Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Short Short Moments of Life


It’s March in Seattle and chunky rain is falling.  My spouse and I call this seasonal outpouring “chunky” rain because it seems like someone is sitting on our roof and occasionally, in a maddeningly random, and quite imperious fashion, adding small white freezing globs to the normal clear drops that fall from the sky. I know what you are thinking -- and, no, it’s not snow.  I am aware that snow floats.  It’s more like 20 bums sitting up on the roof, spiting snowcone bits into a gutter, which, in some weird alternate world, just happens to be our backyard.  It is not a pretty sight.  Even the cat will not go out into the bushes for his daily latrine duty during chunk-fall.  He wisely uses the kitty box in the gardening shed instead. 

As this is a typical Spring in the Pacific Northwest -- the chunk-rain is falling apace.  I am a Seattle native so it would not be seemly for me to appear to whine about this or, in fact, to take any notice of it at all.

I’m cool with the usual de rigeur native rain behavior: We never use an umbrella under any circumstances.  We only wear a hat if making a bold fashion statement or for some reason we are going bald.  And, most of all, we never, never let a little water falling from the sky stop us from doing any old thing that strikes our fancy on any old day our fancy happens to get struck.  Of course if what strikes my fancy on a day like this is a walk around our beautiful, centrally located  fitness magnet, “Greenlake”, I have to go to great lengths to hide my attempts to stay warm and dry in order to save face should I run into any other Seattle-born acquaintances during my perambulations.  This involves much layering of silk underwear under deceptively flimsy clothing, an unobtrusive flesh-colored neck scarf and a jacket with a hood that can quickly be pulled back into it’s “I really couldn’t care less,” position should a native person approach.  Let me tell you, getting exercise can be quite the ordeal.

So this morning I’m sitting and watching the rain spit down, thinking, screw the walk, and then morosely wondering if I should do a ‘night run’ up the street to get the mail so I won’t have to stroll past the neighborhood houses nonchalantly, like getting frigid goo down my neck is a matter of absolutely no consequence to me.  Then I remembered the tweetomancy reading I got this morning, and it all came back to me. 

Some mornings when I first log in to my twitter account home, I take a second and go to the ‘Everyone’ section, and with eyes closed click on a random tweet.  This morning’s tweet was:

“Waltzing about town in short shorts”

Well, thanks buddy. You live in, lets see, er, Austin Texas, which is today, ah, just a sec -- let me Google that -- clickity, click -- Oh- My- God-- is a frigging 68 degrees warm today?   Thanks, my friend, for rubbing in the fact that you can blithely waltz around your town in skimpy short-shorts, without getting goosebumps the size of Mount Rainier on every part of the body that you are wantonly, and without thought for the delicate feelings of others, flaunting before the elements for everyone to see. No soggy jacket sticking to your ass and your car seat. No stumbling into a ravine next to your garbage cans because your glasses get fogged-up and wet.  No damp neck, damp feet, and damp feelings, because your hands resemble wrinkled white asparagus on the week-old veggie-bargain table. A Happy Blue Danube kinda day to you too, Mr. Happy Go Lucky!

Well, wait a minute, what the heck, I guess maybe you better keep waltzing away my friend.  I can see that your tweet is perhaps a timely reminder to me that somewhere in the world the sun is shining down on the carefree legs of dancing males.  Somewhere, someone is moving like a zephyr on the springtime air with a light heart, while living in the moment and getting their vitamin D the natural way instead from the Jumbo-size sale bottle from the drugstore.  

Your tweet has inspired me to take the high-ground -- another thing you probably don’t have to worry about in your neck of the woods! -- so I’ll just try to be happy for you and your sun-drenched, twirling, foot-tapping exuberance.

Hey I have an idea.  I am going to go straightaway and ferret out my one pair of short-shorts and then find my 78 record of “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” and keep them safe until summer.  Then, come August, when you and yours are huddled up indoors, with your hands up to the air conditioner and the temperate days of March are a dim, dim, memory, I will put them on, get the cat and we will dance out on the deck.  The air will caress our extremities like sun kissed gloves, we will twirl, and twirl until we fall down in a dizzy, happy heap. Then, when I can walk straight and get over a serious case of happy feet I will come inside to log into Twitter and my first Tweet of the Day will be --  

“Hey, Mr JonRay, I am waltzing around my deck in my short, shorts”!

©Robin Wendell 2009


Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Beagle on the Roof, Aloof

Twitterer @ inkgypsy  website has graciously offered to be my ‘First-Peep’ Twittomancy subject.  The everyone ‘tweet’ on her homepage that she picked, at random, (with eyes closed) was-- “I am the Cookie Monster Disguised as Snoopy.”

