Electronic Birthdays

This is how birthdays are for me: Today my sister and a friend sent me a happy birthday text and my oldest daughter said, “Happy birthday, Mom.” (My youngest is with her father, so I am not sure if I’ll get to talk to her today or not.) The chiropractor I saw in Portland sent me a personal email yesterday. It was nice because I could tell he actually wrote it. Then this morning, in addition to sister, friend, and child, I got two form emails from two dermatologists I saw 3 or 4 years ago, and a form text from the chiropractor I see here in town. It says “msg&data rates may apply.” It’s so pathetic it is almost funny. Might they? Might I have to pay Verizon because of a form text telling me some computer was glad I was born?

Thankfully I have unlimited texting so I won’t have to pay more than I already do for the service, but it’s a pretty sad state of affairs that this is what the world has come to. I don’t have facebook anymore. Too many reasons not to. However, when I did, I turned off the birthday feature because it bothered me that I would get 20 happy birthday messages on facebook and not one phone call or face to face interaction from humans I know. I know there are those who would say I should be grateful for the 20 happy birthday messages, but I felt like they were not much really. Facebook tells users it is someone’s birthday so they don’t have to expend more effort that it takes to type a little post. Honestly a text has more meaning to me than a facebook post.

In years past I have been upset that no one remembered or cared about my birthday. Then last year a lot of people remembered and either called or texted. It was nice, but also a little unnerving to me. I’m not sure why. I didn’t really like the attention. It’s something of a paradox; I want people to remember that I am alive and that I was born, but I don’t want them to draw attention to it. I know, I’m weird.

This year, no one seems to remember (not even Mum, but she doesn’t remember her own birthday let alone mine, so it’s not like I’m unusual), and I honestly don’t mind. I just find it interesting that there are all these companies that have turned my birthday into a marketing ploy. Dr. Herold in Portland knows I’m not going to be driving to Portland for a chiro session, so his email does not feel like a marketing ploy at all. He is really nice and we have had many non-chiropractor conversations, so I know his happy birthday is more than just a way to get himself business. While typing this, a text came in from a woman I have known since I was a baby. She remembered too. She is so sweet.

So much of today’s world seems to be a stand in for real life. Get a text. Get an email. Get a notice on facebook. Of all the birthday interactions I have had thus far today, only one has been with a human interacting with me as a human. And now this is how things are. No wonder I feel so isolated all of the time. Even when it’s easier, a lot of people I know will text rather than call.

Well, wonders never cease. My mom interrupted this little — whatever it is — by calling to wish me a happy birthday. Wonders never cease because she has stroke dementia. Sometimes she is remarkably lucid. Others, not so much. Lately the not so much outweighs the lucid by about 4 to 1. I have tried calling her multiple times over the last couple of weeks.  She doesn’t notice her phone ringing. She doesn’t notice messages. I thought for sure she had no idea it was my birthday. She forgot last year. In any case, she did it. I love her. I hope she’s around next year for the next one.

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Rumble

The forests need to be managed, they say. The brush and plants growing at the bottom of trees, the “understory” has to be cut out because it causes forest fires, they say. Cutting down the trees is best, they say. Rumble.

They say what the public wants to hear so that the public won’t question them. In fact they create the “science” to back up what really is just meant to make cutting down the trees easier for them to do. If there isn’t brush in the way they can more easily back up their machines to kill and destroy the trees, hook on the chains, rip off their branches, drag them down and out, lay them on a truck.

Rumble.

One after another after another after another after another. The trucks rumble by. Every five minutes a truck full of logs drives by my house. Every five minutes another 20 or 30 trees carried out of the ruined forest.

Rumble.

How many walls are built out of the dead bodies on that log truck? How many shitty pieces of quarter round sold at the Home Depot? Rumble.

They love the big trees. The bigger the tree, the more “board feet of lumber.” Forests aren’t even discussed in terms of the ecosystems they represent. They’re seen as a “resource.” They are seen as siding, or fencing, or roofing, or a new office because the one that works just fine but isn’t pretty enough needs a “facelift” so the humans inside can keep their blinders on and pretend the world isn’t falling apart around them.

Rumble.

Once the trees are cut and taken, what is left is piled up and burned or left to rot. Detritus. Nothing here worth anything, at least to us.

Rumble.

Last year after the massive fires on Mt. Hood caused by a fool with a firework the husband of a friend posted on social media about how it was best to “manage” the forests. Humans needed to go in and cut the trees. He had learned this in school in forest management, taught by professors schooled by the timber companies. Because he had learned this at university, it had to be true, and he was passing his wisdom on to his friends.

