Snake It Off

Since my close encounter with a cottonmouth snake (below) I’ve been hyper aware of anything serpent related.

News stories about invasive snake species in south Florida interest me:

https://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/local/environment/2019/04/13/florida-invasive-animal-species-wrecking-native-ecosystems-non-native/3456294002/

And I look for opportunities to learn more about snakes just in case there’s a next time.

This past weekend the Tallahassee Museum held an informative session for folks like me. Well, mainly for folks 12 and younger, but I didn’t let that stop me.

I listened earnestly and watched carefully. The most important thing I learned was to let snakes be. Leave them alone. Give them space. Don’t crowd them. If it’s a snake like my cottonmouth (aka water moccasin), don’t get between it and a body of water. Even if you’re positive the snake isn’t venomous, don’t pick it up. Non-venomous snakes can have nasty bites that might takes months to heal.

If you’re bitten by a snake, stay calm. Try to snap a photo of it for identification purposes and then get to an emergency room. Don’t apply a tourniquet! That just exacerbates the injury.

Most of this wasn’t new information to me, but it never hurts to have a reminder. And, oh, the snakes were cool.

Look at these Banded Water Snakes

Note that the one on the right is digesting a big meal.

That’s an Eastern Indigo Snake above. These guys are endangered and non-venomous. I’m fairly certain that this is the type of snake we have living in our front garden area. Sure glad I saved him from the guys repairing our driveway!

Watch this guy, an Eastern Diamondback, who seemed as interested in us as we were in him.

This pretty guy below is a Gray Rat Snake. These are non-venomous and fairly common. They blend in perfectly with the bark of oak trees, so there’s no telling how many I pass right by every day.

So, I’m still no snake expert, but I did know the answer to one of the instructor’s questions when none of the other kids, I mean, participants did. She said that some snakes move in a concertina style and asked if anyone knew what a concertina was.

I played it cool,

But soon it was obvious no one else knew the answer, so it fell to me.

I didn’t get a gold star or anything, but that’s okay. Just knowing I was right was reward enough.

Peace, people!

A Sacrificial Offering

Studly Doright was out of town last night, and I didn’t sleep more than an hour or so. This morning I enjoyed a shower then puttered around the house before going out on the back porch to read. Soon, I found myself dozing off, so I retired to the sofa where I planned to close my eyes for just a couple of minutes.

Two hours later (!) I was awakened by my watch buzzing indicating a call. I was completely disoriented at first, even flummoxed, having no idea of the time of day or even my surroundings. I managed to carry on a fairly rational conversation, I think, with the caller, though, and after saying goodbye I took stock of my situation.

There I was with my Kindle on my chest, my hair dried and sticking out all over, and a spindle of drool clinging to the corner of my mouth. Thank goodness it hadn’t been a FaceTime call!

I think the cats thought I’d died. One left a sacrificial mouse in my shoe:

Maybe their feline deity accepted the sacrifice and brought me back for another day. I’ll try to be worthy.

Peace, people.

The Leaning Tree

Winds have bowed him awkwardly,

Casting him askew to the others.

Maybe, though, he’s just leavesdropping,

Inserting himself into the discussion between

The sweet magnolia and the mighty oak

Across the way, shaking boughs and

Whispering poetry, listening for the owl.

Maybe he’s yearning for the lake,

Hoping for a cool breeze and a sip of water,

Or perhaps, like you, he’s just weary and

Seeks the loving arms of a companion.

Who am I to judge this leaning tree?

I’ve leaned too, in my day, and

Will again in the days to come.

Tomorrow

Tomorrow I will take the time to linger by the lake,

To touch my toe tips to its cool surface and watch the flash of fish

Slipping beneath the weeds.

Tomorrow I will pluck a daisy and count off the petals,

Each one a vindication or a soft rejection, who needs that kind of

Fickle love anyway?

Tomorrow I will bake the bread, rolling and kneading and

Watching it rise, the smell of warm yeasty goodness almost making me

Swoon with giddiness.

Tomorrow I will honor the friends whose days were cut short,

I’ll wear patchouli on my wrists and dress in a gypsy skirt, maybe with bells

Announcing my arrival.

Tomorrow

Intellectual Arithmetic

At least once a month I spend my Saturday in search of estate sales. Very seldom do I buy anything, but this week I found a couple of new-to-me treasures.

First is this lovely wildlife print by Nancy Z. Guinn (or Gwinn).

The photograph doesn’t do it justice. I keep expecting one of the birds to fly out to light on my finger.

This, though, was my favorite find:

I know, this copy of Ray’s Intellectual Arithmetic is in awful condition, but I’m sure I won’t look all that great when I’m 142 years old either.

After perusing the pages of this pocket sized publication, I realized that by “Intellectual Arithmetic” the author was referring to what we call mental math.

Perhaps this find doesn’t excite you, but I’m a retired teacher who often was assigned to teach math (or maths, for my British friends) and science to elementary students.

