Sunday, December 20, 2015

A story, part two

The girl stared at the picture of the mountain.

She wept.

How could she have been so foolish?  The mountains were her heart and her bones.  Mountains can shake, this is true, but to abandon one's heart and bones due to some shaking?  To spend a life at sea?  With the constant bobbing and heaving?  Boats shake.  Islands shake.  Mountains shake.  She could survive shaking.

The girl threw herself overboard, clung to the gunwale, and began kicking.  She didn't know which way the mountains were, but she figured it was better to kick her way towards something than drift towards nothing.

The sun dipped below the horizon and the scorpion climbed out of the eastern sea.

I will find land before the giant chases the scorpion into the sunrise, she thought.  

Kick.

Kick.

Kick.

The sea lion and the otter rode in the boat, gleefully barking and yelping as she propelled the small boat towards a faint memory.

The sun rose and fell.  The giant chased the scorpion towards the sun.

One day, after a rather tiring day of kicking, the girl and the sea lion and the otter saw a speck on the horizon.  

An island.  With a small hill.

She kicked furiously.  The sea lion barked.

The shore was craggy and rocky, with no place to drag her boat ashore.  She swam about in the shallows, yanking on kelp fronds until she found one firmly anchored to the seafloor, and wrapped it around her tiny, battered boat.  The otter chewed on a sea urchin attached to the kelp blades.

The girl swam ashore.

Slowly, tentatively, she stood up.  It had been years since she had stood on land, and she didn't quite know how to proceed.  But a hill is like a mountain, only smaller, and she could see the top, so she took a few wobbly steps.  She remembered running on her mountain, and climbing trees, but her legs were atrophied from her years crouching in the boat.  

Every day, she wobbled a little way up the hill.  Every night, she returned to the boat and the sea lion and the otter, sore and bruised from the day's walking practice.  Every day, she awoke a little stronger than the day before.  

By the time the giant had chased the scorpion to the sunrise, the girl found herself standing on top of the hill.  From her new vantage point, she could see other islands in the distance.

Two of them had mountains.  One was close, but it looked like the path was very steep.  One was a bit farther away, and the path to the summit seemed very craggy.  From the top of the hill, the girl couldn't tell which mountain might be better to climb.  She wondered if she had the strength to climb either of them.  Hills are like mountains, but the hill was low and the path smooth and soft. 

Climbing the mountains would require hiking boots.  She hadn't worn shoes in years.  She didn't even know what size she wore anymore.  

She returned to her boat and the sea lion and the otter.  She rocked in the waves.  She stared at her pruny toes.  She thought about how wonderful it had been to stand on the top of the hill.  

Perhaps I should go talk to the people on each island, and see if anyone can tell me where to get shoes, she thought.  

To be continued.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A story

Once upon a time, there was a girl who lived on a mountain.

She adored her mountain.  She sang with the chickadees, and climbed trees with the squirrels, and made snow angels in the winter.  She knew every rock, every trail, every grumpy bluejay.

She did not know that her beloved mountain, like many mountains, was a volcano.  One day, it began to rumble and shake, as volcanos often do.  Terrified, the girl from the mountain ran as quickly as she could towards the sea.  She had visited the seaside once, and she didn't remember it ever shaking.

For many years, the girl wandered around on the shore.  She dug holes, and built sandcastles, and splashed a bit in the water.  She never looked back towards her mountain.  Too dangerous, she thought.  This beach is safe and never shakes, she thought.  She learned the names of all the shorebirds.

One day, a dinghy appeared on the shore.  Anchored just offshore was a small sailing ship.  The girl was intrigued.  She'd always wondered what life was like at sea.  She clambered into the dinghy, rowed through the waves, and climbed aboard.  How exciting!  A life at sea!

The girl sailed for several years.  She learned to swab the decks and furl the sails.  She sailed through storms.  Oh, how the ship pitched and rolled in those stormy seas!  It was as bad as the shaking mountain!

She yearned for stability.  She was tired of the rolling.

One day, in the distance, she spied an island.  Yes, this is the thing, she thought.  An island!  Islands are not ships or mountains.  Islands do not shake and roll.  This was exactly what she was looking for.

