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a lot’s happened

September 12, 2010

My last entry was September 6. It’s been almost a week.

September 7th, Tues. hmm.. interesting day at the wildlife center.
Sept. 10th, Fri. – Tibetan Buddhist intro seminar
Sept. 11th, Sat. – thoughts on Buddhism and Paganism.

Now I shall elaborate.

First of all, my ass is already sore. I have a fairly comfortable office chair I sit at in my room, but I’ve already been sitting in it for an hour and 20 minutes. This is because I watched the first episode of “Foyle’s War,” on DVD. “Foyle’s War” is a PBS Masterpiece Mysteries series (surprisingly not a BBC production, as far as I can tell) about a detective working in villages and rural areas in the southern part of England during WW II – an ingenious concept! I thought these stories were based on books, but I read the back of the DVD case, and it says these stories were written and directed by somebody whose name I forget – point being, perhaps I was wrong and that these stories originated with the director/screenwriter. First episode was longer than I expected – I thought these would only be an hour. Didn’t mind the show being longer than I expected though, very good acting and production, story, etc. Worthwhile and good stuff. Never watched it on PBS. I’m almost always gone or otherwise forget when the mystery show is on PBS… but anyway.. that is not mainly what I wanted to write about.

Ok.. I started working at the wildlife center on Tuesdays. The Tuesday before last there were many volunteers, so, instead of doing much animal care, I did some yardwork. I ended up damaging a weedwacker by putting straight gas into it, when it needs to be fueled with a mixture. Oops. I thought of trying to get away with it, but decided to fess up. Haven’t as yet had to pay for it, and it might not be charged, I don’t know. Also used a decrepit lawn mower, and boss said we have no place for yard waste, (which is ridiculous, we have LOTS of open land in back we used to use for yard waste. We could grow a whole garden back there and use yard waste for compost, but anyway…She wanted me to run the mower without the bag – not exactly healthy for one’s lungs, and the mower handle was stuck at an odd angle, and I was sore the next day, but did get to catch a screech owl that was flying in a hallway, and also got to release a barn owl, which was great.. so that was the Tuesday before last, which I might have already written about in greater detail – I can’t remember if I did or not.

Right then.. this Tuesday..

Well, Tuesdays, it turns out, are bad days at the center. Most of the Tuesday staff were college kids who have since returned to school, except for one girl, who interviewed successfully for the paid position – a position I most definitely DID NOT want and did not apply for – and so now, mostly it’s one supervisor half out of her mind, and one very hard working older gentleman, and me. Great.

I have seen the center looking a mess quite often in the past. For years we had community service workers who were there serving their sentences, and at least a few of these were helpful and contributed to the cleanliness of the center. However, after many hassles and one almost violent altercation, the boss decided to cut that program out and have the center almost entirely taken care of by volunteers – there being just the boss, and 2 paid supervisors besides us.

Getting rid of the community service workers has definitely made the work place less stressful. So many of them were foul-mouthed lowlife types who were instantly recognizable by their rather poorly done tattoos, styles of dress, and the way they talked. Most of them were doing community service for drunk driving or drug possession, and sad to say, many were repeat offenders who somehow were not placed in jail but were put back on community service again and again for the same offenses, something I don’t understand.

Since that program was phased out, some days have been good – plenty of volunteer help, other days almost no one shows up and the animals get cared for but the place is an utter mess.

I’ve never seen it so bad as last Tuesday.

There is one larger room that has many small hospital cages similar to what you can see in veterinary hospitals and offices – this is our critical care room. We have two rooms for young songbirds, one operation/treatment room, the front lobby, and a bathroom.

The songbird rooms weren’t the worst I’ve seen, and the treatment room is always kept fairly clean for hygienic purposes – but the hospital cage room – utterly awful, and the kitchen thrashed and the hallways, and piles and piles of dirty animal dishes and trays.

The older gentleman fed almost all the animals in the outdoor cages – something like 24 cages – and probably cleaned at least some of them as well. This is a job usually 3-4 people do. I don’t know exactly what the supervisor was doing. She probably cleaned out some of the mammal cages (including piles of raccoon shit) in the morning) but after that I don’t know.

I took on the hospital room. Usually it takes two hours to clean when it is this full.

