Google+ Followers

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

KITTEN AT HOME

Sophia says hi
 
A little two month old kitten has brought a happy spirit into the house. The days are fun with a kitten nearby. She will look me directly in the eyes for quite awhile. She slept most of the time today. Several days of anxiety, uncertainty, not knowing this new world she was given to, out of the blue, wore her out. Paying close attention all the time can be mentally exhausting. I remember her first day when I brought her home in the carrier. She slept the first seven hours. My guess was she might have been exhausted from the fear, the uncertainty, alone without mama in a place with new smells and a giant she'd never seen before. I felt like today she was sleeping off the days of paying hyper close attention, and loneliness for the only life she'd known, in an all new world. Since sleeping most of today, she now feels like she's at home. She likes that she is received in her new world by a heart knowing a baby needs as much love as it needs food for nourishment. I turned the love light on and she responds with her love.
 
the design on top of her head intrigues me
 
I have found her song I sing to her. It's simple. Sweet baby Sophia, Sophia sweet baby, repeated as long as I feel like. I think she knows her name by now. I call her name from another room and she responds with a meow. She might do the same if I said Jiminy Cricket. She hears her name often inside phrases like darlin baby Sophia, precious baby Sophia, Sophia my baby. pretty baby Sophia, I love you Sophia. I can't tell yet if she's differentiated Sophia out of the different words I say to her. Sometimes I'll just say Sophia. Sense of name is something from the human mind. Though, for all I know, they do have names for each other in their minds, names like Big Growler, Yellow Eyes, Square Head. We are feeling each other's rhythms. I watch every move she makes because I love seeing her in motion, walking, jumping, climbing. My heart smiles when I look at her. This moment she is resting on my left forearm, her front feet folded inward on my arm, her back feet sitting on the desk. Her chin is on her left foreleg, eyes closed, riding the rhythm of the muscles in the forearm connected to the fingers in motion.
 
Sophia in motion
 
She is catching on that the keyboard is not a cat toy. She stays off better today than yesterday and so on. I'm never forceful with her except to pick her up, but that only to get her off it. She knows. The scrolling on the monitor and videos fascinate her beyond a youngun's self-control. She has learned when I am hunkered down writing it's just a boring bunch of gray lines with new dots popping up. It was interesting first time, but turned boring fast. She has learned I like her resting on my arm while I'm writing. She rides the waves in the arm and meditates. She is a beautiful creature to behold aesthetically any way I look at her. A living sculpture with consciousness, a mind, emotions, gentle by nature, loving by nature. The cats in my life before Sophia taught me how to communicate with cats, that they learn a lot of my words, and most important they know my meaning when I talk to them in paragraphs, once their telepathy kicks in, they understand what I say to them.
 
tapo
 
Tapo gave me the best example of understanding when I talked to her. Caterpillar had been annoying her, pouncing on her and making her fight to get free. She hated it. I picked her up and sat down holding her. I explained that all she has to do when Caterpillar pounces on her is roll over onto her back and rip Caterpillr's guts out with the claws on her back feet. She'll stop it in a hurry. I put her down after talking with her some more. Within ten minutes, Caterpillar came walking through the door, saw Tapo, made a dive for her and pounced on her back. Tapo rolled over and let Caterpillar have it with her back feet. Caterpillar jumped off Tapo like a firecracker went off under her. I was impressed. Tapo kept on doing as advised and Caterpillar stopped pouncing on her. I know this about Sophia now. She is tuning into me so fast I'm having a great time tuning into her. She wants to be near me and I want to be near her. In these days we are establishing boundaries. She is learning she can crawl all over me, sit on my head while I'm writing, just stay off the keyboard with cat feet that set the screen into all kinds of random motion leaving me to figure out my way back. It's ok. I just laugh. She will have it in a few more days.  
 
Sophia ready to play
 
 
*
 
 
 


Monday, September 28, 2015

UP ON TOXIC MOUNTAIN


Something is happening here on my mountain I find alarming, but nobody else does. The last few years I've seen butterflies diminish in number so much and so fast, I see we will not have butterflies next year. This year I've seen just a few butterflies. Years past, I saw multitudes of them around clusters of Joe Pye flowers. Last year just a few, this year mostly none, now and then one appears. The county's long-arm bush-hog used for trimming the sides of the roads of small trees and other growth, that makes ugly out of beautiful everywhere it goes, came through here a week or so ago. The driver of the tractor made it a point to go out of his way to make a special effort to mow down the stand of Joe Pyes behind my mailbox post. I was out picking up the mail next day and saw a lone butterfly flying around the mailbox looking for the Joe Pye. It was a sad moment for me to see a lone butterfly looking for the flowers that were there the day before. It's not stupidity on the driver's part, it's following orders, doing what he's told, policy. Years ago, I put a 6' long wrecking bar in the ground next to a Joe Pye to protect it. He mowed up to the bar, raised the mower over the bar and took out the Joe Pye the other side of it.
 