Rumble.

Forest science. Forest engineering. Forest fucking manipulation to lead to Forest Products. That’s the point of the “science.” That’s the point of the “engineering.” The foxes teach the students how to catch the hens. The students become more foxes. The foxes tell the people that the hens need to be managed. They tell the people that the hens will become dangerous, that their homes will burn, that the hens can’t possibly live their own lives without fox intervention. The foxes need to remove the hens.

Rumble.

The universities with their Forest Science, and Forest Engineering, and Forest Products are all designed to create more willing cutters to remove the trees from the forests for human use alone. No matter that humans can’t BREATHE without trees. No matter that deer, and raccoons, and bears, and birds, and mountain lions, and salmon, and wolves, and fungi, and Rhododendrons, and Snowberry bushes, and beetles, and bees, and flies, and every other creature that lives in the forest needs the forest to exist as it has for thousands and thousands of years without human intervention.

Rumble.

They’ll bring in the stories about how native Americans used controlled burns to manage forests as platitude to keep everyone comfortable and justify their continued destruction. Nothing to see here, folks. Keep moving on. Oh, look! Tom Cruise is getting married. Did you know that?

Rumble.

I drove to Portland yesterday. On the way I saw at least six trucks filled with logs two and half and more feet thick. Those trees had been here before the Wetiko virus bearing humans came along and killed them. Now they’re dead. Now they’ll be in someone’s kitchen or on the side of an ugly McMansion.

Rumble.

The trucks don’t stop.

Rumble.

Loose Socks

Socks have to be in deep lockup for me to wear them. I can’t stand them loose; if they’re loose, they drive me bananas. So…only jailed socks for me.

I wanted to know if I was really a ghost so I tried walking through a wall. It didn’t work. Either I’m not a ghost or as a ghost I’m unable to walk through walls. If it’s the latter, that is somewhat disappointing because being able to walk through walls would be one of the most fun things about being a ghost. That and invisibility.

I Used to Could Write

I used to could write. I used to actually be quite good at it. I thought I wasn’t, of course. Isn’t that always how it is? It’s like when I look at old photos of myself. At the time, I thought they were hideous, but I look back and wonder what I was thinking. Look at me now. Much worse. I don’t think I’ll look back on this writing and find it anything wonderful. First of all, I rarely do it anymore, if at all. The talent buried in the backyard or, if not buried, neglected. I have a tab open on my computer that has been there for weeks. It’s a story I started about a girl I knew in junior high. I felt an uncommon urge to write it when I started, but then got distracted by life and the urge waned, so there it sits. A bell binks, a voice calls, “Mama!” A dog barks in a way that says someone is here. Something anything nothing calling me away from doing this and so the talent wanes, if indeed it is a talent at all. Have discipline, all the books say. What the books don’t mention is that even when one is disciplined about making the time, if the urge to say something meaningful isn’t there, then the words that come are not very good. Maybe that’s part of the discipline, to suck at it most of the time? I don’t know. I don’t know. I just don’t know.

Aging is Ouch

The main physical difference I can see between middle age and when I was in my teens and 20s is that I have to keep up athletic endeavors every day or I feel really sore. Even stuff I do all the time, like riding and jumping, or riding my bike, if I miss a couple of days, I’m sore when I do it again. This is kind of disheartening. I used to be able to go long stretches and then do the activities I do all the time without getting sore. No more. I took for granted that soreness was only reserved for the unusual. I was naive. I guess this means I will have to just not skip days, although my horse needs a break now and then too. I will just have to put up with it.

I wave around a heavy kettle bell to keep my midsection strong. I look like a fool when I do it, but it does help keep my core strength, which I need for racing across fields jumping obstacles on an equine. Actually it also helps with the dressage and stadium as well, but it’s really cross country where I notice if my core is feeling weak. Galloping miles in a half seat while occasionally throwing in a fence or 18 is a lot of work.

Last weekend my horse and I did a schooling cross country show in preparation for the rated one we have coming up in June. I was a little disheartened after dressage. Johann started really fixed and tense. Some days he comes out like butter, soft, and forward, and stretchy. Yesterday was one of those days, the type of day that if we were in competition he would get a score in the low 20s. The show day? The opposite. He was stuck and it took a good hour warmup to get him soft enough for a 37. Not so great. There’s a train! There’s a kid cutting me off! There’s a breeze! Press him into the outside rein. Spiral spiral spiral. Supple, supple, supple.

