When Luck Sucks.

As someone who tends to see the sunny side of life, sometimes it’s hard for me to admit when the workings of the universe confuse and frustrate me to the point of getting the blues. The thing is, I’ve had a great, wonderful life, filled with more love and good fortune than any lowly human being deserves. That said, it’s been a rough year for me, which is part of the reason this blog has been on hiatus. Real life sometimes compels us to ignore the thing that might help us the most. Go figure.

I am reluctant to list here the reasons why the last twelve months have pretty much completely kicked my ass because a big part of me doesn’t see the point in complaining. Life gives you what it gives you, and you have no choice but to figure out a way to cope with it, survive, and carry on. Still, I feel like I want to address this bad turn of luck that I’ve been having, partly because I want to learn to embrace the dualities that come along with being human.

When I blog here, or post something on facebook, I tend to emphasize the positive things that are going on in my life while kind of brushing aside any discussion of life’s challenges. I do this for a variety of reasons - I see no point in complaining, I don’t like to whine or be negative, I want to be careful with what I share publicly, etc. The problem is, by only presenting the sunnier side of my life, I feel as if I might have created a lie of omission. I wonder if my fellow humans might think nothing bad ever happens to me, or that I don’t have periods of time where my life really goes off the rails.

Which is just silly. We all have periods of time when life goes off the rails, and when we don’t address that fact, we do a disservice to ourselves and each other. We are all imperfect, every one of us, and every one of us faces life’s challenges the best we can. We skip through the flowers when it’s sunny and wade through the horseshit when it rains. Sometimes it’s pretty, and sometimes it’s ugly, but whichever way it happens to be, BOTH parts are part of being human, BOTH parts have value, and NEITHER part should be ignored.

So here I reveal to you my most imperfect of years:

In the last twelve months, my decades-long marriage fell apart, and I find myself at middle-age having to learn how to be single and on my own for the first time in my life. Because my ex and I got together when we were teenagers, things that most people learn about being single when they are in their twenties, I am clueless about in my forties. For example, I have never had my own car, my own apartment, a credit card in my name only, or my own bank account. Also, until this year, I have never spent the holidays or my birthday on my own. THAT was an eye-opener.

Also eye-opening is the learning curve I find myself on when it comes to navigating relationships with men. On a related topic, I’ve had to learn to cope with having my heart broken. A couple times.

However, while the past year has been challenging as a whole, the past couple of months have hit me particularly hard, mostly due to two deaths. First, one of my dear old friends from a very happy time in my life died of cancer. Then, a couple months later, one of my dear new friends - from an equally-happy time in my life - died in a random car accident.

Finally, two weeks ago, I got laid off from my job.

Oh, and as a final little dig, on the same day I got canned, I got the “It’s not you; it’s me” message from the guy I kinda liked.

NOTE:  I don’t know who is writing the song of my life right now, but I’d like to interrupt this blog post in order to give the lyricist a critique: Don’t you think you should quit relying on stereotypical events lifted from tired old blues songs and cheesy country-western numbers? Seriously, it’s a good thing I don’t have a horse right now, because if I did, it would surely have died.

In case you haven’t guessed, as I write this, I am laughing. I don’t know why. Maybe my emotions have been so badly battered that my wires are all crossed up and they’re missing appropriate cues. But I think it’s all kind of funny in a horrible, absurd way. Plus, as I read these lines over, I’m reminded of the fact that all of these events, stressful as they may be, come with benefits. Yes, I’ve been incredibly stressed out about money and love and the seemingly random machinations of the universe - but I am also writing more, drawing more, painting more…

I’m learning a first-hand lesson on how emotional chaos contributes to art - a lesson that allows me to mold mayhem into beauty, and find the beauty in the mayhem I cannot mold. I’m being reminded that our time here as humans is not limitless, and if you have the opportunity to be the owner of your own time, that you should do something valuable with it. I want to work just as hard for myself as I did for my paycheck because with any luck, I’ll be having to work for a paycheck again sometime soon. Fingers crossed. Until then, art. And that’s nothing to cry about. Until it is. Then cry all you want.


Thorns and Nails.

What is it that I want to do?
What is it that I want from you?
I’ll do what you want me to -
I’ll bear the thorns and nails.

Chase me down then tear me up.
Drink my tears from a lover’s cup.
Knock me down; I’ll just get up -
I’ll bear the thorns and nails.

Set me loose into the sky.
Watch me fall or watch me fly.
Not up to you but up to I -
I’ll bear the thorns and nails.

