Friday, December 24, 2010

If a Crow can use a crosswalk...



That should be a joke, but I'm afraid I haven't a punch line for it. Since I've already established that I'm a "well crafted ranter" (oh wait that was my teacher) for animals, a sufferer of Bleeding Heart Syndrome in my own terms, let me tell you: man, do I miss my furry kids. It's been 9 days since I've seen them, 9 days since anyone dragged a string for them or coaxed them out of trees onto their shoulders.

The home trip from CA to AZ has been longer than anticipated thanks to my BHS. 'Course, my traveling companions weren't adverse to the detour, on the contrary actually. It started when we saw a dog limping across the highway. Black with a white ruff, it didn't spare a single glance to the cars honking at it... just stumbled along in a stupor. I demanded we turn around, and the vote was unanimous. When I tried to approach it, it shied away, but I got close enough to see the blood running down its leg. Long story short, we trailed it until it took shelter in a small rock outcropping. Then we called every 411 number we could get our hands on for Humane Society, animal control, etc. No one answered, though I dialed every minute for 16 calls. Mom called 911 and was admonished- not for animals, yo. Not even for a bleeding, dazed, "man's best friend". I get it, I guess. I mean, I'd put my family over my furry kids, as I believe this trip has proved, but I just can't stop caring.

Well, after the calls failed us, we flagged down a car. The driver just happened to have a son on the town council, and that fellow finally got the ball rolling. A guy came out, and from then on it rested in his hands. We did what we could. Where exactly IS the line between human and animal life? Maybe it's different for everyone. But for me... a bloody, shell shocked dog needs a helping hand in SOME form.

When these kittens were born, (in this photo they were less than a day old) I couldn't tear my eyes from them. It's been a year and a half and I still mourn them. Life is precious and beautiful. I have to help where I can. Even if they all died, I did everything I could, because in my opinion, if you do nothing you might as well be hindering.

The manager of the hotel I'm typing in right now cut me $20 bucks slack after he asked why I was traveling and I answered truthfully- I'm a crappy liar. Then I found out his 4 year old cousin was on her 3rd bone marrow transplant for leukemia. I prayed for her. I don't know if it will do a lick of good, but we gotta care. We just have to. It's not what separates us from animals, it's what separates us from a crappy world. I'm sure as heck fire no saint, but in my peasly opinion, we have to care for all life. Because the opposite of life is death.

I guess I mentioned the crow because I believe that animals aren't as different from humans as some would like to believe. They have smarts, and they can suffer. I would make a shitty researcher because I would interfere to help instead of just observing. Those mean birds that kill their own chicks.. I know that's life, but... Hell, Star Trek made it clear that to best observe new civilizations you can watch but not interfere. But just the act of observing something changes it. Anyway.

I guess my sleep deprivation is fumbling my words and their intent like a poorly thrown football that hits the ground instead of getting caught, so I'll stop soon. I just want some answers. I donate to animal saviors whenever I can, (from PETA to WWF) but where were they when this poor dog needed help? I know it's a hard world. If only my heart were as concrete. Every one and every thing dies. I know that. Yet knowing that will never stop me from trying to help. Perhaps that is why I don't have children. BHS may be just as bad a genetic trait as cancer- certainly something I wouldn't want to pass on.

I'm not gonna stop caring though. I can't.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Semester complete


I got an 85% on my paper. "A well crafted rant". The 30% of my grade paper. 225 points out of 300. Cool. My ego needed that. Actually, I'd prefer a lick on the forehead from Clarence. Animals are medicinal NOT for research but for companionship. They never lie, and their deepest ulterior motive is food. And they never hurt you emotionally, except when they die. PHYSICALLY... I cannot deny that, being a bridge/ transporter/ elevator/ defender against dogs, there may be some scarring. But the love and loyalty is unmatched. Even if they take up the whole dang bed. All 8 pounds of them. It's 8 pounds of pure heart. And soft cozy furry warmth.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What a Day


It's my big lil' bro's birthday, and my dad had successful surgery. I've been gnawing my nails all day, trying to be big strong etc. Bravado doesn't do much for the appetite though. Or self recriminations. Finals on thursday. The big big 30% of our grade paper was due last week- I have no idea how I did and I don't know if I'll even get more than the final class grade, sans the particulars. I don't feel great about this paper but I still want to know what grade I got. Escapeism ftw. PainterLady told me about this video you can watch on youtube "da vinci machine origami" that illustrates the accuracy and amazing proficiency of this particular surgical device... But if you watch it (there is NO gore btw) I can honestly say that I have crafted, twice in my life, smaller cranes than that. With my bare hands and no glasses, magnifying or otherwise. I was twelve, so my hands were smaller, for sure, but still. I always called em my "smaller than a booger" cranes. N E way.

Here's my paper if you're interested. It's really long and meandering which is why I'm worried about my grade. Uggghhhh I can't even read it again. It's way too personal and and at the same time too general. Why couldn't I just make a good strong point and argue it? though, I must say, worrying about it is much better than worrying about loved ones. My lil bro isn't even having a nice birthday dinner and my dad is spending the night in a hospital. Crapola. Well, here is my bad paper.