 
An acre of wildflowers in the donkey meadow was loaded with flowers all summer. Walking in the meadow through the wildflowers, I never saw one honeybee. Only saw a few bumble bees, very few, and them smaller than they used to be. Insects that also pollinate were absent. Saw very few bugs this summer. The jewelweed flowered far less this year than ever before. Between the house and where I park the car is a big patch of jewelweed. Few flowers this year and few seedpods.  I've not seen any hummingbirds among them this year. The Christmas tree growers have poisoned the water so the native trout have died out, as have the minnows and the snails. The water snakes that live on fish in the creeks are far less in number. My land is surrounded on three sides by Christmas tree fields. They have poisoned the entire mountain. Far fewer birds come to the bird feeders this year. This is the first year I've seen dramatic absence of life around here. Nobody says a word about it. I bring it up to somebody and I'm accused of being a conspiracy theorist, telling you I live among extremely right-wing republicans. Virginia Foxx, the parrot, is my so-called representative.
 
 
I've not seen any wasp nests this year. The exterior walls to the house are perfect for mud daubers to fix their clay tubes to. None this year. I've not seen hornets or yellow jackets. Just a few years ago, all these insects were abundant here. After about twenty years of Christmas trees on the mountain, life is nearly extinguished, the topsoil is ruined and the creeks poisoned. The County advises residents not to drink water from springs, rather to use wells for the deep underground water. Christmas trees are the money crop in the area. The growers make enough money to be a big chunk of the county's tax base, so much that they rule. Like the multi-national corporations have taken over national government, the Christmas tree growers have become our local government. Commissioners have become subservient to the Christmas tree growers who drive the new oxymoron, Cadillac pickups. County government does not encourage the growers to be less toxic or mindful of the statistic that this county has the highest rate of cancer in the state. Everybody knows it, it's understood. The County tells us not to drink the water. Too bad the ground water is poison, somebody is making money, the only part that matters.
 
 
 
It makes me feel weird to be the only one seeing what is happening, or not denying it. Plus, it's not on television. Television people don't notice things like butterflies and bees as anything but nuisance. Fake news tells them it isn't happening. If I were to mention to county authorities the Christmas tree growers have killed life on Air Bellows Mountain, I'd be told it's not really like that, I need to be less dramatic and get with the program. It's the same everywhere Christmas trees grow. The growers put out press that they are environmentally conscious and don't use chemicals much. But when they do, instead of spraying the trees individually like they used to, a grower in an enclosed tractor sprays the fields from the road at night with a vast sprayer putting out a fog that goes where the wind blows. They do it at night so residents won't see it. They fertilize by helicopter, spraying fertilizer pellets in the woods and creek when the copter turns around, sounding like hail on my roof. I don't want their oil-based fertilizer on my land. Too bad. The rain washes the fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides down the hill onto my land. The donkeys are, thereby, poisoned too. In forty years I've seen abundant, rich land, pristine creeks abundant with native trout, minnows, water snakes, poisoned to the extent the land and water have become poison. For money and television.
 
photos by tj worthington
 
 
*
 
 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

DAYS TWO AND THREE WITH SOPHIA THE CAT


Sophia meditating
 
Day two with Sophia, we spent the whole day together. I held her, talked to her, played cat games with her, gave her all my attention into the night. Took her to bed with me, I like a cat to sleep on the bed, and she slept on my belly some, on my side some. She has a stillness about her that makes her easy to be with. She doesn't take much interest in playing with toys. They are only momentarily interesting to her. I remember the time I threw a ball for my dog Aster when she was young. She watched it sail through the air. Looked back at me like, What? I loved that in her and never played the fetch game again. I was so impressed with her for not chasing the ball automatically, I chose not to train the indifference out of her. It's the same with Sophia. She doesn't want to play with toys, ok. I don't mind. It impresses me about her, makes me think I've got a good cat. Not that I think playing with toys is dumb, because it's not, but kittens seem to automatically take to toys. One that does not is kind of unusual for a cat. Or seems so.
 
I like the white around he eyes
 
I talked to her much of the day, using her name often, looking for a brief song around her name. At this moment she is napping on my left forearm. Now she is on the desk top between the keyboard and the edge of the desk. I've made a space wide enough for her to walk on and lie down on. Training her to stay off the keyboard gently. I just guide her away with my hand. She is attracted to the movement on the monitor. Training her to look at it from her space on the desk top between my forearms. I want her to be with me and close to me while I write at the keyboard. To keep her away would make her into a nuisance. She wants to be here, I like her being here. She will learn about the keyboard. Today she is much better about it than yesterday. And tomorrow she will be better than today. She is now on my left forearm again, in a Sphinx pose with eyes closed. I'm teaching her that she can do anything on the desktop she wants, except walk on the keyboard. I'm clearing the desktop to make a hangout area for her. Her stillness makes it possible to have her close while I'm at the keyboard.

