summer_jackel: (Default)
Life continues. Today is my day off; I am pedaling my bike trainer, which is what I am usually up to when I post. I just had to have the trainer serviced because use had worn the steel tube that attaches my bike's rear wheel to the trainer mechanism so that it was no longer flush and didn't hold the bike. The mechanic filed it down and added a washer, and then asked how much I rode it. I guess he isn't called upon much to repair trainers. I told him that I rode 20-30 hours a month, which is true, if less accurate and less personal than my first answer: enough to keep me centered, happy and sufficiently sane.

Comfort the Pictus cat died last night, and I am sad about it; there was perhaps a time when I felt a bit embarrassed about grieving a fish, but that's long past. I'd had him for seven years and got him as an adult; the outer observed age of the species seems to be about eight, so I think the little guy did ok with me. I got him on the way home from a really disastrous court appearance in my first year as an attorney; I'd made a bad newbie lawyer mistake and felt awful, thus "Comfort the catfish." He was a good little fish, and his active presence added a note of cheer and beauty to my home.

I'm in a place in life where a number of the animals that I obtained in my 20s are reaching their expected lifespans and passing, others who I have thought of as the babies are in their prime, and a younger generation is beginning to establish. It's a very bittersweet feeling, like thinking of who I was when I got that fish, how confused and trapped and not who I am now I was. How much happier I am now and how much more sorrowful. How much more myself I feel, how my life with these animals now feels smooth and harmonious, as the animals I used to have and don't anymore felt utterly right and perfect and different than these when I had them.

I walked my three sheepdogs this morning and then bathed Coba; I took Nikolai for a short walk and bathed him, too. Now I'm pedaling on the deck, hour 2.30, watching Tiger stalk around while Magic, 16, lounges on a cushion in what passes for midday sun around here. For Sysiphean boulders, you have to admit that they are awfully loveable and cuddly. I couldn't be happier.


cats, dogs, bugs, slugs )
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My beloved wolf-husky Jez passed yesterday, most likely of liver failure, possibly from the rupture of an abdominal tumor. Jez was an animal of tremendous subtlety, intelligence, loyalty and beauty, a precious friend from the morning of her birth to the morning of her passage, and the last of a bloodline of wolfdogs who were my companions for over 20 years. She faced the end of her life as she had lived it, with elegance, courage and splendor. My sorrow and my gratitude are impossible to fully express. I owe so much of what I appreciate in my own character to Jezzie and her family, and I will miss them all, always.



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My wolf spider, the Lady in Velvet, passed a couple of days ago. Although she was a rescue and of a species that probably doesn't live very long, and although I know I did a good job caring for her, I'm still sad about it. I'll miss her. She was surprisingly graceful and lovely, as well as being something of the quintessence of large, hairy spiders. It was neat to have her as a roomate. I am perhaps a little surprised that I managed to bond to a spider quite this much, although perhaps I shouldn't be given how attached I was to the tarantula I kept in high school. Maybe it was something about the way Velvet watched me.

All of my other animals are doing well, including Avi, who is growing inexorably but slowly. Her legspan might almost straddle a dime now. If she's actually female, she might live 20 years in captivity; it turns out that the really large hairy spiders take a long time to get large, in addition to being fragile.


Apr. 16th, 2010 07:59 pm
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Silver-coated, dappled
she slipped though high gray arms of waves
that did not drown her.
She had shown a leathern coat
you did not try to steal, or hide away.

From the stories you had learned
instead to let her go
into that dark element she called her own.
Standing on the shore, uneasy
paws shying from the water.
A forest creature tasting salt,
braving ground as changing as the strand:
a place for her return.


Apr. 14th, 2010 07:45 pm
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Dover the rooster became the best chicken dinner I think I've ever had. He was delicious, nice and flavorful, a bit richer and darker than store bought meat, even Rocky (local semi-freerange chicken). I don't usually like dark meat, either.

So, if you want really delicious gourmet chicken, it is apparently best to raise it yourself. I may get some meat birds now; I was already thinking of it.

Thanks, little guy.
summer_jackel: (Default)
Little rooster who crowed this morning
before I stroked you until you calmed
and slit your throat.
Plucked, dressed, iced
I will anoint you in oil and rosemary
this afternoon, and eat you
for a late lunch.
You will be part of me
in a very literal and non-poetic way.

And I will miss you.
Your pride and beauty, your clean feathers and shining eye.
For all the chickens I have eaten and never knew,
the memory of your morning call proclaims:
Love what you must kill;
kill only what you love.


Apr. 11th, 2010 02:51 pm
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You won't see her.
she is the dapples in the shade,
soft, grey-eyed and unmoving.
You walked past her all your life and never saw

until she dropped. All spangled black and gold
how couldn't you? She seems so obvious now
she is the world
her touch everything.
to feel her fluid leap, if only once
to smell her
her softness
her coiling strength
her single-minded need.