Freedom for Funktionslust

Could you kick a one year old in the side, knocking her down, break a couple ribs? Not morally, I’m sure… and definitely not legally- wouldn’t that earn you a jail sentence and hopefully an unfriendly welcome by your new inmates? Sorry, but it’s completely legal. For non-human victims, that is. The Animal Welfare Act of 1966 is the strongest law in existence to prevent cruelty to animals, yet it only applies to pet cats, dogs, and guinea pigs (why that last? I have been unable to determine that seemingly random addition). Pets, remember. Not test subjects, and certainly not food (farm) animals. So let me rephrase: could you kick a 1-year-old calf, break a few ribs? Would its cries be just the automatic reaction of a biomachine devoid of feeling?
I love a tender skirt steak marinated in teriyaki and roasted over open coals. I’m also a sucker for chicken chalupas at Taco Bell. My palate is a far cry from my previous six years as a vegetarian. Yet I will still spend seven dollars on a six oz. can of tuna, fish that was caught with lines instead of nets to incur no collateral damage. I still donate to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). I know I do these things out of guilt. But where does this guilt originate, and why? Because I believe that animals have feelings and emotions, as do we. Empathy is one of our greatest and most painful of those.
So why aren’t I still vegetarian? It wasn’t hard, but then, I wasn’t the real deal: I had that line caught tuna as my one “they live free” excuse for the protein I needed. I also added more cheese and milk to my diet. When I really started to examine my decision I realized that it was based on the idea that animals should be allowed the freedom to realize their place in the natural scheme of things, a.k.a. “cage free”. Calves should frolic in meadows, chickens should enjoy a good roll in the dirt (mine are particularly fond of “dustbowls”), and their lives should end without horrible pain, suffering, fear or cruelty. But something like 95% of cheese must be made with rennet. Rennet (also called “enzymes” on the ingredients label): the stomach lining of a baby cow, because what could render cow milk better than the very creature the milk was designed for? And inevitably the stomach lining, or rennet, has come from veal calves; the epitome of the animal cruelty I was trying to protest with my dietary decisions.
Seems I had the dreaded disease of Anthropomorphism- insufficient diet? No- before you run off to your doctor because you’ve had too much brie with your wine lately, let me put it in laymen’s terms: bleeding heart syndrome (BHS). How was I to live, healthy AND guilt free?
I turned to nature for answers. Agriculture has been around for maybe 10,000 years. But nature, organisms, life on this planet has not only existed but thrived for exponentially longer. It is a perfect balance of cycles, a turning, unbroken ring, not a chain with humans as the end link. In fact, let’s look at the part of the cycle with humans first instead of ending with them. A human dies. She is eaten by worms, which cast off rich droppings. Flies lay eggs in her so that their larvae can hatch into an abundance of food. Grass grows in the enriched earth, drawing rabbits, and the maggots feed chickens, which humans hunt and eat. The humans die of old age or accident (or misadventure, earning a “Darwin Award”), history repeats. Obviously simplistic, but it is a cycle. Humans claim to be at the top of the food chain. Ever seen one of those bumper stickers, “I didn’t fight my way to the top to eat veggie burgers”? Anthropocentrism (interpreting reality exclusively in terms of human values and experience) is a disease far more harmful than BHS in my opinion.
I would hope that most people at least know, if not agree with or understand, the quote, “With great power comes great responsibility”. If humans are the monarchs of the animal kingdom, what sort of rulers should we be? I think we would want to sustain our position, and thus need a sustainable base. I would no sooner ask a cheetah to desist dining on it’s favorite meal, the tiny Thompson gazelle, than I would ask King Henry the 8th to please push aside his turducken for the Brussels sprouts and asparagus. However, cheetahs do not confine their prey to immobility in tiny cages, and Kings relied on hunting parties for their meat.
I see hunting to feed your family no different from a hunter shooting a deer than to a falcon feeding its nestlings. Unfortunately, the vast majority of hunting by humans is for sport and not food. This is a major issue where we have not accepted our responsibility as so called “top of the food chain”. It isn’t just the waste of a food source, it is the culling of the biggest, strongest, and most viable specimens a species has to offer. If the leader of a herd of elk is killed to decorate a human lodge, it will not be able to pass on its superior genes. A weaker bull will take its place, not only as procreator but also as the next trophy. Thus the gene pool of the herd is eroded, relying on weaker and smaller animals to pass on their traits. If humans were to consider hunting the smaller and weaker animals of a herd, we would actually be raising the value of our food source instead of decimating it.
This is the natural role of a predator. Yet once again, we must step in, and step up. In the 1800’s especially, natural predator population declined severely. Bears, wolves, pumas, as well as scavengers and smaller animals- vultures, wolverines, foxes: they were all put on the human enemy list. I can argue that it was another one of many bad decisions by humans to all but eliminate them, but that won’t change the fact that it’s already happened. I’d rather look to remedy than the mystics of bending time.
Valley forge, Pa. You can see easily between 50 and 150 deer in one day. I stopped to take a picture of a newborn fawn not 4 feet from the roadside. Barely bigger than my 14-pound cat who rules some 16ish acres where I live, the fawn shared a short moment with its mother in study of our car, and then they slowly ambled into the woods. They are so overpopulated due to lack of predators that they are almost tame. So, the kill allowance was increased for the hunting season. Humans took responsibility for the predators whose roles needed filling, and still, our source of meat was free to eat tender shoots of fresh spring grass in the sunlight. Most chickens you eat will have lived their entire lives in darkness.
That is my omnivore excuse. We can’t just hop off the Ferris wheel whenever we choose, anymore than we can get rid of wolves and bears without upping our hunting limits. I would like to point out that herbivores, like horses, have all flat teeth. Carnivores, like lions, have all sharp teeth: even their molars have jagged crowns. Then there are humans. Omnivores. We have some teeth for chewing, and some for tearing. And I feel that it is not our design to change, at least not entirely. But neither were animals meant to change to the mere products they have become.
The whole food cycle is more than just a natural relationship. It also has the more subtle inclinations towards vetoing the ability for animals to feel, let alone have souls. Animals are our property, to eat, experiment on, kill for pleasure, or fetch us our morning paper. I say if your dog loves to grab the paper or your kitten likes to sleep under your covers, great. But even better is the freedom of choice they have. Does a veal calf even have the choice to turn around? Does a monkey have a choice in whether or not to receive anesthesia while being tied down and cut open, fully conscious and alive? Vivisection: another legally sanctioned form of torture. And torture can flow with the cycle and hurt us, too.
The most deadly form of E. coli bacteria exists purely because animals do not have freedom and are subject to unnecessary cruelty. Did you know that the standard strain of E. coli can be defeated by a human’s stomach acid, with no medical assistance? Normally the bacteria live in an extremely neutral ph, for example, a cow’s stomach. Moving from there to my stomach would be like putting a cartoon character into Dip, or, if you haven’t seen Who Framed Roger Rabbit, stick your hand in a boiling deep fryer for comparison. A normal cow, a ruminant, lives on grass, not grains. But factory farmed cows are not fed grass, they are fed corn, mixed with antibiotics, protein supplements, and liquefied fat. Cow fat. Feeding unused, rendered cow parts back to cows seemed like another cash shortcut until all the mad cow disease bad press. “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ban on feeding ruminant protein to ruminants makes an exception for blood products and fat” (Pollan 76). So cows are still eating cow blood and fat. Their stomachs bloat and grow acidic; it is a diet that cannot be sustained for longer than 150 days due to liver disease, ulcers, feedlot polio, and more. Even if the threat of mad cow disease is lowered, the cow’s stomachs are now as acid as ours, and the bacteria E. coli has adapted to strain Escherichia coli 0157:H7, a strain that swims happily in the oceans of human stomachs. And all we have to do is put the cows back in the pastures. They live happy and healthy, as do we, and 0157:H7 is off the menu.
But what about research on animals? Exempt. Cartesian scientists nailed dogs down to boards by their four paws and then cut them open to study the circulation of blood. They claimed that the cries of the dogs were but the noise of a spring that had been touched, like a spring in a clock. A Greek named Galen who experimented with monkeys had already undertaken vivisection in Rome. Yet “it was Leonardo da Vinci, founder of the modern science of anatomy, who discovered that Galen’s anatomical descriptions were incorrect”(Briggs 9). Centuries ago, people of high intelligence found animal research to be inadmissible for humans. The feelings of animals were not at the center of the debate, if they were in it at all. Still, the proof was in the pudding- and yet animals are used for research exponentially more than ever before.
The most basic study in animal research is called LD50 (lethal dose 50 percent). A product is introduced to rats, mice, rabbits, monkeys, any animal. The product, be it a new floor cleaner, blood thinner, or lipstick, will be injected, smeared into the eyeballs, or force-fed to the test subjects. Painkillers cannot be administered because they might interfere with the chemicals being tested and interfere with results. After 50 percent of the animals die, the project is considered complete and the toxicity level determined. Sounds like cruel and unusual punishment to me- but was their crime? Being non-human.
In terms of new furniture polish, that will regulate the warning labels. If the test material is medicinal in nature and it lengthens human lives, it is considered productive research. According to neurologist Aja Octar, only 8 percent of medicinal products tested on animals are viable for humans, and half of those are recalled (30 Days). Simple use of human skin cells, harvested and grown with no harm or pain to anybody, are far more accurate depicters of human and drug interaction. Consider this: Aspirin. One of, if not the most, widely used pharmaceuticals. Yet it is deadly to felines. What if our intrepid researchers had tortured hundreds of cats and determined aspirin to be unsafe? There are numerous alternatives to animal testing, and they are far more accurate. “In vitro research uses cell and tissue cultures in a test tube or Petri-dish, and one of its uses is drug development” (Willams, DeMello 203). I know I’d prefer a plastic dish to a screaming cat if I were a scientist in a lab.
That dreaded term, anthropomorphism, rears its head again. “The old German term funktionslust refers to pleasure taken in what one can do best- the pleasure a cat takes in climbing trees, or monkeys take in swinging from branch to branch. This pleasure, this happiness, may increase the animal’s tendency to do these things, and will also increase the likelihood of its survival” (Massson, McCarthy 13). Biologist Marcy Cottrell Houle observed a pair of peregrine falcons raising five nestlings. One day the female did not return, and the male doubled his efforts in search of food. On the third day of the female’s disappearance, “Arthur (the male) uttered an unfamiliar sound, a ‘cry like the screeching moan of a wounded animal, the cry of a creature in suffering’”(Masson, McCarthy 91). The fourth day Arthur never left his perch, and three of the five nestlings died. On the fifth day the male resumed his hunting. Was this a faulty creature? Just a failed spring in the machine, hindering its species survival? Or was it displaying an emotion?
Jane Goodall is one of the worlds leading researchers in the behavior of apes. She observed an 8-year-old male chimpanzee sitting at his dead mothers side, occasionally tugging her hand. As the days past and he failed to eat, he became increasingly lethargic, only once leaving her body to climb a tree and stare at the sleeping nest he had shared with his mother. Within the month, he died of gastroenteritis. [Goodall’s scientific conclusion was: “It seems likely that psychological and physiological disturbances associated with loss made him more vulnerable to disease”] (Masson, McCarthy 74). A fellow scientist said simply, “he died of grief”.
Do animals feel? Does it matter if they do? What if the Animal Welfare Act was literal and all encompassing, making cruelty illegal for all creatures, from food to fur, research to companions. Then we could eat all the meat we wanted, pop our aspirin, and cozy up in vests made of recycled water bottles. I’m not trying to convince anyone to go vegetarian or stop wearing leather. I AM trying to stop people from using animals as research. I am trying to stop cruelty. If humans are the kings, shouldn’t we be just and fair? Maybe wear a faux fur lined robe instead of one made of anally electrocuted and skinned alive chinchillas? I heard this quote somewhere: “It takes 40 dumb animals to make a fur coat but only one to wear it”. If we are so superior, shouldn’t we be benevolent as well?
I believe it is time for humans to actually accept the responsibility we’ve claimed. I’m going to try to kill a turkey this year, but I don’t know if I can do it. I’ll be drinking out of my Nalgene water bottle and eating potatoes from my garden, petting my cat on her head and maybe tossing her an entrail or bloody feather. But at least I know these turkeys led good lives; I raised them. They lived cruelty free; got to scratch at the dirt, fly out of the pen (the buggars), and show off their full plumage when they were feeling particularly full of prowess. At least until that final deathblow, which I hope will be quick. I’m part of the food circle, not the cruelty cycle.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hermitgrrl revealed



I always wanted this blog to be anonymous, but that is silly since the only people who scope this know me. So here's a cool pic of me being a glow stick version of the statue of liberty. Oh dear. I suddenly sense hidden meanings which I did NOT intend. I am no statue of righteousness. LOL. Wearing a necklace my sistah got for me in PA. Love it. Mac's kick ass. They have this built in camera thingy that has all these awesome effects, like "thermal" which is what I used. It really brought out the glow sticks, which I obtained at a party next door. A lot of people were happy to donate their glow sticks to my hair, and, silly as it sounds, I felt kinda like a princess. Girl stuff, I guess. Ha Ha funny green alien girl princess. Anyway, a girl's allowed to show off her plumage once in a while, right? Shrug. Who knows? :)
Love to all.

