Friday, April 26, 2013
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
I'm awake and the wind is blowing outside. It doesn't do that often here, sheltered as we are by the canyon and our close neighbors. I'm not used to the sound.
A moment ago, I was reading some silly romance because I couldn't sleep. It was a pleasant enough distraction. When the wind rose, my thoughts were elsewhere, and - like in a dream - I heard the wind blowing under and around my bedroom window. But that can't be, because I haven't lived in a house where the wind could wrap so completely around me since I was a teenager.
For a moment, I was back there, in my step-mother's house, feeling like the hollow particle board door was a castle wall between me and her. Like the wind was my friend where I had no others. Like the wind was the voice of the place that kept me safe, but kept me hidden.
It's a very lonely sound.
Tonight, I'm glad that my little dog Bella snuck onto my bed while I wasn't paying attention. She's not supposed to be up here, but her presence brought me back to here and now. She's cuddling with my legs, her loving little face resting on my ankle.
Her sigh is a whisper of contentment.
Monday, April 22, 2013
After reading the testimony of Sheriff Wheeler, the figurehead of the Bisbee Deportation, one has to wonder whether racism might have been the ultimate motivation behind the event. He rants about the "foreigners" who came to town just to cause trouble by standing in the picket lines; he claims the majority of those deported were Mexicans. Not Mexican-Americans, but Mexicans. He says it like it's a bad word. Those men, he said, weren't even employed at the mine they were striking against. Yet, in late June 1917, Sheriff Wheeler had refused when the mining officials asked him to step in and deputize "special officers" to take care of the strike. His reason? He didn't want to encourage vigilantism. Why, then, did he do exactly that, even leading the deportation himself less than a month later?
Friday, April 19, 2013
Right now I have three projects in progress. One for psychology, two for history. My history capstone project is an analysis of the motivations behind the Bisbee Deportation of 1917. My independent study for history is an evaluation of how the mine has shaped the culture of Bisbee, starting with the era after the mine closed, in 1973. If that doesn't give me 30 pages, then I'll also examine the same topic, pre-1973.
The psychology project... is in disarray. I'd planned on doing a survey of mental health professionals who work with survivors of sexual trauma to get professional opinions on what therapeutic theories are effective, or not, and why. Then I was going to compare those to current research to do a comparative analysis of the various theories' effectiveness. Fun, right? Well, for that to work, people would have to actually participate in my survey. I got responses from a few people, but 5 responses does not a study make. So I have to change my project. My professor very kindly is sending me data to use (since I went through the work of gathering data and just didn't have enough responses, she's allowing me to use data she gathered for one of her projects without affecting my grade). The new project is about personality traits (think: the Big 5 - Openness to experiences, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism) and satisfaction with life. And to be perfectly honest, I plan to look at the data and then build the project around what I see. Because I now have about two weeks to get this done.
While I wait for my psychology professor to email me the data, I'm focusing on my history projects.
Today: the Bisbee Deportation of 1917.
This was a critical blow to the power of unions. To crush a strike, the mining company backed a deportation by law enforcement of the striking miners, who were 'shipped' by train (cattle cars) from Bisbee, Arizona, to an Army camp in New Mexico. The town was locked down by the sheriff who issued 'passports' to residents who had not been deported. To go in or out, you had to show your passport. This was intended to keep the deportees from returning, and it went on for months afterward. Very few of the deportees did ever return. The case went to trial, but although the illegality of the deportation was agreed upon, nobody was ever convicted.
More to follow. Promise.
I'll have my paintings for sale, of course, and prints of said paintings, and maybe some photography prints and mixed media art. But I'm also going to post my other odds and ends that I create, which are currently laying around my house rather uselessly: handmade books, necklaces, magnets, statuettes, boxes, etc.
In preparation, I'm going to feature the work of a few (maybe five) other etsy artists in the week leading up to my shop's grand opening, which will be 3 May 2013.
The shop is open during the preparations, so if you'd like a sneak peek you can check it out at etsy.com/shop/ArchersBones.
Friday, April 12, 2013
Perhaps some background is in order. The rant isn't entirely out of my system, but it's ebbing. Thanks for listening (or skipping the first paragraph, that's cool too).
I frequently have people comment in amazement on how "patient" I am, how "hard" it is to make me angry. It's not really that hard, actually. I'm not really that patient. But, I learned pretty damn early that emotional outbursts of any sort almost never make problems go away. Usually things just get worse, which is something I prefer to avoid. And most stuff is too trivial to go through all the effort of being angry.
