Next to our back deck are a few stalks planted by my son, James, who is at work to become a certified permaculturist. Sitting beside them in the sun, I am as well treated to a great view of the insects at work to make certified sweets.
I like that honeybees aren’t robots. Every so often a busy gal will misstep and have to regain her footing. Or she’ll aim for a blossom nearly gone and will have to choose again. Or there will be another forager on her intended target — sometimes a bumblebee, flashing his black and yellow warning outfit. But our cheerful worker takes these things in stride.
I like the more earthy tones of the honeybees’ garb. I wonder if they’re all together or from different hives. I’m sure they know. Yet none of them needs to pepper me with status updates, as I would tend to do in their places. They simply keep up a quiet hum, a chant of the living while the breezes of August puff past.
Unclear as this first shot is, I was happy to capture the husband finch in action, early in our finch nest’s progression. Thanks to our chirpy little couple, I am learning some things about bird habits in suburbia. My usual inattentiveness to such details has certainly changed during the past week.
It might look like the husband is feeding wifey a worm. Actually, that’s the hook for our outdoor blind behind him. What he was up to right then was giving his mate food from his own tummy. Such a romantic gesture, yes?
Twice now I’ve watched the food delivery by the husband to wifey; Tim observed it, too, and he smiled when I pointed out that at least all the things he himself went through during my prenatal periods did not include regurgitating seeds into my mouth.
I’ve learned enough from the helpful information highway to confidently state he and wifey are House Finches. A bit disappointing it was to find they are the most common of finches, rather than some exotic species seeking us out. But I’ll take them. It is perhaps interesting to note (though Wikipedia has yet to document) the fact that I go all motherly toward almost any creature coming under my roof (or, in this case, under my eaves). This has applied to rats, snakes, and a duck, besides the more conventional dogs and cats.
As might be inferred by the blue sky background (in Western Oregon — gasp!), our days have been the kind that surge the mercury and the human husband’s instinct to tend to outdoor work, such as keeping the sun off our west-facing walls. Saturday Tim was out lowering blinds, except for one. This isn’t the first time, by the way, Tim has adjusted his efficiency for the sake of family members. Our bedroom’s window-to-the-west no longer has a blind over it at all, so I can view the yard while treadmilling. Though once in a while a small sigh escapes him, my male of the species takes the cares of others to heart.
Sunday afternoon I read a book on a baking-stone-warm back step, my spine against the door. (Believe me, if I were in charge of blinds and so on, they would not be lowered each year until I had at least broken a sweat in or outside the house.) I noted wifey finch in her nest, keeping, hopefully, the correct temperature for herself and any eggs she may have laid by this point.
I hadn’t heard the husband since the day before, when it looked like a few other birds (swooping sparrows and a raspy jay) were in the area specifically to aggravate our finch couple. The husband had seemed to be drawing them off. Now the yard appeared quiet. Maybe too quiet. Maybe something had happened to the father of those fledglings-to-be.
I took a long look at our Dear Sweet Westley lounging on the deck. As far as I know, he hasn’t caught a birdie in ages, but in his prime he was quite the terror of the winged community. One year I even bought him a fancy bib meant to curb his hunting sense. Westley came home a week or so later sans bib, looking proud of himself, and soon after that he brought a woodpecker in to release it in James’s room for an exciting morning. That, however, was years ago.
Still, the empty wire and the silence worried me. Was our little wifey now a single parent? Who would help her? Would she abandon the nestlings and would I have to hear their pitiful peeps and…
Early this morning I saw him, across the yard on a different wire. Soon he was giving wifey her post Mother’s Day breakfast-in-nest. I was ever so happy.
I want to embrace that warm wood as long as I get to and feel the breeze just lift my hair. I want to have summer remain.
But, I know. There comes a last moment to ponder the season’s transition, and then it’s get up and be going and living. I’ll do it, I will, like the little fellow did yesterday after letting me take shots of him through the closed window. (Later Victoria wondered if he had located a fermented apple. I wonder. And I think I’ll go locate some Merlot.)
It got hot as summer in here.
I like summer.
There was a ladybug on the window, and trying to capture her (or him), I first managed only to catch our new-unfurled maple leaves and the worn look under our house’s eaves.
I didn’t plan to get one. Honest. But now I’m glad I stole it that night.
Those blankets with arms looked kind of nifty on the infomercials. I whispered to Tim I wouldn’t mind having it. He winked and gave me total discretion when our gift number came up.
I suppose it was my annual free-Margarita glow. Wobbling over in high heels, I held out my hand to poor Natasha, who had stashed the snuggie under her table. But the gift was still up for grabs by the game rules. It could be stolen once more. I got it.
Later I felt badly and told Natasha with all sincerity she could have it back, but she laughed and said keep it. She was happy with her glowing wall stickers or whatever gift she finally got (my brain was still fuzzy at the time).
Now of an evening I am saved in the recliner from cold and our cat Westley’s heavy shedding. I can scratch beneath his purring chin while under cover. In fact, he sees me grabbing the snuggie from the closet and he’s in position to pounce and commence kneading my chest. I sigh, deflect claws carefully, and reflect on the one time in my life crime paid.
A week and a day ago I waited for my little dog to die.