P.S.

I'd like to give a shout out to my Granny, who just turned 80, and grew up in the south yet refused to allow racism to permeate her or her kids minds, one of whom, obviously, gave birth to me.

Happy Birthday Awesome lady!

This week, to he@# with "should"

It's been a long week. I guess, it being Sunday, I should say "last week". But I'm kind of over 'should'. Like, I 'should' have left those babies to die. I 'should' have done so many things. We all have those thoughts- I'd make that a question, as if seeking affirmation, but like I said I'm casting aside the 'should' 's. Of course we all have regrets- hindsight is 20/20. I don't regret taking those babies in, nor do I regret turning them over to a rehabilitation center. I miss them, of course. Little Elvis, who always wanted to leave the building and /or sing (scream). Rocky, who was good at the bottle, Consuela who would fall asleep with her head tucked under herself in my arms. I did the right thing. I saved their lives, and turned them over to people who could further assist them in their reintroduction to nature.

However.

Did you know that computers have "fingerprints" and "DNA" just like us? It's called an IP address. Traceable. You can put it in a data base, compare it to, say, emails you've received. Well. I had many a person warn me about rabies, etc. And I cared very much that people were worried about me; hell, I felt loved. But the other day I encountered a full uniform, shiny metal star on chest, AZ wildlife fish and game man. My gate was locked so he actually walked up my long, long driveway to find me. This wasn't an act of love. It was pure malice. So I started digging up IP's.

To digress, (my favorite way of telling stories, John would be proud) I have tried to walk the silk thread line between supporting my mom and not messing with other people. "Other" meaning the ones against her. All I want is for every one to be happy- haha, yeah, I'm an idealist, I know. But when "some one" reported me for 'harboring wildlife', I had to consider: who had I told? Who knew (and thought it bad) that I had rescued babies with the sole intent of saving them, rehabbing them.

I traced the IP addresses. Sure, I know who reported me, or at least have a good bit of connective evidence, but revenge? An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind. I'm sure as hell no saint, but I wish people could accept that instead of directing their hate at a random whipping boy they could spend their energy on making their own lives good. Why spend all your energy trying to hurt others, when you can spend that energy on making your life, and the lives you care about, better?

I heard a story on NPR once, told by a holocaust survivor. She went through mucho therapy and she came out with this: "I have the power to NOT forgive the Nazi's". That alone gave her strength. Because who doesn't want forgiveness? For even the tiniest thing, like, when I was 18 my Mom threw me a party, with actual "you're 18!" napkins and plates and I blew her off to go hang out with my friends. I've apologized for this many a time- for being a selfish, stupid teenager, and she has forgiven me again and again. She understands that I was just a, well, teenager. Full of self righteous independence.

What if my Mom had closed her door to me, not accepted my apologies? I would have withered inside, just like the Nazi's who found regret, not to mention self hate, and couldn't even seek redemption through apology. That is why it's so important to just let go of the hate. The self loathing. It's a slippery, down hill slope, self loathing. But if you keep giving out your love and kindness, instead of hate and revenge, maybe... we could all live happy?

yeah, it sounds like crazy talk. but isn't that sad? that it could be considered 'crazy' that i want everyone to be happy? Like i said, I'm no saint. I'm probably a big fat sinner. My intentions are good, though, and I think that is a goal worthy of striving for. Good intentions and happiness for all. Dang. I got all maudlin, didn't I. Like I said I'm an idealist. I hate drama, and I hate hate. See, I'm just as bad as the next guy. F#$@ hate. I'm starting to think that maybe all anyone needs is a big effin' hug and love. Wouldn't the world be better?

I'm thankful that my parents raised me, to not be in any way shape or form, racist. Or elitist. Or hateful in any way. I mean, I encountered the most racist man I've ever met, and I didn't engage in argument (or clock him over the head with a crowbar) I just pulled the "live and let live" card. Heck, maybe that makes me a pansy. But what if every one did that? What if he did that? Had his opinions, but went with the card I pulled, and kept up the exterior politeness?

Don't know.

I read an article about how people migrate towards 'like' people. But that's another tirade at another podium for another day.

I can honestly say that I wish all people well. If everyone was happy they would have no need to bring others down, so that is my wish: Happiness to everyone.

Even Gandhi had his bad moments. He said mean things to his own children. No one will ever be perfect, and I am far from there. But I still wish the best for everyone. Even those who wish me ill will. If they were happy they wouldn't want to hurt others. Damn I'm so bleeding heart syndrome. Well, that's all I got for now. I'm kind of still a "young'un" myself so you all may have already figured this stuff out. But i must say, I stick by the "can you look at yourself in the mirror and feel okay?" diagnostic. You know I don't mean your exterior. I'm going to go check right now.
Love to all,
Hermitgrrl

Friday, September 17, 2010

hermit lady's baby raccoons

Well, we all know that every time I try to link something it FAILS. I blame blogger. So, you might not be able to google or youtube it for a few days, but there is a video of me an the baby raccoons in my garden.

whenever this IS searchable, look up "Hermit lady's baby raccoons"
hope y'all get to see them funny lil monkeys

Monday, September 13, 2010

5 of a kind

I guess, in poker, that only happens when you're playing with wild cards. But I like playing with wilds. Haha that is such a double entendre in this here post. I have quintuplets. That's 5, right? Yeah, 5 baby raccoons. Every single person tried to talk me out of it, but do you think I could leave those babies there to die?????? I sat down next to them, them and their funny monkey noises, and they crawled all over me and into my lap for warmth. Their little toe and foot pads were so cold! Seriously, I get the dangers, the likely hood of their mom coming back, blah, blah, blah. I'd rather die from rabies or plague than live without being able to look myself in the mirror, which, if they died 'cause I left them there, I wouldn't be able to do. And you know what? If we only live once, or reincarnate, or go meet up with St Peter, I want to be able to stand tall, as few regrets as possible, proud as I can with enough humility to not be a jerk. And I'd rather live a short happy life than a long miserable one, though I'm hoping for long AND happy heehee.
Would anyone leave 5 human babies alone on the shore of a lake, hoping they would make it through the coyote filled night or that their mom would come back? Don't think so! I am fiercely devoted to these babies survival, and I don't give a crap what anyone has to say negatively about it. I think it's already been established that I'm a bleeding heart. I'm gonna take care of these babies, and they are going to live and thrive, dammit. I lost Leo's babies, and now Leo herself, and even though it wasn't my "fault", I feel like I have a shot at redemption here.
And St. Peter, if you're listening, I'd like to come back as a bird. Thank you.

P.S. I actually worked on uploading and organizing photos the other day, but now my camera won't connect or be "recognized" by my computer. I have a love/ hate relationship with computers. But if I can figure out this latest glitch, I'll show you the cutest quintuplets and you will perhaps better understand why I had to save them. Stupid bleeding heart, I gotta get a Doc to look at that. But then again, if there were a cure, would I want it? I really don't know.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

no title yet GASP!

This is just an rough draft assignment for my english class I'm working on. The topic we had to pick was "the first time we did...."anything at all. So, here goes.

