Saturday, May 24, 2008

I spoil my kitties.

My cats don't like the health food I bought them, but I haven't been giving in to their demands for something tastier. Until tonight. My coping mechanism for dealing with Sebastian's death is my usual method- a kind of sick mix of denial and ignorance. I just try to do anything but think of her. TV is a great distraction, so is the book I'm reading, video games, hell, tequila if that's what it takes.

But today I couldn't make myself forget about her, so with ten minutes to closing I headed for the grocery store. That would make it 7:50, have I mentioned they roll up the sidewalks at dusk here? Anyway, I wanted to get my kitties a treat. Something fantastic that they rarely get, like canned food or tuna. I wanted to make them happy, you know? 'Cause then I would be happy. In fact, I ended up getting them a can of sardines. And some cans of tuna. And some wet food.

The woman at the register, who's always been friendly to me, asked in a most decidedly NOT friendly, maybe even faintly disgusted voice, "you're giving your cats tuna and sardines?!?"

I just smiled and said, "yeah, I think they need to be spoiled tonight." Really, I needed to spoil them for me more than they needed anything special. Not that that's the cashier's business. I mean, I thought they weren't supposed to be judgmental of their customers? Not a good way to get repeat business, you know? I wish I'd said, "are you judging me?" Being polite is it's own punishment, I tell you.

Although, I must digress, and I will be mentioning the purchase of "sanitary napkins" (nice euphemism eh?) so feel free to skip ahead if you be male. Well, once I was buying some and there were no female checkers, which always sucks, I mean, not a lot, but it embarrasses me a little. Anyway, the guy at the register scanned them and then said, "aw man, that sucks. Rough week, huh?" and it made me laugh out loud. I was a regular customer and we'd joked around many a time before, and I knew he had a wife and kids so he understood. Of course, later he got life in jail for aggravated assault and rape, so I guess being understanding doesn't make you a nice guy.

So there's my story. Believe me, I'd like to get back to the fluffy bunnies and rainbows asap, but until then...

Cashier lady?
I spoil my kitties. You got a problem with that? Why don't you worry about people dying in wars and floods and poverty instead of someone buying their cats a treat, which was actually to console my own heartbroken self? Cause that would make a lot more sense to get your hackles up about. And thanks for reminding me why I'm a hermit.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


She started out as a tiny terrified feral. She also started out as Mildred- or was she Mabel? Well, she truly fit as Sebastian when we finally made up our minds about it. Of course, that was after we realized no way could we give the two sisters to a good home. Turned out ours was the good home.

Sebastian was a little more outgoing than Maggie, and she was the one to lead the way when ever they peeked out of the various nooks they tucked themselves into. She was the first to snuggle under my chin, though now Maggie is the one who sleeps in my armpit every night. Under the covers. Sebastian preferred her lap time when I was at the computer. She also loved patrolling the yard with me. The second I stepped out she was running around me, eager to see where we would go this time.

She was a mighty hunter, catching more mice than the other three combined. Of course, proud as I was of her for it, I still tried to save the rodents if I could. Have I mentioned I got this bleeding heart problem? Oh boy, and was she ever a tree climber! She loved our new home in AZ- the small pines and junipers in the yard are a lot easier to climb than redwoods!

And her meow! It was like a dying smoker, "aaaaaah", she'd say. I just loved it.

Maggie and her weren't just sisters, they were the best buds ever. I know Maggie misses her. I let her sniff Sebastian before I buried her, because I thought maybe she should know, instead of perhaps trying to find her. When Roger disappeared, and then Clarence, I thought not knowing was worse. But I was wrong. There are no words strong enough to describe the pain, heavy, thick, smothering, in my chest. It's like I don't want to be awake and have to live with the knowledge of her death. I had less than a year with her, but it only took a day to fall in love with her. The year grew my love exponentially. I got to know her, her quirks, her strengths, and her love. She was my friend, my bud, my baby, my family, my silly little girl. I miss her so damn much. And I love her so damn much.

June 2007 - May 2008

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tough Times in AZ

I almost DIED in the heat today. It was 85 degrees out and almost dead still. I watered the gardens and my catalpa trees are FINALLY putting out leaves! It was touch and go for a while there. They had started leafing back in CA but the move killed all their new growth as well as the top segment of each one :*( and I thought they might be goners.

But fear not! For they are budding once more. They are so beautiful, really tropical looking with their foot long leaves and huge clusters of white flowers. They grow fast, too, which is cool: 18 inches a year and aywhere from 50 to even 90 feet tall!!!! I'm just so relieved that they're pulling through.

My clematis is too!! Same thing happened to its new growth, but it's put out four new vines, between 8- 12 inches each! Yay!

Anyhoo, as I was saying, it was a rough day. Not only was it hot and windless, I had to stare at this ugly sky! I know! It's like my own private hell. Or torture chamber. I got to- I mean, I HAD to water the gardens in that weather with that sky, man, I am so unlucky.