If an outburst does happen - nobody has perfect control, least of all me - I've found that it's best to regain some sanity before entering into any heavy decision-making processes or arguments, or... etc. As far as I know, that's a general guideline that applies to most people, not just me.
So as difficult as it is to do, I avoid getting irrational when I'm upset. And if I do get irrational, I shut the hell up until I can think coherently again. Not to brag, but: it's a grown up thing.
Why are so many people so damned invested in being angry? People dump a TON of energy down that hole, for the silliest things. Of course it never seems silly to the angry person, but whatever it is had better be pretty damned important, if you ask me. Which you didn't, but I'm telling you anyway. So there.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
(Yes Brother. Food.)
(Where? No bowl.)
(Ok Naanaa. Quiet?)
Yesterday had been a struggle; he'd spent most of it in his bones, sleeping, unsure of his reality. Half here, half there. Then Mom had spoken to him and put a bowl of catnip beside him. His focus cleared; he left his bones.
Today, Naanaa remembers the tribe of pocket mice living under this shed.
Something is off.
The scent is there, behind the hay bale. Naanaa flicks his whiskers; why does the scent seem so far away?
(Muzi - )
(Come here. Quiet.)
Muzi creeps closer, long belly fur sweeping the hay dust in a careful path across the floor. He's trying to stay low, as though the food might be hiding above. Naanaa faces the hay bale as Muzi's face comes even with his.
(You smell mice?)
Muzi's nostrils flare, curious. (No mice. No catnip.)
(No Muzi. Not mice from Mom. Real mice. Food mice.)
(Food mice? Eat mice?)
Muzi shifts his weight back. He's unsure of this idea. (From Mom?)
(No. Mice from Mom - toys. Real mice - food.)
(Mice - food. Not from Mom.)
(Not from Mom - how?)
(Catch mice. Like catching toy with Boy.)
(Catch like toy! Fun!) Muzi's tail is wagging and he has stood all the way up.
(Yes. Fun. First hide from toy.)
(Oh yes.) Muzi drops his chin and belly to the ground enthusiastically, long tail still sweeping the floor like the wing of a snow angel.
(Now wait. Toy will get hungry, come for hay, horse food.)
It feels like forever, but Muzi is single-minded; focus is his forte. He is stealthy by accident.
Finally, tiny whiskers emerge between the floorboards and the wall, from a hole barely the size of Muzi's nose.
The whiskers disappear.
(oh, sorry Naanaa.)
(Ok, wait. Quiet until caught.)
After a silence the length of a catnap, the whiskers emerge again. Muzi contains himself.
Whiskers are followed by a nose, and eyes. Cautious, so cautious. The mouse smells cat, but only the kitten-cat, the not-scary cat. More hungry than scared. There's a pellet of horse feed fallen between the hay bale and the feed bag. Sweet, sweet scent - it overpowers the smell of once-here human and now-here kitten-cat. So hungry. The mouse takes tentative steps, then scurries to the pellet.
(HAHA!) Muzi's soft paw pins the mouse to the floor. The pellet spins into the corner.
(Two paws, Muzi!)
But Naanaa's instruction is too late - the mouse careens out from under Muzi's paw.
Naanaa leaps to catch the disoriented mouse, but his claws - (I didn't miss!) - don't catch the escapee.
(Muzi, two paws! Claws! Here!)
Muzi's joyous pounce takes him over Naanaa and he lands squarely on his prey. Muzi closes his teeth around the captured mouse and shakes it like a squeaky toy. The resulting crunch surprises him, and he drops it.
(Naanaa? Toys don't crunch?)
(It's ok Muzi, food crunches.)
Muzi's eyes light up, thinking of his bowl in the kitchen.
(Smells funny Naanaa.)
(Eat it, Muzi. No more hungry.)
A roar interrupts Muzi's contemplation - Mom's Truck in the gravel driveway.
(Mom home! Dinner!)
(Yes Muzi. Go home.)
(Mom like mouse?)
Muzi runs through the hole in the shed, mouse in tow, to greet Mom at the front door.
Naanaa fades into his bones, shaken.
(Altar-home), he thinks.
Sleep takes him.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
"I don't know sweetie. He's probably just hiding somewhere. We'll find him when we get home, ok?"
"Oh-kaaaay. Do I have to go to school?"
"Yes. Hurry up."
Two black tails flick toward each other, one nebulous and silky, the other lost in fluff but solid.
(What is it?)
(Rabbit.) But Naanaa's whiskers shiver, uncertain. The scent is muddled. The silhouette is distorted.