The girl rowed her dinghy away from the ship and dragged it ashore on the island.  It was small, and not very exciting, but it wasn't moving.  Her ship, unmoored and unanchored, drifted away.

One morning, three weeks after coming ashore, the island sank.  It was not an island, in fact, but a whale that had been taking a nap in the sun.  Panicked, the girl clung to her dinghy.  Land was nowhere in sight.

For days and weeks and months, she pulled at her oars, sometimes making progress but mostly going in circles.  She watched the sun rise and fall.  She learned about all the sea birds and the names of the constellations.  She swabbed what little deck she had.  She sang at the porpoises.  Sometimes they sang back.  Her fingers and toes stayed perpetually pruny from the constant salty dampness.

After a few years, the oars rotted away.  Seaweed and barnacles grew on the bottom of the dinghy.  The ocean pitched and roiled.  The girl learned to stay low in the boat so that it wouldn't overturn.

She forgot what it was like to be dry.  She forgot how to walk.  She forgot what stillness was.

She was joined in the dinghy by a one-eyed sea lion.  It kept her warm and gave her someone to talk to, even though it never talked back.  It snored when it slept, but it was good company.  The girl and the sea lion loved each other.

A few years later, a slippery otter came aboard.  It was quick and silly and kept the sea lion company when the girl didn't feel like talking.  The otter loved the girl and the sea lion.  It also loved fish.  The dinghy was crowded, but less boring.

The sun rose and set.  The ocean pitched and rolled.  The girl and the sea lion and the otter drifted in the dinghy.

And then, one day, as she was staring out at the water (as she often did), the girl noticed a bottle.

A bottle?  Floating way out here?  She hadn't seen a bottle in years.  Decades, maybe.  She scooped it from the sea and uncorked it.

Inside the bottle was a photograph of a mountain.

To be continued.

Monday, November 30, 2015

It hurts enough now

I finally made an appointment with an allergist.  I am afraid.

I am afraid of what he will tell me.

I am afraid that it's going to be dogs and cats and rats and rabbits and mold and dust and pollen and the six things I can be bothered to eat.

I am afraid that my only recourse will be to not be around those things.

I can get rid of the wretched carpet and probably encase my bed in one of those dust-mite bags, but I sleep with a dirty Swiffer that I call Trixie.  I don't know how I'd get her out of my bedroom without utterly destroying her emotionally.  She already has a hard time during the 8 hours a day I'm at work. She is physically in contact with me most of the time I am home.  She's clingy.

Zip is less filthy, but still filthy.  Fortunately, he is only on me for an hour or so a day.

My entire workplace is an allergen.

Maybe I can get the shots?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Dermatillomania

I'm a pretty hardcore skin picker.

My skin is not terrible.  It was once, and I took Accutane to deal with it, but now my skin issues are mostly in my head.  Intellectually, I know that the slight darkness of a pore is just a sebaceous filament, and that they belong there, and that going after them with fingernails and implements will only make a hole in my face....

The satisfaction of seeing that little seed thingy pop out of the pore is REALLY soothing.  Even though it makes me bleed and scab and scar.  I'm sure there's some deep psychological reason I find that pleasant.

I finally hid my blackhead extractor in a drawer far from my bathroom.  I didn't throw it away, because sometimes that's the only way to get a furious zit that's in a funny spot, but I now have to walk to another room to retrieve it.  I have to acknowledge that yes, I am about to do damage to myself to unearth something nobody else can see, much less care about.

I haven't dug at my skin for three days.

I wonder how long it takes for all the wounds to heal?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Midsummer Nights and dreaming

In order to pass my lighting class, I have to work a certain number of lab hours doing lighting related things.  My instructor is also the lighting director for the first faculty-directed show this season, so I've been racking up my hours hanging lights and running the light board for A Midsummer Night's Dream.

For those of you who have never done theatrical stuff, running a light board is not very exciting.  It consists of sitting in front of a large panel with many buttons and switches, one of which is labeled GO.  You peer down on the stage from the booth, in the company of the sound guy and the stage manager, who is wearing a headset and peering at the script.  When the stage manager says "lighting cue XYZ, standby," you hover your finger over the GO button.  When she says "lighting cue XYZ, go," you hit the button.  That's about it.  I push that button like a champion.