My first car was an '87 white Toyota minivan named Betsy. I didn't get a vehicle until I was 18, and even so I was still the first one in my group of friends to do so. However, that didn't mean I knew much more than the rules of the road. I didn't know how to change a tire, or that regular oil changes are as necessary as keeping gas in the tank (this may have contributed to the death of that poor beloved van). I even had a co-worker ask me once if I'd checked my blinker fluid recently, and for a few seconds I had to think about it. Then I socked him in the shoulder and he laughed and laughed.
One summer day, only a few months into my stint as a full fledged driver, I was at my friend John's house. The sun was so strong it made even the thickest leaves a translucent green and you could smell them, as if their pores were opening to breathe just as ours were to sweat. There was not a single breeze, but the beach was only ten miles away and we knew once we got down out of the mountains we could get some relief. There was no more having to ride our bikes, either, which would have had the opposite effect on our desire to cool off.
So John and I hopped in ol' Betsy, opened all the windows with a quick crank of the handles, and squirmed in the fuzzy seats. It was like putting on sweatpants, but as soon as we got the AC going we'd be okay. I turned the key and Betsy gave one feeble attempt to turn her engine over, and then nothing. I figured I'd just done it wrong, after all, I was still new at this whole driving thing. So I turned the key again, but this time all I heard was one sad little click. The sweat was really starting to pour now: I don't think they make fuzzy seats like that anymore, for good reason. At least the windows weren't automatic, but since there wasn't any breeze to speak of, it was still hotter in the car than out.
"I think the battery is dead," John suggested. Sounded reasonable to me. I knew the gas tank wasn't empty, but then, I didn't know what an alternator was or that there were fuses, which could have just as likely been the problem. I can say this now, perhaps slightly smugly, since I've killed a lot more cars since then. Which, come to think of, I shouldn't be proud of, but at least I've learned a few things.
"So, what do we do?" I asked, deferring to him as though as a male he might know more about this sort of thing.
"Well, if we had some cables, we could jump it...."
"But we'd need another car for that," I pointed out, and there wasn't one around. My house was a couple of miles away, and I could have called my Mom, but I was a cocky, independent teenager and I was going to prove it by figuring this out myself. By now it was just too hot in the car, so we got out to ponder the situation. For a brief moment the comparison of the outside air was almost refreshing. Our backsides were soaked from that brief sit in Betsy. Then our bodies re-acclimated and we were even more desperate to get somewhere cool.
"I have an idea," John said. (This later proved my presumption of male car knowledge exceeding that of females to be unfounded.) "I've heard that if you get a car rolling fast enough, like down a hill, you can jump start it that way," he said. Well, we happened to be on a hill, which I might say was lucky, unless I could've seen into the future.
"Then let's do it."
I was already aimed in the right direction, so I climbed back into that sweaty driver's seat and sat there for a moment while John climbed into the passenger side. At the bottom of the hill the road made a left turn, so I took a moment to consider before popping the E brake. At the turn there was a fence, and then a lawn, and then a house. I figured if the worst happened I'd bust a fence, but the car was going to start, right?
"Are you sure about this?" I asked. "I mean, have you actually seen this done, or know someone who's done it?"
"Oh, yeah," he said, casually waving his hand. Maybe he was just fanning himself, but I took it as a gesture of confidence. "My sister's Pinto dies all the time, and this is what she does."
"Okay." I took one last look around. I didn't want to do this when any other cars were coming: it was just a little country road, nothing like suburbia. No yellow line down the middle, no white lines on the side, and definitely nothing even close to resembling a sidewalk. Just the gray pavement stretching down... down... It wasn't really that long of a hill, but it was fairly steep. However, I hung out with guys mostly, and had a tendency to try to match their levels of testosterone with my own form of gutsy stupidity. There was no way I would back out of this. I wanted a running car, dammit, so I wiped my sweaty forehead and released the emergency brake.
Betsy started rolling slowly at first, and I tried the key a few times. Nothing.
"Wait 'till we're going faster," John said. About halfway down the hill, we seemed to be going pretty fast for being in a dead car, so I tried again. Still nothing. By now the turn was coming up pretty quick, and it seemed like the trees and houses were streaking by, flashes of green, dashes of gray and brown. I was starting to feel adrenaline buzzing through my limbs and out to to the tips of my nerves. My heart rate was was climbing in what seemed like direct proportion to the descent. I started pumping the brakes, but nothing happened, and I frantically twisted the key again and again.
Finally we hit the turn and I cranked the wheel. It locked. I smashed the brakes with all my strength and yanked the E brake and wonder of wonders, we missed the fence, slid with a terrifying, crunching, roar into roadside gravel, and managed to come to a stop. At this point the sweat pouring down us had nothing to do with the summer day. We sat there shaking a bit, then wobbled out of the car. The sun was like a spotlight, blinding us, bouncing off the white paint of the van and the fence I'd missed. My jaunty self assurance had leaked out of me faster than a wave might recede at the beach we wouldn't make it to. I was a kid again, a kid who hiked back up that steep hill to call my Mamma for rescue.
She came and looked at the battery. She had more car savvy than all my friends put together, which added to my lesson on sexual assumptions. There was a faintly sea foam green crystallized corrosion on the battery. It wasn't in need of a jump, it was in need of replacement. My first time I ever tried to jump a car, and it couldn't have even been jumped anyway.
"And honey," my Mom said, one hand over her her eyes and forehead, the other on her hip, elbow crooked. "This method only works with a stick shift."

Sunday, August 29, 2010

When it rains, it pours zucchini's.

Last year we had a total fail crop of Zucch's, so of course this year we are bombarded. AND, of course, they are all ready at the same time. Note to self: stagger planting. But the fact is, the growing season is so short around here that you really just can't do much staggering. Unless, perhaps, with the help of a nice bottle of tequila. Ahem. As of right now, I have 4 zucchini's in my house. That doesn't sound too hard to manage, right? ... but these are not the kind you would find in the store. You see, I've had a terrorist attack of grass that obscures everything, and so these 4 'chini's are 10 - 14 inches long, and, I kid you not, one is FIVE inches in diameter.

And so I've been being far more vigilant about hunting out the boogers, and there are 8 more in the garden ready to go. These ones are at least not past your standard supermarket size... yet. And I love the suckers, fried up in butter and eggs, grated and mixed with bread crumbs and eggs to make patties, (don't forget, we get a dozen eggs a day up here on hurricane knob), roasted in the oven with sliced onion, tomatoes from the garden, drizzled with olive oil and dashed with salt and pepper... but seriously, I can't keep up. And I can't give 'em away either, 'cause everyone else with a garden ( and that's a lot of folks up here) has the same problem. You can't freeze them, and maybe you could dry them like apricots but honestly that sounds kinda grody. And what would you DO with dried zucchini anyway?

Well, while I work on this dilemna, my investigation has continued into the mysterious garden visitor and sampler / destroyer of catnip. I collected several tufts of fur which I could immediately tell did not belong to Pheonix, for every single one of his furs has 4 stripes of color, black at the tip, white at the body, some cream and brown in between. If I had a microscope I could, very gently of course, collect samples from Miss Q and Genevieve. Inspector Hermitgrrl, the dually talented forensic biologist and detective, solving garden crimes, being flown from New York to Seattle and everywhere in between, bringing answers and closure to botanical lovers everywhere. But, alas.

However, the undamaged portion of the bush has been un- flattening itself, reaching up with the fierce hope of survival inherant in all living things. Which is a dang good thing, not just for the kitties to rejoice, but the BEES. Catnip has these clumps of lavender flowers that, when you look reeeeeeal close, look like clusters of tiny orchids maybe an eigth or even a sixteenth of an inch in height each. And when you look that close, you can see that they are not just lavender, but have spots of black and yellow, smaller than a pin head. Beautiful. And the bees LOVE them, and I love the bees. I haven't seen many this year, which is actually quite terrifying, because I know that bee populations in general are in trouble, and did you know that humans have not found a way to replicate what bees do? Which means, if bees decline, pollination declines, and that means food supplies for not just us but all critters decline. And obviously, if food supplies dwindle, who knows what could happen? Famine? Wars over food? I tell ya, thoughts like that are a lot scarier than wondering what strange creature was in my garden the other night. I really think this info should be making headlines across the globe- which is funny, 'cause I can't stand to read the news anymore.

'Course, living in a red state doesn't help my desire to pick up a newspaper, though I guess most people get their news online or (shudder) television these days. Now, dangit, I hate to leave things on a negative note; that makes me just as bad as the papers! So, let's see... There is a beautiful lightning storm right now, blessedly cooling my house from 90 degrees to 78 and dropping! Yay! And I harvested a bunch of Larkspur and lettuce seeds today. I love saving my own seeds, in fact, every productive corn stalk and pea vine in my garden I grew from dried kernals and peas I saved last year! How cool is that!!! I also get fresh seeds, too, wouldn't want to end up with some kinda inbred pea and corn famine! And I have 33 zinnias blooming now; red, purple, five shades of pink, cream... gorgeous!

So, sorry about all the busy bee business, HEEHEE I had to write that, think of pretty flowers!!!! Gather wildflowers out on a walk, I did the other day and it's as lovely a bouqet as you could buy at any store.

Happiness to all, Hermitgrrl.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Mystery of the Catnip Bush

It was a dark and stormy night... just kidding! Actually it was a beautiful moonlit night yesterday, and I went and played with my kitties in it. I also slacked and left my garden gate open (doh!). When I went for my usual garden check of the day, I immediately noticed the catnip bush. The thing is huge, easily five feet wide and 4 feet tall, beautiful, lush, thick. But today, it was... broken. Beaten and broken and trampled down, like maybe a deer thought it would be a nice place to sleep. However, if it had been a deer, there would have been a lot of feasting taking place as well (boogers). The only thing touched was this bush, and by the size of the wreckage it had to be something dog sized. At least. My cats, sure they nibble here and there, but there is no way they could have caused this level of destruction.

LOL in fact right now Genevieve is horking down on the plate of leaves I trimmed from all the broken branches and set out to dry to save. 'Nother side note ( you know by now I'm famous for my digressions) the shop I'm getting my new tires from has an office kitty. I would never have expected these two gruff, burly, grease covered guys to have an office cat, but this orange tom is the most beat up scruffy thing I've seen so maybe they all just fit together. And I mean that in a nice way!! And I love love love it when anyone is a cat lover, obviously, but for some reason it seems even more touching when it's burly men. So when I get my tires I'm going to bring a little bag of catnip for their kitty- he might not be into it, some cats are, some are not, but what the hey. Lol just hope they don't think I'm bringing them a bag of pot or something hahaha!!! That would be funny!