(Not tree. Rabbit. - Wait here.)
The obedient one sits.
What do rabbits know of spectres? His paws leave no mark in the dirt; he was stealthy even in life. The rabbit-thing nibbles the drooping leaves of a mesquite tree. Its slender antlers lay along its back as its head tips upward.
Naanaa pauses in the tall desert grasses; rabbit, but more so - the scent is more musky, less leafy than a jack rabbit. More dangerous. Rabbit, but not.
Naanaa's nostrils flare. Contemplation isn't easy these days.
Muzi is getting hot and his belly is unhappy.
(Hungry.) But Naanaa isn't back yet.
(Naanaa!) Soft paws trot toward the shadow of another cat.
The rabbit-thing stops nibbling to watch the intruder. - Cat-sized, but kitten-minded - not dangerous. - It goes back to its snack.
Naanaa's eyes narrow, but he turns and meets Muzi.
Muzi follows the shadow's steps to the shed. The house is locked up until Mom gets home, but the shed is cool and has mice.
The shed is elevated from the dirt by three wood beams underneath the floor; Naanaa leads Muzi to a hole in the back corner. They come up behind the horses' feed bin.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
"He's a special kitty."
"Yeah well, it's not his fault. Roxy bit him on the head when he was a kitten. He hasn't been right since."
"What?! And you kept her? Katy, you have a child!"
"She's not vicious. Look, you know how she has that super-short hair? Well she has almost no hair at all on her belly, and it's sensitive. When Muzi was really little, and we were all laying on my bed just dozing, he tried to nurse from Roxy. It surprised her and she reacted the same way she would have if a puppy had done the same thing - she put her mouth around his head. Only Muzi was a lot more fragile than a puppy, and one of Roxy's canines actually punctured his skull. He was nearly comatose for two days before he started walking and eating again. I think he had some brain damage. Anyway, it really wasn't either of their faults. They were just doing what kittens and dogs do."
"... If you say so."
"So yeah. Anyway. Muzi is special. Naanaa always looked out for him. Now, he's a little more lost than usual."
Sniff. Sniff-sniff. A barest flicker of movement touches his whiskers to Muzi's fuzzy black face. A slightly broken purr greets Naanaa in return.
(I know. It's ok. Sleep too.)
Through the closed door - he doesn't notice that it's closed. He feels the path to take, and takes it.
The altar calls him, but he doesn't want to rest right now.
Mom is there, sleeping on the big bed with the dogs at her sides.
The smaller dog lifts her head and snuffles. (Naanaa. I know you.)
(I know you, Bella.)
(Mom sleeps. Mom is sad.)
(I know. I will help.)
With Bella watching, Naanaa curls up on the pillow next to Mom, a sentinel for dreams.
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
[I never told Bear what had happened. He was only six years old. I couldn't explain it to him. When he asked where Naanaa was - why hadn't the sleek cat been in his favorite perch for days? - I said I didn't know. He must have gotten outside, and just not come back in. Maybe he was off having some marvelous adventure. Maybe he was hunting the jackalopes.]
"What would happen if he caught one?"
"I don't know, Bear. What do you think he would do?"
"I think he would ask them why they have horns."
"Maybe he would."
"Well I hope he comes back. I miss him."
"So do I, little Bear."
The sparrows in the yard make his tail twitch, to and fro, just the tip. The window is spotted with tiny cat nose-prints, but Naanaa doesn't seem to notice that. He's peering through, right between the dogs' prints and his own, until horse hooves send the birds scattering and Naanaa's golden gaze dims, suddenly bored. He splays his front feet and leans back into a deep belly stretch. Then forward, stretching the back legs daintily. Two silent hops and he's off the back of the couch, trotting across the carpet. There's chaos in the dining room. Mom is trying to get Boy cleaned up, loudly. There's cereal on the table. The back door is open, the path inside marked by dirty footprints. Naanaa slips outside while backs are turned.
Every thing out here is stolen ground. They haven't lived here long, and Naanaa still meets the occasional interloper trying to claim Naanaa's new territory. He circles the house, then the shed. No new activity there, so he jogs across the pasture to the outer fenceline.
Something scurries under the soil; Naanaa pauses, sniffs, and lowers himself to the dirt. Pantherine, he stalks the sound of a pocket mouse, but the mouse stills and the scent is too elusive. Naanaa moves on unfazed.
"I swore I heard him last night. You know how he would always try to sleep on my face, and I had to lock him out of my bedroom? It was like he was purring right there on my pillow next to me. But he's gone. I know he's gone. His bones are on my altar."
