Magnolia, Centre

The Pacific Northwest is a bit strange. Magnolias do very well here. (So do rose bushes and figs, but that’s a different story.) I was be-bopping along, walking the dogs in the heavy, apocalyptic smoke (the world is burning, natch, ah well, had to happen sometime) when we were forced to pause under a big magnolia for something that apparently smelled AMAZING to two canines.

It struck me, looking at the branch hanging over my head, that the tree doesn’t give a good goddamn about anything. It just… grows. And for a moment my own burden of anxiety lightened, looking at the new buds.

Take where you can get it in this year of our disaster 2020, my friends. There are new leaves on at least one magnolia in the world.

The dogs finally had huffed all they wanted, and we moved on. But that moment of calm was a treasure, and I keep thinking about it. We’ve all been knocked ass over teakettle, but even in the spinning there are moments to be found at the centre.

May you have at least one, if not many, today.

Bee Ware

You might not be able to see it, but the crack between the concrete and the dirt behind the sign holds the entrance to a beehive. On warm mornings they are busily flying in and out, pollinating, gathering, doing their bee business. The people who live there put the sign up a couple weeks ago, and I think they absolutely mean to leave the bees alone long-term since they’re not harming anyone. Which makes me feel good; every time I pass plenty of the little fellows come to say hello and play tag with Miss B.

When I’ve felt like humanity is a shitshow not worth saving this week, I’ve thought of this–people quietly leaving the bees alone, merely putting up a sign to protect both the hive and passers-by. And somehow, it makes the rest of us worth fighting for.

We don’t have to be awful. And really, most people aren’t.

Gods grant I remember it.

Nature’s Cleanup Crew

Oh, nothin’ much, just scavengers making sure the sloughed detritus of humanity doesn’t choke the globe. It’s a livin’, ya know? Over on the right there, that’s Fred. He thinks he’s a crow when we’ve got food, and we let him think so because honestly, there’s only so much of this we can eat and he’s a bottomless pit…

They said Taliesin could understand the speech of birds, and I’m here to tell you that was probably just like the internet–a whole lot of weird unusable shit, with maybe a piece of necessary information buried in a random, moving place.

Anyway, let’s spare a thought for Nature’s cleanup crew. They’ve a huge job on their, uh, their wings (or paws, or whatever passes for hands among maggots) and not much time to get it done.

Just like the rest of us…

Civic Duty, Done

I was up at 5am after a restless night worrying about parking, and consequently I need more coffee if anything is going to make sense today.

That’s right, chickadees. I was on jury duty this fair misty morn.

The dogs were a little bemused at being yanked out of bed for predawn walkies, and despite napping while I was performing my civic duty they’re as worn out as I am.

I scored a reasonable parking spot (that meant walking only a few blocks) and made it there before the jury room opened. Brought plenty of books, snacks, had bottled water, a five-subject notebook in case the Muse bit while I was waiting, and everything I could possibly need packed into trusty old Herbert1. There were two trials, so after a short video on unconscious bias, half the jurors were randomly selected for the first and the rest of us waited.

And waited. I knocked off about twenty pages of my book before the jury coordinator came out with her microphone (the jury waiting area even had a kitchenette, it’s amazing) and said, “Well, they settled at the last minute, which sometimes happens. So you guys are free to go and you don’t have to call in the rest of the week, you’ve done your duty. Thank you.”

It was nice to be thanked several times for showing up. Also, somewhat ironically, the fellow making the loudest stink about hating jury duty (despite this being only his second time called) was in the first group, so the rest of us didn’t have to listen to his bellyaching and got to leave while it was still morning.

Some days the Universe hands you a break.

Nevertheless, I am somewhat at sixes and sevens. I had forgotten all about jury duty until my phone calendar reminded me after dinner last night, which was why I’d put the damn reminder in but was also an unpleasant jolt. Staying up almost all night worrying about parking didn’t help. I fixate on something different every time I have to leave the house for a new location, I swear. Plus, it’s kind of stress-inducing to EVER go to the courthouse.

