Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Conversion to Vegetarianism

Praise God! I never thought I would hear these words out of my daughter. I mean, she’s a tough cookie, extremely opinionated, and unwavering in her beliefs, to a point that I find her insular at times.

So today is a monumental day. After nearly 17 years of life, she is converting.

As she finished dinner—barbequed chicken, rice, and her favorite veggie, corn—Ivy whispered, almost inaudibly, while covering her lips, “I want you to start cooking…(hushed) lentils. I don’t want to eat meat anymore.” Oh, and I might add to her list of characteristics—comedienne, hilarious, and dramatic wild woman.

My eyes widened. “Really? I mean, you joke around with me all the time. You really want to go vegetarian?”

Her eyes wandered to her left as she contemplated this commitment, then transitioned into discussing the movie her video production teacher has been showing them on the horrific abuse and torture of the still-living animals at slaughterhouses. “Yes,” she replied.

“The reason I went vegetarian at 18 was for the same reason. I saw one of those movies too. Even when we were beef farmers, we never raised the one we were going to eat, because we’d get very attached to each of our cows, calves, and bulls.” Plus I had a friend who didn’t eat meat. “You’ll feel better, look better, and be a better steward of Earth!”

But I backslid 27 years later. In 2005 when “that man” joined our family, he took us down the evil path. He was a wolf, a wolverine, a lion—a carnivore. So being the dutiful little wifelet I wanted to be, I began serving roasts and other dead animals. To my amazement, I uncovered a gift I didn’t know I had for preparing these lifeless creatures. I experimented with herbs, spices (my specialty), and marinades I’d concoct. Ooo-la-la, I felt like hot chilies!

And by the next year when “that man” had moved on (with a boot in his arse), I could have gone back to my meatless ways, but Ivy had an affinity for animal carcasses. Being a dutiful little momlet, I continued to permeate our home with these odors.

Ivy also went on to reeducate me about corn’s omnipresence in our lives and as livestock’s unhealthy filler feed. I added that the reason I’ve rarely consumed corn for three decades is because it’s comprised of starch, sugar, and used as filler. When she agreed, I smiled broadly.

Could life be any better? She’s becoming more like me!

copyright © 2009 by Auntie Eartha. All rights reserved.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

My Fish is Dead

My little fish flipped out again, but this time she was out too long. By the time I found her, Angel was harder than the last time and her tail had turned black.

Just the night before I was telling someone fish stories (see auntieeartha.blogspot.com/2009/06/angels-nine-lives-i-pray.html): about the last time I found her crispy and two flip-outs just this week. She was like the Little Mermaid who wanted to grow legs.

As I slept that night, I worry-dreamed about the fish, and at 6:18 a.m., I flew out of bed, thinking I had heard her hit the floor again. But instinctually I let Shiloh outside instead of checking on my fish. When we came back in, there was Angel on the kitchen rug again. This time I knew she was dead, but because I’ve been able to revive her in the past, I put her in her bowl, held her upright, and prayed.

This time, though, her energy was completely different than all the other times she’d flipped out. Then, a minute later, she slightly moved her gill. Within a half hour, she could keep herself upright, and throughout the day, she improved and the black in her tail turned white again. But it was obvious, her color and personality had declined.

My friend looked at the fish, shook his head, and said, “She’ll be—”

“No! Don’t say it!” I cried.

His mom used to raise fish for Colorado Springs pet stores and had numerous aquariums that she constructed, so he knew what a dying fish looked like.

All night the worst thoughts pervaded my mind. At midnight Angel was barely alive. I had more strange dreams. By three she was sideways on the bottom.

I have never handled death well. My connection to everything is so strong that I feel subtle energy emanating from not only humans and animals but from trees and mountains. Sometimes all this stimulus is too much to deal with. It makes me wonder why I adopt animals…and I won’t anymore.

The night my Nana died, I parted company with her prior to her departure. She had raised me, yet I couldn’t handle being with her at that moment. I’m not sure I should feel guilty, so I justify my retreat. At the precise moment her spirit left her body, though, I was amidst a crowd and gravitated to a quiet corner where I sat and felt her pass.

When my little yellow Lab and almost human, Alex, transitioned May 20, 2000, I knew the exact second he died and came upstairs to find him. That experience is still one of my worst. Not sure I could even write about it. No matter who dies, I know I’m partially to blame. And I should have gotten my little fish a different bowl.

I will bury Angel in my rose garden and never forget her. I will still hear her noises—the small ploop, ploop sounds of her eating or blowing bubbles, the foraging between stones to find fallen food. I’ll miss looking into her bowl and greeting my little fishy-poo—’cause that girl had personality.

copyright © 2009 by Auntie Eartha. All rights reserved.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009


Practically all year they graze and drink together, walk side by side or in single file, keep each other company, and even lick each other…or themselves…because they can.

But when the leaves fall and the smell of crisp, dry foliage fills the air, they become, shall we say, frisky and downright mean toward each other—and anything else in their way.

Rutting season is here. It’s when I feel trapped in my house and don’t hike for fear a buck will charge, ’cause they never pay cash.

