Archive for the ‘snakes’ Category

life in a body

Perhaps it is the times.  Perhaps it’s because it’s been over 100 degrees here every day for what seems like eternity but has in actual fact only been about six weeks…maybe eight.  But I’m retaining the impression that most of how I used to look at the world was off by a bubble or two.

Things used to seem solid, concrete, have a”reason” to be where they were.  Now there is a shift afoot that makes even the idea of solid ground questionable.  As human beings we have quite a lot more capability than we ever use.  Bizarrely, we seem to feel the need to make more of us, not just in physical form but in mechanical as well.  Artificial intelligence?  Get serious. We have machines now we aren’t smart enough to use, and a brain in our heads we may NEVER have been smart enough to use.  The things we can actually perceive with our existing bodily equipment, if we put our energy into it, are astonishing.  The things we can see, the music we can hear, the languages we can understand- there is just so much more than daily life might lead you to believe.  Although of course daily life is precisely where to look for all of this magnificence.

And of course it is daily life that seems to be taking it in the neck over and over.   The premise that THINGS will make you happy, for example.  How realistic is that?  Then happiness can be doled out in drops from the top of the hierarchy and the inhabitants of earth can be led to believe that if they don’t have THINGS to make them happy, they won’t ever BE happy and of course? It’s their fault because they didn’t get the THINGS.  Oddly enough, most of the Nice Things along with the bulk of the stuff used to get them, aka money, gets wedged firmly at the top.  Funny how everyone at the bottom is just…not good enough.  Meanwhile the actual bringers of joy like relationships, conversations, having a way to make sense of your days as you experience them, curiosity and the urge to learn, an actual concrete relationship with FOOD…those things are all receding in the rear view mirror to the point that many don’t seem to know they exist at all.

And.  While we are each others keepers in the overall sense, that means we love each other and care for the common good.  It doesn’t mean making everyone think the same way you do and do the same things- or else all that “everyone” becomes bad.  It doesn’t mean consigning huge swathes of everything to the junk heap because somebody in some cubicle somewhere thinks commas are boring and words mean what you want them to in a given instant.   The common ground from which we are able to reach out to each other and our world is rolling up and out like a rug on moving day.

Not to even mention the titanic level of dishonesty that exists.  You can now see at almost any time of day someone who should know better saying something that is totally untrue.  And I’m not just talking about your local weather person. Aside from the packs of individuals who seem to have an endless amount of time to tweet on apparel and habits that are none of their business, nobody ever calls bullshit on the bullshit.   It’s as though a whole level of fear was poured all over everything…about seven months ago.

Still.  I realize all these things are manifestations of the change we’re all undergoing and as such can actually be lived and experienced, and thus actually dealt with.  The only thing for it is to be as awake as possible, armed with compassion and patience.  Lead us, as it says in the Upanishads, from the unreal to the real.  It turns out that is a far more challenging journey than you think when you first step out on to the path, humming and thinking, Oh YES! Reality! Truth! Onward! A few years into it  you may think, hmmm, not finding much truth here and reality may just bite.  But I’ll carry on.  A few more years and you think, holy unnameable item! Ignorance IS bliss! What can I do now? Limiting the snivelling as much as possible, eventually you crawl to the top of whatever you were laboring toward and see? More vistas, of course.  But in those vistas may be part of what is being sought, which is that goals and seeking may not be all they’re cracked up to be.  The map you use and the travel tips are, after all, from others just, or pretty much, like you who have toddled forth.  Opinions about reality, we might say.   So maybe it’s more about stopping at a pleasant spot, or just where you HAVE to stop, and not needing to have an opinion or an evaluation.  Experience all there is there without imposing anything on it, and try not to mess it up while you’re at it.  Not imposing like/not like on things is remarkably freeing, too.  Not so easy to do after years of  it being drummed into you, but well worth it.

In the like/not like vein, something we deal with here is snakes.  All kinds but the ones we’re thinking about right now are rattlesnakes.  Which one usually says to oneself, you know? I don’t really like these guys.  I have taken to saying a snake blessing prayer every time I go outside because it is HOT and snakes like being out in the hot afternoons and the garden is ever more jungly and OMG please don’t bite me.  Or the Dog.  Or the Partner. ( Although HE tends to talk to snakes and pat them on the head so I don’t worry about him quite as much.)   So as I said, a prayer.  I enumerated, each time, all the good things about snakes, my appreciation for them, my harmlessness.  So far? No rattlers.  Which was because why? It turns out there is a totally splendid King snake in the garden, like a small to mid-sized deity, protecting all of us, from birds and lizards to Dog and Moi.   This made me think two things.  One, as always there is more to all this than you know, and Two, good will eventually always wins. We’re protected, the rattlers know enough to stay away, the natural balance of things is maintained without mayhem. So in the midst of wondering if my brain has actually finally been boiled for good this summer and if so why does it still hurt so much every time the LPV shoots into view, I also know that there really IS something, some order, some reality, all around us, supporting us once we quit deciding whether or not we “like” things, and working toward what really does look like….Truth and Beauty.  The Good Stuff.  Grisly daily reality notwithstanding.