another view of Sophia's face
 
I sit to read, she automatically curls up in my lap, does not climb onto the book, does not have to be on the book. For her, the book is a shade from the lamp's direct light. She doesn't plead for attention, just curls up for a nap. The first time I saw her, in the small cage that made an open cat carrier, on the walkway in front of Halsey Drug with a Free Kittens sign, the other two appealed for my attention when I stopped to take a look. This one, the one with yellow eyes, just looked at me making no appeal. One other of the kittens looked just like Sophia with gray eyes. I was drawn to Sophia for her yellow eyes. Caterpillar's eyes were yellow. The kitten's way of not appealing to me and the yellow eyes put my attention directly on her. And she never left my mind. I stayed home from going to see the race today. This is valuable time with Sophia. We're getting to know each other. I remind self Sophia has only been in this body two months. Everything is brand new to her. She pays attention, quick to learn.

going someplace

I am able to raise Sophia with knowledge learned from other cats before her. First, foremost, she is conscious. That's where we start. I know she feels, thinks, has feelings, emotions, and is in a time of hyper-learning, esp now in a new world with a new giant. I'm glad she was with mama cat and kittens unto weaning. She's learned what mama had to teach her and what kittens learn from each other. When Caterpillar, Tapo and Tar Baby were kittens, one would learn something first, then the others would get it. I saw growing up with other kittens teaching each other what they learn, they learn quite a lot faster than one alone.  I'm glad Sophia has had a complete kitten experience. She's learned what a cat needs to know about being a cat. Now it is her time to learn how to be center of attention for a giant with a furry face. Yesterday we played much of the time. Today she napped on me while I read, naps on my arm while I write. Yesterday was getting-to-know-you day. Today, we are glad to be together, are settling into each other. I feel like I'm an old Hindu who married a two month old bride, a marriage arranged by horoscope. What fun  it would be to drive to Rowan County, Kentucky, and ask for a marriage license for self with a two month old cat. I'll check Sophia's horoscope birth chart soon. I can see already she will be a good mouser.

baby with first toy
 
 
*
 
 

Friday, September 25, 2015

SOPHIA'S FIRST DAY

sophia

Decision made and acted upon. Picked up kitten at 10am in Halsey Drug store parking lot. Rain was falling lightly as she was put into my hands. I had a name in mind for her, Sophia, waiting to meet her before naming her. Am now entertaining the name Phoebe, too. Teena, who handed her to me, said I could call her Butterfly, after Caterpillar. I gave it consideration on the way home, it seems such a natural name for her. I remembered the butterflies are going extinct here. Five years ago the clusters of Joe Pye flowers shimmered with butterfly wings all over them. Two years ago, they were less, but plenty. Last year just a few butterflies per stand of Joe Pyes. This year a stand of Joe Pyes most of the time had no butterflies, sometimes one. Next year we'll not have any butterflies. I don't want to name my baby after something the next generation of kids will only know about from children's book illustrations. I never see honeybees anymore and seldom a bumble bee. In an acre of wildflowers I saw very few bugs. Less bugs + less wildflower seeds = less birds. Phoebes, fly-catchers, will go out with the rest of the birds. Sophia is a name that goes back to the furthest reaches of ancient times. It's universal in European languages.

curious kitty

She has just now left the carrier I brought her home in. Put it on the bedroom floor with door open and a small bowl of water inside, left her to make her own decision about when to emerge. This is seven hours after bringing her home. She spent the day curled up asleep. My feeling is she would be nervous from the exchange, the ride and an unfamiliar place with new scents. She is walking around, smelling everything, creeping into places under the desk. She found the litter box, stepped into it, stood in it, looking at everything around. She found a little food I put down for her, sniffed and didn't bite. She's exploring the bedroom now. She has come to me a few times for a touch. She approaches me unafraid. Thought I would let her explore until she's satisfied. I'll let her get into things, knock things over.  She needs to learn what will hold her and what will not. She has emerged from the bedroom and is rubbing on my ankle.

a line down the back like a donkey
 
Just now took some grain out to the donkeys. Kitten ran to me when I walked in the door. She needs a toy. Now she is saying, Mew, mew, like she's looking for sister or mama. Next she scratched her claws on a small piece of walnut wood, frustration. She has gone, now, to another room. Low clouds, completely overcast sky, raining all day, too dark to take pictures. I'll put her under a light and get a few pictures for you to see her. She is fast. I thought she was in another room and then she was at my feet. She has found I am the only other creature in here. Thought I'd let her explore and sniff, become familiar with her new world. She's a common gray cat with black stripes and yellow eyes. Brings to mind one of my favorite old-time fiddle tune titles, Gray Cat On A Tennessee Farm. I like the name Sophia with the A on the end, like Sophia Loren. It's kind of awkward for an American to add the A speaking it. But there is no awkwardness saying Sophia Loren. Sophie is good too, but I like Sophia better. I wanted to wait until I'd experienced her before settling on a name. As I know her so far, I believe the name will suit her, and she the name, until they become one.

