The other day I walked past this cholla and a bird flew out with an indignant squawk.

I think it was a towhee, though I didn’t get a really good look at her, but the way she behaved made me think she had a nest. Sure enough, there it was.

I went back to the house to get the camera. It had been a little while by the time I walked back to her cholla, but she wasn’t back yet. Either that or she came back and took off again before I saw her – one spends a lot of time looking down for spiky stuff when walking in the desert.

Taking the picture wasn’t easy. Cholla would be a good substitute for lava in childhood games. the spines twist out in every direction, making it exceedingly difficult to get close. By the time I got a good angle, I could see that there was a baby bird in the nest along with egg. (It’s the pink, fuzzy bit on the seven o’clock side of the nest.)

After that I fretted about whether the mother ever came back, but I don’t want to check, just in case she did, but a third visit from me puts her off entirely.

There’s no reason to think she wouldn’t come back and every reason to think she would. I try not to worry about it.

A friend of mine from college is having a mastectomy. She’s having lumps removed, then breast reconstruction. So far as I know, she’s never used the C-word, though she refers to losing her hair and whether she’ll be a “wig-type” or a “scarf-type,” so I know she’s having chemotherapy.

It’s interesting what she’s chosen to focus on. She’s excited to get her “dream breasts” and has been taunting us with how perky she’ll be into our older years. The hair will grow back. This is a temporary illness for her.

She knows something about living with broken parts since her young son is diabetic. She’s sharing her journey with her children in the same way they’ve all shared the burden of diabetes. It’s remarkable to me. I’ve known people who never their adult children about their illnesses until it couldn’t be hidden. In this family, my friend has made it no shame, but a challenge for them all to share in.

My friend posted this poem that she wrote on Facebook.

My daughter writes the words she hears,
that confuse her
Single or paired…questions

Fake Boob
Lost Hair
Pink Ribbon

She hands me the drawing with the surgeon wearing a Joker-like smile,
a frowning me holding a handful of hair

Her eyes are concerned, but a smirk plays across her face
She and her brother start to giggle

“Fake boob”

My son asks “Will it be metal? Wood?”
“No, something squishy”



I laugh along with the children
While it still seems like a big joke

Nature is fundamentally unfair in who gets sick, who gets tumors, who gets diabetes. We try to parse the pattern, hedge our bets, but people develop chronic diseases anyway. All we can really control is how we deal with them.

I admire how well she’s choosing not to worry about it.

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