OK, so back to my poor mangled bush. It was broken, obviously slept in or rolled in or both. Now, all 4 dogs up here on hurricane knob, as we call it (windy season is a beeyatch I tell ya!) have been in the garden, and never have taken any interest in the catnip. Besides, they are in at night. So it wasn't dogs, because it would have happened long before this. And it wasn't a deer, because a deer would have eaten a lot of other things, or maybe even left poo to rub it in my face that haha neener neener we got in your garden! So... what was it? Honestly, that kind of damage... to big for even a bobcat. So maybe there is some other animal that likes catnip? Maybe a javelina? I cannot imagine that a cougar was that close to my house, though a bear did walk right by my front door before. And thus I am completely baffled. A bonafide mystery right in my own back yard. Well, front yard, but that's not how the saying goes. Perhaps I shall google catnip and see if animals other than felines love it. Still, though, the thought that something as big as a dog was out there... creepy. But don't worry, Inspector Hermitgrrl will be on the case.

OOOH, an update on a previous subject: The beautiful yet terrifying caterpillar gave me crazy nightmares. It had also stopped moving and I was horrified that I might have killed it. Maybe captivity was no good for it, and even if they scare me it doesn't mean I want them to DIE. For both our sakes it had to leave the premises. So I carefully placed the twig it was hanging from in a safe (read: I never go there) part of the garden. Two days later I went to look and see if it's poor shriveled corpse was there, or if maybe, hopefully, it had woken from it's stupor and wandered off along it's way to continue nom nomming my garden. And guess what. omg the excitement. THERE WAS A BEAUTIFUL CHRYSALIS!!!!!!!!!! YAY! Yes photo documentation is underway and no Hermitgrrl still has not got her rear in gear to upload photos. I have like 600!!!!! That's a lot of work, ya know. Plus I lost my favorite photo application when my hard drive crashed last year. Am I the best excuse maker or what? Actually, nope. Trying to only say nice things about myself these days. "I am a busy woman and I will get to it when I can." So there. Heehee ;)

Love to all, Hermitgrrl of the Mountains.

Friday, August 20, 2010

zombies vs. caterpillars

I, the girl who finds caterpillars second in terror only to zombies, am now not only hosting but feeding one. That's right. Grilling my brains upon the barbie, served with a side of corn. Okay ewwwwww that grossed even me out. I found a caterpillar in my garden yesterday that is- dare I say it? I suppose I must; it is beautiful. Yes the slacker nature paparazzi took pics and no she has not uploaded them. But slacker nature girl is HOSTING A CATERPILLAR. IN HER OWN HOME. Shudder. Even through it's beauty it grosses me out. Or should I say, even through my shallow phobia it's beauty shines?

Well. I believe it to be a swallowtail larvae eeeew even that word grosses me out. (Tangent: this guy in highschool called me larvae. Ah the joys of youthful kindness. Ahem. Back to the scoop.) Let us call it a swallowtail baby. Yes, much better. The baby butterfly is about 3 inches long and maybe... 1/3 inch in diameter? (I will stop mentioning this but one last time I must say that even writing this causes me to shudder ew ew ew yuck ok I done now.) So this baby is vividly striped black and green, with every other black stripe bearing orange triangles. And it has a penchant for dill. That's where I found it; it had devoured an entire stalk and was eyeballing another close by. I had just settled the lizard into my garden- did I mention the lizard I created a temporary terrarium for?- and when I saw this baby butterfly I found my next occupant.

Seriously, I couldn't leave it in the garden. Because then it would have went about its merry business of life and not only eaten forbidden fruits but it most likely would be hidden, never to be seen again. Which means, scary cater- er, baby butterfly hiding in my garden. Waiting to jump out at me and eat my brains o m g. Okay, breathe. And I couldn't fling it over the fence like I do when finding grubs and screaming 'cause that'd be very rude and possibly harmful to the poor nasty baby. Grubs are bad. Worms are good, I relocate them gently. Wow, I'm like a total insect racist.

Anyway, we shall see what this baby grows into and whether or not it will escape it's confines and eat my brains while I sleep. I'll let you know. Or, If I don't, call the zombie squad and have my town quarantined. Either way, it should be interesting.

Monday, August 16, 2010

monday

P.S. the P being "pre" instead of "post": "john" is a pseudonym. I swear.

I've been thinking about my past today. It's hard for me, for some reason I don't remember much. I've heard that some people remember the past better than others, some live in the now, and some cannot think about anything but the future, and so miss the now.

Random tangent: did you know you can actually hear shooting stars? Meteorites really, and I saw and heard one. Sounded like a jet- not a plane, a jet. I have pretty decent hearing; the other day a truck pulled up our driveway, I did not see it, but I knew it was a truck by sound and I knew when it had to reverse because of our gate; I could hear the change in engine sound.

Anyhoo, so I found some journals from when I was 22. I was living in an RV for 200 dollars a month, that was on such a slanted hill that you could not put a glass of water on the table because it would slide off. The inside fridge didn't work, so there was a mini frat kid type fridge outside. Heck, at least I had electricity. Plumbing, not so much. No oven or stove- microwave and barbecue were my means of cooking. And I had a car thank goodness; my old Camero Z28. Man I loved that thing. And I had a job- good for me. At one point I went 8 months working six days a week, no 2 day weekends, no vacations, but I'm not saying that to complain. It's just interesting to me how I lived nearly ten years ago. Lol hope I'm not boring anyone who reads this. I don't really even know what the point of this story is. I think it's for me, to remember and record the past. I don't know if I was happy, but I think it was an adventure for sure.

The next place I rented, the first real apartment I ever had, was $650 a month for a teeny tiny rat hole with mildewed curtains and a 9 by 10 foot bedroom. Across the street was a bar/restaurant that dumped all their glass bottles in the metal dumpster at 1am. Ever so restful- funny thing is, by day I delivered their mail. This time I didn't have a car- I sold my dying Camero to a guy for 1 dollar, because he said he would bring it back to life and appreciate it. Actually, he dumped it in gangville where it was stripped, towed, and impounded, costing me over a thousand bucks because tho he promised to take care of the paperwork because of the sweet 1 dollar deal, but he never actually went to the DMV, so it was still in my name.

So for 7 ish months I walked to work, luckily it was close enough to do so. Lol one time I stopped at a stop sign. On foot. Talk about having the rules drilled into you good. Heck, I was a professional driver with no personal vehicle. That is dang funny. But that apartment, it's hard to even describe the accessories. The "kitchen" was about 4 by 9 feet and I swear that sink came from 1950. Again, I'm honestly not complaining, just trying to piece together my past. The place also came with a small school desk, ones you can find by the millions in high schools across the country. At least, back in 1996, lol I haven't seen the inside of a HS since then, maybe they've upgraded the standard desk. This desk was sans chair, but I had a funky one from the thrift store, and I found a nook in the bedroom to set up my computer. The tiny living room also hosted the fridge; the kitchen was way too small to hold one. Funnily, the bathroom was big and modern and new. And you could hear every word of the people in the adjoining apartment, which rather embarrassed me whenever I, ahem, had to use it. (They were rather horrid to their children, which I could also hear through that wall.)

I was fairly poor then; John didn't have a job half the time. I remember once, when I only had one pair of shoes with a hole in the toe and 2 dollars in my wallet, and John gave 20 dollars to our friend. He'd give anyone the shirt off his back, which is honorable, but I wished that, as the fiance, I'd come first. Back then, I kept track of every cent, hell, I still have the records. They are kinda funny and kinda fascinating, a kind of portrait of back then. And back then, my records proved that I covered Johns ass. Sorry, trying to tell my story straight with little bitterness. But here's an example, straight from said records:

Monday April 7 2003
$298.00 cash
-$100 to bank
$198.00 (bank:-$66.85+$100=$33.15)
-$18.00 me n John gas (this was obviously a couple years later, when we had a car again) [john $9.00]
$180.00
-$4.18 me and john hs(have no idea what hs stands for lol) [john 2.09]
-$37.80 me n john bookcase [john $18.90]
$138.02
-$3.71 me n john hs [john $1.85]
$134.31

Tuesday april 8th
$134.31
-$65.00 jeep tow
$69.31

Wednesday april 9th
$69.31
-$2.90 taco bell (lol)
$66.41
-$17.00 me n john laundry [john 8.50]
$49.41
-$8.00 to john
$41.41
-$10.00 me n john grocery [john $5.00]
$31.41

Etc. I have books and books of this stuff. It really pissed John off that, in his words, "he had a tab". He always said he'd do for me what I did for him, monetarily, but in 8 years never proved that point. In the end, I figured as long as he kept the house clean and ran the errands, he could just stay unemployed. I'd be the bread winner, he'd be the stay at home hubby. I'd given up on having an equally employed partner long before. Heck, I loved him. He was still my best friend, though he never put me before his other friends.