In order to stay awake, I pay attention to the show.  I've always liked this particular play, and know a lot of it off the top of my head because it was the focus of a theater class I took when I was 11 or so (let's not talk about how it's an incredibly filthy play and not for children).  This particular production is set in the Wild West, which is sort of interesting.  "Duke" Theseus owns the local tavern, Lysander's got a sort of ranch-hand thing going on in contrast to city-boy Demetrius,  the Rude Mechanicals meet at the old mine to rehearse their crappy play, and the Fairies have a Native spirits sort of vibe- "Wakinyan" and "Ptesanwi" battle over the changeling boy while "Maca Coyote" enchants the Foolish Mortals and generally makes a mess of things.  

I'm all for making interesting changes to old standards.  Watching the show over and over, I started thinking..... if I was in charge, what weird tweaks might I personally find interesting?  Hmmm....

Short fat Hermia, tall skinny Helena.  Their height difference is canon, but they're usually both slender.  Two dudes fighting over the love of a short fat chick?  You don't see that very often on stage.  I'm not talking stocky, either.  I'm talking fat.  Beautiful.  Desirable.  Spherical.  Or fat Lysander.  Let's see something other than taut lovers.  It's getting boring.

Genderswap Oberon and Titania.  A fairy king who won't give up the baby?  A fairy queen casting spells to make her lover fall in love with a monster?  A fairy king fawning all over with a man who has a donkey's head?  The donkey-man being into it?  Go for it.  Might be interesting.  See what happens.

Genderswap Bottom.  Let a woman chew the scenery and ham it up.  Makes the interactions with Titania less routine, and gives Flute even more reason to complain about being cast as Thisbe.

Scary fairies.  No flitting, no floaty hands.  Sharp pointy teeth.  Claws.  Guttural noises.  When Bottom wakes up to find Titania groping him, he's not smitten.  He's afraid he'll get eaten if he doesn't go along with it.  Let's add a little darkness.  Puck's doing some deeply unsettling things anyway.

Non-white people.  Shakespeare can get a little.... monochromatic.  Let's get the full human spectrum in there.  Black Titania.  Latino Theseus.  Vietnamese Egeus and Hermia.  Pakistani Puck.  Cast a whole show without white people.  Why not?  

Play it as the unending dick joke that it is.  The whole thing is thinly veiled smut.  Shakespeare's audience might have understood the puns, but unless someone adds some nudge-nudge-wink-wink-say-no-more, the modern audience thinks it's just a sweet silly play about love and fairies.  

Let John Waters direct it.  You know you would have paid good money to see Divine play Titania.  Gone too soon, gone too soon.  RIP Divine.

What's your favorite Shakespeare play?  What's your favorite weird casting choice?  





Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Dispatch from the Tunnel

Ai yai yai!  Between the madness of summer camp (late June-late August) and the madness of school program season (October-late June), there is a brief lull at work where I can take a moment and gaze in horror at the chaos around me.  Eye of the storm.

One of my jobs is to sort of keep track of 45 years of photos documenting all sorts of goings-on at work.  Trouble is, most of them are utterly unlabeled, and the people who were around in the beginning are rapidly aging.  So I've started yanking out boxes of photos and trying to put them into some sort of chronological order, at least.  Mind you, this is only actual physical photos.  I do not have the digital photo library, which might be scarier.  Once I write dates and names on the back of the photos, it's pretty much done.  It's not going to glitch.

I also signed up for the stage lighting class at the local community college, as it was on Thursday afternoons and I figured I can sneak away from work for a few hours once a week.  Of course, there are "lab hours" that I have to do outside class time, and they they tend to be (you guessed it) during regular business hours.  I'm getting creative with my scheduling.  I'm enjoying it, though.  I look forward to Thursday afternoons, and not just because the drama lab is air conditioned.

Bunnyman died suddenly in August.  No warning.  Just came in to the rabbitat on a Monday morning and he was dead.  Geraldine is very lonely and very eager to hang out.  Coworker SW (whose programs are the reason we got all these mammals in the first place) is going off to get us new young rabbits.  Part of me is glad for Geraldine to maybe have company, and the other part of me is not looking forward to having to care for two new creatures who I will undoubtedly grow attached to.  I'm also back to feeding the reptiles and amphibians and invertebrates on Fridays, since Coworker SW is now only working 4 days a week.  I am grimly accepting my fate.  There are worse people to carry this burden.

