Thursday, February 11, 2010

Duck Season! Rabbit Season!

Hunting season, and hunting zones make no sense to me.  Neither does the notion of legal killing in war.  I think they're based on the same kind of cowardace:  "I have standards until I am scared enough to compromise them."  So then, what are standards?  What are ethics?

This semester Roberta asked me to guest lecture in her 101 class.  I'm gonna use that for discussion and see what happens.  See also what happens when you're over fifty and you take a writing class at the community college?  The next academic year you find yourself the budding teacher!  Doors open!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Where Hunting's Off Limits

It's been so long since I've written on this thing you'd think I'd disappeared. I think I say that too often when I DO write on this thing. Summer was hard. The job I got didn't work out, and if it weren't for Selma Rae's steady income we'd've been in some serious money trouble. I'm living in an area with a lot of people worried about money, so while most of the complaining I hear drags me down, it also makes me feel grateful things aren't worse.

My parents grew up in the depression, and were old enough to know what was going on. My grandmother was a music teacher, so she didn't make much but she did help keep hearts light by teaching some local kids and not charging for lessons. My grandfather was a dentist, and had times where he got paid in chickens or apples, so to think of our situation now, I know it could be like the dustbowl, or the great plague or - Iraq, 2009. Wherever we are we just have to make the most of it and be as good to each other as we can, I figure. I'm doing some tutoring at the junior college. Roberta, my teacher from last year, says I'm good enough to help the new students coming through the class. Til I find something permanent, this helps.

I saw the deer - the fawn, a little older now but I'm pretty sure it was her on the ridge yesterday morning while Childress and I were out walking. Once again I'm grateful to live in an area where hunting's off limits.

More later. MM.

Friday, July 3, 2009

There's a Poet in You

I can believe it's been over a month since I've written on this thing, but I can't really. I thought I'd keep everyone (all six of you?) apprised of the progress with the deer and the fawn as it went on. I thought I'd keep you on the very pulse on my success in my writing class at the community college. But as it happens, these were the very things that kept me from writing.

The deer and the fawn: the deer got better. We determined it must have eaten some poison, because if the injuries were internal, she would have gotten worse and day by day she got better. The fawn stuck close by her and even weaned. That business with keeping the fawn in the kitchen was over after a few days. When the fleas started biting us Selma Rae got concerned about deer ticks and lyme disease, so we made a pen for the deer off the house and Childress kept watch for coyotes and lions. None came.

We opened the gate yesterday and they leapt off into the woods. We left the gate open and Childress still watches for them. Sometimes he's gone all day and I think he's sort of chaperoning them back into the wild.

This isn't the gripping tale I meant to tell, with moment by moment observations but I guess the truth is that's why those kinds of stories are left to the professionals. I suppose real writers have a trick for gnashing ideas together - concentrating them in ways that make it feel like the story is happening over a long time without putting in so much of the mundane. Every time I cleaned up deer poop or fed that deer fresh lettuce (and she liked rose blossoms too!) I just thought, "this is nothing to write home about," although the experiences were always sweet, the eye contact you get with a deer is - well I'd like to say "indescribable" but I know that's just being lazy.

Selma Rae said I spent long periods out there just sitting, which I did but I didn't know it was that long. I was trying to understand what a deer truly is, who a deer truly is. I mean beyond instinct, beyond eating habits and behavior patterns. For that matter I wonder the same about Childress, and Selma Rae even - and myself.

Which brings me to the writing class. I got an "A" and Roberta said, "You have a knack for introspection and insight," on my paper. When I left the classroom, ostensibly for the last time (unless they use the same room next fall) she said, "I think there's a poet in you." I laughed and said, "Well I hope he can breathe!" She said, "See what I mean?"

I'm not sure what she means.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Doe, a Deer

Been a while since I wrote on this thing. Selma Rae and I've been pretty much consumed by the deer. The night Childress rescued the fawn, we went out with flashlights looking for the mother. Thinking told us to wait til morning but hearts won out. Now, you can't really find a deer at night with a flashlight unless it's mortally wounded; they'll get up and run off if they have an ounce of life in 'em. So we did a lot of careful tramping through the chaparral all night and just at dawn we found her. She was by the creek lying in plain sight on her side. At first we thought she was dead but when she saw us coming she flinched, but she couldn't get up.

Turned out her injuries were internal. No broken bones, but when we tried to move her she bleated in pain, so Childress and Selma Rae waited with her while I went to get something to use as a stretcher. Back at the house I paced a little then it came to me - I got the kitchen table and flipped it, put Selma Rae's yoga mat in there. It's not an easy thing to carry but it was manageable. Taking it to the creek was no picnic (table!) but I did it and Selma Rae and I carried it with the doe in it back to the house. I won't say it was fast.

