Lazy weekend


By Peter Massas – Drake Harlequin Duck, Barnegat, CC BY-SA 2.0,

It’s been rainy and cold, which is great since we are in the depths of a terrible drought. Of course, the word always is that any rain never helps (until, magically, you’ve got too much, and then you can be simultaneously in a drought and a flood), but it still is great to finally have some weather. Plus, while it may not solve the drought, it seems to me that at least for a weekend we are not going backward.

The local excitement was that there was a Harlequin Duck at a nearby marina. Because I had nothing else to do, I drove down and walked around in the hail for an hour or so looking for the duck. It was pretty funny, actually. There were birders (we have Golden Gate Raptor Observatory stickers on our cars, and to scuttle about with binoculars or, better, giant scopes on our shoulders). There were also the usual people who hang out at marinas in the rain — 4 middle aged men, for instance, drinking malt liquor in a van with the doors open. They asked me politely what was going on and then said, oh, a duck! I was about to give up and go home (it had stopped hailing, but was still raining) when another birderdrove up, popped up his scope, and asked me if I had seen the duck. He then got a call on his cell phone and yelled out to me, “I just talked to Bob X. It’s on these rocks with some willets!” We got in our cars and drove around to the other side of the waterway and there it was! Sitting on the rocks in the rain in the middle of a bunch of willets.  So that was exciting, and so was the fact that the man’s wife, who had been waiting in the car, turned out to be a woman from my master birding class 2 years ago. We made a plan to go birding together.

We admired the duck for a while and then drove home, after which it took me a solid 3 hours to warm up again.

Today, I cleaned the kitchen, and went for a run down at our marina (north of the duck’s marina) where I looked at the birds but saw only the usual suspects, and now I’m sitting here doing this. I have half a sleeve left on a sweater I’m knitting. I have half of the Immortalists left to finish – which I both like and don’t like. We’re having pizza for dinner, so I don’t have to cook. K is sorting files. I checked in with my mother on my drive down to San Leandro (the best thing about long drives is that they make it easy to call all the people you need to while you’re otherwise occupied.) N is in Mexico on Spring Break and M just moved into a new apartment in Beijing. Laundry is done.

It feels odd and rather pleasant to have a weekend off like this.

It’s a very pretty duck, and I’m glad I went to see it. It’s rare but not unheard of for them to come this far south. It’s sad to see a rare bird who is here completely through some failure of navigation and will never find a mate, etc. This one just came a bit further south than is usual, but will soon head north and lead a happy life. It was great to see him in the middle of a storm, too. “Turbulent northern waters are favored by this strikingly patterned little duck,” says Audubon, so it was nice to see him in the wind and weather and rough water,

I am awfully hungry. Maybe we should have our pizza now —

Oh, and I listened to Five Women, a This American Life episode last night. It was fascinating — it’s the story of Don Hazen, the editor of AlterNet. He had a partner. She was interviewed, as were four women he sexually harassed at AlterNet. The interviewer, a woman named Chana Jaffe Walt, talks to each of them and fascinatingly, what comes up for each of them is some earlier story, with nothing to do with Hazen, of another sexual harassment — maybe each woman’s first awareness of sexual harassment, and then you see how that first experience informs how each woman responds to Hazen’s harassment. His partner views herself as someone who won’t be harassed — she’s too smart and self-confident. Another woman has been led to view herself as too feminist — boys won’t understand her and so she needs to accommodate them (and she does). Another woman views it as just the way the world is. Another won’t give in to it, and she doesn’t, but she also doesn’t get a raise because she won’t, and she views that as a victory.  (I think it both is and is not a victory.) Another woman, the youngest, wants to sue him, but without the cooperation of the others she has no case (before #MeToo), so when she gets a sudden windfall of money, she leaves. I think what’s so fascinating is that, as you listen, you are aware of how each woman is screwed over, in a slightly different way, both by Hazen and really by her own understanding of how the world works, and what sexual harassment is. Though by then end, I think they all see it. I listened to it and thought, wow – that’s messed up. And, how do women even survive in this world? I hope, though, that it is getting better. It is certainly better when you are a 58 year old woman — there is something very freeing about no longer giving a shit, and no longer worrying that one should give a shit, about what men think.  I think that’s the position the too-feminist woman comes to, too, but I can tell you that it takes experience. Or it used to — maybe things are better now.

Thank god. It really is time to order the pizza, now.  I’m starving.




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