I applogize. I wanted this to be a happy, cheerful, uplifting blog when I started it, but I want to be real now. All the bad things I've gone through this year have changed me. It's hard to put up a false front. I want to be honest, and life certainly has it's downs as well as ups. There is good that has come out of these latest downs, though. Family. Family that I don't feel that I ever really appreciated before has been here for me. My god, the love I feel for my grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings, parents, cousins, friends even... it's overwhelming. Like I didn't even realize how much love existed that was aimed at me. I'm a lucky SOB to say the least. I know that. And that knowledge makes me feel guilty for many a reason. Like how dare I feel sad when I have all these wonderful people? I have a car, a home, food, and most of all, love. Love that, by the way, I'd like to return three fold. Huge hugs to everyone. And please pardon my reminiscences, I'm trying to figure out life. And speaking of life, thank you god, goddess, or whatever great spirit or divinity there is for this grey day. It's been so dang hot lately, 90 degrees usually, and my AC is busted. It is a pleasant 79 now and I am LOVIN' it.

I should go enjoy my garden, the zinnias are finally blooming and heehee in my windowsill a jalepeno is growing! Life moves forward. And I will, too. Just might be a longer journey than I expected in this fast paced world.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

this life

Nothing interesting to post, I'm afraid. No pretty pictures. A lil' bit o' news. Picked the classes I'm going to take this fall: Biology and math. Got a flat tire when I was off roading the other day, and I was worried I'd torn the tire bad from a sharp stick or something, but it turned out to be a nail- a nail so long it pierced my tire twice! An entry and exit wound. I'm bummed to admit that it took me almost 40 minutes to change my tire. I used to be able to do it in 15 mins or less.. but its been a few years since I've changed a tire. That's a good excuse, right? Plus I broke a nail and it bled like crazy so I think I earned my 40 mins. And hey, at least I have a real spare, not one of those mickey mouse tiny things I had for my Camaro.

Praying for rain; for some reason this curve of mountain ridge gets skipped all the time. I could really go for some cool weather- cool meaning low 70's.

Life is safe up here on the mountain, but I've had some pretty bad anxiety attacks lately. My peeps, kitties included, and my garden, nature, and the stars help a lot. Saw an awesome shooting star last night. Should have wished on it: that everyone I love be happy. Lol well there's always 11:11 o'clock for wishes too, and you can pray whenever you want so I'd just like to wish everyone the fullest life of goodness this world has to offer. 'Kay, that grammar/ sentence seems wrong somehow, but ill be in school in a couple weeks; I'll worry about it then :)

Photos will be along SOMEDAY... 'till then, love to all.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

July 30th

Just a quick post (fired, I know) but it's day 2 of what the locals call "the monsoons". It's pretty cool I made it back just in time for 'em, 'cause I LOVE the lightning and rolling booms of thunder. The rain isn't pelting hard yet so I was even able to garden in it, but then the lightning got all close so I thought I better retreat to my metal trailer that stands alone in a clearing. Ha! Still, kitties, garden, awesome weather and all (which I'm sure I'll complain about after a few weeks) a big part of me wishes I was back in PA enjoying everything with my peeps. How does one have a vacation when their work is on hiatus? Don't know, but I did. And now I want some lebanon bologna. Why is Pa the only place that has it, I'd like to know.

P.S. Pappy said it's SIX seconds per mile between lightning and thunder which is dang handy to know since I always thought it was one second lol that means the lightning is two miles away right now not 12 heehee makes a lot more sense that you can hear something one or two miles away than twelve.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Antelope Horns and the Happiest Girl in the Whole USA


Sometimes it's funny how things are connected. Maybe more than sometimes, now that I think about it. Well, I happen to be that girl today, and I want you to hear it sung- not by Donna Fargo, the country singer who first sang it in the 70's, but by Daveigh Chase. It's actually bone chillingly beautiful, and sad. So if the link I attempt to insert doesn't show up, go to Youtube and search "Big Love- Daveigh Chase- Happiest Girl.


Lately there haven't been many dry eyed days around here, but like monks say, when you're down there will always be an up on the way, and when you're up there will come a down. Got a giant up today courtesy of my Dad. Why I want you to hear this sad song that should be happy is because today, when I was so happy, I couldn't stop crying. Tell you why in a sec, but let's get back to songs for a minute. I'm sure you know the classic which includes the line, "where the deer and the antelope play". Well, I found some antelope horns the other day. And I, a naturalist, wasn't even sure if there still ARE antelopes in America. For all I knew they went the way off the passenger pigeon, or the way the buffalo nearly went. So of course I googled them. This IS 2010, after all. Info at your fingertips and all that.

It turns out that the pronghorn antelope of north america is not actually IN the antelope family. Real antelopes have horns which never shed, while the Antilocapra A.Americana to which the song refers do shed their horns yearly, not to mention have other variations putting them in a different family than real antelopes. I'm sorry. This stuff fascinates me.

The picture I show you is the antelope horns I found. Looks just like something you'd see growing out of a antelopes head, right? (mental picture making me laugh) Apparently that's the common name for this strange and beautiful wildflower growing in my back yard. Asclepias Asperula, in the milkweed family. Supposedly poisonous AND medicinal. I so wanted to take pictures of them, but I have been camera- less for, sheesh, almost half a year now.

So how did I get this photo? I did not steal it off the interwebs, even though it IS 2010 and all. Nope. Today when I went to the post office there was a parcel. And in this big brown box was MORE than everything I could ever need to have my camera up and in action again. I felt like a part of me I hadn't even known was missing had been returned. Honestly, it felt as though I'd been living all this time with one eye and now I have two again. Two eyes that are tearing up AGAIN because I am so, so loved by the best dad in the universe. So there are ups and downs, we might sing something happy when we are sad or we might cry when we are happy ( I happen to be a wedding crier, can't help it). Today I got an up when I was down, and though the physical evidence is THE AWESOMEST CAMERA GEAR EVER, the real deal is the love. So much love it makes my heart ache and dagnabbit I think I got something in my eye again. I love you Dad, and I love you all, my family and friends. I hope you know it the way I know it.

Now please excuse me while I find some kleenex and take approximately 3,589 photos that have been waiting and waiting for me to be camera laden once more. And try not to rue the day that you can't stand another picture of potato leaves and lettuce sproutlings and of course kitties and kitties and more kitties. And some more potatoes growing. They are volunteering all over! Sheesh! What's a nature paparazzi to do??!!?? Might as well ditch a gambler in downtown Vegas. And these memory cards hold like SIX HUNDRED pictures. And I'm off to prove that right now.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

:) Michael Franti Say Hey

This video is nothing but happy loving people. I was sick for three weeks, now have horrid itchy claw my eyes out allergies. But this video, it makes me teh happeh. That's interweb speak for 'the happy' aka just plain happy. Every one in this video is smiling, dancing and saying those three words that scare people so much. And I love the setting. And the people; black, white, ROYGBIV (I never quite got why there is blue indigo and violet in science and only blue and purple in our standard american version of the rainbow). Anyway, I can't help but smile watching this. It makes me warm n fuzzy. Ugh. So does the Nyquil. And again with the insomnia. My itchy face wakes me up :( with the running nose and face tickles. So i watch this. I feel love for humankind. You should watch it and smile, too.

So, since my beautiful comp with it's brand new OS and HD, with ten gazillion gigs of memory, cannot make a link.... (I'm sure it's not me, human error could SO not be the prob) I beg you. Go to utube. Search for Michael Franti 'Say Hey'.
Do it now.
Will work on figuring linkage out while you do that.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

just some stuff

Still sick. Day 9, 10? May have to spring for a doctor. Meanwhile I'd like to share this awesome poem.

Gigin alone at the bottom of the hill
Our protagonist named Bill
Sets his his sights on an Anchor Steam pint
All he needs is 13 quarters
Congregated in his hat
A crow, a scavenger type
California redemption provides him with his rent
Room and board inside of, a fifth, of comfort
As the wind penetrates his bones
His mind keeps focused
Tidal waves of sound catapulted
From his horn, wail like lovers
The coins don't drop consistent as does the mercury
His meter slows realizing a zenith
He's reached perfection
No one did see him die

Anyway that is a punk song by NOFX called "Scavenger Type". I'm terrible at understanding art, especially the abstract stuff... I listened to this song for 5 years before finally getting that it was about a homeless guy. I just liked the sound. It's dang mellow, especially being in the punk genre. But I gotta say the details are awesome.. like the mercury, aka temperature, dropping, the "fifth of comfort" being a bottle of Southern Co... Well, gotta take some Nyquil and try to beat this bug. Spring waits for no woman. There is so much I need to do but just standing exhausts me. Dang it. Wish me health.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Oh em gee. I have been sick for 7 days. That sounds like... a line from an old poem or song or something.
For seven days and seven nights,
I've suffered pain, but fought the fight.
Ok that was lame. I'm SLOWLY getting better, though I have a fever this mornin'. Managed to sleep through the last two nights though; previously I'd been waking up for hours of pain, fever chills, and more pain. I thought my throat was trying to kill me. Now my throat is almost better ( I still sound like a frog) but I've still got something like the worst cold ever. At least I've had an appetite through this whole ordeal (my stomach is currently reminding me). Course, trying to eat is real fun when your nose might as well be stopped with cement. I'm sure you really needed that detail. But I lose my breath just eating 'cause it's so ingrained in me to chew with my mouth closed. Anyhoo!

