The Way Home?

CricketEditing
Cricket helping her mom copy-edit.

Last Tuesday, my cat Cricket died. She was about 20 or so years old. I got to be with her all day and into the evening, at least. My little Queen Bee.

She was the last of 12 (13?) critters in my animal family. I kinda lost count of how many critters I had, because, well, I can’t count too good. *wry laugh* I started doing rescue work, and ended up with a lot of new animal friends. (<—sucker).

Cats: Sid, Nancy, Forest aka Loki, Lettuce, Smelly Cat, Cricket. Rabbits: Rowan and Charlotte, plus a guinea pig named Bubble Piggy, and an (also adopted) hamster named Russia. And some fish and a couple of captive-bred leopard geckos I got from a herp expo. I’ve got a gazillion pictures I could post, and about that many more on actual film. Want to see? Nope? Fair enough. (Maybe just one more?).

CricketSnuggle
Cricket and (Diva!) Lettuce.

Care to hear about the million and one things that made them all the best critter companions ever? I didn’t think so.

It goes without saying that I miss them so much. All of them. Even Smelly Cat, the old stray who showed up on my doorstep crying pitifully, being outrageously skinny, and in the end stages of renal failure. (And, yes, he looked just his more famous counterpart!)

Cricket had to be everywhere I was in the house, so not having her around is just beyond comprehension. About half the time, I don’t even believe that she’s gone.

I always made a joke of the fact that my livespace belonged to my animals, not me. One of my animal rescue colleagues came over one day, and told me that when she died, she wanted to be reincarnated as one of my pets. But, with all of them gone now, I realize that my living in a house was a lot more than just making sure that my animal friends had a plethora of toys, litter boxes, gourmet food, comfy beds, hidey-holes, playpens (for the rabbits and guinea pigs), and the majority of  my own bed space.

CricketDND
Cricket hiding out until her mom came home.

 

Any house, apartment, etc.  was, and is, expressly for my animal family. Now I’m sitting here in this current too-empty house, and wondering what the point is of living in one place, surrounded by four walls. It’s basically a fancy container to hold all my stuff. Even after all the downsizing I’ve been doing, I still have so much crap. I can’t bear to donate all of their cat beds and toys and food bowls and kitty crates for travelling.

A long time ago, I dreamt of my beloved cat Sid…one of those cats that’s almost like a soulmate…and he was waiting for me by the ocean.

I think of that spot all the time now. In my quiet house as I stare at all my crap I can’t bring myself to get rid of, but at the same time, wish I could just set fire to.

I stare at one of my pictures by Landon Richmond. The one of a little girl in a red-and-black scorched apocalyptic-looking world, using a phone booth. The text in the print says “Can I come home now?”

And I want so badly to go home. But I don’t have anybody to call. Or anyplace to go. Or any money, for that matter. So, every night, right before I go to sleep, I visit that spot by that grey, stormy ocean, with a garden and a forest and lots of magic and magical creatures and definitely some wild horses. And Sid there, still waiting, by the salt-frosted roses.

And everybody else warm and happy and fat and non-smelly in the dappled-sun garden.

I didn’t want to make this into a blog about how much I miss all my critter babies.

I just wanted to put out into the universe somehow that I hope to see them all again. Even in this disjointed blog entry. To finally have a place that feels real. A place that’s safe, where everything makes sense, and a place that I actually belong. I just want that place to exist, somewhere, in some dimension out there.

I’m waiting, too.