Right next to the jury room was a Family Law counselor; that particular office dispenses protection orders all day too. There was a woman there with three small children filling out paperwork, looking harried and sleepless, and I longed to tell her I’ve been where you are, it gets better, I’m so sorry.

But I couldn’t, and when I left the jury room she was gone. I hope she and the little ones will be all right. I drove home through mist, seeing traffic heavy in the opposite direction, and stopped only to pick up milk.

You’d think my own adult and almost-adult child would back off on the cow squeezings, but I guess not. Their bones are FANTASTIC, thank you.

Now I’m home, hungry, and cross-eyed with lack of sleep. It’s a good thing they didn’t put me on a jury, I probably would have dozed sitting up during opening arguments.

I was struck, sitting in the waiting room, by how… well, how cooperative and civilized the entire group was. There was some grumbling about the hour and the parking, but everyone was mollified by the illusion of special treatment and the several professions of gratitude, especially in the video played for us. It was interesting to see the appeals to vanity clothing the lesson about unconscious bias– “most people want to make fair, just decisions, and this is a way you can do that, even by doing something so simple as recognizing you have biases because your brain needs them to make sense of all the information it’s soaking in!” I had positioned myself under a television screen, not wanting the damn thing nagging at me while I read, so I watched the screen far across the room and the expressions flitting over people’s faces as they watched and listened.

It’s all material, for a writer. Everything goes into that giant hopper in your head, ready to be plundered for a telling detail or a lifelike setting.

Anyway, appeals to vanity work wonders, I’ve done my duty to the body politic today, and I have a fresh cup of coffee. I won’t get a lot of work done, but I’m free for the rest of the week, so I feel unexpectedly liberated.

And very, very tired.

All in all, a productive morning, albeit in ways I wouldn’t have chosen. At least I know I’ll sleep tonight. Frankly, I’d better. Feeling this woolly-headed and lethargic is unwelcome indeed.

Happy Monday, everyone.

Bit Askew

Cormorant Run

It’s been the kind of weekend that reminds me of going into the Rifts, frankly. Everything seems a little bit askew–probably from lack of sleep–and the danger won’t kill you instantly, it’ll kill you three steps ago or an hour from now.

So to speak. Good news and terrifying news has abounded, and now I’m blinking on a holiday Monday, with wordcount ahead of me, a Soundtrack Monday post to write, and I haven’t run in three days.

You can tell I’m a little twitchy.

At least the wind is moving a bit and we’ve had some rain. Well, more like condensation inside Mother Nature’s mouth1, but it’s cleaned some of the particles from the air and made it slightly easier to breathe. The dogs are content with walkies instead of jogging, probably because Miss B is becoming an elderly statesdog.

I am reminded, seeing the grey on her muzzle and how she is a little less bouncy, how little time I truly have left with her. It’s going to be devastating when she has to leave, and I can’t brace for it.

But that’s borrowing trouble. For today, she’s quite happy, having had half my morning toast. She knows what comes next–I stare at the glowing box on my desk for a while, until her staring at my profile becomes a weight I can’t ignore and I take her and Lord van der Sploot for a morning ramble.

At least, she’s very certain it’s her gaze that finally drags me out the door, and I’m content to let her think so.

I’d write more about the weekend, but I can’t for privacy reasons. Suffice to say there’s a brand new human I share some ancestry with in the world; it’s a reason to celebrate even if said brand new human arrived on their own schedule–as brand new humans are wont to do.

Happy Monday, my friends; may your Veteran’s Day pass exactly as you wish it to, and may said veterans find some peace. Later today I’ll have a song for you.

Over and out.

Deepest Violet

I wouldn’t have morning glories in my yard (mostly because I spent too long with toddlers roaming around) but fortunately, some of my neighbors do, and I get to admire them. Especially when the color is so achingly vibrant.

