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Happy Mabon!

Happy Mabon to all!

Well, the Wheel has once more turned and I, for one, could not be happier. Fall and autumn are for me what I believe spring and summer are for others: all the little buds of creativity start reaching out and aching to be tended. I suppose it makes sense. A love of winter falls right in with love of my small, tight circle of friends, quiet evenings at home over nights out, and days and evenings that make your breath catch in your throat with their mere presence.

So far I feel I have been a bit of a LJ failure; two posts in, what, five months. Seriously? Poor show. Too many things have needed to be done, and even sitting for a ten minute update seems like a lot of work. It is both frustrating and exhausting--to want to write, but not want to take the time to do it, and of course, to deal with the guilty feeling that comes with that. Ah, but now, as days grow longer and colder (You can feel the difference even tonight! No more air conditioner needed! Yay!), I finally, finally get the urge to sit and write and more will power to do just that. There are pieces--both fiction and other "life or something like it" updates--that I have been meaning to post for quite some time. I need to write about Darcy's last show in Cheyenne (a spectacular failure in the ring and wonderful success in regards to personal connections :) ), add a few fiction and "musing" pieces I've been dreaming up, and rev up for using LJ as my update medium once I head across the pond.

So, I hope that the next post will be simply the start to many more, that the burning desire for write time I get around this time of the year keeps up right through the move and following adventure. Here's hoping :) 

Har har har!

I am no poet...but on occasion I like to amuse myself. Here is the latest desecration of a beautiful art :)






From the moment I arrived you fell upon me
like any predator upon its prey.
Hungrily you watched me approach the circle
tasting my warmth as it drifted to you on the summer breeze.

I must seem a simple target, looking only for fun and a dance.
Perhaps that is why you pressed so hard from the beginning,
interrupting my conversation with your teasing presence,
forcing me to turn my eyes and thoughts to you.

At first I gently resisted your advances,
brushing you off if you came too close and sighing meekly
Madame, this is neither the time nor place.
But the firmer my denial, the harder you pushed.

So, lithe and fast I sought my refuge
in swirling skirts made transparent by the firelight
my feet beating out a rapid tattoo, the sound of my retreat.
Behind the too-thick smoke, you were patient.

The fire grew too hot and, sweet and sweaty, I return
to the deep shadows where you waited.
Finally, your chance to pounce! To brush my moon-pale skin,
linger long on the nape of my neck and nip, quick and deep.

But, I too can strike and I’m tired of this game of chase.
That same pale skin flashes in the firelight and a hand lashes out
one swift and decisive slap.
In that instant, the evening turns to blood, and not mine.

Damn mosquito.

Minor Miracles


This is not exactly what I had intended for my first Live Journal post. On the contrary, I have a fiction piece I began the other night that I thought would be a dynamic and inspiring introduction (humbly submitted, of course…) Yet, as it so often goes, it is not to be. Life has a way of always throwing new wonders at us, and some of them simply cannot be ignored for long. This story seems a very fitting introduction…so here goes.

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 Working in an animal shelter provides an endless source of amazing stories. On any given day at my work, I encounter both the best and very worst of human behavior, death, birth, miracles and tragedies. It is a situation ripe with inspiration…and yet, on most days I come home either too exhausted or too emotionally bruised to sit and record. There are some days, however, when the event was simply too breathe taking to go unwritten. Today was one of those days, and it is all due to a lovely co-worker of mine named Jodi.

 

Jodi, a charming character in her later middle years, is what could best be described as rough around the edges. Permanently tanned, slightly stooped from many years of bending over her work, wry-humored and bearing the stereotypical speech and expressions of a “school of hard-knocks” alumni, there is nothing in Jodi’s outward appearance that would suggest a cuddly individual. And, in many ways, she is not. Yet, of our many Animal Care workers, she is my favorite. Every day she makes time to scan the lost ads in the paper, hoping to make a match for one of her many canine charges. She consistently adds to her own significant daily duties by pulling dogs out of their kennels and chatting up potential adopters. She surveys each and every adoption with a fresh dose of child-like delight, and—in a career where many use gallows humor to make it through the day—she addresses the death of any animal with a dignity and serenity that has often gripped at my heart.

