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FROM CANYON TO COVE: Trying to work it out from home

A lot of nice folks have been asking me how it’s been working — working from home.

I really can’t complain, even though I miss having an office in town and that sense of a “home away from home.”

It still feels strange not to be driving down the canyon every morning, through all kinds of weather. I come to town just about every day, of course, but it’s a more leisurely drive. Sometimes I’m meeting someone for lunch, or getting the mail. Even when I’m heading into the police department to check the logs, it doesn’t feel like “work.” I’m so fancy-free it’s embarrassing.

Then there are things I don’t miss.

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Gone are the days of thawing out frozen fingers over the radiator, or sitting on my hands, or swathing myself in a shawl to keep warm. Or panicking about leaving the key in the restroom, or locking myself out. Or having to figure out which appliance to live without when the circuits overload.

I feel a little guilty, a little pampered, being able to run to a well-stocked fridge for a snack, or catch the noon news. Don’t tell anyone, but I even took a short break for “Ellen” a couple of weeks ago when she had her wife, Portia de Rossi, on for the first time. I ran back to my desk as soon as Portia left the set, I swear.

Sometimes a neighbor will pop in, and I can’t not answer the door, can I?

I do find myself putting in longer hours, but for some reason it’s not as stressful. Maybe it’s because my most constant companion is Toby, the younger and more lively of our two cats, who likes to chase the cursor on the computer screen and watches with rapt fascination as the fax spews out. When the printer is running, there’s Toby, perched on the top, making sure everything comes out smoothly. He’s become the supervisor.

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Toby has found a vantage point behind the computer screen, where he peeks at me as I write and watches me think — or so it seems. He seems pleased with the arrangement. I half expect him to start telling me what to do.

Toby: So what’s the editorial this week?

Me: Give me a break. I’m trying to get through this calendar stuff.

Toby: You’re just sitting there, moving your fingers. That’s not work.

Me: I am working. This is what I do.

Toby: Well, get cracking on that editorial. And while you’re at it, my belly needs tickling.

Me: I haven’t decided about the editorial. And I just tickled your belly.

Toby: You didn’t tickle enough.

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Me: I’d better start on that editorial now.

Toby: OK, but you still owe me a tickle.

Our conversations usually end with him wangling another tickle or a play session. He’s a tough boss.

Bird by bird

These are difficult times for humans, but be glad you’re not a crow.

We had a crow with one wing dragging and the other apparently not working, either, who was hopping around our place for a couple of weeks. I finally decided he needed some assistance and called Laguna Beach Animal Control.

When I said the crow was being attacked by other crows, that got their attention. A pleasant man showed up about 20 minutes later and I pointed him in the crow’s direction. I asked if he had anything to catch the crow with, and, while he was wearing surgical-type gloves, he said he usually did fine without any special equipment.

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He marched off in the direction of the crow — as the crow hops, shall we say — and I followed discreetly, just to make sure he was going after the right bird. I lost sight of him tramping down the bridle path, and I felt a little sorry to have dragged him out on this mission.

About a half hour later, he returned to his truck to get a bird net, then went off again with more resolve.

About another half hour later, he returned birdless, muttering, “This crow does not want to be caught.” Apparently the bird was playing a game, allowing him to get within a dozen feet or so before hopping and jumping away. Maddening — but also a little amusing, I must admit.

I was disappointed the crow couldn’t be captured and have its wing treated, until the officer remarked that, if he had caught the crow, he would have had to find a veterinarian willing to take it in on a Sunday. Not to give the bird medical attention, mind you, but to euthanize it. Euthanize it? This crow was in pretty good shape except that it couldn’t fly. It probably just needed a splint and a little R&R.;

But no dice. It turns out that crows are at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to getting help from us humans.

“Nobody will treat a crow, blackbird or raven,” the officer said. “They are too numerous.”

I was under the impression that we live in a bird sanctuary in these parts, so this was news to me. Why single out the common crow for neglect just because it happens to belong to a successful species?

I’m not overly fond of crows; they’re loud and obnoxious at times, and they like to sit in trees above you and cackle, as if the joke’s on you.

But I had gotten used to this crow, and he to us. He’d been practically living on our walkway, from the bird droppings we were finding there.

Now, of course, I’m delighted the crow eluded capture and led the officer on a merry chase. I had unwittingly sentenced him to death. He might eventually become coyote food, but at least he’ll have a fighting chance.

I saw the crow a few days later, still on foot, and still being attacked by his fellows. I ran out to shoo the attackers away; at this point, that was all I could really do.

He disappeared for a while, and then the other day I was riding my bicycle a few blocks away and saw him on someone else’s lawn, dragging that wing but still getting along.

Where there’s hop, there’s hope.


CINDY FRAZIER is city editor of the Coastline Pilot. She can be contacted at (949) 380-4321 or cindy.frazier@latimes.com.


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