On a recent hike, one scoped me while Shiloh was off trail relieving himself. When my hiking buddy calmly said, “Turn around,” and I saw this 14-pointer leap over the wood fence aiming toward me, I almost relieved myself. Fortunately, he made an abrupt 120-degree angle and headed up the hill. What a relief.

And yesterday when a 5 by 5 (ten tines on his beams) looked through our garden-level window, his knees at my eye level, and he started scratching the ground, lowering his ears, and steering his rack toward me, I closed the blinds.

He then turned left, snorted at his contender on the other side of our fence, and Mr. Testosterone Two, in turn, wheezed his reply.

Elks bugle; mule deer wheeze through their noses like elephants trumpeting through their trunks (sec 0:17 on clip). Hormones drip from their noses. I saw it. As many times as these powerful animals have been in our yard, I have never heard them make that sound.

All day long, they engaged in a standoff, each on one side of our fence, posturing like little kids who have to pee. Hindquarters lowered, knees bent inward, small movements back and forth, eyes watering, then a quick rearing of the head with a snort.

What a tedious chore this hostile escalation is. Occasionally, one of the adversaries will lie down and drink a beer, while the other rolls his eyes and exhales, miffed because he was so close to engaging. These two are proof that evolution can go in reverse. They’re supposed to be challenging each other for female access, but yesterday no does were to be seen in our yard.

At dusk, with the smell of musk overpowering the aroma of cracked leaves, I heard the neighbor dog whimper and felt the earth move beneath my chair. “Quick!” I shouted to my daughter, and we ran to the living room window. There were Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, horns locked, buck snot flying, doing an intimate tango, and destroying one of my gardens.

Crack! Two large pieces of pottery holding my stand of parsley ruined. Over bricks and flagstone, scraping and dragging their hooves across the ground, they forced each other from one side of our yard to the other. While it was as exciting as the Thunderbirds flying over the house, it was clear how much these horny deer could destroy.

Finally, one sperm donor heard his mommy calling him home for dinner, so he extricated himself from the lovelock and sprinted east through the woods, his hungry rival trailing close behind.

So now my backyard looks like the war zone it was. Jack-o’-lantern remains are strewn about. Deep, muddy gouges slice through the carpet of green grass. Flagstone is scratched white and peppered with mud. Chunks of fur lie on the grass and rock.

And the dazed doofi didn’t even leave me an antler.

copyright © 2009 by Auntie Eartha. All rights reserved.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

The Golden Years (my ass)

When I was young, it drove me crazy that older people—usually my boyfriends—would turn their conversation around to their health. Well, it wasn’t really about health, it was their lack of health. Dialogue gravitated to aches, pains, their wives, and what didn’t work that used to, how they used to be able to do something they no longer could, and how hard it was to keep up.

That was during a time when I’d rather have been talking about whose parties were coming up, sales I’d made, music I’d played, weekend jaunts I’d taken or planned, dinners, and sex. Now those topics were exciting.

Even ten years ago I said, “I’m so much more comfortable with myself as I get older. I look better, feel better, and have more confidence. But now? You know what I think of “the golden years”? They suck like a pool drain. I hate getting old. What makes it even harder is that I’m still a teenager in my brain.

But when I hit 49, the declining-health talk I’d formerly cringed at began to eek out of me when I spoke. It’s not as if I planned it, it simply emerged. I began talking about what was happening to my body: cells that needed to be destroyed, movements that weren’t being inspired, not feeling like a hottie, shrinking boobs. And whereas talking about bodily events used to lead to interesting discussions, the exchange became more of a dirge.

And you know that phrase “There are those who do it and those who talk about it”? I was talking about it. By choice. I got so self-conscious about all the purportedly uncontrollable* things going on in my body that I couldn’t imagine being too close to someone, not even the dog.

If this rings any bells with you, we’re part of the same club. The dreaded Silver Club, like a golf club—not the building, the silver rod with a mallet at the end to hit balls with. Hard, ’cause you’re so pissed off. How can you feel so young in your brain yet have a body that looks and acts so different, so old?

When I aged another year and joined Club 50, I decided to view the physiological changes as natural and not fight them. You know, start loving myself in this evolutionary stage. For 50, I figured I didn’t look too bad anyway. ’Course I need glasses. Plus the only person who sees me in the morning is my daughter, and she’s way past the shock.

So what do I do with the wrinkles around my eyes? Fill ’em with makeup. When the inner tube that used to be a stomach area gets too big, I wear long shirts. I use the little bumps that used to be my boobs as an excuse for not wearing a bra. Really, what’s the point?

When my pants feel tight, I don’t wear any. And because I work from home, when I look old, fat, and unacceptable, I can forgo being seen, except of course by the critical chick in the mirror. But I’m learning to ignore her criticism. (She-devil.)

So if you see a caulked-up, long-shirted, brassiereless gal wearing no pants, walking her dog, don’t think, Whoa! There’s a golden girl who’s lost her marbles. Think, teenager. Think, Woodstock. Think, titillating!

copyright © 2009 by Auntie Eartha. All rights reserved.

* purportedly uncontrollable: I’ll elaborate on this topic later.

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