 

Today she caught my eye as she paced around the adoptions building, clutching a tiny kitten to her chest. The little baby, no more than 6 weeks old, was swaddled protectively in a delicate white towel and rested quietly in the crook of Jodi’s arm as any infant would: belly to the sky, legs tucked up, and wide green eyes gazing from behind the shielding folds of her make-shift nursery. The sight of someone cradling one of our tiny kittens in such a way is not unusual at Animal Humane, but for Jodi, a kennel worker who spent the day in the crash and din of the barking dogs, it was strange. I watched her for a moment as she hovered silently by the door of my foster manager, and then went about my business with a mental shrug. Most likely she was filling her time. After all, the shelter was nearly empty of customers that day, and my foster manager always needed help with the many needy creatures that passed through her door.

 

The image troubled me no more until about an hour later, when I once more spotted Jodi withher tiny and fragile charge still nestled in her arms. This time they were outside the main kennels, strolling through spots of sunlight as they broke through the gray clouds above. Finally, I stopped to address the question that was teasing at my well-being,

“Who have you got here?” I asked quietly, reaching out my finger to the tiny morsel of life resting in the towel. She was a pretty little thing: a minute longhaired dilute tortoiseshell, still all kitten fluff and gentle colors of gray and cream. As I stroked her velvety nose, she gazed up at me through half-closed eyes and issued one soft, almost voiceless “meow.” 

“This is Cloud,” Jodi murmured lovingly, holding the kitten closer to her worn cheek. Suddenly all became clear. Notes from the kitten’s medical history flashed through my mind, notes that I had studied yesterday while reading the euthanasia recommendations list for the next day. “Failure to thrive,” “fading kitten syndrome,” “non-stop diarrhea, unresponsive to meds,” all had sounded a little knell in the back of my mind; there was nothing we could do for this kitten but peacefully end her suffering.

“Ah,” I sighed lamely as I continued to run my finger over her tiny face.

“She is going to be euthanized later,” Jodi added, not quite meeting my eyes.

“Yes, I know. Poor thing.”

“Yeah. So, she is hanging out with me today,” Jodi said, clutching the baby closer to her cheek, “and I’m just going to love her for the rest of her life.”

I simply smiled and nodded, then turned away to continue my work and keep myself from bursting into tears, as I have had to do so many other times at work. After a few paces, I risked another glance back at Jodi. Humming softly to herself and Cloud, she continued their walk in the warm sunshine.

 

Jodi was absolutely good to her word. Cloud spent the day resting snugly in that brilliant white towel, and though far too weak to even be able to stand, she was gently chaffered around the little microcosm that is our shelter. She came to our lunch-hour all-staff meeting and was cuddled and petted and cooed at, as every baby should be. Everyone knew who she was and why she was there; she was at once exemplifying the best and worst parts about our job, and the vast beauty and heartbreak inherent in our work. After the meeting she continued her rounds with Jodi, even coming to visit myself and Darcy, my kitten-obsessed Wolfhound. As Darcy placed her massive nose against the whiteness of the towel, Cloud reached out with both dime-sized paws and happily clutched the dog’s great whiskery muzzle. There was no fear in her eyes at this meeting, only curiosity and wonder. When I held her tightly in her little nest and again softly stroked her nose, those same eyes gazed calmly up at me, her little voice producing the barest of meows, and her baby’s face holding that special smile that only kittens can manage. Later that afternoon, Cloud was sent gently and kindly to sleep, no doubt still cradled in Jodi’s arms.

 ******************************************************************

To carry on through the daily hardships and mishaps of human life and remain unjaded is, I believe, impossible. Too many bad things happen: the good guys very often do not win, death and pain consume the innocent, life is simply not fair. Yet, while I have often found myself in the position of witnessing extreme cases of human frailty and cruelty and the devastating effects of this behavior, I try to remain grateful that the same position allows me to witness human strength, kindness, and overwhelming compassion. Jodi reminded me today of the very best that humans can be. Her simple act of caring for a dying kitten will live in my memory as a moment of Grace, one of those rare moments when what should ideally happen and what did happen are one in the same. This, in itself, is a minor miracle, and I am thankful that I was there for it.