This morning I was waking up, praising the universe for another full night of sleep, when... Well, think about faces. Not expressions, just the flesh itself. Thin eyelids, soft lips, delicate, sensitive nose. Then think about cat feet. Little toe pads that precede wicked scimitars of death. Now if you were to put the two together, face and cat feet... but wait, let's start at the beginning.



For some reason, it started with a cat in a tree. Little Genevieve has not mastered the art of climbing trees. Strike that. She has not mastered the art of getting down. So I would go to the tree, reach as high as I could on tippity toe, and call to her. She would slowly, slowly inch to my hand, then climb down my arm (good thing it's winter and I wear lots of layers!) to perch on my shoulders.



In fact, I have become such a reliable bridge that I can even be used when hopping from the couch to the counter. I was bending over to scoop some cat food out of the bag when four little paws briefly graced the back of my head.



In fact, I seem to be preferable to even a four foot drop, because I so kindly bend my knees like a good elevator and the shoulder level drops to a convenient 18 inches for kitty to hop off of. Because here Genevieve wasn't stuck, no, not this time. And while I was busy thinking, "ooh photo op", she was thinking, "just a liiiiiiiittle closer...". And then boing onto my shoulder.



Just last night while brushing my teeth, I had bent over to spit, and all of a sudden there was Genevieve on my back, checking out my bathroom nook from her new observatory. Yes, I am ladder, an elevator, an observation deck, and a bridge. But you know what the best thing ever is? I'm also a safe haven. Because this morning, when feline feet met face, not a single claw was out. And they haven't been since that first rescue. So I may be a convenience, but I'm a loved one. Maybe not respected, but definitely loved.

Now if I could just get healthy dag nabbit.... It's perfect spring weather for the next few days and I've got gardens to till and driveway gravel to rake! Cats to serve and birds to feed! Arrrgh!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Carrots!!!



OK I'm way too excited. I will try to type this as coherently as possible. It's the uber excitement. And the insomnia. But where to begin? 'Cause it's kind of a long story, or at least one full of digressions and side tracks. For example, I didn't know I could send pictures from my phone to my computer! Heck, I didn't even know how to access pics on my phone, I barely even knew how to take them. But my borrowed camera, see, does not have a handy dandy nifty shnifty battery pack. It runs on double A's, and it sucks those down fast! So it was dead, and I needed pictures. Thus, the process of evolution. I figured out my phone cam. Necessity. The mother of invention.

So, anyway. Last winter, we hadn't harvested all our carrots. When the earth finally thawed, we dug up the sad leftovers. The frost had split them, warped them, disintegrated them. Sadness. Well, this year we again had not harvested all our carrots. We had a ton! They grow like weeds here. Except much tastier. Now, part of why we didn't harvest them was NOT laziness. It's that the earth itself acts as a root cellar. No pun intended, but carrots are roots. And omg I just realized that root cellars were the first "fridge". Necessity. Invention. Turn on, ye wheel o' time and life. Sorry. Insomnia here. End digression.

As I mentioned earlier, spring is starving time. The jobs are as dried up as last autumn's corn stalks. I really wanted to make some soup, and I knew there were carrots down in the garden. However, being under a couple feet of snow and all, the location was hard to pinpoint, but I guessed it out. An educated guess, of course. I only say that because I think on every test I ever took in high school the instructors would precaution us with, "now, if you don't know the answer, make an educated guess". I found the carrot patch. But the earth was rock hard frozen solid. I was bummed; I figured whatever we had left unharvested was ruined. Unreachable, anyway, to find out for sure, but what hope was there that they could have survived a frozen bed of dirt? This is the bed of dirt:



The last few days it has been warm, in the 50's even, the snow is all but gone (it hides in the shadows like a sneak), and it's like I can taste the memory of summer, a half remembered dream, a promise, a silent hope. Ugh, did I mention the insomnia? It's making me woozy. Anyway, this morning I felt, well, hungry, and angry at winter. I set my jaw and clenched my fists with determination and I swore that I would find those carrots, whether they were dessicated or not. I flung my trowel into the ground with the fervor of a spartan against his enemy. And holy cow to my surprise the dirt was soft and totally yielding. The tundra-like perma frost has been defeated. And even more amazing, the carrots. Oh sweet carrots, how do I love thee? The carrots had survived, resisted even, Old Cranky Man Winter. Not to mention this was a record year of snowfall, the most in 17 years here. It was a fabulous, joyful harvest. Food pulled up out of the ground, I felt like I created it, like Tom Hanks in Castaway, when he finally makes fire and he shouts out his prowess to the world. Probably it was god, or mother earth, or the great spirit or whatever you call divinity. It was certainly a gift. "Carrots! I have carrots!!!" Sing and rejoice. Have some soup. Warm your bones in the sweet sun, your hands wrapped around a steaming mug.

And my last digression, speaking of soup and carrots: When I had my wisdom teeth out (which is the nicest way to put it, seeing as the dentist had to actually cut into my BONE to extract those suckers and it took weeks to recover, adding the upper tooth hole tearing into my sinus's making me sick so really it should be called 'having body parts torn, mutilated, and amputated) for two thousand dollars WITH insurance.. I'm so not bitter. I swear. Ok maybe just a little. ANYway, during that awful recovery, my mom took really good care of me, and her mom, my Granny, came over and made me carrot soup. So dang delicious. I couldn't eat solids, and I actually lost something like 15 pounds in the first two weeks after that traumatizing yankage. She even bought me a blender to make the soup with. If I had the recipe I'd share it pronto. Hey, look at that, again the wheel turns and I'm back at an earlier realization: people who give their shoulder to lean on, wanting nothing, and giving out of pure love. I feel damn lucky, and I tell ya, it's not just the carrots.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Spring is Starving Time

At least that's what the pioneers called it. They'd just about exhausted their winter stock and it was too soon for the garden to be producing. One bad winter, according to Laura Ingalls Wilder, (a hero of mine, have you noticed?), they each had 2 slices of bread a day. For like two months. It was getting to where they were debating; kill our milk cow for meat now and go with out milk and butter for a year? or hang in there? And the cow wasn't even producing milk in the winter 'cause it was her starving time, too.
Well, I'm not THAT poor, heck, I'm living like royalty compared to that. I'm piecing together a teeny bit of work here and there. I'm getting very creative with making my own breads (rosemary, yum!), scoring on food from the dollar store (one buck for a box of saltines!) and dried beans and stuff. You can make like 3 pots of soup out of a dollar bag o' beans, an onion, and a couple carrots. Eat with your homemade bread and yay!! And I do allow myself the luxury of butter. Everything's better with butter! And cheese. Cheese is hard to go without. Ooh! In fact, I'm making homemade pizza today! Dough from scratch, sauce from scratch, and cheese and onions and garlic for toppings. Drool.
Luckily Old Man Winter is losing his titan's grip on the landscape as well as the snowbird economy. Way too slowly, though. I want to work, and garden, and be warm and merry! I want a full fridge, a full bank, and of course a full smile. I tell ya, Frugal Frannie looks like Paris Hilton right about now. At least there's always loved ones. Peeps who give you a good shoulder to lean on out of pure love. And laughter. Not having laughter would be like not having oxygen. Let me share some with you.

A: Genevieve is oh so innocently watching the birds.
B: A beautiful bit o' bead work my friend handmade for me! That's lot's of B's.


C: Not so innocent anymore. Or graceful. No, you cannot pounce through windows. Contemplating level of stuckness versus possible unentanglement / escape routes.


D: "Hmmm,what is this fun shiny dangly thing?"
E: Really cute toes.


F: F is for fail. Because suddenly shiny dangly thing looks like good noms! "Nom Nom.... Ack! Mom! I wanted that!!" Yeas dear, it's only the THIRD globe I'm on since you broke the first two. Luckily this time the only thing busted was my gut from laughing so hard.


Well, there you have it. Life is ups and downs and spin you around till you're laughing or sick. Still, sometimes I think I'd settle for a kiddie ride. The only time I want the full fledged roller coaster is when I picked that line and when I get off the ride I can leave on nice, solid, level ground. And get a funnel cake. With powdered sugar. Mmmm.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Omg it is really snowing like crazy. This morning when I opened the door for His Royal Highness Majesty (Pheonix) I was totally shocked. I mean, I knew snow was in the forecast but whoah! We got a good 8 inches last night and it is not ceasing! I can't see the yonder hill; nothing but a wall of white. That is another of my high tech detection systems.

Digression. Yesterday it went from snow to sun to snow to sun every 20 or 30 minutes! It was weird! Blue skies to white wall. The snow didn't stick though, it was too warm. LoL Mom calls it chubby rain. Big fat flakes that melt on impact. End digression.