Sophia's interactive spongebob

Made baby's first toy. A small chunk of natural sponge on a string about five feet long. The string is a toy too. The natural sponge is soft, light weight. When it swings and hits her in the face it only bounces off. It has good bounce. It doesn't need feathers or colors or catnip scent. The swiss cheese holes make a good texture for claws to snag. I snapped several pictures of her under a lamp. I put her down where I wanted her under the light and she set off in motion exploring. I let her explore. She went to the food I put down for her, sniffed, then scratched the floor around it like she was burying it. I suspect she's been eating dry kitten chow and I've put down Caterpillar's favorite, Fancy Feast Trout Feast. Sophia may think it is just one more thing that smells like Caterpillar. She will have it eaten before morning. It feels good in the heart to have a cat person in the house again.

sophia in her new home
 
 
*






Thursday, September 24, 2015

PEACE AND LOVE GO TO WASHINGTON

 
il papa surrounded by angels of death
 
Pope Francis continues to reward my attention. I find him inspiring. I was wary of him in the beginning. He spoke a good line and he appeared to be a practitioner of his belief. But, he is also the top of the pyramid of the greatest bureaucracy on earth, the original bureaucracy. Like it's hard to believe an honest man can be president of USA, it's equally hard to believe an honest man could become pope. I don't care about the Church and I don't care about organized religion. I am a pilgrim on my own path independent of masculine hierarchies and control by self-centered men who could not go to church unless "called by God" to be the center of attention authority and collect free money. I don't have to deal with money and membership, judgment, expectations, piety, pretense. I understand the value of getting together with others sharing a belief system, even value such moments. They are the people I feel true brotherhood-sisterhood with, immediately.
 
the man on the right has done lost it
 
I like to spend time with such friends, though I also like the company of people who think differently from my way. They keep me reminded that mine is not the only point of view. I feel like it is very important in this world to recognize and accept that everyone's point of view is valid. I'm not one to start a sentence, if everybody would....  The only thing everybody is going to do is ingest, evacuate and die. The rest of it is an infinite assortment of possibilities. Not everybody is going to stop saying the C-word or the B-word or the A-word or the N-word or the F-word. Not everybody is going to use their turn signal. Not everybody is going to be respectful of others. Not everybody is going to think twice. After two thousand years of the Savior telling his people not to be judging, it only hinders your own spiritual growth, it's like those words the same as have black censorship bars over them and no one knows what they were. Like the old feller said, "When I want to be judged I'll go to church."
 
 
 
All the advice from Jesus was such that if everybody did it, the world would be a better place. It's understood not everybody is going to do it. But if the devotee does it him/her self, applies a given principle to everyday life, it makes the devotee's world of people one lives among a better place. Put out peaceable vibrations into the world and peaceable vibrations return. Karma is the core of Christian teaching. Give peace, receive peace. Though it has been forgotten by now. Some years ago I was in Philadelphia visiting a Muslim friend I knew in the Navy, a jazz vibraphone player and devout Muslim. He had a different wife and we were both different from before, though we flowed together well, largely because our faith was similar. He introduced me to a Muslim brother or sister as not of the faith, but my faith was similar to theirs and embraced theirs. They welcomed me. I went to a mosque and was greeted as a brother. I found them beautiful people I felt happy and at home among.
 
 
He and I were wandering through the museum of Art in Philadelphia, and came upon an exhibit from western Africa of replicas of huts people lived in from different regions. I think it was Senegal we were passing when he spoke with an African man in a black suit standing beside the exhibit, who was with the exhibit. They spoke and found both were Muslim.  Friend also spoke Arabic. They embraced as brothers and were the same as brothers from the embrace onward. I thought: Wow, that's living peace. I can't help but find it interesting that the Muslim world is draining into Europe in such numbers they must be accommodated by necessity if not decency. I see it an injection of devout, peaceable people into societies that could use some peace. Of course turmoil will arise from racism and religionism. Europe's racism is on the verge of a test. Pope Francis in DC appears to be a spirit of peace in "that great city" where hate and greed are the order. He looks kind of pitiful surrounded by men in black with ear pieces, weapons out of sight though instantly accessible, well trained in the art of killing, everybody in the crowd a suspect. Alas, it's necessary in every city in the world.

il papa sequestered
 
 
 
*
 
 
 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

POPE FRANCIS HAS LANDED

il papa
 
The pope is in America, riding about in a tiny Fiat in a sea of security in ominous Lincolns. He appears out of place in pictures surrounded by important Americans in expensive clothes, the masses herded behind a barricade. In Cuba he was out walking around greeting people, individually, praying with them. In America he's surrounded by military and power in suits, kept away from the people, a security risk. I saw a video of him walking from one place to another with a parade of security, a crowd of people the other side of an impenetrable fence cheering him. He looked at them, I imagined feeling impotent, like a cow in a stockyard led from gate to gate by the threat of an electric cattle-prod. The other side of the barricade huddled the Americans who interested him. He could not reach them, was not allowed to walk among them. Dangerous. I'm thinking he must feel like he's reading 1984. I feel like his only defense in the world of American power, where false is true and true is false, would be his humility. His center will hold. He is beyond desire, beyond seduction. I'm sure he does not have a sense of humor as jaded as mine, leading me to suspect he will be praying for us when I would be laughing. We need all the prayer we can get.
 
love pope by karl urbach-mallin
 
I can hardly wait til Thursday to see what he has to say to the American congress for the international record. The corporate marionettes will have a great time indulging their propensity for hissy-fits. This is the only thing I can see that's predictable. George Will goes on being a serious disappointment. Even back when he was the new voice of conservative punditry he was as screwed up as he is now in his advanced age. I had not paid him any mind in so long I forgot about him. Then he turned up today in a snit about the pope, writing fundamentalist nonsense, as usual, the reason I've never been able to take him seriously, or even read him. He's a good writer. It's the mind behind the writing I have issues with. Not really issues. I don't take him seriously enough to have issues with him. The republican reaction to the pope, presaged in Wills' prosecutorial accusations, need be of no more interest to me. Wills already spelled it out. 
 