Speaking of burdens.  Coworker HM plucked a stray tomcat out of a tree at work, and he is now living in my house.  I'm calling him Charlie.  Charlie's not fond of Trix or Zip, but is slowly growing to accept that the price of a perpetually-full food dish is being an indoor cat with no testicles and furry weird roommates.  Charlie's a pretty nice dude, and has mellowed out since having been neutered on Saturday.  The yowling has decreased, anyway.

My car window has managed to die, and the window is now stuck in the down position.  I have one day off this week, and it looks like I get to spend it having that fixed.  Irritating.  I hope this is not symptoms of my car trying to die- it's a 2008, but I only have 50K miles on it!  Nooooooo, little green Toaster, you cannot get sick!

I'm getting some sort of repetitive stress thing in my arm from smartphones and trackpads and labeling photos and embroidering and 900 other small unnatural motions I make every day.  I think I just need a month off to do nothing but sleep.  No communication, no fine motor skills.... yes, vacation sounds good.  Maybe I can have a vacation in 2016.  I'm not optimistic (what else is new?).

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Browsing fabric

I went to a fabric store yesterday for no real reason.  I just like to look at pretty fabric.

LOOKIT THE PRETTY FABRIC.  I want to make a million skirts with matching pettipants.

Oh my gawd they have leaf noses.

Not usually a body-parts girl, but they're in jars.  I'm a jar girl.

Monsters!

My god, it's the tackiest tropical print ever.  I love you, tacky print.

It's a pretty shade of red.

The pink peony is the same old-lady pink as most of my house.

Old lady pink florals are my jam.

Who doesn't like peacocks?  Noisy, messy birds, but hey.

This is a holiday print I can get behind.

I think it's supposed to be corn?

I'm a little acorn brown, lying on the dusty ground, everybody stomps on me, and that is why I'm cracked, you see.

All the fun of Halloween ribbon, without, yannno, ribbon.

It's a neutral.

I wish my profile was that cute.

This is the classiest, most subtle Halloween print ever.

Purple and spirals and bats?  Yes please.

Makes me want stuffing.

Oooooold lady piiiiiiiink flooooooooral.

Red and black and cream? So fetching.

I'm sort of into the tone-on-tone batik look.

SPAAAAAAAACE.

The purple bits remind me of bat heads or moths.

Can't go wrong with black and cream.

Add some gold, add some class.

Pink and red.  It's like my den.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Retrying the school tunnel

After screwing around a little with my schedule, I decided to retry the school tunnel.  On Thursday afternoons I am now taking a stage lighting class, which I hope will cure my of my fear of electricity. I still intend to volunteer in other capacities, but I figured that lighting was not something I could teach myself in the garage.

Dig dig dig!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

More than one way to dig a tunnel

Welp, the go-back-to-school tunnel collapsed.  All the local classes for the things I want to do are right in the thick of when I have to be at work.  Hmm.  Definitely can't be unemployed- I have dog cancer vaccines and cat food to pay for.

Okay, so, now the plan is to volunteer at some local theater, and build up my skill set that way.

Dig dig dig.

And maybe make myself some new costumes, just for the experience points.

Dig dig dig.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Time for the annual existential crisis.

Hey, darlings.  It's summer again, which means it's time for Tante to freak out about her path in life.

I did not mean to do what I do for a living.  Growing up, I was heavily involved in theater, and when I was a senior in high school I got it in my head that I should study something "practical" in college.  Three years into my hospitality management degree, I realized I hated hotels and restaurants.  A brief fling with the forestry department turned into a 2-year relationship with the parks and rec management program, which is what I stuck with until I finally had enough scattered credits to graduate with a Liberal Studies degree.  I flailed about for a year or two, dealing with a new ADHD diagnosis and the terrifying realization that I had just spent 5+ years at school and didn't actually know how to do anything useful careerwise.