Beauty strikes with savage power
hope's claws curved and bloody.
Her fangs are sharp; she takes the brain case from behind
holds it just so
that complex thought, the fear and wanting
reduce to sweet nourishment
keen sensation
the joy of now.
summer_jackel: (Default)
Much merriment to all.


Words and pictures under the cut )

Flock Loss

Oct. 12th, 2009 12:12 pm
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So, something---probably a raccoon---got into my coop last night and killed everyone but Arcata, the lovely little phoenix hen Allison gave me a couple months ago. I went out this morning, and there were just a couple of bodies, mostly eaten, and a lot of feathers.

This is an inevitable part of having poultry, and it will almost certainly happen eventually to everyone who does. It still sucks, and I'm very sad about it. I've gone back and forth over the years about how to deal with this emotionally, and it's hard not to question whether letting myself get attached to the damned chickens is really a good idea. Being emotionally distant from them is worse, though. So, I will continue to tame and name the poultry and just accept that from time to time, the wild requires a sacrifice. Still, it's been a really long time since wildlife took everything.

My mystery squawking the other night was probably the coon coming in and being chased off by the dogs, who were all sleeping in my bedroom last night, with the door closed. So, tonight I will lock Arcata in the small coop and leave the door to the chickenyard open, and Jez loose. That should either chase them off or deliver me grilled raccoon steak for the following night, and the next day I think I can borrow a cat trap. If I catch any coons, I will drop them off in remote woods many miles away from me.

Meanwhile, life goes on. I just picked up some adorable week-old chicks, and a young pullet to keep Arcata company so she isn't alone for a month. Still sucks. Marilyn, Wild Blue, Random, Oddment, Whatnot, Felix, Vivienne and Josephine, I am sorry. I'll miss you.

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I may just succeed in this little project: 2 more months to go! What a year to write it in, too.

Anyway, August was heavy.

Moments come which stop everything )
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OK, so Jez and Chaos spent the day in the kennel while I was at work. The shelties were similarly locked out of the house. The floor was still mopped when I departed this morning.

...How did muddy paw prints get all over the floor in that intervening time?!

I shall ascribe fault to Tiger. (Who is curled up innocently asleep in my bed, aww).


Thank you all for your kind words regarding Pryde. I can't adequately describe what he meant to me and the depth of the loss, so I won't try. But he was one of the dearest creatures who ever graced my life, and his absence is incredibly painful. I did the right thing; it was his time, he was suffering. I am still looking for the way to face a world without him.
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He was powerful, gentle, fierce, magnificent. I would not be who I am without him.

Born in my arms, died in my arms.

Rest gently and goodbye, my love.


Pryde )
summer_jackel: (Default)
I've noticed this really odd little custom springing up---that of having decals on your car announcing a death, presumably of a loved one. Instead of, like, a Jesus fish, Calvin praying or little stick figures to represent each member of your family (personally, I have a howling wolf and the silhouette of a clothed woman reading a book on my truck's rear window), you see "John Doe, 1973-2007," sometimes with a little epitaph like 'we miss you.'

OK, so I'm easily as morbid as the next girl. Death and its imagery has always fascinated me and you could probably even get away with accusing me of being a teeny bit goth around the corners. And I certainly understand and respect being in mourning. I can see how having some signal to strangers that you've suffered a recent loss and to be kind to you could be necessary, so maybe this is like automotive mourning garb. But...turning your vehicle into a rolling memorial? Does this help the grief process along? Does it mean that this person died in the car? (Because that's where my sick little mind wants to go). Like, did the driver run over him and this is her attonement?

Isn't it a teeny tiny bit tacky?

Anyway, trends, they amuse. Have any of you seen this around? I've been noticing it a fair amount. This post was inspired by the SUV I was behind today which had not one but two very large memorial stickers on the back window. And I feel kind of bad about snarking on this, because it's not nice to make fun of deaths in someone's family, but I kinda can't help myself. Guys, if I die any time soon, and I know I won't care then because I'll be dead, but memorialize me in some other way than a sticker on your car, ok?

Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! EDITED to add this adorable little Valentine dragonling gifted to me by [ profile] mooncatx. Adopt one today!


Jan. 31st, 2009 07:43 pm
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Going beautiful places with my dogs is and I suspect always will be one of my favorite things. I got a lot of happy feedback regarding dogs at the beach pics at Furcon, so here are some from yesterday, a beautiful, quiet sunset on an empty beach.