 
Next is seeing it in action for the corporate propaganda show called the news, Meet the Press, jabber, jabber, jabber, Rachel Maddow yelling back at them, pointing the finger. Bill Maher is at risk of jumping into the deep end again. I'll be curious to see what humor he makes of America's encounter with Pope Francis from a proud and provoking gay atheist point of view. This particular pope, Pope Francis, in America in this time of corporate police state that holds Mammon highest, seems so out of place he will make great editorial cartoons, the little humble guy with raging morons on Fake news blaming him. To the pope, I imagine he feels like he stepped into the world of another religion as foreign to his own as Zoroastrianism or Hinduism, even more foreign, and far less gentle. The nearest he will see to gentleness could be the black servants. They would be the people he could connect with, eye to eye, the divine in me greets the divine in you.  
 
 
 
I never imagined in my lifetime I'd see a pope that did not support fascists. This is one of his many aspects that makes him a surprise pope. He will get all kinds of criticism, and of course, he must, as no good gets done without opposition, yet this man will prevail. He is unafraid. He is backed by the gospel. Not even a twisted interpretation of it. The American fundamentalist reaction will be so ridiculous, it won't even be comic. As in life, they do not matter. I'm more interested in what he has to say before congress and of his American experience. He will see much of what he sees in Rome, the rich and the poor and all the in between, American style, which, when you get down in among the people, is a very genuine style. We are a good and a genuine people on the whole, albeit aggressive and obnoxious with a passion for killing. We're complex. Some are this, some are that. We have some who like to get their brains bashed playing football for television and some who play string instruments in symphony orchestras all over the land. The Obamas show him respect. He will have delicious meals. His tour of Babylon will be on a soft cushion surrounded by an assault army.
 
 
 
 
*
 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

TAO TE CHING #64

 


64
 
               What is rooted is easy to nourish.
 
               What is recent is easy to correct.
 
               What is brittle is easy to break.
 
               What is small is easy to scatter.
 
 
               Prevent trouble before it arises.
 
               Put things in order before they exist.
 
               The giant pine tree
 
               grows from a tiny sprout.
 
               The journey of a thousand miles
 
               starts from beneath your feet.
 
 
               Rushing into action, you fail.
 
               Trying to grasp things, you lose them.
 
               Forcing a project to completion,
 
               you ruin what was almost ripe.
 
 
               Therefore the master takes action
 
               by letting things take their course.
 
               He remains as calm
 
               at the end as at the beginning.
 
               He has nothing,
 
               thus has nothing to lose.
 
               What he desires is non-desire;
 
               what he learns is to unlearn.
 
               He simply reminds people
 
               of who they have always been.
 
               He cares about nothing but the Tao.
 
               Thus he can care for all things.
 
 
                                ---tr by Stephen Mitchell
 
 
photos by tj worthington
 
 
*
 
 


Monday, September 21, 2015

BUSH-HOGGIN THE DONKEY MEADOW

justin bush-hogs the donkey meadow
 
This evening it rained after dark. Perfect timing at the end of a week of people working in the hay all over this region of the mountains. It was an ideal week for putting up the hay. It cuts so much easier when it is dry. It rakes better and bales better. Keeps better through the winter. Justin brought his step-dad's tractor and bush-hog today to bush-hog the two donkey meadows, mow down all the wildflower growth. I did not have it bush-hogged earlier for wanting to see the meadow flower through the whole season, from the spring flowers to the autumn flowers. The meadow was a flower garden all year. Last winter's hay spread wildflower seeds all over the meadow. Donkey droppings are loaded with wildflower seeds too. I won't let it go so far next year. It's impractical for grazing donkeys. They need as much to eat as they can find in two acres. Bush-hogging the meadow chops down all the big stems from beautiful purple asters, ironweed, queen anne's lace pods and stems, goldenrod, takes it down to the grass that is growing under all the taller growth. Dry from a few weeks of no rain, the growth was easy to mow with the bush-hog.
 
bush-hog
 
The bush-hog is a big, powerful lawnmower. A blade turns under it like the blade under a lawnmower, just bigger and heavier steel. It runs off the pto (power take-off) shaft that turns behind the differential housing. It runs balers and mowers too. It is not something you want to get a shirt sleeve caught on. It doesn't stop. Tractors and their working equipment are mortally dangerous. They require knowledgeable attention. Sometimes, no matter how well you know them or how much skill you have with one, the least lapse of attention can be fatal, the unexpected happens by surprise. I had two incidents on a tractor. I said there will not be a third and stopped working with one. It was time to leave the farm, anyway. I survived both incidents by miracle. Old man Tom Pruitt would not ever drive a tractor. He knew too many people in his lifetime who died by tractor. Doc Watson's son, Merle, died of a tractor incident. Tractors are unforgiving. They are powerful beasts made of heavy steel, heavy flywheels, wheels so heavy it takes more than one man to stand one upright to put one on a tractor. The tires are filled with fluid, not air. Tractors are brutes.
 