In there as of last Tuesday, 2 mallards, one peking duck, one seagull, 2 Cooper’s Hawks (little long-legged hawks, incredibly hyperactive and just horrible to take care of), 2 Great Horned Owls, a turtle, 2 raccoons (one of them full-grown and apparently tame – I was told it showed up at the center and started following staff around), one juvenile possum, one tame squirrel – sort of a pet of the boss, and utterly surprisingly…

ONE GOLDEN EAGLE.

I realized that in some parts of America, Golden Eagles are common. NOT where I live. We tend to get one eagle brought in per year, and they almost always die right away. They are surprisingly fragile birds that don’t tend to respond well to rehabilitation treatment. This eagle was supposed to be brought within a day that it arrived at the center to a special raptor center about an hour and a half drive away – but the boss vetoed that for reasons unknown. It was supposed to be transferred to the center this Thursday, since it was not brought in earlier.. I don’t know if this has happened. It might have died. It was in very bad shape this past Tuesday. I almost always bring my camera, but decided not to, was tired of taking pictures and didn’t think there’d be any animal I’d want to take pictures of, and I found out about the eagle.

I was the last to know, so it seems, it was there the previous Sunday that I had worked, but no one had told me, and I worked in my usual Sunday afternoon and evening spot – the juvenile songbird room, so didn’t even get into the intensive care room, so didn’t see the eagle so no picture.

But on Tuesday, I finally got to see one. It was in bad enough shape that it just lay there, with an IV attached to it somewhere. I stroked its back and wing feathers and talked to it a little.

I’ve seen some beautiful animals, and some have inspired awe, but this is the first one I could understand worshiping.

Not only are eagles larger than hawks, there is something absolutely regal, majestic about them – slightly differently shaped head/face/ beak, hard to explain, but just magnificent! A glorious creature. I can see why eagles are sacred to Native Americans, and why they use eagle feathers in their head-dresses. By the way, if you are ever at a pow-wow and a feather falls out of a headdress or costume of one of the dancers, DO NOT pick it up. These feathers are considered sacred, and the dancer will incorporate picking up of the feather into his or her dance. It’s a big deal.

So.. getting back to that terribly filthy room, with large flip-top plastic containers that were used to carry animals, and were blocking my way. I was kind of out of it, and didn’t clear a path, clear those containers out, until I’d done almost all the work in the room.

Each animal needs to be moved from its dirty cage to a nearby clean one, and the dirty cage cleaned. I am not allowed to handle raccoons or most other mammals because they might carry rabies, and I have as yet not been able to afford the $700.00 preventive rabies vaccines. So I handled the birds and the turtle.

The cooper’s hawks were a drag, as I expected, but my supervisor told me to catch them in a small net, then move them. One was much more energetic than the other. I used to the net, and moved them one at a time, and they both caught their talons in the net and I was able to grab them by their legs just above their feet and quickly move them.

The great horned owls weren’t too bad.I haven’t had much hands-on work with raptors lately but know how well enough to handle the large owls so I managed thee.

The ducks have scratchy little toe-nails on their webbed feet and flap around a lot and wiggle but they weren’t bad. The turtle was easy to move, but after I moved it, it kept sticking its little head in between the bars, and I was worried it would get stuck. I moved my had toward its head to startle it a little so it would move back, and it got too startled, pulled back very quickly and ended up upside down. Turtles cannot right themselves, as far as I know, so I turned it over, and tucked a towel through the bars so it couldn’t stick its head through anymore and possibly get stuck. It hissed at me a little. I didn’t know turtles hissed.

My supervisor moved the raccoons for me, so the last animal I had to move was a sea gull.

It was very calm in its cage, so, silly me, I thought it would be calm when I moved it. Ha!!

I’ve been trained to work with many birds, and warned about others, but not instructed on how to deal with, nor warned about sea gulls.

I put on thick gloves because I figured it would bite at least one of my hands, which it did.

I didn’t hold it quite right and it turns out sea gulls are VERY fast, mean aggressive, and have long stretchy, bendable necks, and SHARP BEAKS!!

It went for my eye.

I was socked. I wear glasses, but just regular glasses, so it could have got my eye.

I moved my head backward while still holding the bird (didn’t drop it – didn’t want to hurt it) and so it bit me straight on the nose. Hurt quite a bit, broke the skin, and I still have an interesting injury on my nose – not deep, but definitely noticeable.