The fawn must've smelled us coming because she was up and on her feet pacing when we got to the kitchen and laid the doe down, still in the table. She let me palpate her abdomen and it seemed to be her ribs that were bothering her, but there was no blood so we just let her take it easy.

It's been a few weeks now and she's up walking, we made a pen off the kitchen door out back and she and the fawn are doing fine. She's been nursing the fawn since about the third day. Childress patrols the fence and keeps everybody feeling safe. Selma Rae keeps singing the Do Ray Mi song a lot, especially when she's brushing her teeth with the electro-sonic toothbrush.

Monday, May 4, 2009

World Laughter Day

Today is World Laughter Day. Don't let that be so funny you forget to laugh! I have known about this holiday for some time now. In fact, the first time I heard about it, I fell off my dinosaur.

Happy WLD, May 4!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Childress Saves

Childress, my dog, is part Border Collie, part Australian Shepherd, part some kind of hound and part some kind of setter. He's the smartest dog I've ever known. Today when I got home from Trader Joe's, he was sitting just outside the gate. You may recall this is the gate I fixed, so it shuts and latches, but it's a ranch style gate - Childress can step easily between the beams. We don't have to worry about him running off. He's not that kind of guy.

Childress is sitting just outside the gate and when I start to open it, he gets up and walks between me and the gate. He herds me away from the gate. I tell him to knock it off, because I've got ice cream and it takes me twenty minutes to get out of town to the house, but he won't let me open that gate. Selma Rae's not home.

I had to turn the tables on Childress and try to herd him away from the gate but he basically said, "nothing doing!" he barked at me! He barked at me like Lassie in an urgent situation. So I asked him if Timmy was trapped in the well and he starts away from the gate along the fence, but keeps looking back at me and barking. I set down the groceries - by now the ice cream isn't evoking my sense of responsibility as much as Childress is. I follow him. Now I'm getting curious. Childress sees I'm following and picks up his pace and leads me to the seven redwoods about 500 yards down the fence trail.

There's a fawn. It's alone. It's actually pretty well hidden in the grass, but there it is.

So I sat down out of the way to watch a while and Childress sat beside me. We hid so the mother would feel comfortable approaching. We sat til twilight, til dusk and that fawn just waited. When dark came she started to bleat. It was so mournful, so uncertain. I heard Selma Rae's car coming up the drive and saw the lights. Childress sat watch and I went to get Selma Rae - and a flashlight from the car.

The three of us sat in our hiding place til at least 9:30 and the fawn finally stopped crying and seemed to go to sleep. No mama. Coyotes were yipping in the distance. Childress pretty much tip toed over to that fawn and lay down beside it. And the fawn let him. So Selma Rae and I made our decision.

And that is why right now there is a fawn sleeping soundly on a bed of grass here in the den. And that is why Childress is spending the night beside her, and why I'm too riveted to go to bed. It is why Selma Rae made a baby bottle out of a glove and a water bottle, warmed up some milk, and why the fawn drank it down like a champ. This is also why the ice cream melted.

At dawn, we track down Fawn's mother.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Cirtus Courage

Had class tonight. The girl who usually sits in the row next to me was uncharacteristically quiet. I asked her if she was okay. She sat up a little straighter and said she was fine, but within a few minutes of Roberta's lecturing she was slumping down, chin on her palm, leaning on her elbow. Roberta was explaining the next assignment would be a "mood piece," and the girl just went into full "heads up seven up" position, except no thumbs up.

At break I gave her an orange juice from the machine and asked if she needed to talk about it. I'm not usually the guy who does a thing like this but all the other students were mesmerized by their cellphones. At first when I'd see 'em from a distance I thought enlightenment was breaking out all over - thought they were all contemplating their navels. Nope. Texting.

The girl's name's Cindy. I'd put her at about 24. As the orange juice seemed to be giving her a little courage she just said, "I miss my boyfriend."

Oh. I didn't know for sure what to do next, did I want to crack this open? "Where is he?"

On came the crying. Told me they broke up because he couldn't find a job and didn't know what he was going to do, didn't want to string her along. As the next comment came out my mouth I tried to stop it, but it was reflex. As soon as I heard it I wanted to kick myself for reminding her of the obvious and making her feel worse. Simple and unstoppable I said he sounds like a good man.

The crying simmered down. She took a big breath and seemed relieved. She said, "Thank you."

If anybody wants to explain women to me, and I'm probably not the first man to ask, I'm listening.