CricketMouseToy
Cricket waiting patiently for the toy mouse to pop out of the cheese.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Love of Animals and Trees…

 

Professor X: [voiceover] Either way, it is a historical fact: Sharing the world has never been humanity’s defining attribute. (X-Men 2)

As I get older (officially middle-aged, though it feels a lot older), I am plagued with this odd sort of remembrance. I am remembering a lot of things about my girl self that got shoved aside in hopes of becoming somebody loved, worthwhile, hire-able, successful, popular, pretty, rich–all of which, of course, never happened (yet, anyway). So I put away a lot of stuff that made me, me, because society taught me to be ashamed of who I was (and I believed them). Though it was always still sorta there, and it would escape from time to time, as I got involved in environmental causes and animal rights causes and human rights causes. I even majored in environmental science, once upon a time, even though I really wanted to be a marine biologist, but the school I ended up at didn’t offer it. But, math didn’t really come naturally to me, so I let that dissuade me from a career in science.

I was that girl who hated to see animals hurt, even in movies, where they (purportedly) said that the animals weren’t really hurt–it was all for show. I didn’t even like to kill bugs, and tried to fight against the use of pesticides even in my small world of the family home. Even though it was “Nature’s way”, I still had a hard time seeing animals hurt or eaten by other animals. I still feel guilty over the high school dissections I performed in the 80s. I try not to even kill bugs, and feel terrible if I accidentally kill bugs, or fall back into a certain callousness to insects just because I’m tired and it’s been a long day of struggling with too-vivid dreams and depression and anxiety and worry and stress and allergies and workplace hell and I just want to make dinner and go to bed.

The point is; I am realizing what’s really important to me, after all these years. I don’t want to live in a world without animals and trees and wildness in nature. It kills me that the price of having a comfortable life as a human is yet another species going extinct or getting on the endangered list. Animals losing their homes. Trees being murdered. Rampant, unchecked, local-politician-supported-against-all-protective-laws destroying my beloved swamps and ecosystems in my home state of Florida (for example). That the trafficking of endangered species is more widespread than I could even imagine. Just to end up on a dinner plate, for vanity (decoration) or to spend life in captivity as someone’s trophy pet.

https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/illegal-wildlife-trade

https://www.fws.gov/international/wildlife-trafficking/

So, maybe it’s partial selfishness as I enter into this transition #437–trying to figure out who I am and what kind of life I want to lead going forward. Sometimes it feels frustratingly slow, especially for someone as proactive as I am, coupled with seeing the clock run down for so many non-human lifeforms that we share (or not share) this planet with. It kills me that I’m just sitting here while non-human lifeforms are suffering and dying all around the world, because of us humans.

The takeaway? Who wants to live on a world stripped of trees and plants and birds and snakes and bugs and all the other wonderful diversity of life? Do we really want that on our conscience that we were part of an entire world destruction just because we want our Starbucks coffee and our designer clothes and diamonds and furs so that we know we are loved. What about loving other lifeforms, instead? What about appreciating and protecting the beauty that we already have? Who cares how beautiful we look in the mirror if we live in an ugly, desolate, plastic-bubble, sterile world?

 

So, take steps today. Make choices for the planet and not just for ourselves. Give up meat, even dairy. Buy organic and non-GMO foods. Start an urban garden. Adopt animals from a shelter instead of buying (inbred/puppy mill) breed animals. have your pets spayed/and neutered and keep cats indoor-only. Have yourself (the human equivalent) of spay/neuter–the world has plenty of adoptable children who need homes, too, right here on U.S. soil. Don’t wear fur or leather. Volunteer for animal rights causes. Stop using harmful pesticides and Round-up–learn about xeriscaping instead. Downsize your possessions. Reduce your carbon footprint. Don’t buy new–shop at thrift stores and purchase/remodel an older home rather than a brand-new (cheaply built) home/residence (do you really need six bedrooms and five bathrooms?).

I know I don’t want an entire planetary destruction on my conscience. So, my life going forward will be finding more ways to save the planet, outside of my usual armchair activist activities. Because I don’t want to be alone with just other humans for company. Even though I’m just one person, I want to change. And make change happen.

 

 

 

End of a Very Long Week…

 

I planned to write something on Wednesday, but my usual muse-in-my-dreams hasn’t been making an appearance lately. And, truthfully, I’ve been a little too weary and introspective to cultivate contact. (I miss you, my talisman…)

Tuesday: I kept getting a little shock that it was only Tuesday. It felt like days and days had gone by. And it was not even Hump Day.

