Cal gets Confused, Book gets Pub Date, Hummingbirds

Poor Colorado doesn’t know what’s up with the world. Yesterday we were setting up the pack-‘n-play by the bed for the baby, and he eyed it like, what in tarnation? You scavenge my dog bed off the street, and this?

The fascinating thing is the extent to which he’s become protective over Rachel, sleeping on her side of the bed (on the floor), accompanying her wherever she goes. He refuses to engage her when it comes to the violent  and unpredictable “duck game,” which involves pulling his pet duck until a wing detaches and fluff erupts. If Rachel leaves the room to go onto the patio, say, he looks at me like what? You’re gonna let her do that? Then he trots over to the sliding door and waits until I let him out so SOMEONE can keep an eye on her. It’s something to witness. I’m not sure he entirely understands another creature is coming, but he knows something is afoot, and this involves giving Rachel a special detail each time she stands.

A funny thing did happen the other day when he was resting his head on Rachel’s belly, as he’s wont to do. The baby let loose one of her kicks – she’s rugged stock for sure – and he leapt off the bed like he had been stung. I think we got a live one. I can’t wait.

The duck has done double-duty – we’ve been using it to practice buttoning on baby diapers. It’s a good one-winged duck for sure. On the same note no surprise at all that a  (real)  hummingbird has taken up residence just outside the back door, building her nest in the Christmas lights. She keeps one eye on us whenever we got out to do laundry, the turret of her head tracking our every movement. We haven’t gotten up on a chair to see if there are wee hummingbird eggs,  not wanting to disturb what she’s got going on, but chances are.

As far as the second B goes, I’m thrilled to have turned in the book – for the umpteenth time. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has announced April 2016 as a release date. Cover art is now in discussion – feel free to add any idea, I’ve put up a Pinterest page – Galleys come out in mid-November.

Stanford wraps up June 3rd. It’s Toby’s last year, which is sad. It has been a true privilege to be able to study with him these last two years. A fellow Stegner and I have also discovered Stanford’s Olympic-sized outdoor pools. Oh man – we’ve been swimming before workshop. I started in the medium lane, moved to the slow lane, and ended up in  “aqua jogging.” A preview of old age to come. Swimming has never been a strong suit. I just sink. But boy do I try.

In further Stanford news we did a showing of “The Meaning of Wild,” a stunning film sponsored by the Sitka Conservation Society on the Tongass National Forest. I cooked up a bunch of wild Alaskan king salmon, and we filled the room to capacity – about 65 folks who get to learn why we shouldn’t log one of the world’s last remaining temperate rainforests. The turnout was stunning – and if you have a sec to check out the film on Vimeo, do.

And finally, the Adak. Jackie has continued to look after the boat, along with Steve Warren, whose sharp boat-watching eye and Alaskan know-how have gone a long way to keeping the tug happy. Steve has installed a forward pump, and hour meters to measure how much water is coming in. The vessel is actually sitting higher in the water now, as you can see from the moss line. I feel guilty wiling away the hours down here in Oakland while the boat needs attention, so much attention. But it’s good to know the tug has lodged herself in the hearts of  others, stubborn vessel that she is. We’re all trying to do right by her on our watch, and it’s nice to have teammates.

Ah – speaking of wiling, my 37th (!) birthday came to pass.  Surprise picnic with water balloons and bocce ball and tailgating with sparklers and birthday cakes. I’m not sure I’ll miss California – but I’ll miss the hell out of these people. That’s always what it comes down to, doesn’t it? Honored and humbled, alongside a spectacular partner, to bring another strong woman into this world.