After I was bit I checked the first aid kit, which had practically nothing in it (which is both reprehensible and shocking since MANY of the animals we work with are dangerous!). – and I also checked the treatment room for other supplies I could use. It was just me and another volunteer there, and older woman – and she found some neo-sporin for me and some old peroxide which I think was no longer useful, and I put a bandaid on.

Back home, I wrote the boss, telling her I should have bee warned about sea gulls – turns out someone else had been bitten by it earlier, I found out – and that the first aid kit was in need of serious attention – major restocking.

In her email, she countered by saying I should have asked how to handle the bird (which is true, I should have asked, but I should have been warned, too, and trained! – I requested she send an email to all staff warning us about the sea gull – danger of bite, proper handling, etc., but she refused – would have taken her 5 minutes to type it up and hit “send all” but she didn’t bother) and that, basically, she would not be re-stocking the first aid kit because of some legality regarding anti-biotic ointments and over the counter meds blah blah blah BULLSHIT!! We are not at a school. I should report her to the Dept. of Fish and Game, but I don’t want the center shut down and animals not getting care.

I spent close to 7 hours cleaning out that room!! I got the animals in nice clean cages, and got all the miscellaneous debris out, even mopped the floor – it looked good in there! And I was very tired and feeling the after-affects of near serious injury – rather heavy to almost lose an eye. This has happened only once before.

Last year, I was attacked by a Great Horned Owl that almost got my eye, and nicked me with a talon just below the eyebrow.

The sea gull got even closer.

I am still putting peroxide on my nose twice a day and it itches sometimes.

Alright then, moving on to Wed.

Friday.. A week or so back, I found an advert on craigslist for a Tibetan Buddhist seminar led by a genuine Tibetan monk. Yes, my interest in Buddhism had come back again.

I got into a helpful email discussion with the woman in charge of organizing the seminar, which took place at a Congregational (liberal protestant) church, and sent in my $20 bucks (very cheap for a 2 day seminar).

During the week that past, I did something which I knew would screw up my head some, but compulsions being hard to resist, I re-read part of “The Godfather of Kathmandu,” by John Burdett, which is the most hypnotic novel I’ve read – one of the best – but heavy on the Buddhism (both Therevada and Tibetan) and on the mind.. this pushed me into an obsessive state, which passed after a few days, but was unpleasant – obsessing about karma, right behaviour and other Buddhist issues.

This eventually passed, but on Friday night I went to the seminar and didn’t feel good. The usual tension of being with new people, the even more intense tension of being around women I find sexually attractive. (Been doing better at that overall – much less messed up over women these days – been hurting faaaar too long!!), and when sitting on my cushion for meditation, immediately, as usual, shoulders tensed up terribly and painfully – great…

The talk was fairly brief. There were two monks – one who spoke with decent English, and a taller and skinnier monk who didn’t speak to us, and was there as an assistant. The main monk had achieved the rank of Geshe. I forget exactly what that word means, but it requires years of study and training to become a Geshe. A Geshe is different from a Rinpoche, according to Wikipedia – Rinpoches are teachers who are recognized as being reincarnations of other teachers who had died. Tibetan Buddhism is really far out.

Last night, which became early Saturday morning, I of course was not sleepy, worried about getting up early, and worried what I thought would be 4 hours of BUddhist training plus an hour break – or something like that..

Was awake until around 4:30 am. Started drawing some, but mostly tried to arrange 13 Hooverphonic songs in a way that sounded especially pleasing – by arranging, I mean just putting them in a certain order in an itunes playlist so I could transfer the songs in that order to my older computer – a mac laptop, which is near my drawing desk. I spent maybe an hour and a half arranging those songs, and went on emusic for a long time (time goes so fast when I am – mostly unsuccessfully – digging for new music and new bands that I’ll like) and then, after finally shutting the computer down and burning CD’s so I could transfer the songs over, typing them into the old laptop, etc. I was of course not near tired enough, so laid in bed reading of my favorite books – “Men at Arms,” by Terry Pratchett.

This past day was Saturday – even though the calendar says 2:12 Sunday morning, for me this is late Saturday night.