But, Groundhog Day!!! It’s one of my fav holidays, after Halloween. It’s on my bucket list to go here (Damn you, Andie McDowell and Bill Murray! LOL)

I got called into school a lot for work, which was awesome! I’m dreading the upcoming bills with their resultant sticker shock, due to some unexpected expenses, but hopefully I get enough sub jobs to cover it.

I’m still trying to work out the details of my poetry book for publication. Been going back and forth between publishing with CreateSpace and bookbaby. Think I’m falling on the bookbaby side. Seems a lot less complex and more straightforward, especially since it’s “just” a book of poetry.

Still working out the cover art deal.

A WONDERFUL physics/science teacher at the schools I sub at was nice enough to give me feedback on the physics terms I’m using to set the theme of my poems. Here’s a shout out to you, even though I can’t list you by name for confidentiality reasons. Hopefully things will work out so I can give you credit in my poetry book when it gets published. A big thanks from the Chaos Realm!

I was very excited to receive permission within a day or two of submitting my permission request from the wonderful staffer over at the University of Chicago Press to use their definitions from the Glossary of Astronomy and Astrophysics in my poetry book.  I’ve always loved the University of Chicago Press’ publications, but now I’m officially a fan!

Thursday: I had to go to the dreaded dentist. But, since I have the best, most patient, and gentle dentist(s) in the whole world, it was a survivable experience. No cavities! Yay for me!

Still hoping for some exciting new opportunities on the job front.

Oh, and *drum roll* I FOUND JEANS THAT FIT. They do not gap at the waist, and they don’t reveal my Wonder Woman underroos/butt crack when I’m trying to look my age on the outside. (Well, actually, I knew about them already, but they were on sale and they fit my little-waist-but-junk-in-the-trunk body.) Whee!

Check them out via the J. Peterman company here.

I still haven’t done my edits for my mystery novel. Bad writer.

Oh, and for Valentine’s Day, why not consider giving love to a shelter animal in need of a home? Petfinder makes it easy to search for pets in your area!

 

 

 

It’s been a long way down…

Or maybe we never really rose up.

Maybe I’ve been watching too many bleak television shows. (But, that’s not an apology, mind you.)

Coming off of watching The Killing, and now wrapping up the last of Torchwood.

Really hitting me about having to be human, especially looking around at the world.

I never really realised how I always felt like an outsider, but my awareness about being human has shifted over the past month or so. Or maybe just remembering how my awareness used to be when I was a kid.

Trees were amazingly vibrant friends.

Plants sang to me.

To recycle a phrase that’s probably grown cliche (or a borrowed quote from some other human somewhere), I felt their pain with all the “intensity of a thousand knives” hitting me all at once. When trees were being cut down, that pain that I felt was excruciating and unbearable. I wanted to scream with the agony I felt. Sure, you could probably chalk it up to just being an imaginative and sensitive kid, but it didn’t erase how I felt. Especially when I had to be the plant murderer (i.e. mow the grass, trim plants, etc. *wry laugh*). I would be standing there with a pair of hedge clippers just sobbing my little kid heart out. (Yep, I was a weird one!)

I tried. I tried to adopt that normal human insensitivity to non-human life forms. For a while, I succeeded in turning it off. In building up a fortress of protection. But the older I get, the more that fortress crumbles. And I’m back in a morass of emotion, and conflict. It’s like being a teenager, but even worse in some ways.

Animals look at me with souls of the ancients…tolerant, loving, inscrutable, and, sometimes, (rightfully!) angry and/or scared of me as a human that’s come bumbling into their midst. And I love them for it. Because they should be scared and angry.

Yesterday, I saw the article about the whales beaching themselves in Florida. And it was so unemotional. “Why,” I screamed. “How?” “What the f*ck are we doing about it?” And, the answer is nothing. There’s no change we can implement soon enough. Even if we did (and do) care, it’s not enough. There’s nothing we can do.