Pryderi's hips/low back are giving him a lot of trouble, and he is about as bad as Fenris was about 6 months ago. It's painful to watch him age, and I am so very scared of losing him, especially now. Don't even want to imagine being without Pryde. Glucosomine and chondoriatin helps, and at least it isn't dysplasia, but his arthritis and loss of motion in the hips and spine are inevetable with age. He's 12, far younger than I expected this to happen (Fen was 14). But he is a very big dog, and this seems to hit them shockingly fast.

I am trying to cherish every moment I have with him. This trip to the tidepools was the first when he was not at my heels almost the entire time; he stayed on the shore watching me, only coming out into the pools in areas where the rock was particularly flat and easy to get over. I'm glad that he knows he could hurt himself and isn't taking risks. But then, this is the dog who has been backpacking with me regularly for the last 11 years---he knows his limits and his body, and he was always so good at knowing exactly how far he should go on a mountain face or slippery rock.

He seemed content and relaxed on the shore, though. Coba, interestingly enough, has taken the role of being glued to my heel at the tidepools. Maybe Pryde is glad to see somedog keeping an eye on my reckless ass as I attempt to get as close to the waves as I can...


Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today!

Dogs at the beach )
summer_jackel: (Yawning jackal)
Woken up at a little after five in the morning by happy, smacking, nomming sounds, I regretfully groaned my way out of bed in time to catch Magic finishing off the last bits of a rat.

I'm a little torn, here. (Not as much as the rat was, though. heh). On one paw, way to go and fulfill the reason we domesticated your species, old lady. I love that Magic does not act 13. I mean, she sleeps quite a lot, but that's kind of redundant since she's a *cat*, and really she's still about as active as she was when she was three. I continue to miss Fenris daily, and a lot. I'd as soon the remainder of my long-term companions stick around for awhile, ok?

On the other paw, there was a *rat* in my *house* for her to get. I'm pretty certain the ol' girl was not inspired to go hunting in the wilds of outside, or even under the house, in the middle of the night in a rainstorm. So yes, rats. I believe that the appropriate response here is "Do Not Want." But hey, I am protected by a stalwart lady-mouser and a homicidal psycho jungle cat, what's to worry about, right?

I'm a lot more concerned about the ants moving back inside for the winter. It happens every year. Sigh.

On the other other paw? I absolutely adore autumn. I love the storms. Oh yeah, Nature, bring it on.

Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today!
summer_jackel: (Default)
I am curled up by the woodstove which heats my house, writing on a laptop. That's pretty darn neat, really.

Adopt one today! Adopt one today!

pictures of creatures )
summer_jackel: (coyote face)
the opened heart

The doe hadn't been dead long when I found her. It was late, and she was so warm and recently alive that between the darkness of the roadside and the flopping flexibility of her weight, at least two thirds of my own, getting her into the back of my truck was a visceral, bodily ordeal.

To process meat requires intimacy, considerable mess and a necessary acceptance of one's own mortality. With this deer especially, there was a keen immediacy to the situation. She'd been badly hit, and because of the degree of her injury, if I'd found her within the usual several-hour safety margin for cleanly hit roadkill, the meat would have been already tainted. Her gutting, unlike the butchery, couldn't wait for morning. So a little after midnight I had her open on my deck, looking like something from a horror novel. The innards were a hot, scarlet, liquid pool that I finally just poured out, trying to allow as little of it as possible to touch the meat. Most of the ribcage organs came out in pieces with it, and in a certain desperation to finish the whole ordeal, I reached in, felt around, and just pulled out anything still attached. The interior of her body was almost as warm as it would have been in life. I was all over blood, its color so red that in a movie it would spoil the illusion of reality.

In this way I found myself standing in the quiet of earliest morning with the doe's heart, still warm with its function, alive-feeling, cradled in the two of my hands. It was a beautiful thing, muscular and slippery and tough, pink and white and vivid red. Emotions came up in me then, the brain connecting recent pain to symbol and the exquisite shining viscerality in my hand. It's a cultural thing that we make the heart mean what we do, but there is a reason the organ took or was given its symbolic power. To hold it in your hands is to feel this, to understand why.

So I let that moment be what it was, let the emotions flow, all the sorrow for my life as it was and the violent death of this beautiful animal, the excitement of warm meat, the vertigo of major changes, the sheer exultation of being awake and outside and yes, still alive, still! in the middle of the night. I let them pool and wash around me like blood, and they left me clean.

time measured in the lifespan of a dog

I fed the doe's heart to Fenris, my oldest wolfdog. She was very excited about this. I didn't know then that she had less than two more weeks to live, or that I would have to make that decision. Ultimately, it was her hips and back, not her heart, that failed her.