And with that, perilous as things seem, I made another ice cream.   Banana.  The secret to which is steeping chopped, ripe bananas in whatever milk you’re using- we’re still stuck on Dulce de Leche so I just slowly caramelized that with the chopped bananas, let it sit for a few hours, blended until smooth, and combined with a light custard (about 3 cups total material).  It is truly magic stuff even if I  only have a bite of it here and there.  Just restorative enough.  So that combined with figuring out how to make a kinda sorta summer squash (which we of course have coming out our ears) gratin on top of the stove (oven on is a non starter right about now, sadly) in about 25 minutes gives me a bit of cautious optimism.   Surely we can all do some good if we choose.  Blessings and thanks!!!!

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things that look alike

It’s the little things, Gentle Reader.   I was watching the movie Barbarella on tv,  up to the part where she has the long black and white tail? Having congratulated myself on not getting into a feminist snit at all the tumescent activity and fantastical costuming, I wandered outside, where the Partner and I saw,  a few minutes later, a looooong black and white SNAKE.   My first California king. Snake, that is.  It looked at first glance to be about the size of Godzilla but of course THAT WAS RIDICULOUS.  Snakes rustle something primal in our brains- just like the huge black shadows that move over the ground when the buzzards hit the thermals just right overhead and you jump and shiver and then realize it’s Just A Buzzard.  And it’s not coming for you yet so what’s the big deal.  Anyway the snake really did look quite a bit like Barbarella’s tail.

It’s amazing to watch the human mind at work, in any event.  We sat there transfixed as this creature moved through the yard.  The real issue is the lizards and frogs and little birds, of course, and while we were happy it wasn’t a rattlesnake (yet) and happier that it was a snake that EATS rattlesnakes, still the ecology comes into question.   King snakes eat all the little denizens of the garden, upon whom we rely for marvelous bug control.  The lizards often look up expectantly at us, waiting for grasshoppers to waft down to their level.  Our impulse is of course to protect them- but how do we do that without doing something else that isn’t helpful?  If we move the snake it’ll just return; catching and selling it is an atrocity; killing it is wrong.

So, another quandary, another set of decisions.  The Partner, being a sensible sort, chased it out of the garden and took a wait and see approach.   It has worked with the rabbit, after all (to whom we now refer as “our” rabbit as we attempt to pick him out of the crew that traverses the driveway daily).  The frog is back in the kitchen and the lizards are racing around the cucumbers so things appear to be relatively in balance.   It made me think this morning about how a lot of what we experience as discomfort in our daily lives may be largely this ongoing process of adjustment.

Things change all the time as it is; if you have additional changes on top of the regular serving it can be a bit much.  So maybe it really IS like thinking, ok, perhaps this snake will find enough in the huge wild around us to leave the garden ungobbled and I therefore do not have to intrude on the pattern just yet.  And finding the beauty and balance in simply paying attention and letting things BE.  Just as when things change hugely in life,  and stuff that was always there just is not, and will not be, there.  You have to let go of the panic and what-to-do-ness, let go of the inner critic who is letting you know in no uncertain terms that you’ve made another gargantuan cockup of things.  You have to trust yourself.  This takes time and of course we never know, do we? just whether we did the right thing or not.  Everything radiates out and has influences and results we don’t see or dream of, possibly.  But doing no harm seems to be the right place to start- and it includes doing no harm to yourself.   The lesson now seems to be unravelling what exactly that means.

Things of the moment

Why is it, Gentle Reader, that all the marvelous sentences tumble through one’s brain when one is NOT WRITING?  Anyway, here we are at another juncture where we’ve scrambled up a rocky hillside and are surveying what’s next.

One thing is, The Parrots just had their birthdays and now they are nine.  Pretty grown up, actually. I remember them as babies, marching back and forth on the top of the bookcase when it had Christmas lights on it, giving them the appearance of old vaudevillians in lime light.   Yesterday when I opened Poppy’s cage I was greeted by a mess way beyond her normal trash and thrash scope- there were feathers scattered hither and yon, peanut shells and half eaten crackers all over.  I realized I expected her to emerge with a lampshade on her head.  Instead she just strolled out, cocked her head and let it be known that SHE, at least, is a VERY BIG BIRD NOW.  CAPISHE?

Another thing is we, or I should say The Partner, had to kill a(nother) rattlesnake a few days ago.  It was oddly upsetting for both of us.  The first one, the first summer, was right at the front door and I found myself taking a half Xanax.  This time was different somehow.  We tried to convey to this snake that it really couldn’t be in the middle of our garden plants, coiled around a pot, waiting for lizards.  Even knowing that the snake just wanted what all of us want: to be happy.  We still couldn’t let it keep eating the lizards and frogs and also?  I have to say that although I have come a long way and can now handle finding frogs in my frying plans with aplomb (they see me coming and absolutely INSIST that I take them and put them just exactly so against the lattice for them to tippy toe off), the thought of a poisonous snake coming into my kitchen was quite simply too much.   Even without intending to, you know a rattler will probably wind up biting you just because it is what they do from time to time.  So The Partner had to take his rifle out and dispatch the snake into the next iteration.   We talked about it, since I apologize to every fly I finally manage to swat, and The Partner dislikes unnecessary destruction.  It was strange in a way because we live in a place where people shoot snakes- heck, they shoot everything- without giving it much of even a first thought.  And there we were.  Having a snake funeral.  Pondering the imponderables.