Because we are human.

And I have never been more ashamed of that fact than right now.

I don’t want to live on a planet without bees and birds and animals and trees and plants and water and oceans and fish and whales and everything else that is a non-human life form.

Akin my (faulty?) memory of Medea (from when I was in middle school), when she talks about being underwater and the fish eating the flesh from her bones until she is pure and white, that’s what I feel sometimes.

Like I want to strip off my human skin and transform into an animal. Or a bird. Or even the air, or an unknown fantastical elemental. Anything but a creature that’s linked biologically to the human race. Enough with cell phones and social media and television and money and stuffy stuff and banal work and being hated and being insulted and put down and being ignored and losing…everything.

And, yes, I know that’s not possible.

But that’s what I wish. have wished since I was a child. And that I could fix things. Help make people around me understand. Help make sure that evil doesn’t win. Like so many kids, maybe, I wanted to be a hero.

But now I just feel helpless.

I am a coward.

I am weak.

I am so very tired.

 

 

 

Suburbanite Wannabes

Where I live is kinda rural (by my Florida standards)…a little place that’s a short drive into Santa Fe.

It’s called Tesuque and I’m not really sure if it’s a town, a township, an extension of Santa Fe (it’s still Santa Fe County), or some other classification that I’m not familiar with…https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesuque,_New_Mexico.

Like I said, it’s rural for me. So quiet. Horses in actual horse pastures. Lots of wild animals animals, too–deer, adorable skunk and raccoon families (good to help keep the pack rat population down), coyotes, and hummingbirds.

One Sunday I was cleaning, and I heard this weird noise out on the road. I was like “That can’t be what I think it is” so I went out and looked. Yep. It was a person riding a horse down the road. Clop, clop, clop.

There’s lots of lovely wildflowers, a gorgeous meadow within the complex itself, and did I mention the peaceful silence?

So, what’s wrong with this picture? Why am I blogging about it on my Sustainable Saturday blog?

As some of you may already know from a previous blog, it’s the mindset of the complex I live in as a whole.

I just don’t understand why people would want move into this rural, wild-ish environment, when they have such a strong suburban mentality. There are plenty of (gated?) communities in Santa Fe proper with perfectly pristine landscaped yards/landscaping. Why don’t you live there? Why do you have to come out here and ruin this lovely rural spot with your suburban wannabe mentality? To be frank, my (human) neighbours are an ugly taint on this otherwise picturesque haven. Plus, I’m also just plain pissed off that it’s twice in a row that I got woken up by a weed-whacker on my first day off after working with kids and teenagers all week. Because, by the time Saturday comes, I’m just so exhausted and drained, and just need one morning to sleep in. Just one. Yes, there was grumbling and cursing this morning. A lot of it. And I didn’t even care who overheard me. I was that pissed off. And then maybe I cried some. Which didn’t help my  already bleary-eyed fumbling as I tried to feed the cat.

Right now, the once-sunlit meadow full of beautiful waving grass is being chopped down by some guy with just a weed-whacker. (Poor guy! I imagine he’s not even making very much. If he were in Florida, he’d only be earning a pittance.) Not to mention the habitat loss of all the critters who used that meadow as sanctuary or for foraging or whatever other unseen animal activities take place in meadows.

They also routinely cut down all the lovely purple and orange wildflowers that the bees love.

So, I’m angry. Frustrated. Confused. Stressed. Hurting. Still exhausted.

But most of all, I’m heartbroken for the loss of the quiet beauty all around me that it seems only I appreciate. Well, me, and the animals and bees.

So, human neighbours, I don’t care if you smile and wave at me as you drive past. I’m not interested in being neighbourly with people like you. End of story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All my BFFs have been animals…or trees.

