Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bear-Proof Fence

My wild ’n’ natural friend had a bear-proof fence installed around his backyard that’s nestled in the mountains. He said he kept moving his grill back and forth from his rear deck to the front, but wherever his grill went, the bear, and sometimes her cubs, would follow.

On special mornings when the bear’s tummy was growling, my friend would open his garage door to find her standing in front of him requesting breakfast. Being accommodating, he’d quickly close the garage door. Actually, he’s not really like that. I just think Mama Bear’s size reminded him of his ex-wife’s mother who broke their toilet seat, and he hoped the bear wouldn’t ask to use the facilities.

I suspect he, also, tired of Mama’s constant appeals, but given two children to feed this year and a gigolo boar who’d gone into the mountaintops to forage for younger, hairy sows, what choices did she have?

My friend’s bear-proof fence is made of thick, sturdy metal, though he assured me it doesn’t have spikes. Seeing an impaled animal for a later meal wasn’t on his list of fence functions, and around here, we hear of impaled-deer occurrences. Subsequently, the suffered aren’t later consumed, but wept over.

So when my surprised friend discovered the bear in his backyard again, despite his new, expensive fence, he wondered how the persistent beast entered. Did she scale the fence with its intermittent horizontal bars (which is what my friend would have done)? Did she get a running start, use a pole, and spring forward? Did she get a boost from a friend? Did she climb a tree and drop in? And if she did, how did she get back into the forest?

And why does his yard have such appeal?

“There’s a plum tree back there,” he told me. Itty-bitty plums, like my boobs. After all, this is Colorado, not Georgia. Being a health-conscious mom, and with all Mama Bear’s carnivorous fulfillment on Cheyenne Mountain, she knew she needed a balanced diet, particularly if she’s still nursing.

Going back in time, I’m sure my friend planted his plum tree thinking only of himself and not feeding the hungry, though he is of the thoughtful, God-like species. He had, perhaps, a plum pie or a scrumptious plum crisp in mind at seedling time.

But this is now, and Mama’s mate has done his seedling-ing, and she was hungry.

Aha! My friend watched the big ursine climb a large pine tree, reach over to his fence, and jump down, like Rambo or Arnold. He didn’t monitor her behavior and never saw her leave, so he’s unsure of her exit strategy, but I vote helicopter. After all, we’re talking Broadmoor bear here.

“Now that I know how she’s getting in, how can I keep her out?” my desperate friend asked. “I’m scared to walk out into my backyard.”

“I’d pick a few plums and toss them into your neighbor’s part of the forest,” I suggested. “Then find some fresh carrion and toss it near, but not on, your property. And post a sign with an accompanying map: Better Bear Food at the Zoo,” which is just up the street.

“Funny,” he solemnly replied.

“I know! Post a sign that says ‘Bear meat served daily.’ She seems quite smart!”

As I said that, a cub strolled up to my front door and asked for lunch. Fortunately, I still had some ex-boyfriend left in the freezer.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Children of Priests

I read an Associated Press story that proved again, Catholic parishioners are slowly being reimbursed for all their ancestors’ tithes and indulgences. A priest impregnated an 18-year-old, and her parents are suing, among others, the priest, his diocese in Reading, Penn., and the high school where he was chaplain.

At least the priest was with a girl. The pope would probably see this as encouraging news.

Charges in the parents’ lawsuit were breach of fiduciary duty, infliction of emotional distress, and gross negligence. Upon reading the story, these accusations could aptly be used against the parents for aiding and abetting procreative behavior in the first place.

Seems the daughter and priest were spending a lot of quality time together in the parents’ home behind a closed door. The rhythm inside the daughter’s bedroom didn’t coincide with the beat of the music she played, so logically, instead of communicating with their daughter and the priest, the parents set up a video camera in the girl’s bedroom while she was gone.

Now maybe I’m just not a good Catholic, but isn’t secretly videotaping people engaging in sexual dialogue pornographic? And when one of the participants is a daughter, isn’t it classified as incestuously close observation?

Instead of using this visual opportunity to confront the daughter and priest, since any communication to that point was ineffectual, Mom and Dad jump into their Chevy and head downtown where the big bucks live.

At this point I’m thinking the daughter must have conspired with ol’ Mommy and Daddio and thought a little extra cash for some new pumps, teddy, and camisole would be nice—stuff the diocese could provide for her, since the priest wasn’t enough.

I could be reading the journalist’s story incorrectly, but it sounds as if the whole family had secrets stashed between the folds of their robes.

