Descanze en Paz, Margie

22 02 2010

This is Margie who died at the vet’s office last week.

How do I explain the sadness and spiraling despair that resulted from the the death of a chicken?  And one that had only lived with us a few months?

She should be, in my eyes, disposable.

Had her meat been consumable, a person’s hunger may not have lasted the night.  Were I generous, I might have given her as a gift.  If nothing else, fed her to my cats, who eat chicken on a regular basis.

My mourning over an animal we characterize as meat feels excessively extravagant.  It feels as though it arises out of my own lack of hunger; out of my own security.  If I were hungry, or better yet, my children starving, would I hesitate to kill her to feed them?

Some of what I felt last week was this extravagant mourning.

But I also came into that sort of crazy melancholy to which I periodically succumb.

I had been nursing our old cat who seemed inclined to starve herself to death from something as simple as a kidney infection (survived) and attempting to get Margie the chicken to eat a bit and drink a little after the surgery* to remove the lead object from her gizzard (died).

*[And about that surgery–if the prognosis is good, and Margie’s was (the extent that her liver had been compromised was not known), I feel ethically compelled to pay for any veterinary treatment recommended for the creatures in my care.  Assuming the treatment won’t make them suffer more than they might without it.  Assuming I know this, or can tell. But of course, now that she’s dead, it feels as though the money spent would have better been saved, or if it must be spent, sent to Haiti.]

At the end, the old cat is much much better and the chicken is dead.

And the pet nursing pretty much ended.  And my reading and talking about the broad sense that things are akilter (which wouldn’t matter so much but for the kids). And my narrow inability to escape my ego (“I want to create something beautiful and am incapable” “I want to be the perfect mother”).

The last time the depression slipped its leash and swallowed me was when we put another old cat, that I had been nursing, into radiation therapy for hyperthyroidism.   She was there for two weeks and I was inconsolable.  And then she came home, so much healthier than before.

Explain this to me please.

This blogpost is not supposed to be about me, but it is.  It was supposed to be about Margie–She was a barred rock.  She was fluffy and beautiful but not very interested in people.  Her friend, Luanne, is much more cuddly.  Margie was dominant and a not very adventurous eater, except, of course, she liked small metal objects.  One of which ultimately killed her.  After her surgery, she apparently gravitated to the blue oxygen tank in the back of the veterinary clinic, cooing and getting comfort from it.  Once home, I injected her with painkiller and antibiotic and handfed her, desperate for her to eat something.

I purchased her for $10.00 from a woman who wanted to thin her flock.  I wish I hadn’t, because then she might be alive–she would not have consumed that little object made of lead, tossed into our yard during either the previous owner’s construction dumping or the rear neighbor’s kids’ flings with using our yard as a waste pile and she would be alive.  (Or, I suppose, dinner…it is so confusing with chickens).

Luanne probably misses her, although she is so friendly to humans, it is hard to tell.  Luanne is an individualist, a chicken that survived a raccoon attack with one wing still intact.  Someday, we will adopt a friend or more for her, and hope that no one finds any other poisonous objects in the yard.  I’m  not eager to right now.

It seems the caretaking I impose upon myself in relationship to the creatures I live with, in times of severe illness, is more than is sustainable.  Perhaps.  Certainly, when I feel so utterly unbounded; incapable of separating out the little pieces from the animal others I encounter; and when this unboundedness is matched with a coldness and lack of susceptibility to logic, I am in some peril of becoming ineffective.  And I must  be effective, if not for my husband’s sake (who is, after all, an adult–though my rages are not fair to him) for the sake of my children.


Tree, tree, stump, tree

3 02 2010

Harry, I have no idea where this will lead us, but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange.

I did two trail runs this weekend.  Of course, at one point I took my shoes off and tried to go barefoot but stubbed my toe and wimped out.  While I was running sans shoes (prior to the stubbed toe) it felt marvelous.

If I can find a way to keep my feet somewhat protected but still somewhat in contact with the environment I will be happy (at least in that moment).

There are things you can’t get anywhere… but we dream they can be found in other people.

What I was thinking about, in terms of this blog, was not the barefoot issue…but rather the issue of irony.  Or a couple of little ironic happenings.  At least they were ironic to me–they might not have been to you.

We were on a short trip for our twinned birthdays–sans kids (who were at home, kindly watched by my parents).  Because we are both tired we selected a close place to stay–the Salish Lodge.

This lodge was, of course, used as the exterior to The Great Northern Hotel in Twin Peaks.

The Lodge is to the left in the photo.  To the right is part of the hydroelectric plant that is run off the power of the waterfall.  The first page of the hotel guide in the room states that Snoqualmie Falls was a sacred place according to the Salish.  Then goes on to talk about the development of the historic lodge.  I assume no irony was intended–but of course, sticking a luxury hotel on a sacred site and then using the sacred nature of the site as a selling point is like naming a condo complex Quail Villas after you’ve slapped the buildings on top of birds’ last local habitat.  My sense of bourgeoisie shame was triggered although I also know anywhere I step I’m crushing someone.

(We also, incidentally, had a meal, including cherry pie, at Twede’s which is the cafe the figures in Twin Peaks–my second visit and I would indeed recommend the pie).

Sometimes owls are big

On one of the days I ran Tiger Mountain–and was alone for much of the run.  This was nice.

Shut your eyes and you’ll burst into flames.

Near the start of the trail was an uprooted tree (there are many of these around here)–the roots were strange-looking, I became enamored of them.  They were, I believe, thick and smooth because they’d burned.

Look nearby:

There was this burned stump.  And indeed other evidence of a fire.  And if you know my quail diaries you know I find the remains of fire most intriguing.  Fire is a season in southern California.

Man!  Smell those trees.

The region with burned wood was relatively small and inside an area apparently no being logged for timber.  Elsewhere, portions of the mountain are being logged.  How do I know?  There are signs:

They say “Timber Sale Boundary”

And there are places like this along the trail:

This location, if not exactly clear-cut, is something damn near that.

(Between this place and the area not open to logging I saw a winter wren.  I also heard sweet mixed flocks with chickadees and others. But I can barely see even with my glasses if I have no binoculars/scope and so I did not know who they were, only that they were loud).

It was as I just passed back through this cut area,  that I was stopped by the first people I’d seen for nearly an hour.  They wanted to know where the trail led and if there were views.  I smart assedly said “there’s a clear cut just ahead.” To which they responded, “and there are views from it?” apparently missing my sarcasm.  This is just as well, they did not deserve my cussedness.   I had to explain that I didn’t get far enough to figure out if there were any views.

They went on their way and I went on mine–before we parted, one said, “well, it is at least nice to see another living being.” Which to me was odd as I had spent the entire time so far being utterly overwhelmed by the living beings surrounding us–and the sense of strange tragedy.

I feel mean spirited writing this–because I do not despise those two–they were nice enough and they had chosen the woods rather than something else.  But, at the same time, it was an encounter that I felt thrown by and I wonder how things might be different if everyone felt as overwhelmed by all the breathing going on as I do. I suppose nothing would get accomplished.

I do not introduce the log!

There was a tree near my house, I looked up and her arms bent down to me–I felt a strange welcoming embrace, except she was so high up.  I am a biologist–a rational scientist.  I am, too, not rational.  I am perhaps a little crazed.

a logging man… he met the devil.  Fire is the devil, hiding like a coward in the smoke.


quotes are from Twin Peaks (many, indeed, are from the Log Lady herself).