 

“I’ve always felt more like a wolf than a person.”–Karin Berquist, “Alpha”–The X-Files

I seem to get along better with animals than people, most times.

The other night, I was out in yard taking down the bird feeder, and my pant leg got caught on a weed. I reached down to pull it off, but luckily I had the flashlight, and it was the nightly skunk. She was pulling on my pant leg and looking up at me. I love animals, but I’m afraid I didn’t handle it too well. I kinda jumped and then hopped backwards. I thought she would spray  me in alarm, but she just went about her business of eating bugs or whatever else skunks eat. 

I’m trying not to encourage the wildlife anyway–getting them used to humans and all that is not good for wild animals, of course. But I think the person who lived in the unit before me was feeding the animals, my guess.. My first night in the unit, the same skunk came up to the door and was pawing at it. Still, the skunk is pretty cute…from a distance. (It’s baby season here for wildlife.)

But, I seem to attract animals…strays, wildlife, cats, dogs, insects, most everything, even birds, thought they kinda scare me. Something about their talons and my eyeballs. (Made being a wildlife rehabber interesting…). I like bird watching, though.

Once, I was on a date with this guy, and we took our bikes to the beach at night…along with his dog. It wasn’t intentional, just part of the moment, but his dog and I raced down the beach together, then we stopped and sat on the beach together, cuddling together and totally bonding. It was an amazing date, but I don’t think the guy enjoyed it too much. *laugh* Though, I did have a romantic interest that liked to treated like a cat. Food bowls and everything. That was interesting but short-lived, if I remember rightly.

I’ve always been really close to the cats I’ve adopted (or, who chose to live with me, in actuality)–more like best friends and roommates than human-defined “pets”. Or, in reality, I’m their slave. 🙂

I have one BFF left of the horde of 13–Cricket–and she’s about 18-20. Let’s hope she hangs in there…I might have to go out and get a people BFF otherwise–one who likes chaos, that is! 

But, then, there’s always my tree friends to talk to…

 

 

 

 

On Mindfulness and Self-Indulgence…

 

Professor X: [voiceover] Sharing the world has never been humanity’s defining attribute. —X-Men 2

Mindfulness seems to be the new catchphrase of the era. I’m trying to cultivate some of that, myself, based on the suggestions of others. Meditating and balancing chakras and eating more healthy and a bunch of other new-agey crap.

But, I get kinda sick of myself after a while. Of my own headspace. And I get kinda bored, truthfully. (So, I’ve got a lot of work to do, it seems, on being “mindful”. *laugh*)

Then my mind starts to wander, despite my best attempts.

I’ve been bogged down with a lot of worry and stress (hence the mindfulness attempts) over lots of stuff. Mainly about me and crazy things going on in my life, unfortunately, while the (natural) world is dying all around me.

And I start thinking about the human condition, and how damn self-indulgent we are (myself included–see above).

It’s like the consumerist attitudes we protested back in the alternative subcultures day have returned with a vengeance. Like the 80s on steroids. Gluttonous Starbucks coffee sugarfests, obscenely large brand-new homes with open floor plans and granite countertops, outrageously expensive phone service and cable and heating bills (while pay-rates fail to advance with inflation), and people on (especially in the U.S.) TV shows and movies that look like plastic perfect dolls rather than real humans (I can’t even begin to imagine the pressure on cinematic actors these days.).

Right now, I’m trying to downsize and live more lightly, and to fight consumerist urges in myself (being broke helps, but books and Etsy and Tee Turtle are among my shopping temptations.)

Fighting depression and anxiety on a daily basis creates its own set of motivational challenges to get off my fat arse and do something. Not that I mean to suggest that I’m using that as a crutch to hide under the covers while the world burns outside the window, but…it just makes things a little more muddled and confusing.

And, because I’m harshly analytical, even with  myself, I begin to think that those things are the height of self-indulgence. But I didn’t write this post to wade through my personal battles online (something I try really hard to avoid, seriously!)