The really amazing thing about it, though, happened in the evening.  The Partner was making his usual last circuit of the garden when suddenly, a lizard ran over to him from about ten feet away, got up on his foot, and looked him right in the eye.  It was very plain that he was saying thank you.

Which just, I think, goes to show you that there is, in fact, a natural order to things.  Sometimes it includes difficult things, things you don’t totally understand (as in, why can’t I talk to that snake and get it to understand?  Then I think: hah! for heaven’s sake.  What about all the people I experience that with???) but it does speak and have life, which, if you listen, provides guidance for even the rockiest of roads.  Which we, like many others, find ourselves on more or less routinely these days.  It is, however, what it is.  Discovering the joy in things is part of this guidance, and understanding that there is a balance between everything which is somewhat maintained by that joy.  We all have our work cut out for us, don’t we?  I still wonder about the snake, but that’s another post.  I still haven’t figured out about abrupt deaths, see.  Killing things,  illnesses.  I understand it, and I don’t understand it at the same time.  You’d think I would.  But I don’t quite yet.

Under Maxfield Parrish Skies

Recent events have been keeping us busy, Gentle Reader.  This place is uncompromising, and uncompromisingly beautiful.  We’re still spending whatever mental capital we have (it’s been devalued several times of late) on keeping the yurt below boiling and the garden moving along.  Two out of three shade cloth structures up.  No hot water yet and we can’t figure out why.  Perhaps the flow is too high and the water temperature too low for the settings.  In any case, another mind bender.   Especially since I got the water heater (Takagi JR) on line.  If there is something wrong with the water heater I may just completely snap……In any event, I had a list of things to relate in case anyone reading this ever decides to DO SUCH AN INSANE engage in this sort of endeavor. First on the list of course, is

SHADE.  Don’t have a home without it.

Secondly, you can indeed power a regular size gas stove with a 5 gallon propane tank.  Regardless of the grim warnings you read about needing all kinds of extensive and expensive thingamabobs and it not working.  The thing you DO need, however, is a regulator on the propane tank itself.  We asked about this, specifically, when purchasing the natural gas/convert to propane stove we have.  The guy in Home Depot said, O, No No, there’s a regulator IN the stove, you don’t need a separate one.  Fine, we thought.  That is, until the stove basically had a small explosion and fire and I got to by a $112 part to replace…the internal regulator on the stove.  Which gets bypassed and defeated when you convert to LP.  Also, we had to find the right size regulator, but that was around $25, so not bad for initial investment had I ONLY KNOWN.  So, word to the wise, Gentle Readers.  Even if you DO live in the sticks where everybody and his dog uses propane?  Don’t think that means you’ll get a straight answer about anything to do with propane.  Or, possibly, anything.

I’m sure there’s more but it’s too hot right now for the hamster who’s powering my brain to run any faster, so no random access today.

However, we did have quite the special day Saturday.  After having been awoken at the pre-crack of dawn by huge water pump clanging noises (landlord hosing chicken coop.  Why? Someone must know.) and having just returned from a quick trip down to the Bay Area, my nerves were already on the tattered side.  So, when The Partner made several growly kind of HOLY SMOKES noises looking out the front door, I gritted my teeth in preparation for the next….thing.  Which turned out to be? A seven year old rattlesnake curled at the foot of our long plank entry way.  Long, long rattlesnake.  Perhaps not in the pink as it wasn’t as large around as it should have been for the number of rattles but then again?  All rattlesnakes are quite big enough as they are, thank you.  We’re a half hour from the nearest main road, so snake bite is highly undesirable.  In any event this guy was all, I’m here and I’m not moving.  It was pretty much not fun.  The Partner wound up having to shoot it.  I wound up taking half a xanax:  There are limits and I’d reached mine.  Anyway, it prompted all sorts of cosmic enquiry and soul searching about death, dying, how come?, SNAKES?, and self chastisement about being so wimpy.  I have resolved to do some target shooting just in case this happens again and The Brave Partner is elsewhere.  We put the snake down at the foot of our “driveway” since there are vultures and coyotes and foxes and what not, and it disappeared very neatly almost immediately.  The Partner pointed out that the snake, being firmly rooted in Reptile Brain, would have most certainly bitten me and with my particular constitution, that would have been all she wrote.  Also we have a quite astonishing crop of baby lizards for whom we feel some responsibility.  Nonetheless.   When we returned the ant poison we’d bought (“It kills the QUEEN”!”) because we just couldn’t do it, we did tell the girl in the hardware store we’d had to kill a rattler.  She said, first, ewwwww.  Scary.  Then, oh,  you must live up off Bowman.  This is a pretty large area and for her to pinpoint it like that gave me just a…small….stomach flip.  I mean, funny, but?  So, signing off from Apparent Snake Central for now.