bush-hoggin
 
Dry in the late afternoon, the growth mowed easily and chopped up nicely, exposing the grass the donkeys like. The meadow is wet in the early mornings from the dew. Jenny comes to me for morning carrots, her face wet and legs wet after grazing in the wet jungle of wildflowers. Justin mowed the meadow the donkeys were grazing in first. Before he was done, they were running and playing on their new grazing ground, dancing, having a lively time, a donkey celebration. The rain is a good rain for dry ground, steady, not hard. The damp ground will give a boost to the grass in the meadow, keep it growing in this end of its growing cycle. Timing just right. The grass will be perked up in the morning, easily accessible to grazing donkeys. The shredded stems and leaves will be topsoil by this time next year. Justin mowed the places where the donkeys cross the creek to help them be better able to see where they put their feet. It is a good time to have the meadow mowed with Jenny's baby on its way. I want to be able to find Jenny's baby. In a jungle so deep I could only see the donkeys in it by their ears, Jenny could hide anywhere. I'm all for her having good hiding places, but she has plenty among the rhododendron. I want Jenny's baby to have meadow to romp in. The donkey celebration tells me they like their meadow mowed.
 
finishing the last of it
 
I was glad to see the field the hay came from. I saw all around the mowed meadow the wildflowers that have seeded the donkey meadow. Transferring seeds from one meadow to another. Anybody wants wildflower seeds, come get a bucket of donkey droppings, throw them out on the ground and you'll have wildflowers galore. Finished bush-hogging, Justin drove the tractor to the place by my mailbox where he parked his truck with the trailer behind for the tractor. He drove the tractor onto the trailer, strapped and chained everything down for the drive to step-dad's house. I drove out to Justin's house in Glade Creek where we watched the end of the race, a good, clean finish. Crystal and Vada arrived home from a round trip to Maryland with Crystal's mother and dad to see grandma. Vada was wired from being in the car for so many hours and "on good behavior" at great grandma's house. She showed me some new fart putty she had that isn't so gommy. She gave me a big sheet of yellow paper with blue paint on it she had done at pre-school. I loved it and she was happy I loved it. She told me I could take it. I said I would hang it on my wall at home.
 
loading the tractor
 
 
*
 
 
 
 


Sunday, September 20, 2015

WINTER HAY FOR THE DONKEYS

 meadow and haybales
 
The weather has been ideal for mowing hay the second cutting and packing it into barns. Plenty of sunlight to dry it. The grass was dry enough to be easy mowing, raking and baling. Up high on a ridge, the wind would help dry the hay. The land is about half way between the town of Sparta and the township of Whitehead. Dead Man's Curve would be a little ways beyond the trees. I rode with Justin in his truck to the hayfield so I could drive the truck while he threw the hay onto the back and stacked it for the highway. I felt like old man Tom Pruitt in his seventies driving the truck while somebody else threw the hay onto the back. I wanted nearly as much as Tom did to be out there throwing the hay bales. Not that I thought it all that much fun, but I wanted to be helping out, not letting Justin take care of all of it when I was sitting in the truck taking pictures. He hates putting up hay and was vocal about it. I understand. We were talking as people who have put up a lot of hay. I don't particularly like it either, especially alone. Yet, I'd rather be out there tossing the hay than be the one driving the truck.. In the truck I feel bad about seeing somebody else do all the work. Just like old man Tom. Now I'm old man TJ.
 
justin
 
He had already packed by himself, and did the driving, twenty-eight bales that he brought to the donkey barn, unloaded and stacked in the barn. He came by the house to pick me up. I had just finished yesterday's writing, clicked the last button. I was ready to go. His truck is powerful. The tires are huge with major tread, expensive tires, such that it would take me a year to pay for them. My trucks in the past have not been power vehicles. They were just trucks, second-hand Toyotas. I never saw the need to put such money into a vehicle to get me from one place to another. Justin's needs are very different from mine. For him, it is a convenience to have such a powerful truck. He does some powerful work with it. Hauling twenty-eight bales of hay is a powerful feat for a truck. He drove it very carefully down the hills in the meadow and the way to the highway, shifting into low range gear, four wheel drive, and taking it easy. Lose traction, the hay is dumped and the truck on its side. I was witnessing great driving skills.
 
securing the hay for the road with one strap
 
How he packed the truck is one of many things Justin knows how to do that amazes me. In the picture you see twenty-eight bales of hay packed on the truck, secured with one strap across the back. We took highway back, a five to six mile trip to the donkey barn. The hay did not even wiggle during the ride up and down hills, through curves, some of them awkward. He backed the truck down the driveway with two curves to the barn like it was easy as driving forward. I back down it using the brakes. He backs down it with the gas pedal. He can drive backwards just like forward with side mirrors only. Justin's dad was a good driver, though Justin is a much better driver. His dad was a good fighter, and Justin a much better fighter. Age eighteen, his dad provoked son to fight him in the parking lot of the bowling alley where Justin played pool with his friends. Dad had in his mind embarrassing Justin by kicking his ass in front of his friends. He never hit Justin once, and got his own ass severely kicked. Justin tried to talk him out of it, said to him, "I will hurt you and I don't want to." Justin said of the event, "I know that swing from where it starts. I saw it like in slow motion. I moved my head back, he missed and I drilled him with my whole life."
 