Buuuuuuut.... I think I'll stick it out. Working 50 hours a week toughened me up for this sort of thing. I wonder if I should start getting up before noon... NAH.

P.S. I know, you want to strangle me, don't you.

P.P.S. OMG. There is now, I cannot believe it... RECYCLING IN TOWN!!!! Sorry Cali, you just ain't got anything over AZ anymore.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Little Turtles Made of Clay

What do you do when it starts snowing... in mid May? Well, first you run around outside in the wrong clothes (aka not a snow suit) unhooking all the hoses and turning off irrigation pipes so nothing freezes and cracks. Then you breeeeeathe in deeply and smile, admiring the beautiful weather. Then you shiver and run inside to sit by the heater and make clay turtles. I'm pretty sure that's standard snow procedure. There must be basements and attics full of turtles all across America's cold weather climates. Mmmhmmm.

I made my green one first. Then we had all this excess pink clay and beads because Mom and I both have an aversion to the color. I have one pink handkerchief that I love, and a pink rose bush, but that's it. So I decided to dive in and make the prettiest, pinkest, princess girly girl turtle possible. I found myself a little nauseous during the process, but I have to say the end product wasn't so bad. So I made another.

And now I have a turtle bride (complete with lace veil and tiny gold ring, and real pearls, her bridesmaid, and a flower girl. Flower... turtle?

It's safe to say that I never want to make another clay rose again. I guess I didn't put anything to show scale in the photos, but those roses are less than a quarter inch big. I mean small. I think I need glasses after making so many of the things. Plus I used wire hardly thicker than hair to secure them to the shells, which required a steady enough hand that I can now perform brain surgery. I think next time it snows, which may or may not be next winter, I should just gather up a few snowflakes and trace them into rice paper thin sheets of clay for my next turtle's ornamentation. It would be easier than making roses. And don't even get me started on the seed beads. Aka grain of sand beads.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Statistics: California vs. Arizona

CA: Astronomy = Wait- what're stars?
AZ: Astronomy = Wait- what's light pollution?
(I took this one full moon around midnight- my first night photo where you leave the shutter open for like a minute or more. It was weird that my camera couldn't see as good as me; I could have read a newspaper in the light shining down from the moon and stars.)

CA: $900 a month = studio
AZ: $900 a month = 3 bed/ 2 bath on 3 acres

CA: Sales tax = 8.25%
AZ: Sales tax = 6.0%

CA: One lane roads = yes
AZ: One lane roads = yes

CA: Encounter vehicle on single lane road = get honked at and the one finger salute
AZ: Encounter vehicle on single lane road = get smiled and waved at by driver that has pulled into bushes to allow you to pass

CA: Two Tailed Lizards = There may be two lizards left
AZ: Two Tailed Lizards =

(Okay, maybe that's not a score for either team. Also, the CA line isn't true hee hee.)

And just to prove I'm not bitter...

CA: Recycling = Curbside pick up and numerous free locations, in fact, THEY pay YOU
AZ: Recycling = Drive two hours one way, negating the whole point by trading one impact for another

There! See? Totally not biased. :) Just lovin' my new home.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Weird Things in the Forest

I went hiking with my buddy Nikita the other day (sometimes I think she's walking me, not vice versa) and we found an ogre's home. Complete with talking donkey. I swear. The donkey sounded kind of like Eddie Murphy..

Then we found the remnants of a castle from the dark ages. Wait, I've ruined my credibility already, haven't I. Okay, so I don't know what it was, but naturally I investigated. It was a perfectly square unit with no portals where you might expect them... no door, no windows. It looked like it was carved from the surrounding rock, but I doubt it actually was. Maybe weather is what gave the building and surrounding rocks a similar patina. "Pock Marked Frost Damage with A Touch of Lichen", I believe they call it at the hardware store. If you have any crusty old castles that need authenticating- don't we all?

When I circled around back I saw that there was an opening after all. I caught a faint whiff of something rank for a moment as the wind stirred. Then it was gone, and I dismissed it as a naturally occurring ogre odor. (The strange building was very close to Shrek's- er, the forest person's hovel.)

The opening on top looked like it could be removed, but for some reason I got a bad vibe from it. You'd think a peace sign would have the opposite effect, eh? But we all know how overactive my imagination is, so I guess it's no surprise I creeped myself out. Still, I did attempt to use my camera's flash to get an image of the innards of the thing. It didn't work, though, so my curiosity started to beat down my illogical trepidation. I pulled at the lid. It was heavy, and the rusty metal screeched after barely shifting a millimeter. Again I caught a faint but definitely unpleasant smell.