I can well imagine the reactions from modern day children were they to be handed a plain Jane copy of Ray’s Intellectual Arithmetic when they’ve become accustomed to this:

Studly Doright was impressed with my little book, but for a different reason. He thinks it might be worth more than the few dollars I paid for it. Given the book’s condition I doubt it’d be valuable. Except, that is, to me.

Peace, people!

Closure

The righteous will say,

No closure for the wicked

No rest for the hordes

Rail on for justice,

For resolution’s balance

For a sign of peace

Dove’s wings are tangled

Within the hawk’s taloned fists

Your closure, his claws

I began writing about one kind of closure, but my words wandered into a different place.

Peace, people.

Beauty is in the Eye(brow) of the Beholder

Found this on Facebook. It seemed appropriate for me to post considering the title of my blog.

I almost hit the publish button after attaching the meme above, but before doing so I thought, “Are there other memes about eyebrows anywhere on the internet?”

Well, yes. Yes, there are.

Just for the record, my right eyebrow is the best behaved of the two. It’s fuller and shapelier and gets asked out on way more dates.

Do you think men have a favorite eyebrow? Unless they’re drag queens, no. And even then, no, because they’re fabulous at creating glorious eyebrows.

Contrary to public opinion, I’m really not obsessed with eyebrows. I have far more important beauty issues to consider, such as my definite lack of meaningful cheekbones. But “Praying for Cheekbones” didn’t come to me in a mystical experience like “Praying for Eyebrowz did.”

And I don’t paint in my eyebrows. I do give them a little pep talk every morning, urging them to work together for the greater good and to watch their respective postures. Right eyebrow is much more receptive to my entreaties.

I could’ve posted a hundred eyebrow memes and still not have emptied the meme mine. But I think my point has been made.

(By the way, that’s not me pictured above. Thanks to Pinterest for the creative eyebrow picture.)

Peace, people!

Not His Type

Yesterday my cat, Scout, and I watched a hawk fly all around our backyard here at Doright Manor, lighting briefly on a lamppost before flying dramatically to the ground. He poked around in the grass for a minute or two before doing this:

I told Scout it looked like he was initiating a mating ritual. Every now and again he’d stop his dance and look directly at me, as if to say, “Hey, good looking….”

Scout yawned and said, “I’m almost certain that hawks perform an elaborate aerial mating ritual in place of a dance. And, honestly, you’re not his type.”

Cheeky cat.

Peace, people!

Two Tidbits About John Keats that I Learned from Reading Science Fiction

John Keats, the 19th century English Romantic poet, loved a woman named Fanny. That’s tidbit one. Fast forward to the last sentence if you want to skip the middle stuff and go directly to tidbit two.

Oddly enough, Keats, or at least his “cybrid” analog in the Hegemony, is a major character in the far future science fiction adventure, Hyperion and its sequel, The Fall of Hyperion, written by Dan Simmons.*

Googling Keats brought up a link to his works from which Simmons borrowed the titles for his books.

Hyperion is an abandoned epic poem by 19th-century English Romantic poet John Keats. It is based on the Titanomachia, and tells of the despair of the Titans after their fall to the Olympians. Keats wrote the poem from late 1818 until the spring of 1819, when he gave it up as having “too many Miltonic inversions.” He was also nursing his younger brother Tom, who died on 1 December 1818 of tuberculosis. 

The themes and ideas were picked up again in Keats’s The Fall of Hyperion: A Dream, when he attempted to recast the epic by framing it with a personal quest to find truth and understanding.

Dan Simmons’s novels pull off the amazing feat of combining old world sense and sensibilities with the ethics and challenges of a far reaching human presence in an infinite future universe.

I’m going to be honest and tell you, dear reader, that there were some small passages of Simmons’s books that I just did not comprehend. I often had to go back and reread and even read aloud certain passages, and still the technology was over my head. But the stories were so compelling that I was able to allow myself to be carried through those sections. Avid readers of science fiction will understand what I mean.

One thing’s for certain. I will be pondering Hyperion Cantos for a long time. Oh, tidbit two–I learned that John Keats was only five feet tall.

Peace, people!

*Hyperion Cantos is a four novel series. I just started book 3, Endymion.

Now This Storm

All the night things were fooled by the glowering skies. In the hushed anticipation,

Frogs began their nightly chorus as crickets laid down a steady beat, echoing into

this false dusk, punctuated suddenly by stabs of frantic lightning, bombarded by the

rolling of a timpani, mallets on skin, presaging the arrival of a downpour, the

outpouring, the deluge. We hunker down, my cats and I, after a sharp crackle and

concussive reverberation. Too close for comfort. The lake creatures have gone mute,

given up on their futile choruses, now that the storm has come.

We had a lightning strike a couple of minutes ago that might have topped anything I’ve ever experienced. It was close, the thunder immediate, and my heart is racing. Wish I’d still had the camera going, but the audio would have needed censoring.

See that bare spot on my lawn? That’s still fallout from last year’s Hurricane Michael. And we’ve got a potential hurricane heading this way as I write this. I’m not ready for another storm season.

Peace, people.