Somehow, I stumbled into outdoor education, and I have been in this business since 2003.  Don't get me wrong, I don't HATE it.... but when I say stumbled, I mean it.  I never meant to do this for a living.  I have no great passion for it.  I like the coworkers, and I know we're doing good work, and I am good at certain parts of it, but I don't love what I do. Anyone who has kept up with me over the years knows this.

Life is very short.  I work pretty damn hard at a job I don't particularly love to earn a paycheck that isn't that spectacular.  If I'm going to be working hard and earning crap, I think it should at least be work that I enjoy.

For a long time, I said that there was no way I'd go back to school, because there wasn't a subject that I liked enough to want to incur debt for.  While showering off today's camp filth and sweat, it occurred to me that I DO like something that much.

I have spent the last 13 summers volunteering for Pageant of the Masters.  Volunteering.  No pay.  I go do makeup underneath a stage 30 nights per summer because I like it.  At no point have I thought UGH NO I HAVE A SHOW TONIGHT I DON'T WANT TO GO.  Even if I'm tired, or filthy, or sick from child germs, I want to go.

I like THEATER that much.

I don't know what it takes to go back to school.  The cost of it scares the hell out of me, quite frankly. I don't make much money, and my job sucks up most of my energy.

I made a mistake in 1996 when I didn't pursue a degree in theater.

Perhaps it is time to remedy that mistake.

Friday, June 26, 2015

On Marriage

Today, all the social media sites have been blowing up with rainbows and people who vehemently disagree with the SCOTUS decision to make gay marriage legal in all 50 states.

I'm not gay, and I'm pretty devoted to the Lady Bachelor lifestyle, so it really doesn't have any bearing on my daily life.

That said, I am happy for my gay friends who can now

file their taxes jointly
not have to pay estate taxes should their spouse die
ensure priority if they need to seek conservator status over their spouse
receive Social Security/disability/Medicare/veteran/public assistance spousal benefits
take family leave to care for a sick spouse, or bereavement if they die
ensure visitation rights if their spouse is hospitalized or incarcerated
make medical decisions if their spouse is incapacitated
make burial arrangements if their spouse dies
renew leases signed by their spouse
receive family rates for insurance
not have to testify against their spouse in court
get their spouse a green card if their spouse is not a citizen

which are all very lovely things that are very adult and practical and reasonable.

I just don't understand why the government ever cared about the genitalia of the people who choose to enter into this sort of legal arrangement.  Seriously, that's weird.  The SCOTUS had to make an official ruling about whether consenting adult humans wishing to legally tie themselves together were allowed to have matching genitals or not.

We have had national debates about how our sex lives relate to legal contracts.  Maybe it's that asexual thing again, but... really?  REALLY?  Why does anyone CARE?

As for the "sin" part that keeps getting brought up... well... lots of things are considered "sinful" by lots of different books.  And I don't see any public outcry against eating pork, or wearing mixed fibers, or reaping to the edges of a field, or trimming beards, or remaining seated in the presence of the elderly... the SCOTUS doesn't have to make rulings about those things.  Because those are religious things, not secular things.  I consider marriage a very secular thing.  Happens in a lot of cultures, in a lot of ways, for a lot of reasons, and a lot of them have nothing to do with religion.

In our culture, we seem to do it to proclaim that we love (whatever that means) another consenting adult human, and wish to be legally and socially glued together till we die.  It's how we choose our family.   If your religion has extra add-ons for that, great.  Good for you.  It has nothing to do with me.  I don't have a say in it.

I'm just glad that people now have more options as to who they decide should be their legal family.





Friday, May 22, 2015

Tante loves drop cloths, vol. 1

I have an unhealthy love for the canvas drop cloth.  It is a useful thing.  Today's utility: slipcover.

This couch is comfortable, but very ugly.  I have neither the money nor the inclination to make a real slipcover- and my pets are going to make a mess of it no matter what.  Enter the drop cloth (I think it's a 9'x12').

Wash it first, or it's a little stiff.  Line up one edge against the front bottom of the couch....

And the opposite against the back bottom of the couch.

Escort your cat from the room, and then line up the side edges with the side bottoms of your couch.

Stuff the excess into the cracks between the cushions, back, and armrests.  Again, remove cat from the room.

