Coyote Rodeo

He jumped the fence at the regular place and worriedly looked behind him. If cows jump over the moon, why not this fence?

The bull stopped short and snorted. Call me Ferdinand again, I dare you.

Heifer who likes her head scratched and plays with the water hose had noticed him first. More greeter than aggressor, she trotted right up to him and was a little hurt when he shied away. That caught the attention of the other two.
Little bull has strengthened his self esteem by pushing fallen tree trunks and a big telephone pole around the pasture and corral. He enjoys intimidating geese and joggers along the fence line, charging at them with his head down, snorting. His head and neck are growing as thick as those old trees.

He dreams of having a nice set of horns. But everyone who knows him is very thankful he does not.

Coyote circled and dodged. He seemed a little upset. He avoided the corner where the three cows seemed to be herding him. Sure, this is all fun and games until someone gets stomped to death.

The heifers had to stop - winded from laughing so hard.  The bull's gratefully short attention span seldom extends beyond the heifers' butts so he stopped too. It was over before anyone got a camera out.

Coyote regained his composure but won't be back until that bull is gone. Now the chickens and guineas are getting a little too noisy and full of themselves.

While You Were Gone

Glad you're back! Bummer about the water line and too bad about your tooth. Good luck at the dentist and let me know if you need a ride. Those can be rough.

No kidding about the weeds at your place. No wonder you call it the Weed Ranch. I always thought it was a pot joke. Save me a couple of those tumbleweeds for a Christmas project would you? Tremendous!

Let me know if you want help with those fallen branches. Sorry about your lawn chairs.

Those Franken-stickers are back in that northeast corner (and the SW and SE corners too.) You'll need your leather gloves, chaps and boots for those. They're there in the shed where I moved them from under a leak.

The goatheads were pretty bad but the cows got them good when they got out. The fence fix with the chaise lounge and wire is obviously temporary.  I think the shrubs will recover, so no worries there.

You were right to worry about mold around that roof leak in the kitchen. Boy, that dark spot looks bad. 

I noticed the ladder was gone or I would have checked on your gutters.

There was some guy hanging around the ditch a few weeks ago and I found a wet sleeping bag back there. But with all those mosquitos I think he's moved on.

That reminds me, I heard something under your shed. Mice? Skunk?

Oh, and your neighbor - the one that was mad at you ... Or the other one that was mad at you after that - he's asking for that lost gate key so you may need a bolt-cutter.

Other than that everything looks fine. Welcome back!

Irrational Fullness of Life

The irrational fullness of life has taught me never to discard anything, even if it goes against all our theories (so short-lived at best) or otherwise admits of no immediate explanation. It is disquieting and one is not certain whether the compass is pointing true or not; but security, certitude and peace do not lead to discoveries.

CG Jung - introduction to a 1949 edition of The I Ching

Can't you just see the wind?

Mom's holding her hair out of her eyes, squinting behind ray-bans and glaring up at him and that damn pentax he got for Christmas. Mistake, she thought, turning back to the campfire to stab at the steaks.

Her mood and the wind came up at the same time. She'd begged him to leave it at home, that camera. She'd had some dentistry. The partial wasn't ready. She didn't want her gapped-tooth smile immortalized and she sure isn't smiling in this photo. But you can see that dark space anyway as her mouth is open a little saying, "Oh for God's sake Dave."

He took her picture all day like he always did. Our weekend and holiday camping trips and picnics were elaborately documented. If there'd been an internet then, my father would have facebooked, geo-cached and tweeted every one of our trips. As it was, he left multiple trunks of 35mm slides, rolls of super-8, shoe boxes of 3x5 prints, and a small library of photoalbums.

In the pictures from this day the wind is like an unwelcome family member, a crazy Aunt who visits for extended periods every spring and spends the afternoons screaming and crying at you for something that isn't your fault.

Continue reading "Can't you just see the wind?" »

Turtleback Mountain Diary 3

Fiesta Dresses are a distant topic from sex torture and murderous pitbulls.  Given the continuing notoriety of the David Parker Ray case and Sierra County's apparent desperation for economic stimulation, I'm greatly relieved and a little surprised no one has had the idea of re-creating the "Toy Box" as a museum piece - at least that we know of.
Fiesta dress fashionsfromthepast.blogspotLessons from that horrifying history seem limited to: A) Gosh, we sure hope that's history; and B) "Let this serve as a warning to girls." 

It's infuriatingly common to hear that this is what happens when girls do X, Y or Z.  Such victim-blaming is blazingly evident in the justice system and the Ray trials.*

The focus on the victim and her part in sex crimes doesn't change behavior - least of all men's behavior toward women and girls.  But it does evoke generalized fear and suspicion on the part of one-half the population toward the other. This is hardly the basis for a healthy community but it's great for gun sales. 