I was 18 when I got her as a puppy, 32 the year she passed. Am I the same person I was then? If so, then certainly only in some ways. Life is a continuum of growing new pieces of yourself and losing old ones, sometimes so gently you hardly notice, sometimes cleaving away in chunks which leave great and bleeding wounds. Fenris certainly informed who I was, how I lived, what I did. Her arrival and her loss in turn precipitated and ended a discrete chapter of my life, and coincided with other events which brought similar beginnings and closure. There were other life phases, other important cycles that happened to me within that time, of course, but I realized as I took her body home that things never really would be the same, that when I remember the last fourteen years of my life, my years of youngest adulthood, Fenris' memory will trot around them on graceful, phantom paws.

Things have lifespans. Animals, loves, obsessions, bodies, creative phases, relationships. They are imbued with birth, youth, contentment, senescence, death, transformation, the old symbolic patterns woven through them. There are worse ways, I think, by which I could measure the living of my life than by that of the animal who shared it with me.

walking in the woods in September

It's warm. I can't feel Autumn in the air yet, but the Equinox is two weeks away, and anticipation is there. The maples have begun to turn, just barely, their wide green leaves gone lemon yellow. The woods are full of tanoaks which have been dying of disease for the last three years and are now beginning to fall; the winter rains should bring many of them down. I notice as well the ones that have been spared, the new growth. Young leaves are velvety, soft, while the older ones are tough, shiny green. The phage on this tree has deadened only the edges of it. It ought to live.

The small reservoir which is usually the destination of these hikes is full of bullfrogs, far more than I remember from other years. They're delightfully fun, sitting hidden in the weeds, brown and green with tender, ever-pulsing white throats and eyes of metallic copper. Their camouflage is ideal; I could be watching one for several minutes and only when it moved see the three others behind it.

I can't resist trying to catch them. As I strip down and move as quietly as I can into the pond, they hop away from me with great splashes, trilling like alarmed birds. The water feels delicious; it's still early morning, and though today will be hot, the cold black water has not had a chance to warm from evening. It's almost painful at first, before I adjust. Then, there is only bliss.

I can't seem to catch a frog; the shallow part of the pond drops away abruptly, leaving me with little purchase. Where it is shallow enough, I can't get my hands under the amphibians, or I'm too hesitant. Several times, soft frog skin sleeks away wonderfully beneath my hand. The tiny fish are easy to catch, just bring your cupped palms under them slowly and watch them swim about, beautiful and nearly translucent. The frogs would need nets, or just better technique, but it doesn't really matter since catching them isn't really the point. If I'm still, I can watch them for a long time, thrill at the thought of holding something so perfect and wild briefly in my hand, my eyes.


When I brought Fenris back from the vet, I let her two grown children out of their kennel to see the body, to understand what had happened. The moment shared between them reminded me a little of how my two adult cats behaved when I brought the kitten home and let them see her through the carrier. It was a moment of intense interest, and then looks shared between them that I can only think of as communicative. Something momentous has happened in our lives, something huge and unexpected and out of our control. I see it, do you? Good.

Pryderi and Jezebel understood the enormity of what had happened immediately. Their curved tails went straight down as they sniffed the body, moved her head around with their long muzzles. Pryde approached first; Jez was hesitant, wouldn't go up to her until he had been with her for a few moments. Pryde looked back at me, that clear eye contact that wolfdogs sometimes do and purely domestic ones generally don't, and made a tiny sound. I stood with them, silent, trying to give them what support I could, and scratched Pryde's ruff.

They were done in a few minutes, and trotted away together back to the kennel at almost the same time: again, that wordless communication. Tails were up again, and they were ready to walk in good cheer. Animals are so pragmatic, though I think it a grave mistake to assume that their mourning lacks subtlety and stages. I've since caught the two of them sleeping curled together, which generally they don't, and both have been eating less since Fenris died. I wonder if her absence on our walks startles them as much as it does me.


The kitten is growing quickly, but she's still small, a tiny blaze of hyperactive, destructive, adorably pouncing energy. Of course, I'm aware that I just adopted the death of an old cat a decade or so down the line. I'll be older then, closer to my own death, too.

I don't believe that the reality of finitude should prevent us from loving. Still, that emotion, so difficult to even define and identify, is both sweet and cutting. Such a thing bears contemplation. A measure at least as accurate as the life of a dog, what and who and how we love defines phases in our lives, splashes our tapestries with vivid red.

And I think about the heart again. Such a tough organ. The symbolic heart is less so, but I believe that it is strengthened as much as it is torn by its breaking. Love, in my experience, doesn't end: it may change and evolve, and it often outlives a relationship, a circumstance, a life. Is it not, after all, a wound to begin with, in the sense that it irreparably alters that which experiences it? Love marks. It bleeds us. It leaves beautiful scars.
summer_jackel: (Default)
There's a very excellent and worthwhile link here.

Gallery of photographs. I found them beautiful and deeply moving.

Life is precious and rare and fleeting, even though it's brief. Maybe especially.


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July 2017



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