Sometimes the smallest beautiful thing can save an entire day, week, month, year. Never underestimate the tiny beauties. They can even save a life.

The Last Turkey Morning

No turkeys were harmed in the course of this entire thing. Inconvenienced, maybe, but that’s it.

I know you guys are wondering what happened on my last turkey-wrangling day, but it’s entirely anticlimactic. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The Princess, a little concerned for my safety (or maybe my sanity, since I was returning home almost prostrate with heat and muttering about turkeys), decided to go with me on the last day. “I could hold the shovel,” she suggested, with a glint in her eye.1

“No way,” I said, immediately. “If that fucking turkey comes at you I’m going to have to kill it, and I want to avoid killing *friend name*’s turkey if it’s at all possible. You can stand outside the coop. With Shirley.”

“You’re a good friend.” She hopped off to get ready for the expedition.

I suppose I should add that my children are well used to Shirley, since she sits in the dining room most days, keeping an eye on the dogs while they’re at their bowls.

Anyway, we got there–I did not have to wrangle goats that day, thank the heavens–a little earlier than usual, and after dealing with all the other livestock we headed down to the coop. It was a bright, very hot morning, promising a tar-softening scorcher of an afternoon.

The Princess had seen Heloise and the chickens before, but never a turkey. “That’s… a really big bird,” she said, clutching Shirley to her chest.

“Just keep his attention.” I cast a critical glance at the coop fencing, which appeared to be holding up. “Wave Shirley around or something.”

“Yes ma’am.” She set to with a will, performing what I can only describe as a very slow interpretative penguin dance.

I tossed in scratch, glanced nervously at Turkey Boy, who was strutting back and forth with his tail high and his wings down, and backed cautiously out of sight.

I got in and out of the egg room, blocking the opening with the shovel, and found a paltry three eggs for our trouble. I did not, however, heave a sigh of relief until I was out of the egg room, the door firmly shut, and further firmly out of the coop itself, with the antechamber door closed as well.

“He’s really quite stunning,” the Princess said when I rejoined her at the fence. She had ceased her dance and was staring in rapt amazement. “And he looks calm.”

“Uh, not really. See the way his wings are down? That’s part of the mating dance. He’s not stomping, but he’s close. Plus, see how his snood’s getting red, and his throat too? He–“

I might have continued to lecture, but Turkey Boy made a short dash for the fence. Both the Princess and I stepped back in a hurry, and I almost turned my ankle in a rathole. Shirley swayed, and Turkey Boy stopped dead.

He might have leapt for the fence, but I think he saw Shirley and the Princess as an unholy cryptid of some sort, a terrifying amalgamation of young woman and flightless bird. He stopped, staring at us, and his throat vibrated with loud gobbles. Goose Girl had already nipped into the egg room to get at the kibble before her midmorning bath.

“Let’s not push it.” I grabbed the Princess’s sleeve and all but hauled her away.

I’m glad of two things: that someone else saw the sheer size of the bird, and that Turkey Boy didn’t come through the fence. If he’d gone after my child, she might have had to fend him off with Shirley before I arrived with a shovel–or before I grabbed him with my bare hands. Those spurs are deadly and only God knows what the resultant wounds might have been infected by, but I’d wring that bastard’s neck if he came at my baby.

We locked everything up and got in the car, and I didn’t quite spin out of the gravel driveway.2

We drove in silence for a short while, and finally the Princess turned to me from the window, her eyes gleaming with mischief. “Are you feeling relieved?”

“No more turkey,” I muttered, with feeling. “Thank gods.”

“Don’t worry,” she said. “They’ll go on vacation again next year. By then you’ll have forgotten all about this.”

“Oh, fuck,” I muttered, knowing she was right.

It took a good hour before she stopped giggling.

ANYWAY, that was the last day I had to wrangle a turkey, and it passed without incident. Except for the rats, of course.

But that’s (say it with me) another story…