Butterfly image taken today at Big River. I'm not normally a pink and purple butterfly kind of person, but what can I say? This image kind of captures the Fragility of Things that I've been noticing a lot lately.


Killed And Eaten.

Dear Blog,

I’m sorry to have neglected you lo this past (almost) year.

To make it up to you, here is a picture of a Great Blue Heron eating a gopher she has hunted down and killed in a cemetery.

I have seen Great Blue Herons hunting in wetlands many times, spearing with their dagger-like beaks unsuspecting fishes or frogs as they swim by. But a heron hunting gophers on dry land in a historic Mendocino cemetery? Well, this was a first for me.

When today started, I had a simple goal. I was going to photograph the first compelling thing I saw on my way to work, and I was going to post it on my blog with a commentary. But my walk this morning was relatively peaceful and uneventful, and as I passed one of the oldest cemeteries in town on the way to my job, I was losing all hope of anything materializing that was noteworthy enough to re-start this whole blogging business.

But then, less than fifty feet from my office, there she was, a creature completely out of her element. A thing unexpected. A thing figuring out how to survive in a strange environment. A thing adapting, learning, growing... A thing killing rodents instead of frogs and fishes - rodents that have sharp teeth. And stabby claws.

She was a thing killing things and eating things in a place filled with killed things who themselves were being eaten by the things being killed and eaten by her.

And so has been my life.




Fox News Update.

Shortly after the last time I posted about the vixen and her fox kits living under my porch, the entire family became mobile enough for the vixen to move them. Considering how destructive the five kits had become, I imagine she probably wanted a den better-suited for her family - not to mention less human-y smelling.

Here's a video to refresh your memory:

As you can see from this video, these little kits are quite invested in chewing on anything they are curious about. That means the garden hose, my rosebush, tools, any shoes left outside - the list goes on and on. Clearly they had been getting too rambunctious and accustomed to the world of humans, and the vixen made the wise choice to move the family further away from the cabin.

(The fact that I like to listen to a lot of Cream might also have contributed to the move. Foxes don't seem to share my love of Clapton.)

The last time I spotted the family of foxes, it was in the distance, and the mother was leading away four of her kits. Only four. I have no idea what happened to the fifth one, but not seeing it take off with its family made me fear the worst.

I was also sad because I thought the family had gone for good. Days went by after that last sighting, and I didn’t see or hear any sign of the foxes.

Then last Saturday, I spotted this little one lounging on the deck in the sun, as if he or she had never left.

This kit hung around all weekend - but no sign of its mother or siblings.

And now I haven't seen this one, either, for a week.

I don’t want to believe the worst. Instead, I tell myself that it’s possible that this single fox is the fifth kit. The runt of the litter who wasn’t strong enough to range away from under the deck along with its mother and four siblings, and who has been sustained all of this time by the vixen. I picture her returning quietly, night after night, with a mouse or a mole for this little straggler. I’ve even managed to convince myself that, after dark, I can hear critters on the porch making a fox-like rumpus.

But while I don’t want to believe the worst, I fear it. Is the simpler, more horrible explanation the likelier truth? Top predators are my neighbors (not to mention large, unfriendly dogs), and a little fox kit is a trifle for any one of them. So I must face the likelier possibility that this fox the only one in the litter to survive. If it has survived at all.

And having to face that fact is pretty damn awful.

But owls, hawks, bobcats and cougars have to eat, too.

Besides, I've said it once, and I'll say it again: Nature isn't cruel; just indifferent.


Look who just showed up outside of my window as I was preparing to post this missive to my blog...

This little one just popped out from under the deck for a drink of water from a bowl I had left out and kept full - even as my hopes had dimmed that any of the fox kits still survived.

The moral of this story? Well, there are a few...

1. The world of foxes is a mysterious one.

2. When you have no way of knowing what is going on, assuming the worst rather than the best is a bad strategy. After all, if you have no way of knowing the answer, then assuming the best is just as valid as assuming the worst. So, if both assumptions are equally-valid, then why not smile over thoughts of a positive outcome - rather than obsess over an outcome that makes you anxious and sad?

3. Embrace with gratitude moments of real happiness. My heart sang when this little one reappeared.

I want to live in this moment forever.



The warming Golden State
Is not at Liberty
To celebrate Independence
With sulfur.

The eternally blazing sun
Independent by Nature
Celebrates nothing
By setting.

Happy Independence Day.