Pull the loose corners together (this is hard to photograph without help, and the cat doesn't seem to have the thumbs for it).

Tie the corners together in a tidy square knot.  DAMMIT ZIPPY STOP HELPING.  Repeat on the other side.

Tuck the excess loose bits.  A nice, neutral, washable solution to an ugly problem.

Add decorative cushions and feel pleased with yourself.  Total cost: about $27.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Maker Faire 2015

Well, this year turned out better than last year's dog-eye-cancer-extravaganza, and I actually got to go to Maker Faire Bay Area.  I am a shitty photographer, so none of my exhibit pics make any sense to anyone but me, but there are good pics of the event on their website.

Here's the pics I can describe.

WHY ARE YOU PUTTING CLOTHING IN A BAG, BIPED?  So I can go to Maker Faire, Zip.  AM I COMING WITH YOU?  Umm, you're going to stay with Oma.   IS THE DOG GOING WITH YOU?  No, the dog will be with you at Oma's house.  I WILL COME WITH YOU IN YOUR BAG.  Dude, no.  I promise, you don't want to ride in the overhead compartment.
JWA with my father, who was my partner in crime for this little adventure.  Taking off out of JWA is like being shot into space.  I don't know what my face is doing in this pic.  I look like my dad, though.  Hi Dad, you're on the interwubz.
The motel Dad originally booked was a little.... creepy.  It was also not very close to the venue, so Dad decided to search for someplace a little less... itchy looking.  Seriously, this pic does not capture the true "dead hooker in the box springs" vibe this place was giving off.  It had 1.5 stars on TripAdvisor.  Yeah.
The only place within a few miles that had a room for less than $1k a night was also sized for Hobbits, and had an immediate drapery malfunction.  They managed to move us to the only other available room with two beds, which was the handicapped-accessible room.  Hard flooring and an enormous bathroom.  I had zero allergy issues all weekend, once again confirming my theory that carpets are 90% of my problem.
Day One was completely overwhelming.  We had to park 1.5 miles from the venue on some side street, and walked in.  Whatever, no biggie.  The place was an absolute sea of humans, and it was tough to take it all in.  Seriously.  Wall-to-wall people.  The things that stick in my mind from Day One:  Pancake printerbot.  Playa art cars.  Drone fighting.  LifeGlider mobility assistance devices.  Canjos.   Pedal-powered stages.  A present bought for a friend.  Steampunk gears that actually DO something.  Giant sculptures that belch fire.  Folding kayaks.  The sunburn on my nose. 
Day Two we had an agenda- get there early to score parking, and speaker-hop through as many presentations as we could.  We got there before 10am, and waited with the rest of the throng of nerds for them to drop the barriers and release us all into Nerd Wonderland.  We hit presentations on simple robots, Flotilla electronics education systems, wearable electronics, papercrafting/mechatronics, and the Eepybird mentos-coke grand finale.  There was a guy on a stage playing an electric shovel and giant robot giraffe.  
There was much Maker Faire swag to be had- bags and buttons and LED-blinky pins (if you went to the Learn-to-Solder tent).  I scored this patch by telling the guy at the booth a terrible joke.  Thanks, Booth Guy.  I like patches.
Some people buy shoes, some people buy toys... I buy information.  "Making Simple Robots," "The Maker Manual," "Tinkering," "Making Makers," and "Zero to Maker."  I also bought a red Maker robot bandana (I collect bandanas), and scored a tote, five buttons, a tin that says "If you can't open it, you don't own it" and a patch.  The yellow ribbon thing was my wristband for the weekend.  Dad bought a mini drone.  It was a bitch to pack everything into the carryons.  I had forgotten about that part of traveling.

All in all, I am extremely glad I went.  I have a lot of reading to do about electronics to expand my ever-growing toolbox of knowledge.  I have many ideas sloshing around in my brain.  I haven't felt that spark of interest in a while.  I am a learning junkie, and I just found a giant community of people who are absolutely willing to enable me.

World Maker Faire is in New York at the end of September.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Waiting is the hardest part.

Boris is dying.


Today was our annual Spring Faire fundraiser at work.  It's also the grand opening of the butterfly house for the season, and I am in charge of the butterflies.  I had planned to get to work at 7 to get things done.... and that meant that I had to get the dog peed and the cat fed and the rats checked on before that.