This was a two day event, so after dressage and a four hour break, we headed over to cross country. I was a bit worried he was going to be fixed again, holding on and wanting to run. Last year we rode a course where on parts it felt like I was riding a steeplechaser and it was all I could do to keep him in control. I just held on for the ride for many of the fences. This weekend, it was bright and sunny. I jumped him over a few warmup fences, which were great, then let him just walk because it was warm and running him around doesn’t make him run any less on course.

As I was waiting my turn, I got the little nervous feeling in my stomach I do sometimes before jumping. A couple of the obstacles weren’t anything we had schooled since last season. The fourth was a bank up and then down to a 3′ roll top one stride off to the right. In the past, before a winter of solid work on rideability and adjustability, this would have been one of those fences that might work out and might not. I still wasn’t sure how it would go because we hadn’t schooled anything like it recently. The other was a narrow triangle fence near then end of the course. Same as the other, in the past it was one of those fences Johann might have just said, “Nope,” and run out the side or barreled at it like a bullet out of a gun. Neither option is fun. We had spent a LOT of time schooling to keep him between my aids, rideable, and light in front, but hadn’t actually schooled anything like these since last year.

I sat there in the sun with my stomach doing its flip flops and thought, why am I doing this again? Then the clipboard holder said time for me to head to the start box, the start box person asked if I was ready for the ten second countdown, I said yes, hit the stopwatch, and Go! We cantered off easily toward the first obstacle. I remembered to keep my hands light and low, crouch in my half seat, let him move forward without getting too fast, settled in 10 strides out, and jumped the first fence, a big, ol’ pile of logs, like it was nothing. The adrenaline kicked in and we were off! The flip flops were gone, we were connected, Johann was locked on every fence, light and forward. It was SO MUCH FUN!!

We popped over the second and third fences easily. One was a coop, the other another log. Then we headed for the bank to the roll top. Johann was completely adjustable. He didn’t hesitate at all. No barreling, but in control and comfortable. It was perfect. I had figured out by the minute beeps on my stopwatch that we needed to slow down on some of the long galloping sections so we didn’t come in too fast. I sat back, pressed him into my outside rein, said, “Easy,” and “Slow,” and he did! All the work this winter was paying off. By the time we got to the narrow, any thoughts he might not jump it were completely gone. It was pretty near the end. I aimed for the left side of what was a pretty narrow jump so that he would be jumping the narrow side of the triangle. He stayed right on track in a perfect line. “Whoo hoo!” I hollered in joy as we carried on.

The final fence was challenging because it turned sharply to the right away from the crowd and other horses. Near the end, the horse had to be still listening and willing to ride away from the herd. Several kids had issues with horses bulging too far left on their approaches, which gave them crooked tracks for the finish and a few run outs. I held my left rein and leg and made the turn, pressing him into that outside rein. Johann didn’t even bulge against me, but rode straight and true to the final fence. We galloped over and done! Only 13 seconds over the optimum time, which was such a major improvement over last year, and the speed at the rated event is going to be 400 mpm, while this was 350, so we were doing well.

I felt high and excited after the run. THIS was why I did this! I answered myself. Why? Because it is the most fun in the world. I LOVE it! Johann loves it! He was prancing and arching his neck, soft and delicious in the bridle. I hugged him and got off. He rubbed his head on my shoulder, his way of saying, all good, Mama!

The next day for stadium, he was absolutely perfect. Funny, he’s often the most rideable after a day where he starts out with a ton of tension in his jaw and shoulder. We loosen that up, then he’s a dream to ride. It helps that I have been figuring out that I hold tension in my arms and shoulders, which I’m sure translates to how he goes. I’ve been riding with my arms like wet noodles, and he has been going much more relaxed from the beginning. It doesn’t take a half an hour of lateral work to get him soft, he starts out soft. It’s teamwork, and I definitely fit into the equation.

We have another schooling event coming up in two weeks, then Aspen the week after. It’s getting close! In the meantime, I’ll keep riding my exercise bike and waving around the kettle bell and taking maybe only one day off so I don’t end up sore and sorry–like I am today, which prompted this little post. The muscles above my knees are screeching at me. What did you do that for?!? Ride two horses, ride the exercise bike, wave around a hunk of metal 40 times? You trying to kill us? Um, no? Trying to keep from being a blob with no muscle tone. I’m not taking any of it for granted any more.

This culture…

…makes me want to blow something up.

Link to ban pig cages. Click this link if you want to sign an online petition that will do nothing and go nowhere, but will make you feel better for having done “something.”