If the priest and daughter really love each other, they should enjoy the life they created: their little girl. They could be blessed with a happy ending, especially if the parents win in court.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Silent Songbird

I’m a rare bird and not ashamed of it. And since birds of a feather flock together, my friends tend to be rare birds too. One rare birdism we share is, we think about our impact on earth and her people in regard to sustainability, noise, pollution, and consideration. In a word, respect. We know we’re not the only ones who matter, and tread lightly.

I feel deeply sorry for Earth. Like the old woman who lived in a shoe, she is providing for more human life than she is comfortably capable of sustaining, and her population is expected to keep growing. Each person in 1994 needed 1.2 acres to maintain American dietary standards, acreage that relates to food production.

But what about fresh water? (I won’t even get into oil consumption here.) Glaciers are melting, so we can sip off them, but what do human, animal, and plant lives drink after all our fresh water has been polluted or drunk and there’s nothing falling from the sky but ash?

Earth needs to go on a people diet and not have so many, not only because of sustainability but for our hearts. When Mother Nature binges, she swallows large numbers of Earth’s beings. Earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, storms of all kinds consume lives, and the more densely populated the area of impact, the more heartfelt tragedy we experience. That includes the tragedy of hunger from human overproduction. Fortunately, researchers and medical professionals have diligently worked to reduce deaths due to disease, so farmers no longer have to supply their families with more help.

Densely populated areas also means concentrated noise pollution. Though I lead a quiet life, it doesn’t suit everyone. There are TVs and electronic games to fill quiet spaces, dogs to bark how dreadful their lives are, vehicles creating tension and shouting for attention with other machines, sirens, and incessant chatter. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only person affected by noise, but reading The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want: A Book about Noise by Garret Keizer, I felt less lonely.

“I was raised with a keen awareness of noise. As a child I was told ‘Keep your voice down’ whenever my voice was likely to disturb ‘the neighbors.’ When my family came home late…my father would insist that we latch the car doors as quietly as possible and then press them fully closed. This taboo against slamming a car door at night was part of a code whereby holding down a job and getting oneself to work on time were sacred.… Interfering with a neighbor’s sleep was something akin to horse thievery on the old frontier, as assault on another person’s livelihood, a hanging offense.”

What happened to the common courtesy of honoring another with respectful quiet?

When I had my baby, I purchased the quietest vacuum cleaner—a Panasonic, bought a push lawn mower, and played my music quietly in honor of her hearing. I had quit watching the tube in 1975, but bought one at age 35 so my daughter could watch Disney sing-alongs. And when two friends each wanted to gift me with a “real” mower, I passed. Sure it’s more difficult to have a perfectly manicured lawn with a push mower, and I have to pass over each blade of grass four times, but my posterior is a lot firmer than gas-blower pushers’.

Again, I am not the only one who likes quietness and thinks about noise’s impact on others. Noise Pollution Clearinghouse tested more than 80 pieces of lawn equipment, rating them by decibels. Wouldn’t it be cool if everyone mowed his lawn on the same day at the same time, so we would hear only one blended, powered blade noise?

What if we were all thoughtful of each other? Takes me back to the sixties “peace, make love (using contraception), not war, smoke this” culture. I’m not a liberal, but I’d certainly welcome a lot of peace.

I recently read “Revolutionary Road” in Smithsonian magazine. David Lamb wrote a story about Vietnam now and during the war. He quotes Le Minh Khue, who at 15 joined other Vietnamese youths helping to clean up immediately after war’s devastation. She talks about the bond these kids shared and says she “felt completely happy,” despite burying the dead, filling bomb craters, and ending each day covered in mud.

Khue recalls the kindness people shared with each other. “We came upon a mother and two children with no food. They were very hungry. We offered to give her some of our rice, and she refused. ‘That rice,’ she said, ‘is for my husband who is on the battle field.’ That attitude was everywhere. But it’s not there anymore. Today people care about themselves, not each other.”

Birds of a feather… Let’s quietly ruffle some feathers. Breathe deeply and silently smile. Open a door for someone and accept thanks with a namasté. Still your soul and turn something off when you’re not using it…even your mind.

Now that is something I am still working on.

1 David Pimentel, Cornell University,
Mario Giampietro, Istituto of Nazionale della Nutrizione, Rome. “Food, Land, Population, and the U.S. Economy.”
Nov. 21, 1994. http://dieoff.org/page40.htm (accessed 8/12/10). (Carrying Capacity Network, 2000 P Street, N.W., Suite 240 Washington, D.C. 20036, (202) 296-4548.)
2 Garret Keizer, The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want: A Book about Noise (New York: PublicAffairs, 2010), 11.
3 Noise Pollution Clearinghouse, “Quiet Lawns,” NPC Special Report (summer 2005), http://www.nonoise.org/library/qz/QuietLawns05.pdf.
4 David Lamb, “Revolutionary Road,” Smithsonian (March 2008), 62.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Luck in Losing

Losing things makes me crazy(er). Once I realize that something isn’t where it’s supposed to be, I start digging.