I got both lawns mowed – I live in a duplex that is back to back, not side to side units – which tend to share the same lawn – aunt and grandma in the other side, raked, edged (not my aunt’s lawn, not enough grass there so didn’t need edging) swept, hot enough to be unpleasant out there (but tonight it cooled down nicely).

Talked with my aunt and some neighbors, and I happened to notice some special plain blue police cars (either drug or gang task force) arresting people just a little ways down the street – presumably for drugs).

There’s been a lot of drug trafficking on the street that the other side of the duplex is on. Neighbors next door to my aunt and grandma are likely selling, as well as people across the street from them. My aunt and one of the neighbors have seen people parked right on the street doing lines – snorting what is presumably meth. And some people got busted.

A few years ago, some really shitty people were living next door to my aunt. They were treated to a full raid – cops with vests and special jackets, shot guns and AR-15’s. And across the street was a brothel – just a house – but a brothel operated inside.. great stuff.

I must admit to feeling somewhat sorry for the addicts though – stupid to start, yes, even more stupid to snort up white powder on a fairly busy street known for drugs and other crime.. but people trying to get through life, and I certainly know that life is hard, so I felt kinda bad for them, but vindictively happy too, and feeling a bit bummed with myself for feeling that way..

This past evening – earlier tonight.. took dad out to Borders Books.He doesn’t like to leave the house as much these days due to poor mental health, but sometimes I can get him out. He likes going to Borders and getting some fast food afterward.

I secretly bought a pagan magazine – making sure he didn’t see. He and my mom and aunt were life-long conservative protestants who converted to catholicism and my grandma is a crazy holy roller, so although my parents don’t mind to much that I have Buddhist materials in the house – anything to do with paganism/witchcraft I have to hide.

You would not believe the anti-witchcraft horror stories and propaganda I dealt with while I was a Christian. My dad did have some spooky negative experiences with a witch many years ago.. so there is some real evil there, how much, I don’t know.

I’ve always been scared somewhat by the thought of practicing Wicca or other paganism.I’ve never felt I could believe in any deities. Many pagans are evil creepy types, many are wack jobs that believe in things I can’t possibly believe in…

And yet my mind not only circles back to Buddhism (which I’m sick of, I stayed in bed today, did not go to the Buddhist seminar, which, it turns out, was for at least 7 hours!!), but circles back to paganism as well.

I keep feeling this need this wish to tune into nature more, to feel the breeze and see it move the trees and feel more community with the animals and plants and the earth, but my mind is very distracted.

I’d like an earth-based spirituality without tons of mumbo-jumbo, but that is perhaps very difficult, as most pagans are hung up on many things, such as tarot cards and spirits and channeling and all kinds of stuff I either don’t believe in or find to be REALLY creepy.

But Thursday night, I checked out a recent book by Starhawk (another thing that bothers me about the pagan movement is so many people picking out faux native american names – there must be many thousands of pagans with the name “raven” or “hawk” or “wolf” in their names. I think I even saw a listing for someone names “Star Raven Wolf” – yeah… cute..

So perhaps a lot of neo-paganism is bullshit or worse, but ..

What if some of it is really really true? What if magic does somehow exist?

Just asking that question could drive my skeptical mind slightly mad… but what a question!!

I would like to meet some pagans who are somehow grounded, practical people.

I met two last year. They talked about interacting with certain goddesses. I felt as alienated and left out as when I had much earlier – while I was still a Christian, talked with other Christians about how they felt close to Jesus or God or felt the Holy Spirit or whatever – it’s a really bad feeling not being able to relate…

But I wonder..

But what will likely happy is I will lose interest again in paganism because I don’t worship deities, and am far too skeptical and conservative (pagans tend to be VERY liberal) to be a pagan..

Oh well..

I almost left the magazine at the store. It took anxiety to buy it and anxiety to keep it, and if I were to become a pagan I couldn’t tell my family – who can handle me as Buddhist, but certainly NOT any sort of pagan – my brother and sister-in-law might even keep their kids away from me if I become pagan…

And there’s the fear of it….

So some serious drawbacks.. but I want my own life and a spirituality I can in some way relate to that is based on the earth and the wind and plants and animals.. and..

well, this might be my longest blot yet, over 4,150 words, and it is now 2:33 am and I am sore and should now stop.

More later… eventually…

Goodnight, you.

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