Brindy had lived a good life, a really swell batch of days spanning nearly 18 years. This day she suffered. My mom had told me (from her experience with our 17-year-old doggy from my childhood), “When it’s time, you’ll know.” She was right. I called the vet’s office. They kindly scheduled an appointment for 4:30, the last slot of the day.
This past year I lost bets with myself. Starting in ’07 (the year this picture of Brindy was taken), I’d said I would do certain things with writing and life. You know, goal type stuff. But I knew and was reminded anew that reality is as reality does. And in the losses and failures arrive gains sometimes most amazing. Gifts.
Last Monday, Mom went with me and Brindy to the vet’s office. The two of us talked while waiting in the exam room for the first shot to take affect, the anesthesia that lets the animal drift into sleep. I stroked Brindy’s fur and felt her trembles lessen, her muscles finally relax. She’d fought for so long. I called her little iron dog, because she’d survived things in younger years like slug-bait poisoning. And she’d been my running buddy. Always ready to accompany, to protect.
The vet returned to give Brindy her second injection, the one that would end her suffering. But my dog was already gone.
I didn’t cry. I’d done that. Likely I will again. I was grateful for her easy passing, and so was Mom. We hugged each other. We hugged the vet.
Eighteen years ago I wasn’t expecting to raise a small canine. For me, one would have to be Beagle size or larger; I was done with little dogs. But my grandma, Edna, had been given a teeny puppy, and she recognized the first day that she couldn’t keep her. As Grandma Edna’s caregiver, I agreed. At first sight my little children loved the doggy. And I admit I was smitten fast. We were too much for Tim, he gave in quickly to our pleas, our promises.
Tim, though not a dog person, was kind to Brindy. She became his companion at the woodpile. I caught glimpses of them playing, chasing one another back and forth over the grass in late spring. Tim would grin as Brindy raced, a dark streak on the lawn. She flipped her curled tail, her tongue lolled; she was gaining.
Simultaneously the huge, round spider and I frightened one another. On a precarious stool out front I swiped the big window, dislodging the unsuspecting arachnid. I’m sure she exclaimed something spiderish, while I said, “Oh! Ah! Ah!” and jumped backward. She scrambled beneath the window sill to remain completely hidden while I finished spraying, wiping, smearing, and buffing. Fortunately, most neighbors were at work and missed my song and dance. The ones who witnessed it remained politely anonymous, silent as the spider.
Why, on the first Monday in October, did window washing strike my fancy? Since around May I’ve planned to do it, but only now, when storms will soon blow rain against my north-facing bedroom glass, did I whip into cleaning action. Ah, well. At least my westerly view from the treadmill should remain much clearer. Boy, I hadn’t washed that window in a looonngg time.
Change has arrived with crisp mornings. Last Friday marked the first time in nine weeks that I didn’t send out two submissions, per my modest goal. After finally putting ten different pieces of writing out to editors, I allowed the shift in rhythm. I’m back to work on my memoir. New form, new title. Lots of helpful input by writer and reader friends.
Now that October’s been breached, more reasons exist to let the writing momentum slow. They’re good reasons, peopled by loved ones beneath harvest moons. They wear spooky costumes and plan for meals with gravy and stuffing. They wax creative with ideas to wrap in bright paper and place under aromatic evergreens.
Summer’s writing pace will slacken, but autumn’s holiday sprinting won’t scare word work completely away. The web of mind will still interact with the clicking of keyboard, at least until somebody needs an eaarrly shopping partner the morning after Thanksgiving.
I always thought saying the “three r’s” was kind of dumb, since only one of the words actually starts with “r.” But that’s visual me. The sounds work, mostly, for the words. A-rithmetic is what I should be focused on this afternoon, catching up with finances and such. Though I don’t know some days if we can overtake them. Ah, well.
More fun is reading around the blogosphere and other places. People are clever. I haven’t even gotten to the writing blogs I regularly read. The list of those grows daily for me, and I ought to make links to more of them in my sidebar. Putting it on the to-do list…
Then in the writing category, I’m published online again, here at Camroc Press Review. For those of you practicing writing and wanting a lesson in concisity (if ‘rithmetic works, so does this), Camroc’s a great place with a wise editor. You have to make your prose 550 words or less, but believe me, with a lot of looking it over you’ll find much to cut, and often the piece comes out stronger.
This piece is my first in-print story regarding my grandma and Richard Brautigan. I’m hoping, of course, for more. But this one’s fine.
So now, before I move on to Quicken, one random thing relating to the important study of science (but if you’re squeamish regarding reptiles you’d like to go away now). In our side yard I discovered the coolest evidence of our garter snake friends. Side by side, two complete shed skins. I had to bring them inside before some animal stepped on them.
They must have done their sheddy thing together, or at least within hours of one another, because these don’t last long. I never imagined two snakes wriggling out of skins beside each other, but now I have evidence they might.
“Hey, Martha,” says one. “I need to take off this outfit. Care to join me?”
“Sure Joe,” Martha replies. “Mine’s tight, too. Just don’t get any ideas.”
“You can trust me, Martha.” His lips curl into a snaky grin.
“Right. Don’t look.”
I’ll work on that story later. Back to numbers and lists for this schoolish, random afternoon.