at the barn


 
Justin threw the hay off the truck into the barn's opening. Back down on the ground, he packed the hay in the barn, then back on the truck throwing off some more bales, then back to packing it in the barn. Nothing for me to do but gape about and take pictures of him working like a slave for the donkeys. Done putting up the hay, I intended to take grain to the donkeys next. He wanted to be with me giving them the grain. He backed the truck up to the gate, opened the gate a ways to sweep the hay from the back of the truck where the donkeys could eat it. The abruptness of this huge white truck that rumbled like a Harley backing up to the gate, then opening the gate. Jenny got real nervous real fast. Justin wanted to give her grain by hand. She would not have it. She only backed away from him. Jack picked up Jenny's tension and backed away from him too. I gave Jack some grain by hand, then gave some to Jenny, talking to her, telling her she is safe, nobody is going to haul her away from here. I realized the last time a big truck with a white trailer appeared, she was abducted away from her life before, which she has not forgotten. She was terrified. I noticed her color a little bit odd. Her hair was standing straight up all over her body. For all she knew, I would betray her too, like her previous human Jenny believed was her friend. Justin and I took it as time to leave and settle it for her that she was safe at home with Jack.   
 

transferring the hay
 
 
*
 
 
 
 

Friday, September 18, 2015

CATERPILLAR AND THE FORGETFUL KINGDOM

 
My heart is longing for a four-legged friend to bring some spirit back into the house. It's not like there is a void in my heart. It's just that I miss Caterpillar all the time. It is becoming something I need to let go of, maybe. The love in my heart for Caterpillar is the same as when she was in the body. I can still talk to her. It's a matter of getting  used to the absence. A kitten is available colored like Caterpillar with yellow eyes like hers. The kitten stays in my mind. Another part of mind says I don't need to be jumping into a Caterpillar replacement right away. Birds galore, chipmunks and squirrels are regulars here every day. I've cultivated them, fed them to attract them for my visual enjoyment. I cannot bring a killer in on them. Plus, there is all that goes with a kitten. Like teaching it to stay out of the road. Plus, I am not done with the sorrow of losing Caterpillar. I'm assured the time was right for Caterpillar, the method she chose was right. It showed me she was in tune with her wild mind. Domestic mind was learned behavior like a second language. Wild mind was her first and foremost mind. I like for my cats and dogs to have access to their wild minds. Where I live gives dogs or cats access to wild mind.
 
 
 
Caterpillar's back legs gave out. She lost her spring, the only reason she could lie on the ground to watch birds and chipmunks and not snatch them. Years ago, I saw her jump straight up and swat a flying snowbird about four feet above the ground. She hit it like hitting a tennis ball overhead. She did not knock it out of the air, hit a wing. The bird's flight wobbled and caught its equilibrium in a hurry and was gone. I did not like the cats killing birds, but they ate them. That they ate the birds I took for the natural order and allowed it. When they ate the birds, the cats are not just killing for fun. They did not kill more than they cared about eating. The cats were well fed at home. They did not require many birds, just enough to keep the desire for the taste of blood satisfied. Caterpillar had not been a hunter for several years, which I was grateful for, though on account of her back legs losing their spring, which makes me sad. My feeling is that she grew weary of her back legs not working so well.
 
 
 
I would do best not to think about it. She had her reasons that were beyond reason. Intuition guided her, or so I suspect. She seemed too much like she knew what she was about. She had purpose. It was the most interesting passing of any of my pets. Some were killed, some died of age. It leaves no choice but acceptance for my part. I'm grateful to Caterpillar for saving me the agony of burying her lifeless body. That's the very hardest part. The blues I'm feeling will pass. Caterpillar's is not the only spirit in the house. There is also my own spirit that inhabits the place. I'm either fooling myself or I do indeed feel Caterpillar's spirit is still here. Not like a ghost and not like her soul, more like the spirit of her presence continues in the air. Or maybe I'm more engaged with memory rather than subtle perceptions.  I'll go on grieving, knowing simultaneously that Caterpillar, her consciousness, her soul, is doing fine. She's all right. I'm the one that's not. Can't help but think of John Crowe Ransom's poem, Janet Waking. The last two stanzas:
 
     So there was Janet
     Kneeling on the wet grass, crying her brown hen,
     (Translated far beyond the daughters of men)
     To rise and walk upon it.
 
     And weeping fast as she had breath
     Janet implored us, "Wake her from her sleep!"
     And would not be instructed in how deep
     Was the forgetful kingdom of death.
 
