The initial part of this posting started weeks ago. Then I got submerged in art shows and work on the house, and then got sidetracked with one thing and three others. It doesn’t do much good to put my heart out and then let what I want (and need) to say get lost in the flotsam of Life as it Happens. So I’m backing up and putting out there anyway, and then I’ll catch up again. Since I’m Queenie, I can dang well do what I want to, right?
I am trying to get a handle on the vastness between the extremes of experience going on these days. Not just in my little world, but in the world at the large it is. EXTREME seems to be the word of the day, and we are in the throes of the Great Dichotomy. I’ve pondered before on the concept of dichotomy, and the gravitas of the living in the middle of it, all of us, is something that can be distracting, if not downright depressing and paralysing, if you have the inclination for such things. I used to live at the corner of Stunned and Paralyzed, and I don’t recommend the neighborhood. At least Stunned and its sister streets – Hopeless, Depressed, Royally POed and their kin – are through streets….you can get out of there. But Paralyzed is a dead end, and they don’t even pick up your trash.
I drove into town a while back to have a delayed birthday lunch/celebration with two of my dearest friends, and it was all I could do to keep from crying on the way there. On the one hand I am awash in the copious, dumbstriking gifts of love and support I have been receiving – some monetary help from “friends” I have never met and likely never will – along with more from heart-close souls and then more from fringe folks I know only from Facebook or musical connections. Wow. And then to be gifted with time shared with such priceless sister friends who mean so much. And to be driving in a dependable car that runs, with air conditioning in the saturated air, and good music on the radio, and life being really OK despite some lumps and bumps. Oh so good.
But then there lingers the leavening of sadness and compassion for those who just so recently lost so many things – friends, mothers, fathers, children, houses, sacred stuff – whether it was from a flood out of nowhere or yet another off the loop whacko with a gun – and the continued assault on our Mother Earth without which, may I just say, we will be dust on the moon once we blow away into the Universe – well it’s a lot on a tender mind.
The microcosm of the Great Out There exists at the Slippery Slope, or maybe even in a row house on the wrong side of town. Our local wrong side of town is being bought up and gentrified, and parts of that world are just disappearing into etherpiles of Progress. Just like the Back 40. It’s the old pebble in the pond syndrome – the ripples go a long way, and for some they are tsunamis. Sometimes nothing remains but the bones of what was, and sometimes not even that.
We have our lake back. I did not believe it would happen. No way. No how. But back it is, and at a decent level – not just a little bit of it, but plenty. There’s been lots of Plenty, to the point where there’s been too much. We gratefully take the water, but the water came at a price. The other side of the hills got washed away in the famous flash floods of these parts, and they gave no quarter. Seems we need to mourn every time we let ourselves enjoy the waters. Survivors’ Guilt maybe.
We are living in a rain forest. Even as of this writing, more rain, though just passing fancies. Everything’s blooming, even new volunteers of orange and gold lantana on the other side of the back fence, the color I’ve ALWAYS wanted over here instead of the profusion of pink and pale yellow. I aim to procure some of it, or at least the seeds. More bold color I say. I never was a pastel kind of girl, except for some shades of pink, and I have absolutely no explanation for that.
So we regale in the wetness and the saturation of green everywhere, but the imbalance of it all comes with that price again. We mourn our peafowl. It started early this year with Magic. I still want to believe old age and the hard winter got him. He had a good run. But weeks ago the rest started disappearing. Occasionally a pile of feathers, but the last ones seemed more like alien abductions. Here one day, not appearing ever again after that. Henny Penny, the grand dame of hens, was injured after the hailstorm, and we are assured it was not a storm related injury. One eye was swollen shut and her mouth was not right. She lost weight, but survived we don’t know how. Eventually her eye opened, but it was pretty obvious she was blind, but the bill/neck injury was much improved. She started eating well again, and began roosting in the South Acre, in a tree that I knew was way too exposed. A week or so ago I checked her roost on Thursday night….on Friday morning she was gone. Only a few soft feathers beneath the tree.
I feel I know what it is – Great Horned Owls. I read up on it. One peacock person had lost fifteen of his birds to a nest of GHO in one spring season. They stealth-fly in, grab them by the neck close to the head, and strangle them. Explains everything. The lady who lived down by the highway who had peafowl when we moved here told us one of her hens had been snatched up by a big owl, so there you have it. All are gone now but T-Bird, our last adult male. He hollered out when I was hammering something earlier today, (they don’t like loud or unexpected noises), but it wasn’t his usual screech of objection, but a mournful squawk. Damn near heartbreaking. He’s lonesome. And so it is. And nothing to be done about it.
On another hand, the house is coming along, but snails are faster.
It is now NOW. The rainforest is gone, replaced by 108 degree temperatures and the luscious grasses have turned into crunchy memories of themselves. If I thought the Season of Too Much and Not Enough would dwindle away into some new normal, I was mistaken. The harshness continues. I attempt to catch up if only to remain confidants with Truth and Intent, and keep my writing chops oiled, or whatever it is you do with chops.
