequently, it is not unusual to hear a loud “BAM!” and see the wingspan of a bird imprinted on our front door.  Before you even think about calling the SPCA , rest assured that no bird is injured in this process.  After they hit the door, they fly away stunned and most likely go home and take an Advil.  Usually by the end of spring word has gotten out in the bird community to stay away from the “trick” door at the Watson’s house.  But for the next few weeks we will be the pathway to hell for countless of our feathered friends.

Flowers and birds aside, the most telling sign that spring has sprung is that it’s baseball season again.  Somehow just hearing a game on the radio or on TV elicits fond memories of bygone days and gentler times.  I San_Francisco_Giants_logo_1977-1982know that people complain that the game is too slow or that the teams are composed of drug-addled, spoiled players.  But there is something nice about the timelessness of a baseball game. For me it brings back memories of our dad on a Saturday afternoon, chores done, relaxing in the back yard listening to Gil Hodges and Lon Simmons announce a Giants game.  Dad came by his love of the team honestly; his mother used to sit in her apartment sporting  a Giants cap, cheering them on through thick and thin.  I don’t think she ever missed a game – she transitioned from a huge radio in a wooden credenza, to portable radios, to television.  She never saw a Giants game in person until age 70, when our brother, Jack, treated her to a day at Candlestick.  He bought her a new cap, a hot dog, peanuts and a beer.  She was in Heaven – surely the highlight of her life.  And to this day we all love hearing Jack reminisce about that day.

So I’m glad that baseball season is here.  In full disclosure, I won’t actually watch a whole game until the playoffs.  My husband, who is an obnoxious Yankees fan, can’t sit through a whole game either.  But we have an entire summer ahead of us to catch snippets of games and root for our teams.  Ideally the Giants sweep the Yankees in the Series.  Such are the dreams of springtime.

P.S.  So many of you have written or inquired about Dana and we wanted to let you know that she is doing GREAT!  She is an amazing young woman who has a wonderful spirit.  She’ll be enjoying a few days in Palm Desert this week with family.  Nothing could be better for healing a heart.  Thanks so much for your kind thoughts and prayers during this time.

 

 

 

 

 

The Fixing of Dana’s Heart

by Bob Sparrow

mrbellMr. Bell’s Fixit Shop was Dana’s favorite book as a toddler.  We read it to her so many times, that by the time she was two and a half, she had it memorized, literally. I could just turn the page, she’d see the picture and recite, word-for-word, what was written.  That remarkable recall memory would later serve her well in school. Mr. Bell had a sign in front of his shop that read, ‘I Can Fix Everything But Broken Hearts’.  Cutting to the chase, predictably he’s able to repair a doll for Jill that mends her broken heart.  In this tale of life imitating art, Dana had a heart in need of fixing.  Playing the role of Mr. Bell was Dr. Alfredo Trento, Director of the Cardiothoracic Division at ‘his shop’, Cedars-Sinai Hospital in West Hollywood.

 Dana is the world’s best patient.  We visited her as she was lying in pre-op, cracking jokes, pulling faces in her new ‘O.R. hat’ (see photo below) and speculating on whether they are going to insert a human, pig or cow replacement valve in her heart.  She concludes it’s down to a pig or human, as the Chick-fil-A cows have once again mounted a strong ad campaign in favor of the pig value.

tongueDana tells us that she’s made cookies for all her O.R. and I.C.U. caregivers and put them in little ‘Thank You’ bags.  She told the hospital staff, “If you do a good job, you’ll get a cookie”.  If you’ve tasted Dana’s cookies, you know that’s a great incentive!  They wheeled her into the O.R. cracking up and I cautioned her to ‘lie very still’ during the operation.  Dr. Trento tells us that the operation will take approximately 5 hours (there’s probably no smoke breaks in there) and that he won’t know what valve he’ll use until he looks at the heart.  Husband Joe is hoping they use a human valve because he knows that Dana is such an animal lover that if they use a pig valve, as a ‘Thank You’ gesture she will want to get  a pot belly pig as a pet.

In an hour we get a call from a nurse inside the O.R. (one of the great uses of cell phones) that the operation is going well; in three and a half hours we get another call telling us that the surgery has been successfully completed and they are now sewing her up.  Shortly thereafter Dr. Trento comes out to the waiting room to tell us that everything went very well – we all breathed a very heavy collective sigh of relief.

