About Me

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I am mundane and magical, Silly and serious. I am an underachiever who suspects that someday in the eternities I may yet blossom and even fruit. I am a collector of spirits and essences, a studier of mood and nuance.I have many many faults and yet I've always been loved. I am a good friend, but I will let you go if you so desire. I believe in Somewhen. I laugh easily and cannot often cry, which I know is a Flaw. Like You, I am a work in progess.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Make a list of memorable encounters you’ve had with an animal (not a pet) or insect.

Choose one of the encounters and write down all the details you can remember about it, pushing for specific details.

If you were going to write a piece based on that memory or experience, what might a possible first sentence be?

1.       There is a series of three animal encounters I associate with one person, My Favorite Person, my ex-boyfriend Miles, a Winnebago Indian. They call their own people Ho-Chunk. On one occasion we were driving in the San Bernardino Mountains, the only time we were there together and though I grew up visiting those mountains frequently, and for several weeks at a time, I had never seen a large mammal there, ever. I’d seen squirrels and stellar jays and lizards and other birds. I’d seen insects galore, primarily mosquitos. But the one time I was there with Miles we saw a large coyote by the side of the road, walking along toward us. I am completely sure this was not a dog. Miles asked me to stop and I did. We both got out of the car and the coyote continued walking toward us calmly and fearlessly as if it was an intended meeting. Another time, we went to Yellowstone National Park. It was my first time there and the first place we went was to see Old Faithful. When we got out of the car there was a small crowd of people, but there was also a lone buffalo who was allowing people (including me) to approach quite closely. It was as if this buffalo was serving as a guide to the park. I should mention that with Miles I saw more wildlife than I ever dreamed I would see in my life. Eagles and hawks, once a turkey vulture soaring majestically on thermals above Dead Horse Point. Mountain Goat in the Cottonwoods Canyon, Mountain sheep in the south. Deer, antelope, elk and moose I also learned to see in Miles company. There were many more, but the two animals above named and a third, a red dragonfly, have a sort of supernatural feel to me. The dragonfly I associate with Miles because I took him to South Dakota to prepare for a Sundance,. He wanted to do Hamblecheya, a vision quest, part of which is determining one’s Spirit Animal. We were later than he thought and the Sundance was to be held in a couple of days, so I was able to see this ceremony which moved me very deeply. Miles believed his Spirit Animal was the dragonfly. We parted when I moved to Santa Clara from Holladay. He was going to come with me, but he never did. He called once and again, I thought he was coming, but he did not. I thought he might have stayed in Salt Lake for his daughter but I later learned he disappeared and no one I know has heard from him. But periodically I see a large red dragonfly and you may think me crazy, but it seems that on each occasion it does odd things which draws my attention and it stays until I leave.
2.       I once went to a grocery store in Southern California with my brother. Uncharacteristically I was driving. We were in my green Mustang. After we finished shopping, we went back out to the car and I must have been in a hurry because I was in the car and about to start it when my brother yelled at me to stop. I did, immediately. (Was I planning on him entering a moving car?) Watching him in the rearview mirror he bent down and when he got into the car he said, “Look.” There was a hummingbird in his hand. He said it was wedged in behind a rear tire and if I had moved at all I would have killed it. Now, we were always trying to save things, birds usually unsuccessfully. There was a pet shop in that shopping center and we went in to inquire. We came out with hummingbird nectar which we made as soon as we got home. The hummingbird actually ate it, licking our palms delicately with its long transparent tubular tongue. We fed it often over the course of the day and the next day till we took it outside and it flew away!
3.       I had a thoroughbred ex polo pony. She was a black mare and I named her Ember. She was very beautiful, but detached. She was very well trained and  responsive, but I was looking for a friend in a horse and she was more-businesslike. I thought I would try breeding her to see if that would affect her personality. I chose a leopard appaloosa stallion, his name was War Don. He had a lovely, calm disposition and a nice conformation. His owner told me he was an easy breeder but rather tepid about the process. I wondered how the breeding might go. Ember brooked no advances from the geldings and they had long since ceased to trouble her, preferring Cherie, my other mare. When I took Ember to the stallion for breeding I was electrified by how quickly they noticed each other- before sighting. Both horses were extremely excited and very beautiful when they were brought together. It was one of the most erotic things I ever saw. The stallion’s owner was very surprised at the ardor of his horse. I knew walking away that Ember was pregnant but I brought her back the next day for another breeding just to see that dance again.
4.       In Jr high I took a class called Animal Care. I loved animals and this class was a boon to me. When I was younger I would tease my mother to drive me to a nearby dairy so I could look at, and smell the cows. I loved being near animals, any kind, though the city I had grown up in was so removed from nature that our school would periodically hire a large truck, filled with a variety of farm animals to visit our completely blacktopped school. In this Animal Care class, I had an echo of this experience. The presenter loosed a flock of ducklings into a room full of seated seventh graders. All the ducklings converged on me and arranged themselves around me for the remainder of their stay. I was the duckling magnet. I loved it
5.       I kept tropical fish. I loved learning about them and at various times had large tanks full of fish, both fresh water and salt. When I moved into my first apartment I took one 26 gallon tank. One day I came home and found that the bottom glass had broken and there was wet carpet, gravel , plants and desiccating fish all over the floor. I was lost. For some reason I called my brother and he came very quickly. He told me I should prepare water and put those fish, which were mostly dried and, I thought, completely dead into buckets while he went for another aquarium. I couldn't tell you now why I did it. I think it is something like clapping for Tinkerbelle to come back to life at the end of Peter Pan. It could be that I just didn't want to disappoint my brother’s faith. But I did and most of those fish revived! I really thought they were all dead. The blue acaras, I remember, were even more beautiful after the ordeal.
6.       Chauncey was my horse cat. He was a long-haired rather diminutive cat who projected a big and friendly spirit. He loved coming with me to feed the horses or to watch the hay deliveries be bucked into place. Chauncey was also a mighty hunter. He picked off my neighbor’s rooftop pigeon population with greedy regularity and he liked to bring his victims alive, through the doggie door. If I didn't catch him there and disturb the process, his kill spot was down the hall right at my game closet. Many were the times when I would hear the flutter of wings and go careening down the hall trying to prevent the death of some hapless pigeon. I lost respect for pigeons seeing how easily they died. Birds that looked completely viable to me, once rescued, often died anyway just, it seemed, to spite my efforts. It was so common an occurrence that I would look down the hall and sometimes see a freshly dispatched victim. If it was dead I learned to just leave it for a while because it was Chauncey’s delight to eat his prey. If left, he would reduce it to feet and feathers. Not a skull, beak or bone would be left, only feet and feathers and I confess I found clean-up much less gruesome this way than earlier options.