But typically I stop myself, remembering the sentence: Americans waste two weeks every year looking for misplaced items. Scary.

After reading that line 20 years ago, I became much more conscious of what I do and where I lay my belongings, especially those things that could cause me embarrassment should another person find them, such as my vibrator or Viagra. But the sentence also reminds me that the item will generally turn up soon, since it usually does.

Today I couldn’t find my pen that normally resides in my appointment book, also known as my brain, nor could I find a pair of my cheater glasses for old people. Just as well, no old people ’round here. Since I just had both items in the past day or two, I waltzed around, bending over when appropriate, looking in places I normally dance.

After shaking my head of the debris that accumulates with stress, I found my pen in my bed and, shortly thereafter, found my glasses in a basket I transport from floor to floor. I was on a roll!

What the heck, I might as well try to find the earring I lost the weekend I had a guest. Hmm, we sat on the sofa, but I had already checked under the cushions weeks ago and only found my ex-boyfriend, whom I quickly put back in the freezer where he belonged.

Ahh, we sat in the chairs by the big window. I dug my skinny hands between the chair’s arms and cushion, and voilà! Money! I started giggling. First I pulled out a nickel, then a quarter, then a peanut. It was like the game I invented for my little girl called What’s in the Bag? where I’d put various things from around the house in a paper bag and have her feel the texture and shape to guess what the objects were. Sometimes she’d even guess the color, but she’s a lot brighter than I am.

So while I was prospecting and pulling out coin after coin, I kept thinking, Most guys keep their change in their right pocket, and it seemed these changelings sat in my west chair. I tipped the chair on its side when the coins started falling into its bowels, thereby increasing my chances of scoring a winner.

After that archeological dig, I headed east to the other chair and found the treasure much less bountiful but rewarding, nevertheless. I don’t believe in gambling, but risking a hangnail digging in my own chairs made me feel risqué, like a proctologist.

My earnings? $1.78, two pencils, a piñon nut, and a peanut.

I think it’s time to have company.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Following is a note from my hiking bud’s daughter, whose little girl, Jocelyn, wrote an awe-inspiring poem:

Here is a poem Jocelyn wrote on June 14, 2010. I thought she was asleep at 10:00 p.m., when she called down asking if she could write a poem that was in her head. I figured it would only take a few minutes, so I said okay. About a half hour later, she came downstairs with the following.

Jocelyn said it just came to her, and she knew what to write. It just flowed out of her. I left all spelling and punctuation the way she wrote it. Having a period at the end and no other punctuation marks was intentional. She's nine years old. [Auntie added spaces between some lines for easier digestion.]

Hope is like a flowing river
Taking you with the current
Not knowing where you are headed
But you know it is somewhere good

Hope is a bright light
Shining in the sky
No matter what time of day
Urging you on
Filling you with energy
Feels like you could fly to the moon

When you are on the edge of despair
Hope is there
Cheering you up
Telling you to continue
Showing you the way to happiness

When you feel split in two
Like your heart has shattered into a million pieces
Hope tells you what to do
Whispering with its wise words
In its soothing voice

It sparks a feeling inside you
Like a match being lighted
It flickers, then burns brightly
And there's an entire fire of hope
Burning inside you
With its warm glowing flames
Everything falls in place

Hope calms you
With its soothing words
And the gentle feel of its breath
As if it is standing beside you
Helping you continue on

Even though there is nothing there
You can feel its breath against your ear
And its softness pressing against you
You can hear its lulling voice
Like music to your ears
It sounds like birds chirping
And laughter

You can almost see its warm glow
And the bright lights in its eyes
With an encouraging smile
Smelling like gooey chocolate chip cookies
And juicy cherries

It walks beside you
It is like a dream come true
Like a lake of water to a man lost in a desert
Or a shimmering light in a dark cave
Always there for you

It never leaves your side
All your good memories
Seem to float around you
Circling your head
Depriving your mind of sad thoughts

If you feel hollow inside
Hope fills up the hole
With a newfound light
And once again you can feel it beside you
The feel of its skin
And the sound of its voice
Its wonderful scent
And its beautiful face
Even though there is nothing there
You feel filled with happiness
And hope surrounds you
Like a starlit chamber

Hope is always with you!

by Jocelyn Theresa Wright, age 9, June 14, 2010