Pleasant and un-prurient interests abound in Sierra County, as fiesta dresses remind me.  The Geronimo Springs Museum also has a most fabulous pottery collection, including a Mimbres Black-on-White pot with an exquisite crossword puzzle-like design - as if the artist was tripping and picturing a New York Times of the future. But the fiesta dresses are my personal favorite.

My Mother, Aunts and every other female I knew had a fiesta dress or three during the day.  These particular rick-rack on-net artifacts of the 50's home sewing era were winners of T or C's annual Fiesta Dress competition. They're kept lovingly dusted and displayed in the "Barbara and Ralph Edwards Suite" along with fifty plus years worth of parade and pagent memorabilia - walls full of B-movie stars' signed photos and smiling fifty faces of Miss Fiestas. Fiesta dress and edwards's saddle

Ralph Edwards died in 2005 and in the 2006 parade the Sierra County Sheriff's Posse honored him with a riderless horse. The Fiesta event has cooled as the town struggles with finances in the absence of Edwards's largesse. But they're still crowning "Miss Fiesta" every year.


*For a detailed account see Consequences: The Criminal Case of David Parker Ray, by J.E. Sparks.  But better yet, don't.  Take a picnic or go to the museum where you won't see a thing about it.

But Mostly, Chickenwire

Trees don't weep for the death of newspapers. Or beavers, for that matter.  We should read our print on hemp. But hey, we may also skip ahead to not reading at all, if you want to get all sad about it. 

It would completely revitalize our economy to retool American agriculture for hemp production.*  Maybe it scares Big Agriculture, but probably not. Maybe my tinfoil hat's talking, but if they can genetically modify and patent the weed seeds and corner markets for hemp products they're all for it.  I'd be a little surprised and disappointed if they're not doing that already. But first, you gotta #legalize.

And then, beavers. Easy to assume they are avenging slaughter of their ancestors for early 19th century top hat fashion. But they're just being beaver - murdering huge beautiful valley cottonwoods like they've always done.  On far edges of bosque places they girdle entire huge trunks in one night, inner bark for winter dinner. Cottonwoods bent by the last big valley floods a hundred years ago are doomed. Things that live in dead trees enjoy housing boom.

Painstakingly encircling the trunks with chickenwire stops their mighty teeth.  That, and maybe pepperspray.**  (On the tree bark, not the beaver himself.) 

Mr. Coyote has no doubt made a play for Mr. Bigtooth.  While contemplating a slingshot or airgun attack on this bold coyote (as an alternative to chasing him with a broom, which apparently just amuses him) I am paradoxically cheering him on in what I imagine to be his daily pursuit of that beaver, especially now that he has wiped out the neighborhood guinea fowl. I'm working on zen acceptance of his sandhill crane hunt.

 That's undoubtedly the answer to the beaver question as well.  Afterall, there are still many trees.  Especially from the viewpoint of the one holding a roll of chickenwire.


*It would revitalize our local economies and truly revolutionalize our culture to not just retool but also rescale agricultural production for hemp. But, alas, that's perhaps too bold a dream.

**There is such a thing a Comprehensive Beaver Management Planning but I have no comment on that.

Tiny House Living Lesson 101

It's just stuff.

The last move was about a year ago and I've been downsizing ever since.  I'd rather be doing anything else - which is why it took so long.  Spring cleaning was a real reward because there was less to deal with. I jettisoned furniture, books, clothes and collectibles going from a 2400 to 750 square foot house. 

Honing an attitude about how material stuff really doesn't matter helps with downsizing.  I can't say I personally felt that way, but I'm sure it does help.   Just because you can't take it with you to heaven, or wherever, doesn't mean you can't cram it into the shed now.  It may just be stuff but it's your stuff.  George Carlin comes to mind: That's all your house is - a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff. 

The urge to purge is much weaker than the desire to acquire.  Thinking of it as pulling weeds in the garden to give remaining plants more strength helps with the item thinning.  I can't say I personally thought of it that way, but I'm sure it does help.  I gripped tightly to huge chunky antique furniture and piles of dishware that I knew wouldn't fit in my tiny house and paid to move it twice before giving it away. 

 Property is theft. Nobody “owns” anything. When you die, it all stays here. (101 Greatest George Carlin Quotes.)

Weed War

Weeds rule the weed ranch.  Stickers on steroids assaulting tender paws and skin.  It'll be goatheads the size of golf balls in the fall if forces are not mustered now.

But it is sure to be another long expensive war.  A mercenary I asked for a yard work estimate drove up in a Jaguar.