 

 
The forgetful kingdom of death. I will forget the spirit of Caterpillar's presence. Time erases memory. Therefore, I cling to memory and feel sorrow all the more, knowing this, too, will pass. This, the grief, the last little bit I have left of Caterpillar, the sorrow of losing her, I hold in my arms while her spirit is fresh in my memory. It has been another day of inability to shake myself into motion. Unmotivated. No motivation for anything. I like taking carrots and grain to the donkeys. Jack is braying. A car going by set him off. He is a good brayer. The spirit of the donkeys is very much here. About the time my sorrow loses its momentum, a baby donkey will enter my life. It makes me curious about Caterpillar's timing. Jenny's belly is growing huge by now. I'm wondering if she has a belly full of two of them. I won't hope or think about it. I'll just pray that Jenny's delivery be safe for all concerned.   
 
 
light and shadow on white pine bark
 
photos by tj worthington
 


Thursday, September 17, 2015

STILLNESS

donkey jen watches me arrive home

A day of feeling a loving spirit, clear mind, continuing to mourn Caterpillar, though not in the way that wrings my heart, rather gently, quietly, still within, unable to do anything. Carrots to the donkeys, seeds to the birds, squirrels and chipmunks, noting the squirrels and chipmunks don't run when I step outside. The birds don't fly as far as they used to. They tell me I am at peace with the world of the wildlife I live among. They know me and I know them. This morning crows lit up in the woods across the road when I went out with carrots for the donkeys. Next thing would be throwing seeds to the crows at their feeding station across the road near the mailbox. Doves, snowbirds, possums snack there too, anybody passing through, and the crows. It was comforting this morning to hear the crows, see the bird activity in the rhododendron and nearby trees, chipmunks scuttering just a few feet away, anxious for the two feeders to be filled. My neighbors have become my friends, Caterpillar's world. She did not bother any of them. She'd lie on the ground like a gray rock and watch. Birds would peck a few feet from her, her whiskers would wiggle and she'd make involuntary squeaks.
 
donkey jen
 
Coffee, French roast, or something like that. It's African coffee I imagine from a French colony. Talked with Carole awhile. From there on, all I wanted to do was sleep. Went back to bed. Once I lie down, missing Caterpillar comes forward. More than an hour of rolling back and forth from side to side, all that was happening was misery overtaking me. Got up, went to another room where I keep old photographs and found two big photos of Caterpillar, took them to the bedroom and pinned them to the wall so I could see them waking in the morning and at nap times. I allow the need to wallow in the grief, but don't let it indulge itself beyond satisfying the need. I can't suppress the grief. It would be a disservice to my love for Caterpillar to cut the grief short, bypass it, deny it, pretend I feel nothing. The grief is a part of it. I've been here before, know the feeling well. Everything is so different now. A living spirit is missing from the house. Objects are just stuff now. The interior of the house feels like it has lost its spirit. All that's left is the bones. Emptying Caterpillar's water bowl was a difficult moment.
 
jack nibbles his grain
 
Picked up the McCarthy book and read for quite awhile. Did not want to hear music or see any sort of video. Only wanted quiet and stillness. Slept for a few hours. Woke, went back to sleep for a few hours. Woke, back to sleep. Decided to sleep as long as I felt it. Awake til 4 last night unable to sleep for being miserable. About dark, I woke up and felt like staying up. All day I noticed a loving feeling within that went with all  my thoughts. People who came to mind, I felt a loving attitude toward. In this way it has been a beautiful day never leaving the house, but to take grain to the donkeys in the late afternoon. I've been concerned that Jenny's udder has not developed when she just has six weeks to due date. I googled pregnant donkey care and found right away the udder does not expand until about a month before due date. They recommended breeding donkey to deliver in early summer so baby donkey can be born in warm weather. I can't help but wonder about donkeys that live in wild herds in the Rocky Mountains and in the Andes. I don't think they program it to deliver babies only in the summer months. Jenny and Jack's baby will have to acclimatize to the cold quickly. Jenny and Jack will keep it warm.
 
donkey jack (l)  donkey jen (r)
 
I won't need a cat or a dog when Jenny has her baby donkey. I'll not push Jenny to let me handle her baby. I want it to be all hers. I know her jealous nature and will honor it. She will be supremely jealous with her baby, or so I suppose. I'll take my time getting to know the baby without giving Jenny any suggestions I want to control it or take it from her. I'll enjoy her with her baby, stay back and wait for the baby to come to me of its own will. I look forward to seeing Jenny as a mother. My guess is she will be a wonderful mother. Jack will be a proud daddy too. I will have a new friend to love. I look forward to knowing Jenny's personality as a mother. Since she fell in love with Jack, she has been quite another woman from before. The Jenny I know now is Jack's companion of the heart. Next, I'll know Jenny the mother, Mama Jen. Jenny in her maturity has become a beautiful donkey, Penelope Cruz donkey, silver-gray like Jack with the dark chocolate line running down her spine from the top of her head to the tip of her tail. They are African herd horses like zebras awfully much, even in a way like camels. I like having access to such a being, to know one, consciousness to consciousness, to learn how to communicate across the consciousness divide in silence without language. Donkeys have lived among humans as long as dogs and cats have, and much of that time more intimately.
 
donkey jen
 
 
*