Where was I. Oh yes, Pheonix was ever so delighted (large drip of sarcasm here). However, he pulled on his coat of brave indignity and went about his business. 2.3 minutes later he was quite ready to readjurn to the bedroom.

I decided a hot meal was in order. Actually, I think I will always prefer a hot meal over a cold one, but the snow just adds that much more need for it. I surveyed my materials. I considered my laziness. Then my stomach said Dammit woman I want a fancy grilled cheese so git off your bum already! And I acquiesced.

Okay first things first here. Butter. Butter is your friend. I don't mean your heart's friend, or your arteries. Fine. Use Smart Balance. It's good stuff too. But here's another temperature / weather indicator: my butter is hard. What the heck? It's supposedly... oh. 65 degrees in here. Well that's what microwaves are for. So get yourself some nice soft butter. Then of course bread- potato is my favorite. Obviously cheese; I had colby jack on hand. Slice it thin! OK but here's the exciting part. Dice up some onion and tomatoes!





K, so butter the bread and lay it in a frying pan- lowest temp! Then butter it on the face up side. I know. Arterial clog. Layer cheese, then onions and tomatoes, then GASP! Secret ingredients about to be revealed! A dash of salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Then more cheese. Then the top piece of bread BUT! Butter it first because, see, this stops the innards from slipping out when you flip it! Amazing! Butter as glue! And then you must butter the top of the sandwich so that when you flip it it will be ready for the pan surface. Put a lid on it (no I did not just tell you to shut up) 'cause this helps the onions get really soft. Don't want to bite into raw onion, ew. Flip it after ten minutes. I know, its a long and stomach grumbling time 'cause then you have to wait ten more minutes on the other side.

This picture is blurry because, umm... because it's portraying the gooey goodness of this sandwich! Yeah that's it! Well, anyway, this is my version of a grilled cheese and I just droolingly love it. If you try it I hope you do too :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Things to do when you're snowed in.

Jan 31st*
* Well that's when I wrote this, and we're looking at 2 or more days of snow again so I figured why not share these helpful hints!


Exhibit A. My car, far far away. The sadness. Poor lonely car, unable to serve her master, to fulfill her purpose in life.
Exhibit B. Scary, scary, non driveable driveway. In fact, we should change your name to... slideway. Or something. You are denying my car her very reason for existence.
Of course, I always think, WWLIWD? What would Laura Ingalls Wilder do? She would probably be appalled by my slothy ways. But I'm sure she'd be too polite to say anything. I bet she would also find my attire disturbing. Anyway! Let's get down to business here.

So! things to do when you're snowed in (using the term loosely here).
1. Make snow labyrinths! Work up a good sweat stomping meandering trails that intersect here and there, and stomp those suckers down good! Then later you can wonder why you didn't make one nice straight path to the driveway...

2. Get a (self) manicure! Since you bought the nail polish for one dollar it will chip if you even look at it funny! Which means you must touch it up constantly so hey! More time consumed waiting for snow melt! Oh and yes, I'm very white. It's winter. Tans are for summer. I can't help it.

3. Make snow tunnels and caves for your kitties, 'cause trust me, you aren't the only one with cabin fever.


4. Watch too much TV. And while you're at it, thank god for high speed internet to provide you with said entertainment. And netflix. Thank them too for the insta watch action. I think I watched season one AND two of The Tudors. And maybe some Flashforward.

5. Oh hey! Take a shower because the pipes haven't frozen today and no need to be stinky. Plus the warmer you feel the better to combat old man winter.

6. A good stock of high quality beer helps. Coors Light, baby. I bet King Henry the VIII would drink it. Then spit it out and order some one beheaded. He was into that. But I'm not some royal monarch so I can drink it.

7. Make random and strange lists! ...

8. Tear through the house, up and down and back and forth, shred wallpaper, knock over glasses, kill the s*** out of a roll of toilet paper and drive your mom crazy! Ummm that was Genevieve's idea for the list. You know, it's scientific fact that the cute factor saves lives.
And now, I must go follow these directives. Oh one more thing! Wear cozy pajamas!!!! No wonder Laura would look at me funny...

PS: Genevieve is GASP curled up next to me and not wreaking havoc... and she is snoring... the cuteness is unbearable. Good job mother nature. Throttle averted.

PPS: OMG I would never throttle a kitty!!!! But I bet all parents have fought the urge once or twice when their kids go crazy. This is where a good loud "AARGH!!" comes in handy. And then I laugh. I tell ya, a good arrgh really helps and laughter ALWAYS does. OMG I am going to melt in preciousnous overload over her snoring. Wish me strength.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The snow, it does not go.


Hmmm... neither does my car. Driving the level part of the driveway, even in 4 lo, was slippery. Ok, I need new tires. Yesterday I got a lift down to my car (it was at the bottom of our hill) and got to the grocery store to stock up a bit for the next snow. This always happens, too- I go to the store for just a few basic supplies, only grabbing a hand basket, and then end up so over loaded that I can barely lift the thing, not too mention my other hand is full of stuff, too. Which was actually not thinking ahead as much as I thought it was because... then I drove back to the bottom of the hill. And I looked up... and up... and up at the hill that I now had to carry all the groceries up. Plus the bag of kitty litter. Le cry.


Yes, Genevieve, for you. And Pheonix. And Miss Q. And Leonidus. Pheonix and Miss Q are usually outdoors as much as in, and despise the litterbox, but since we've all been snowed in its a 4 cat box. Eew. So I couldn't leave that (heavy) bag of litter in the car. Nor the groceries, though they would probably have stayed refrigerated just fine, if not frozen. So I hiked. And I thought about how exciting the snow was. Was. And then I stepped in a thigh high snowdrift. And then I laughed so hard I had to pause for a moment. I decided to stick to the road and not take a shortcut, but funny how laughing makes everything better, even if it takes getting dunked in a snow drift to make you laugh.


I don't know if you can see, but in the very center of this last photo is the tips of antlers on my awesome elk skull. They are my high tech snow level indicator. There's about 5 inches showing now.. that's up from 2 yesterday. None the day before. Some day the whole skull will show again. And on that day, if you happen to be strolling along my driveway, and you see a jar of pickles, grab it for me will you? There used to be a huge snowdrift there.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Two days ago.

Note the bench and firepit (center) for landmarks.

Pheonix... does not like the snow. He is not amused.

Then yesterday there was 2 to 3 feet of yucky mushy slushy snow. The forecast predicted much more (they even closed the highway) but I didn't want to get my hopes up 'cause people always seem to blow weather warnings out of proportion. Umm, yes, my hopes... yes, I WANT to see lots of snow. Well, wish granted.

This morning when Pheonix demanded to be let out, I opened the door and found myself pushing snow with said door. Have I mentioned my door is 3 feet off the ground? Well, poor Pheonix, he really had to pee. So after much eyeballing of the situation and a tentative groping paw pat, he took the plunge. Literally. Hopped to what I guess he thought must be the bottom of the steps. ...and promptly disappeared. And oh em gee did I laugh so hard. I mean, I tried not to, 'cause I swear cats can tell when you're laughing at them, but when his head popped up all covered in snow I just died laughing. Pheonix took in the situation, did a little butt wiggle, and leaped right back inside. Then, to add insult to injury, he had to use the litterbox. Oh the humanity!!

He then gathered what grace he could to perch at the window and glare at the snow. How dare mother nature not acquiesce? The sheer appalling rudeness! The indignity!!!!!

Anyway, I hope these pics came up 'cause since my comp crash and camera death it's been trouble getting photos online! Thanks to Mom for letting me use her camera! If they do show up: this is this morning- the lump on the right is the fire pit.

And it's still a comin'! Lost power once trying to post this but have it back.. for now.. ah the adventure!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

January 2010 and I can't sleep

I'm afraid I have no photos, but I spent the last few days babysitting the neighbors' 14 chickens. I had a lot of eggs. Like, 4 dozen. And like I said, I can't sleep. I love to cook, but I hate cooking eggs all the weird ways people order them at the restaurant. I feel bad about wasting 8 or so of those eggs (starving children in Ethiopia and all!) but I had the insomnia! For some weird reason, practicing my egg skills sounded really, really fun. Is that the weirdest sleep deprived project ever? Probably not. So I practiced. I pulled some over mediums, an over hard, and poached the most perfect egg ever. And at the place I work, scrambled is supposed to end up like some sort of pancake looking thing. I am not down with that but I worked on perfecting the technique ( when MY eggs are scrambled, they are bubbly bits and pieces of cloud looking matter). Anyway, I think it helped me get sleepy. And the eggs will be eaten by a certain spoiled dog who stops by looking for handouts so they did not really go to waste. Cooking practice and spoiled dogs yay!

P.S. Sunny side up. I gotta practice that one.

P.P.S. Maybe over easy is an inherited taste? Me mum n da never made 'em that way, so... I dunno. I'll stick with the scramble. OMG there is one guy who orders them 'basted' I think he calls it... which is poached... in BUTTER.Yowza. Say hello to Mr. Arterial Clog.