I immediately had a vision of a rather subdued Cookie Monster inside a dog house with a triumphant Snoopy sitting on top with a happy cookie crumb grin on his face.  I took a look at Snoopy - Wikipedia and found these references: 

“Schulz once said that the best idea he ever had in the strip was to move Snoopy from inside his doghouse to the rooftop. Preceding that, there was a gradual evolution of the character, from something like an actual dog to an anthropomorphic character, more like typical cartoon animals.”
“Oddly enough, the first time a beagle is mentioned in the strip (December 5, 1960), Snoopy denied being one. As Snoopy dozed, Charlie Brown paraphrased Gertrude Stein: "Beagles on the grass, alas." To this, Snoopy replied, "I ain't no stupid beagle!" (Years later, Snoopy would paraphrase the Stein expression himself: "Birds in the grass, alas;. Beagle on the Roof, Aloof")”

In the comic strip Charley Brown, Snoopy was the ultimate observer of life.  Charlie, Lucy and all the others were very caught up in the drama of their life stories.  Snoopy, on the other hand, watched the continuing show with a certain amount of detachment. He had a wry eye that looked at each unfolding event or object with curiosity and an open mind.  

As a current life situation lesson this picture of a triumphant dog sitting above the fray with a happy life-loving smile on his face says it all. Cookie Monsters are funny but one minded creatures. They want cookies NOW and damn the torpedoes. This is the human condition, we all want what we want when we want it and we want it now.  The trouble is that unless the Cookie Monster part of us is overlooked by the Snoopy part there is no discrimination in our consumption of just about everything.  This leads to a somnolent and sated soul-life, not to mention many extra inches on the old waistline. 

As Joseph Campbell  said, “Life eats life” -- this is a given while we live in space and time.  While Indiscriminate munching is normal but wasteful, the careful consumption or sharing of the proper nutrients for the present moment can nourish your whole life. 

What is needed is to get out of the dog house of need and leap up the roof of abundance to look around to see what’s out there to give or get. Sometimes the morsel is for you, sometimes it is for someone else. Sometimes these tidbits land in your face like a big cream pie and sometimes they come quietly and sit on you shoulder like a little chocolate truffle bird. It’s all waiting in the big refrigerator of life as the unlimited provisions for a banquet of love. 

So here’s to you Inkgypsy - an Eagle Beagle with many wily eyed possibilities before you. I can see you now, your neck scarf is waving in the breeze as you sit on your roof and watch for the next morsel to fly by. You are, at last - A Beagle on the Roof, Aloof"

In memory of "Barney" Woof,Woof. Rest in Peace <3 p="">

*Author Ann Wendell - Picture is birthday cake made for my sister Ann Wendell sometime in the 1960’s

©Robin Wendell 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rat in a Blender

This mornings foam sported a male gorilla carrying a baby, followed by an annoying bird.  coffeefoam

I have been thinking a lot about my past employment as a Zoo Keeper lately.  Reading Kari Lynn Dell’s hilarious blog post, Montana For Real: The 50-50 Day regarding recalcitrant gates  seemed to bring old memories all rampaging back in an alarming out of control, lemmings towards the sea, kind of way.  

I can see now that I have been in a period of adjustment during the almost two years since my retirement after thirty-two years of scraping fecal matter off walls while being bitten, chased, peed on, stepped on, trampled and, in general, harassed by all kinds of Birds, Reptiles and Mammals out to avenge their captivity, (or perhaps, just having a little fun.)  I think I have been in denial.  

At first when I was at home in my nice warm house on a miserable sleet-blown day I would eat breakfast in bed enjoying my warm feet and then looking outside at the dripping cold would roll around with glee thinking: “I wonder what part of themselves the ‘Zoo Keepers’ are freezing off today- ho de hoho!”  However, now that the thrill of staying indoors 24/7 has worn off somewhat, some of the my good Zoo memories are flooding back. 

My first bird raising experience was in 1976.  I was an Assistant Zoo Keeper assigned to the nursery at the Family Farm at the Woodland Park Zoo. My first task, which I remember with vivid clarity, was to put a rat in a blender.  We had gotten a nest of orphaned snowy owl chicks in and I innocently asked my co-worker Violet, “How do we feed them?  “Well,” she said, “You go to the reptile house and you get a rat, which you then kill, de-bone and put in a blender -- then you shake the owl nest and when the chicks open their cute little mouths you pop a little rat-goo in.”  Oh - My - God, did she think she was talking to a “animal professional? 

Snowy Owl chicks are just about the cutest things on the planet, but I found myself thinking, ‘there must be another way!’   But no, there was not.  I learned a valuable Raptor, (birds of prey), Motto:  "We do not eat Post Toasties!"

So I killed, boned and blended and the chicks ate, fledged and were released to the wild.  Seeing those luminous baby owl eyes looking up at me with grateful ‘Thanks Mom’ love made it all worth it. I became a Zoo keeper one owl chick, baby gorilla and sick kinkajou at a time.

Oh, and I probably forgot to tell you that I got the job of Zoo Keeper by accident.  I was volunteering, doing graphics and aviary plant care while beginning the next new, Great American Novel, when I let the temporary Zoo director buy me a martini at a new exhibit opening party.  Next thing a Keeper job comes up and I get it.  I thought to myself -- Well, I can do this job for a while until I finish my book.  I did -- after all, major in Art & English, gosh darn it.  

The three things I learned from all this that I can impart for your edification are: 

1.  It really IS not what you know but WHO you know. 

2.  Don’t ever take a job with good benefits and pay and think it will be easy to ditch it to starve in an attic for ‘ART’.

3.  And most important --  Reading Proust, (even in French), will never prepare you to put a rat in a blender.

© Robin Wendell  2009

Next Zoo post- The Gorilla Made These Hand-shaped Bruises On My Arms, Really!

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