I started thinking. What if there was something... in there. I mean, why was there a sealed tomb- like building in the middle of state forest, far from roads or buildings or electricity or any of the things you find near human structures? What if there was the corpse of a murder victim? What if there was a vampire just waiting for a chance at freedom and revenge? What if there was an animated corpse, a brain eating zombie, or several, jaws dripping, legs crouched in anticipatory tension, ready to spring for my throat the second the door opened wide enough???

So yeah, I didn't open it, much to the relief of my cold sweat and fluttery stomach. Yeah, yeah, I'm ridiculous, but at least I stay entertained. Or... am I ridiculous? When I loaded my photos from the hike I worked on cropping here, leveling horizons there, adding a touch of extra green or blue... and enhancing the picture where I tried to use my camera's flash as a makeshift flashlight.

Staring up at me from the darkness... an eye.

Okay, blogger was being a poohead and wouldn't take the enhanced photo so this is the straight out of camera shot. And when I say enhanced I don't mean I manipulated an eye onto the picture. I hit the button for "enhance dark tones" and suddenly found myself looking into an eye. I twitched in startlement, and then the heater kicked on and I jumped right out of my seat. I actually had to close the page on my computer because my heart was beating so hard. Nevermind that it was night and I was alone, kay? I still can't look at the photo without mad heebie jeebies. It's like it's looking back. And get away from me with the straight jacket, ya here?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Not shooting deer or elk.

Every time I go to the grocery store, the same guy is working the register. I finally asked him if he ever gets a day off, and he laughed and said "there's nothing else to do here". Which is probably true if you like shopping, going out for coffee, going to the movies, or any other activity that requires commercial buildings and businesses. But with millions of square acres of national forest, there's far from nothing to do.

One thing that's really cool about the forest is that there's maintained fire roads that you can drive for miles and miles on, through desolate burn areas and lush healthy forests, some juniper, some ponderosa, some I don't know yet, but all beautiful. It's like hiking for lazy people LOL. In fact, Mom and I made a 25 mile loop out there the other day, and I guess I would not shut up about the amazing scenery because when we got back she did an imitation of me for Potterman: "omg it's so beautiful, omg it's so beautiful, omg it's so beautiful". Hey, I couldn't help it.

Now, the other thing that bored locals do besides go four-bying in the forest is go SHOOTING in the forest. At first this scared me, I mean, what if I was just hiking along and I got shot? Then my neighbor borrowed a gun from his friend so that WE could go shooting in the forest. I'd done the off roading, it was time to delve deeper into local pastimes. I was even more scared then. I had never shot a gun, and the whole day we were out in the forest I kept putting off the experience. I was hoping it would get too dark by the time we found a good spot and set up our targets. Granted, it was only a .22 rifle, but still, it COULD kill some one. Then there was no more putting it off: we had an hour of sun left and dude wasn't going to borrow a gun to NOT shoot it.

Actually, setting up our "range" really eased my worries. First, we picked an area that had been burned for many acres, and you could see that there were no innocent hikers in danger. Second, we went down to a dry creek bed between two huge sloping hills, and set up our targets (hand drawn circles on cardboard and some tin cans) on the bank. So we would basically be aiming at a wall of earth. Then we picked our spot to shoot from. We used a fallen log to rest on, but I wish we could have gotten the truck down there to use the hood. Whenever I shot a BB gun, I always preferred to be upright rather than crouching or kneeling.

I was extremely careful to only point the gun at the ground or the target, and put the safety on between shots if I wanted to change positions. The log, being charred from the fire, blackened me from calf to shoulder on my right side, so I wasn't worried about getting more dirty as I tried for the best shot. At this point, the fear was gone, and I was just a little nervous about hearing the first bang. I knew it would be loud and I hate being startled. Dude went first, and yup, the first shot, no matter how much I tried to anticipate it, startled me. It wasn't too bad, though.

After he emptied the clip it was my turn. I knew the gun wouldn't kick and so I aimed, exhaled, and squeezed the trigger. Funny thing was, it wasn't as loud shooting it as it was when I was a spectator, and after the first shot all nervousness was gone. I took my ten more shots (and I gotta say, clearing the chamber, or whatever it's called, between bullets is really fun. It makes you feel pretty burly.) and I have no idea what the distance was but I made about two thirds of my shots. The target was only 8 by 10 inches, and, I'm terrible at distance, but we were between 200 and three hundred feet away. Haha, I know thats a big variation but I didn't exactly have my tape measure. After measuring the new garden to be, actually, I'd say it was closer to 200 feet. Pretty weak, but hey, it was my first time shooting a gun. 22 shots on a 22, lol.