The dog peed.
The cat ate.
The rats.....

Vincent came right out when I turned on the lights in the Rat Room.  I called for Boris a few times.  Boris is a little older than Vincent (although they're both over 2 1/2, which is rather elderly for a rat) and has a bit of hind end paralysis, and has always slept quite hard.

Boris was very still.  His breathing was shallow.  His eyes weren't totally shut.  His hind legs were a bit twitchy.

I have been the human caretaker of 11 rats in my lifetime.  9 of them have already followed the Death of Rats to the other world.  I know what's coming.

As much as it killed me to go to work, I had no choice.  It was too big of an event to miss, and already understaffed.  I petted Boris before I left, and cried, and told him that he could go whenever he needed to, and not to wait for me if the Death of Rats came.

I spent the next 8 hours pretending I was okay.

As soon as I got the last guest out of the butterfly house, I bailed.  I didn't stay to clean up.  I hope my coworkers understand that I am very serious about being there for the dying.

He's still alive.  Barely.  I have been sitting with him off and on for the last six hours, arm in the cage, pinky finger barely touching him, whispering

i love you it's okay you can go i'm so sorry it's okay you can go i love you i'm sorry i'm sorry i'm sorry i love you i'm sorry please forgive me i tried i don't know how to make this easier i love you i'm sorry it's okay you can go i love you i love you i love you i love you i love you i love you i love you

I leave the room to walk the dog, to eat something, to shower, to cry, to vomit out words onto a screen.  Sometimes Death likes to work in private, and won't come if someone is watching.  I try to leave all the options open.

Vincent has been sitting with his friend for the last 3 hours.  Occasionally he grooms him, or puts his paws on Boris's face.  I lure him away with a cheerio so I can see if Boris is still breathing.

He's still breathing.  Barely.

I will continue my vigil until I cannot stay awake a second longer.  I will take a catnap, and then I will wake again to repeat this process.  I have to be at work again in 11 hours, and I don't think my heart can handle leaving him tomorrow if he is still alive.  I do not know how he is still alive right now.

Please, Death of Rats, please, come for Boris.  Come for my friend.  Lead him to that other world.  Let his poor tired body rest.  Please.

Oh Boris.  I'm so sorry.

I hate the waiting.

I'm so sorry.

EDIT:  Boris died sometime between 10 and 11:30 this morning, while I was teaching.  He had seizures all the way till the end.  Vincent was with him, in a travel carrier on my desk.  I wish it was not so hard for the Death of Rats to lead my friend away.  28+ hours is a long time.  Still, I am grateful.  Death is not all that bad.  It's the dying part that's hard.

Tomorrow, Vincent begins his new life as a Briefcase Rat.  He's coming to work with me every day so he doesn't get lonely.  We will have each other to lean on as we grieve.

My heart hurts.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Homework: Nature

Well, it seems that I am awake enough to have remembered to do my homework this month.  The fact that I do this month's topic for a living helps, because I don't have to think very hard or go very far for content.

I work at a small suburban nature center.  I teach kids about squirrels and dirt and trees and rocks and birds.  It is my business to know NACHUR (as the kids like to spell it).  So I figured I'd just post a bunch of pictures I've taken at work in the last two months.  Cool?

There are plants at work.

Some are spiky and pink.
Some are VERY spiky and pink. 
Some are just pink but not spiky at all.

And things that are not plants.

There is a fungus amungus.

 There are animals at work.
The raccoons don't usually come out in the daytime.
The salamanders would prefer not to come out at all, but I moved his rock.
Some are just busy chompin on a leaf and don't seem to notice when you stare at them.
Sometimes those animals need a little assistance.
Like when the ants find them as they're coming out of their chrysalis and they need to be rescued.
Or when they fall out of their nest and need a little snack before trying to fly again.
Or when they smack into a window and are too dizzy to get off the walkway.
And have to be moved so they don't get stepped on.
And feel kind of cranky about it for a while.

Nature is lovely, and I suggest everyone spend a little time there once in a while, but remember....


So make sure you tell someone where you're going and when you'll be back, so they know where to send the search and rescue team!