I have spent much time in the rehabbing of the house. It has gone on for over three months now, dealing with the roofing folks who employ the workers who occasionally show up. The main guy started out good enough, tackling the tough job of replacing the battered and spent wood on the dormers three stories up. But the madness of having one guy going back and forth up and down the stairs all day long in the heat, (what should have been at the very least a two man job), was as frustrating for him as us. But he was the one who refused to seek helpers, seeing as he was so picky and no one could do it as well as he. Too bad he didn’t feel as committed to keeping his teeth, and his mouth looked as pitiful as our falling down gate, and there was a cigarette hanging out of it 90% of the time. As he came to know us better he spent more of his time regaling us, (mostly me, since I was out working, too), with stories of his youth, and then his view of politics which of course is the polar opposite of mine. My fantasy of perhaps finding the elusive “Honey Do” man to carry on with projects I just can’t manage evaporated with the rain. He cut the cable line because it was in his way, and later the wires to the garage lights because he deemed them unsafe, and the darkness in there still pervades. The electrician recommended to us stood us up twice since there’s so much work in the area that nobody needs poor little us to put money in their hands. Life in a Boom Town. Whee.
The light went out of Worker Guy’s eyes when the rattlesnakes started showing up. He says he killed one under the Loafing Shed the first day he was here, and didn’t tell me because I am so pro animal life, tender and all. Then when he FINALLY started cleaning off the trash pile that had marred our front yard for almost two months….well, there was a big boy, or girl, staring at him from under the first layer or two. Snakes have followed the influx of rats and mice who have fled their own Armageddon in the wake of Progress in the Back 40. Worker Guy is a real Man’s Man, no saving such a savage beast when you can kill it, so decapitation was in order. Not so much fun anymore out here.
After that I think it became his purpose to torture me. When he ran out of blue painters tape to mask off the trim on the new doors, (hereby known as the Doors From Hell), he proceeded to use masking tape. Yep, you heard right, masking tape….which BAKED ON in the intense afternoon sun after he refused to continue painting the doors and it became MY job….suffice it to say I have cursed him since. Took me days to get that tape off. I am STILL trying to remove the paint on the small trim pieces which did NOT bond even after a primer coat. That’s another long story which comes out in a whine, and I fear I shall lose my audience. I have since gotten the proper paint, all the way from California, since no one in Austin had it. And thanks for getting us the cheapest door available and then not telling me it could not be painted with regular paint and primer.
There’s the story of how I almost killed the QM’s cat, who had for some reason decided to climb into the engine of the van. (My fault because of all the chaos in the garage where she lived.) Short version: she lived; she’s blind in one eye; she’s learning to be an indoor cat.
In the midst of this I had an art show scheduled in New Mexico. Tragedy has jumped in with both feet out there. My good and special friend was in a horse wreck the week before I was due to come. The details are sketchy, there is blame enough to go around, but nothing to be nailed down, and the end result is a coma which is now four weeks in duration, and no good end in sight. I fear I’ve lost her, even if she lives. It’s that bad.
The sorry trip was punctuated with car trouble, and some local yokel in the high plains who had nothing better to do than run us off the road on a two laner when he pulled out in front of us without the slightest look. The ditch was forgiving; I somehow did what defensive driving was required, and we lived. The art show was lousy, and I lost money – first time ever out there.
When I got home, our long time good friend and mechanic died. It shouldn’t have happened. It did. I still have to take the van in to be repaired, but I’m having a hard time doing it. That’s the way it’s been going.
I’ve not been crying, being the Strong Wonder Woman I preach about being, but at times it gets the better of me. I made a call to the ramrod of the roofing company, trying to get this wreck of a project back on track, and found myself dissolved in tears on the phone. Poor guy. But contrary to what Tom Hanks will tell you about baseball, there IS crying in home repair. In short order the guys who never managed to show up to finish the roof appeared in a couple days time, and then guy himself manifested on Saturday to lay the tile in the garage/becoming studio space to cover up the pitiful job they did where they added the front wall. Still he managed to mix up the order of the tile I had so painstakingly laid out for him – a no brainer – just to prove to me I have no control in the workings of the universe.
I called off my last show of summer, and though I threw away several hundred dollars, I found out that I still made the right call since the report of the show was worse than anything I could’ve imagined. And it was 108 degrees out there. Instead I spent the pre-dawn hours of Sunday morning dealing with yet another rattlesnake which decided to occupy our front porch right outside the door where I was just about to place my foot. It was a fraction of a moment thing, a swish noise barely detectable and a mere flash of black and white tail. I knew what it was, but the Queen Mum would never have seen it. Of course I could find no one to even return a call before 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning, so a 911 call was made and a deputy showed up promptly to dispatch the poor snake, who was just trying to make a living.
That is just about it. I still dissolve into tears if I let myself think about what’s happening, or not happening. I am steering away from a political rant that would reflect my feelings on the absurdity of the situation we as citizens find ourselves in these days….that’s for the other blog and I need to keep my blood pressure down.
I am supposed to be peppering these words with entertaining pictures of progress and positive change. Seems I just needed to vent to get caught up. I vow to get back on the wagon and try to make you (and myself) laugh through the tears. I don’t know why we take life so seriously – but – what else to do? There are/were my dear friends who have lost their ability to laugh and love, and we grieve that loss. Are they laughing at our folly from somewhere that it doesn’t matter anymore? Is there bliss where they are? I hope so, and I hope we all get there. And laugh. I am so weary of the tears that keep sneaking up on me. Even if they got the roof finished.
This piece is akin to a term paper that I’m turning in late and just hoping for a passing grade. Had to be done. I aspire to return to my ponderings and witty self, and hope that the temperatures cool the hella hell down. Stay tuned. Pictures shall return. So shall grace and humor. But damn. Enough already.