"I don't know, Katy. Maybe he is still there."
"That would be good, wouldn't it?"
"Yeah, it would. I miss him. So does Bear."
"I still can't believe your mom."
"Me either." Pause. "Well, actually I can. She's like that. But it still hurts."
I'm so freaking busy this semester, especially this week, which is the last week in one of my more time-consuming classes. But, I find myself wanting to write about this anyway.
It's my name, after all.
Monday, April 1, 2013
He was two years old. A panther in miniature. Hunter extraordinaire and silent stalker of my face under the blankets. He only snuggled when I wasn't looking, but he watched out for his little brother, Muzi, and let my then-six-year-old son carry him around like a rag doll. His face was always haughty, even when he was purring. He purred loudly. There must have been a jet engine somewhere in all that muscle where his soul hid. He was a big cat, but lean and regal. You never knew his size until you tried to pick him up. Only two people could pick him up: my son and me. He was as loyal as the dogs he disdained. I used to have a picture of him as a kitten, sitting on an old high-back chair with Muzi, who at that age was more fluff than kitten. Muzi is spacing out, looking somewhere nobody else can see. Naanaa is sitting iron-rod straight, his eyes burning holes into the camera. He was always intense.
On Ostara, 2010, I was driving my son to the city pool. We didn't get far. I pulled over because I'd heard a noise that sounded almost like a tire catching a nail, loudly. I checked around the truck, but didn't see anything wrong. I started driving again. The noise came again, only twice, like two rounds from a rifle on automatic. Pop-pop, only softer. I pulled over again, and looked more carefully. This time, there was blood dripping down from somewhere in the engine area. A moment of confusion, then panic because Naanaa had been outside and out of sight when we left the house. And I hadn't called him when we went outside. He always came when I called, but I hadn't been worried about him and we were in a hurry to meet Bear's friend at the pool. Then I saw a flap of sleek black leg.
I told Bear there was something wrong with the truck. I didn't mention Naanaa. I called my friend, his friend's mom, and asked her to come pick him up. Said I'd explain when she got there. Didn't want Bear to hear me. She took the boys to the pool so I could deal with "some engine trouble."
Naanaa let me pull him down from the fan casing where he'd been lounging before the truck started. He was so docile. He was scared, but he stopped hissing when he heard me speaking to him. As I cradled him against my chest, he began to purr. I think he was in shock. I wrapped him up in my towel, not looking for what was broken or missing. His little face was so serious, so certain that I would make it all better.
Two other vehicles had stopped to help; one of them went back to their house for a cat carrier. I put Naanaa, blanket and all, into the carrier, and put the carrier on my passenger seat. I took the phone number of the person who'd loaned me the carrier, and I drove into town. It was a Sunday, so the first three veterinarians' offices I drove to were closed. I was a complete wreck long before I found the one that was open. Naanaa had started to cry, too.
His right hind leg was shattered. His left hind leg was gone. The vet the remaining hind leg might be salvageable, but it would take a lot of time and care - his words. I had time and care in spades.
At that point, the bill was already over $400. I had $48 between cash and my bank account. The vet wouldn't do anything else until I paid, and showed that I could pay for additional services.
I called my mother.
She said I had too many pets, and they were taking up too much of my money.
I begged the vet. I begged the vet's receptionist.
They lectured me on running up bills I couldn't pay.
With a show of see how generous I am, the vet euthanized my Naanaa, because I couldn't afford even that.
The bill was just above $500. I gave them the $40 I had in cash, and agreed to bring the rest when I got my paycheck. The receptionist was greatly displeased with me. The vet's assistant put Naanaa's still body in my arms, wrapped again in the towel, and looked at me sympathetically, silent. They wouldn't take his body. That would have added to my bill.
By the time I left, I was glad Naanaa was coming home with me.
I laid him on my altar that night.
The next day I cremated him in my fire pit. I had to light the fire several times. I didn't really know how to do what I was trying to do. He burned for three days. Finally, when there was nothing left but his skull, I stopped relighting the fire. I kept his skull and a few other bits of bones that had hidden in the ashes. At the time, I couldn't have told you why I kept them. Instinct told me to, and I did.
The fragile bones have crumbled into smaller pieces now, but I still have Naanaa's bones.
They're cradled in a green glass cat, that's curled in a sleeping pose and was probably intended to be a votive candle holder. Naanaa's bones live on my altar.
I began writing this post on 21 March 2013, the third anniversary of Naanaa's death. I had to write it just a little at a time. It still hurts that I couldn't save him.