We visited Dana about an hour later in I.C.U. where there are no pictured allowed, but when asked about the picture I took at the right, I told them it r2d2was an artist’s rendering that I just drew.  I’m pretty sure they didn’t believe me, but they let me keep the picture anyway.  She was in quite a bit of pain up to 12 hours after the operation, but the next morning, less than 24 hours after the operation, Dana got out of bed and walked around the I.C.U. – pulling all the tubes and bags along with her.  It looked like she was walking with R2D2.  I think she set a new Cedars-Sinai record for the two laps she completed.  There is a lung transplant patient two rooms down that is challenging that, but I think Dana’s got it.

Wednesday is ‘moving day’ from I.C.U. to ‘I Don’t See You’ or whatever the regular rooms are called.  Her new room is decorated with lots of flowers and balloons – thank you!  She’s feeling pretty good for someone who just had her chest cracked open – thanks to ‘better living through chemistry’.  The doctors and nurses at Cedars-Sinai are amazing – could not ask for better care!  I felt like we should leave them a tip or something, but instead I’ll just give them a great recommendation.

emma dogOn day five, her last full day in the hospital, Dana is visited by a nurse that asks if she would like to talk with a social worker.  No.  Someone from the clergy, a minister, priest or rabbi? No.  How about a ‘Volunteer Dog’? YES!!!  Yep, hospitals now provide dogs that come in and visit patients.  Pictured here is a white Labrador named Emma, who stopped by to see Dana and do a little ‘Lab Work’.

Dana’s recovery has been remarkable; she is back to being her normal high-energy self, in fact our only concern is that they say her ‘new heart’ is going to give her more energy!  Welcome back Darlin’ Dana!!

Wonders in the Desert – Family

by Bob Sparrow

I was amazed again by the wonders of the desert on my journey last week, but this time in a totally different way.  Those who have followed us here know my fascination with places like Death Valley and Joshua Tree; last week’s journey took me to another desert, the Sonoran in southern Arizona, and the wonders I saw there were our brother, Jack’s kids and grand kids – no hiking and camping on this trip.

SuzAlDashBut the first stop along the way was to my sister, Suzanne and her husband, Al’s beautiful home in the private golf community of Desert Highlands in Scottsdale, about as far from camping as I could have gotten.  Linda and I made the stop in Scottsdale on our way to Tucson not only to see Suzanne and Al, but to see if it was true what they were saying about their new dog, Dash

It didn’t take long to see that it was true, Dash was now in full control of Suzanne, Al and all that goes on around the house . . . no, make that their lives.  It was easy to see why this dog commanded such attention – he is adorable.  When I found us all talking baby talk to the dog, I knew it was time to hit the road.  We headed south, confident that the newest member of our family had his owners firmly in control.

Watsons

Abby, Colin, Katie, Shelley

Look up the word ‘family’ and you’ll find everything from ‘a taxonomic group containing one or more genera’ to ‘a loose affiliation of gangsters in charge of organized criminal activity’.  What you should see is a picture of the Watson family – Colin, Shelley, Katie, Abby and Murphy, the dog.  They are a fun-loving family full of caring, intelligent, thoughtful, humorous, loving people.  Add in nephew, Matt and kids Jackson and Madelyn, and you’ve got quite an assembly of people I just love being around.  Matt is a single dad who has his own physical therapy business; he is an intelligent, spiritual man who has a serious side, but is also one of the funniest people I know.  My cheeks hurt from laughing when I with him.  And I’m related to them all – which some say adds credence to the ‘me being adopted’ theory.

Murphy

Murphy

Katie (15) and Abby (12) both play tennis, very well, I might add.  They’ll be stars of their high school team, probably earn scholarships to a highly regarded academic college (they’re both straight A students) and enjoy the game of tennis the rest of their lives.  Unlike most kids and parent involved in youth athletics these days, they have neither the illusion nor the desire to become

Matt's family

Jackson, Matt, Madelyn

professional athletes – rather refreshing. If ever my faith needed to be restored in our youth, our future, it was – in straight sets.

After spending a very enjoyable ‘family’ weekend, we stopped in Phoenix on our way home to have breakfast with Linda’s sister and her husband, Starlet and Donnie, who, you guessed it, are great people!

I have come to enjoy the wonders of the desert; the mild days this time of year, the gentle nights; always amazed at how things not only live in this environment, but flourish.  And so it is with family there; I enjoy the smell of Matt’s chicken on the barbeque, the noise of kids at play in the pool, Colin’s British accent, Shelley’s make-you-feel-comfortable style, but mostly I enjoy the wonder of family and feel so very fortunate that Linda and I are so blessed with great family.

Donnie & Starlet

If you’re reading this on Monday morning, most of you know that I will be a bit preoccupied with my immediate family – daughter Dana is undergoing heart surgery this morning.  I’m looking forward to next writing about her successful recovery.