I have spent the last 3 days nursing a baby chicken that will probably die. She is in my bra right now, keeping warm against my breast, peeping when I move. She is weak and I’m not sure what is wrong with her. I prize her little beak open with a toothpick and pop in pieces of chick feed. I dip her beak in water laced with probiotics and electrolytes. She was born in an incubator, fed some gel with vitamins in it, and mailed in a box with 24 other babies the day she was born. Her mother lays eggs. Constantly. She will never know this baby and her baby will never know her mother. These eggs are placed in the incubator that makes the babies that get shipped around the world. It takes too much time for Mama to brood those babies. Better to get them in an assembly line and send them out. Oh, and before they’re mailed out, someone who is trained to run their thumb along their vent, essentially their anus and egg tube, ascertains whether they are male or female. If the person isn’t careful they can kill the chick by destroying its internal organs. This sometimes happens, but you know. Collateral damage and all that. So they separate the girls and the boys. The males, no one talks about what happens to those chicks, though in death culture, it’s a pretty good bet that it’s nothing pretty. Those who pass the test are mailed out. They usually toss in a couple of extra because it’s a given that some won’t make it. The weak ones. The weak ones, who if they get as far as the farm store or the home of the well meaning buyer, will likely die soon and get picked on in the process. Nature, you know. She’s a bitch. Except this isn’t fucking nature. It’s fucking insane and I’ve been just grieving it because to me, this entire way of doing things is a perfect metaphor for just how fucked up this culture is. Taking these babies BABIES! and fucking MAILING them. We have no soul.

In any case, I went to the farm store to buy some food for my horses. I peeked in the chicken cage to see the babies and I saw her sitting there, not doing well. A couple of the strong ones went and pecked her, and yeah, if it really were nature and she were out in the wild and were weak, that would be the best place to leave her. But this wasn’t fucking nature. This was a steel cage with red light bulbs and people staring in at these babies, so I opened the door and I scooped her out and I have kept her on me ever since. She has slept two nights sleeping in a bandana around my neck because it keeps her warm. Then tonight I turned on the facebook—a foolish thing to do, because there was this damn online petition to stop the caging of pigs and the photo accompanying it was so awful and so TYPICAL and so like the situation with these baby birds. Right. Sign an online petition and maybe someone will give a shit and ban these cages? Somehow, I doubt it. But the people “signing” it can feel like they did their duty and then get on with their lives. Fuck. Part of me doesn’t begrudge them trying to survive. But part of me does. Part of me begrudges them a damn lot. I’ll say something on the facebook and be that person again who turns the mirror at people and they’ll remove me from their notification list so their posts of online petitions don’t show up in my feed  and then I’ll tell them how useless this is. So turn me off because they don’t want to fucking know and this MAKES ME CRAZY. I post a happy picture of the baby chicks who were healthy frolicking on my desk and everyone gives me a thumbs up. I post all the bullshit that is wrong with this world and it’s crickets. My posts are a veritable field of crickets. Lonely crickets chirping through the night. No one likes the naysayers.

Ack. Why am I writing this? So I might feel a tenuous connection to someone, anyone who might get it. Might understand this frustration and grief. I HATE this culture with my entire being and soul. Saying it doesn’t make it better. I only hope I can save this one baby chick from this fucked up messed up WRONG world that hurts so much I can barely take it. It really and truly makes me want to blow something up.

Addendum the next day: I realized this morning that getting stuck in being angry just keeps the ugly going. Rather, I am going to continue to focus on being decent and loving. This doesn’t mean I’m not angry; just that if I think about blowing things up it just makes me feel worse. Doesn’t the anger come from the deepest love? It’s the manifestation of the anger that can be soul sucking. This culture likes to suck our soul through helplessness and frustration. I will instead put all my focus into loving this little darling right here. She made it through another night. Her breakfast this morning was cottage cheese, which was way easier to feed than chick crumbles. She perked right up then got super sleepy. Her little eyes closed, then her head gradually fell forward onto her little beak. Snore… Oh my goodness, she is the most precious little dear. I am in love with her sweetness. My poodle Oliver is lying on my lap snoring too. The sleepy family. They are wonderful.

Addendum later the next day: She died. I’m lucky I got to spend the time with her that I did. She was a blessing.

Conundrum

It’s like clockwork. All day and all night while I’m off doing something else like driving or whatever, words are banging around inside my head desperate for me to write them. Then I sit down when I have time and they have gone to sleep or left on vacation. Maybe both. Maybe they are sleeping on vacation. In any case, there is a disconnect between when I can write and when my brain has ideas I want to write about. It is a conundrum.