It was fun. I would do it again, and I'd like to try something with a bigger caliber. But one thing I learned when I was shooting was how easy it would be to kill with a gun. Because the thing is, you're really far away from your target. You wouldn't see it bleeding, it's pain, it's terror, up close and personal. Probably by the time you walked up to the bird or rabbit or deer it would be dead, and finding a dead animal is a lot easier that being with one as it died, or as you killed it, getting it's blood on your hands. And so guns are probably a good thing for soldiers, who have the traumatizing job of killing fellow humans, be it for self defense, a nation's freedom, or maybe a less noble cause. I mean, let's face it, if all soldiers were good guys, there wouldn't be wars, right? We'd all be on the same side.

I guess what's funny, as a liberal and all, is that while I don't think all guns should be outlawed, I can understand why some people do think that. If it were up to me, it would be all bad PEOPLE that were outlawed, but since that's impossible, I can see why there's anti gun protesters. However... why not outlaw cigarettes and knives and cars, too? I know, I know, statistically places like Canada and England with their heavy firearm restrictions have less deaths by gun. Honestly, I don't know where the line between freedom and safety should be drawn. It would be great if every one was a good person, and even if there was a nuclear bomb available to the public it would never be detonated because every one lived in respectful harmony and no one wanted to commit murder.

So I'm not trying to take sides here. I much prefer ignorant bliss and naivety and dreams of world peace than trying to decide who should be allowed what. I think the only answer is acceptance. If everyone could accept each other's differences, black, white, mexican, japanese, muslim, atheist, mormon, buddhist, and treat each other the way the want to be treated, with courtesy and politeness and respect and love, we wouldn't have to worry about tech nine's and sub machine guns. Okay. I'll lay off the fluffy bunnies and rainbows now. I would shoot a gun again- as pure target practice it's a sport just like shooting hoops. Practicing hand eye coordination with the awesome gift of the bodies we were given. But I could not shoot a bird. Or a rabbit. Or a deer. And most definitely not a fellow human being. If no one else could shoot a human either, well, that would be spiffy.

mule deer and elk

The deer here are a lot bigger than the ones in Cali. When I occasionally saw one or two grazing at dusk, I wondered if they were elk. I couldn't wait to see an elk, and I thought they'd be like oversized deer. But no. Mule deer are, I've heard, named for their long ears, though it might as well be for their overall height. But they are puny compared to an elk.

Elk are definitely a whole different family. In fact, they looked kind of moose shaped more than deer shaped. But then, I've never sen a moose, so now I'm imagining them as oversized elk. Ha ha.

And their rumps look like monkey butts. Also, I have yet to learn my lesson... much. I slammed on the brakes when I saw one, and then picked out several more through the dense forest. They were too far away, though... hey, at least this time I asked Mom if she thought they would charge me if I tried to get closer. She said they were cowards, so I tried to stalk closer for a better shot, but she was right. These animals, just about as big as the wild horses that showed no fear, took off the second I took my first step toward them. It was still really cool, though. And how much are those telephoto lenses again?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Gardening: from 10 sq ft to 2,000

The trailer shower:

Cuz seriously, not only is the shower ridiculously small, which I could handle, but it only gives about three minutes of hot water. Which I'd rather not handle. I mean, sure, I've done the whole conservation thing where you turn the water off when soaping up and only turn it on for rinsing. It's especially fun how when you turn the water back on each time it starts off cold. Whee. It was a real tough choice turning it into my greenhouse. Besides, Mom and Potterman have that dream shower, with the endless hot water thanks to a tankless heater. Plus we have unlimited water from the well. I guess technically fresh water is always limited, in a global sense, but.... well I'm sure I'll come up with some good justification for my 20 minute showers. Oh! I only take one every other day. There. And I don't stink, either.

Actually, this is my garden to be. That sounds like bride to be. Of course, the garden is going to kick so much ass that I probably will want to marry it. At this very moment Potterman, who borrowed a bobcat (tractor thingy) from his work, is getting dirt from a dug out drain ditch and filling in the rock terraces I made. Then we're going to mix in the truckload (literally) of horse manure that we got. Yesterday we put in about fifty fence posts, and we're getting wire next week to finish off the elk defense. So basically, we're going to have a gigantic garden. We're planting way more than we can possibly eat before it goes bad, because we're going to can the heck out of as much as possible, and we're going to dry stuff too.

I can't take credit for this awesome trellis- Mom made it. We're planting the peas around it this evening.
Unfortunately yesterday in the post operation -haha- my hand got jackhammered, so it'll be a couple days before I can shovel the manure. Nothing broken, just a helluva bruise and swelling, and I can't use it for much. Turns out my left hand doesn't know how to brush teeth, or hair, or spread cream cheese so that's kind of annoying. It's also kind of funny, though, Mom with her broken ankle and me with my black and blue hand- we ran some errands today and she can't drive or carry stuff what with her crutches and I couldn't turn the key to start the car or carry much either! Honestly, it was hilarious, her reaching over to start the car so I could drive. Gimpy and Limpy, that's us. We'll be better soon, and running our own entire produce department to boot! Exciting!!