Something posted by Dominic Monaghan on Twitter fell in line with things I’ve been thinking about for a long time (kinda integrated into my belief system, by now) about the human way of thinking in regards to the planet and its non-human inhabitants. (See Twitter post here.)

And that’s this–it’s maybe human nature to want to be comfortable, to have creature comforts, to indulge in things that make us happy and feel good (on a transitory, fleeting level), to eat good food, and to have clean water–a roof over our heads, etc. But these things are not only self-indulgent, they are also not a reality. Unless it’s organic and GMO-free, the food we eat is proving to be not very good for us…our lifestyle choices as humans have given us toxic, polluted water to drink, our manufacturing practices has given us livespaces that are poisoning us, and our lack of a sustainable life and a sustainable society (liveable wage, safe working conditions, health insurance/adequate health care) has pushed more and more of us into poverty, homelessness, and despair.

The things we have grown accustomed to as humans in society (if you have adequate income, and financial and mental/emotional/physical security and safety) are just not feasible if we want to pull the world back from the brink. The time is now for making sacrifices–all of us.

Self-Indulgence Awareness #1: I believe that the environment can’t sustain factory farms, genetically modified foods, overuse of pesticides, and a meat-based diet. I’ve been vegetarian since 1991, and have expanded this to eat non-GMO foods, organic food, and locally grown food whenever possible. I’ve also tried to eat more healthy–less wheat, less sugar and more fruits and vegetables (smoothies, stir-fries, etc.)

Self-Indulgence Awareness #2: Consumerism and too much stuff. I’m trying not to impulse buy, and am working on downsizing my possessions. I also don’t buy/have a lot of new things. I reduce, re-use, and recycle whenever possible. Thrift stores and antique stores are my friend. (not that I have a lot of disposable income, but most of the stuff in my house has been passed down through the family…a lot of it dating back to the 70s or even the 50s, maybe.)

Self-Indulgence Awareness #3: Driving my car. Okay, I don’t really have a solution for this. I used to bike all the time, but for reasons left unsaid, that’s not really an option right now. I had plans to move to a city with a good public transportation system (I miss European cities so much) but things didn’t work out that way, and where I live is a little rural. So, I try to consolidate shopping trips into town on days when I have appointments or other engagements, and use my car as little as possible. While not electric, I have a car now that has fairly good gas mileage (when compared to my former SUV). Plus, it helps me save on gas costs!

Self-Indulgence Awareness #4: I’m trying to work through a lot of issues right now, and practicing mindfulness and meditation is actually helping clear away a lot of crap. Which is surprising to this practical skeptic wannabe. Just trying my best to get my life back on track and more in sync with the things I used to love and believe in…environmental causes, social activism, animal rights, etc. It’s a slow process and a little frustrating to the part of my self that’s used to being a go-getter aka steamroller when achieving goals. So, trying not to be so hard on myself and succumb to the pressures and other things around me at the current time.

Self-Indulgence Awareness #5: I try to look at people living inspiring lives, or people setting a good example of things I would like to achieve/be on the internet. Things to remind me of who I would like to be in my future incarnations. Maybe that’s self-indulgent…I don’t know. Just trying to keep my hopes up.

Self-Indulgence Awareness #6: I’ve tried to do this my whole life, even though it’s really made me a misfit among other humans, but love all animals and plants and trees and insects. Stop bringing new human life into this world when the ecosystem can’t sustain it. Like Dominic Monaghan said in his tweet (link is above): The planet is not solely ours to use up as we will. It’s not a place to dump pesticides on, pollute the water, the air, and use up all the resources, selfishly. We have to change this mindset. Period. Otherwise we, too, will go extinct. But maybe that will be the best thing for the planet.Because I often wonder whether we humans really have a place on this planet, aside from our ability to destroy it.

 

I’m trying to do all I can, and not give up, but it still doesn’t feel like it’s enough. And I’m so tired. Talk about self-indulgence, right?