One day I heard a commotion at the end of the hall and it sounded so vigorous that I had hope of rescue. I ran to the spot, and there was nothing. No Chauncey, no pigeon. It had seemed so real, I found it difficult to believe I had imagined it, but maybe I was getting paranoid. I had tried everything I could think of to curb Chauncey’s hunting. He wore a bell on a breakaway collar. I had consulted the vet to see if declawing him would save the pigeons. She told me that alas, it probably would not. I was feeling very guilty about all these pigeon deaths and wondering how my neighbor was feeling about the reduction of his flock size. So I thought maybe I was imagining attacks that weren't happening and I went back to whatever I had been doing. After a short interval I heard the sound again and went bolting down the hall growling at Chauncey for having tricked me. But again, there was nothing! Had he changed his kill spot? I looked in the open door of a bedroom, nothing. I peered into another bedroom, again, nothing. Looking into the master bedroom there was Chauncey, right behind the door looking friendly and innocent as could be, but I saw no bird or feather. I was about to leave the room when motion caught my eye and there, spinning slowly on the ceiling fan was a HUGE black crow. It glared balefully at me as it spun in slow circles. This bird was easily three times as big as Chauncey. I have heard them called King crows and this one was in a state of royal miff, as if I was somehow responsible for it being there. I was trying to imagine Chauncey getting this beast through the doggie door. It was an immense bird. How, I wondered, was I going to get it out of the house? The first necessity was to remove Chauncey, easily accomplished, I scooped him up, put him on the other side of the door and quickly shut it. Then I hauled up the mini blinds and opened the window, removing the screen. I looked hopefully at the bird which was still regarding me with a most vicious expression. It seemed disinclined to leave the slowly spinning perch it occupied. So, I tried yelling and moving my arms. I am sure that would have appeared quite comical to any onlooker and I was grateful there was none. This tactic did not work either. I thought and thought and made the decision to leave the room, sidestepping Chauncey who was trying to re-enter to attend to his trophy bird. No, that was not an option, I scooted him aside, closed the door and proceeded to the kitchen for a large yellow broom. I took it back to the bedroom, re-entered and in Don Quixote jousting mode went at that huge angry bird with the intent to make it move. Even with me poking at it, it resisted! I was surprised to find myself afraid of a bird. Scenes from the Alfred Hitchcock movie played in my mind as I, sputtering and cussing, attempted to direct this unwelcome and unhappy being out the window. It took at least half an hour to do it. Finally it went through the window! I rearranged the room, opened the door, smirking at Chauncey in triumph now that his big game was gone. He looked at me mildly and philosophically and I thought the ordeal was over. But no! I went out to feed the horses a little while later and the back yard was full of crows, all cawing maniacally. It was extremely frightening. They stayed a good week calling out each time I ventured out the door. 

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