Living together

Lichen are a lifeform formed from algae and fungi, which is amazing. Apparently they join forces when they can’t survive on their own and form a different creature. And it’s not just one kind of algae or one kind of fungi, but lots of them! I am reading Entangled Life: How fungi make our worlds, change our minds and shape our futures, by Merlin Sheldrake. It’s really quite amazing. I love science, it opens up the world!

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: lichen.

Feed the birds

I fill the bird feeder, a day late, because I had to go buy more birdseed. I also buy suet and fill that feeder. I walk both cats, harness and leash, one at a time. I put both of them in the outdoor screened animal container and they crouch, riveted watching the birdfeeder. I put four peanuts along the top of the fence.

I hold a fifth peanut in my hand over my head and wait. It starts snowing, just a little.

The flock of goldfinches, in their winter more subtle coloring, shows up. I count nine. The feeder can hold 6 at a time. They ignore my hand. A stellar jay comes by, but stays high in the tree. Chickadees pop in between the goldfinches. They are rounder and a little bigger and talk to me. No one comes to my hand. Juncos come to the ground beneath the feeder. The cats would REALLY like to catch them.

And then a bird does come. A hummingbird comes to my hand and hovers right by it! It does not land. It doesn’t like the peanut. It then goes and buzzes the glass, where I used to have a hummingbird feeder up, until the ants find it.

I laugh and get the other hummingbird feeder. I make food and wait for it to cool. I fill both feeders. The Anna’s hummingbird finds it within 15 minutes and eats a lot. The other feeder is on a different window, right outside my desk window. It is soon occupied by a second hummingbird.

I hope to have more photographs soon.

I took this out my desk window yesterday.

There is avian influenza around. I have two feeders and wash one very thoroughly in hot water and soap each time. I change the feeder out every time, to try to reduce the chance of the feeder passing on infection. And wash my hands very well too.

Though it’s rather more than tuppence a bag!

Sterling too

I grow up with sterling.

My mother has a set of sterling. It is important to her. It is an emblem, a badge. She does not have as extensive a set as her mother.

My sister and I know the silver is special because of our mother. We like the tiny spoons best. They are silver with gold on the bowl.

“Can we use the special spoons?” we ask. For ice cream.

“Yes,” says my mother, smiling.

We run to get them, the small spoons, heavy for their size. Silver is heavier than stainless steel. The spoon also gets colder than stainless steel and tastes different. We eat our ice cream with our special spoons very happily.

We know that the silver is sterling. I don’t know what that means for a while. It means it is not plate. Plate? But these are spoons.

My mother shows us the stamp on the back of each spoon. “See? It says sterling. That means it is silver all the way through. Plate has silver over another metal.” She shows us the back of another spoon. The bowl has a worn spot. “The silver has worn away. And it does not say sterling.” We both study the two spoons and weigh them in our hands. The plate one is lighter. My mother is scornful of silver plate.

My mother is an artist and goes to museums. She comes back from one laughing. “They have an exhibit about homes and decoration. There is a room with tv trays and very few books and wall to wall carpet and a large color television. I thought it was so dull and ugly. Then I went to the next room. Oriental carpet and books and a guitar and no television and art!” She laughs. “They have me nailed. I am such a snob and it looked just like our house!”

We do have a tv but it is the smallest black and white that you can get. And my father knocked it over one night. Now the picture is cup shaped. The top of heads are wide and swollen. Neither of my parents care enough to get it fixed or replace it. They spend their money on art supplies and books and music. Friends visit. “What is wrong with your tv?” I look at it in surprise. I am so used to the deformed picture, I stopped noticing long ago.

Once we are at my mother’s mother’s house. My mother tells another story. “I found mother sweeping to get ready for guests. She swept the dirt under the edge of the rug! I said, “MOTHER! What are you DOING!” Mother just looked at me and said, “It’s a poor mistress who doesn’t know the maid’s tricks.” My mother’s mother did grow up with servants. But not here. She was born in Turkey because her father was a minister, running an orphanage and school. My grandmother lived there until she was sixteen and the family was exiled from Turkey at the start of World War I.

I give my mother’s sterling to my niece, after my sister dies. My children are not very interested in sterling. That is ok with me. Things change and values change.

I still have some special spoons, and think of my mother and father and sister when I eat ice cream.

___________________

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: sterling.

Sterling

Mary and Nissa are at the fundraiser. Only $100 each!

“I am the man for the job,” says Joe. He is elegant in a suit and tie and crisp white shirt. “I don’t lie. I don’t break laws. I don’t even speed! I am a man of sterling character!”

Mary and Nissa enjoy the fundraiser very much. Nissa is driving Mary home afterwards.

“He’s so wonderful! And that meal! Did you see all the silver? He is the man for the job!”

Nissa turns the car into Mary’s driveway. She turns the car off and looks at Mary.

“What?” says Mary.

Nissa pulls a spoon out of her pocket.

“You stole a silver spoon?” says Mary, appalled.

Nissa breaks it in half. It splinters.

“Wood. With silver paint. Don’t be fooled, Mary.” Nissa hands Mary the two wooden halves and Mary stares at them. Nissa gets out to help Mary in to the house.

After she is situated, walker within reach, Mary says, “I may rethink that donation I was going to make. Thank you for coming with me, Nissa.”

Nissa smiles. “You are welcome. Thank you for taking me.”

__________________________

The woman in the picture is new to my home. She has a tag that reads “Chubby Purple Mama”. She was made by an artist in town, Karen Renee Page, who died in September. Many dolls were given for a fundraiser. This doll has crystals and a piece of wood in her belly. Without them she is not balanced. I added one of the chalcedony nodules that I find here on the beach.

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: sterling.

In the dark

I choose to dwell in the dark with the monsters.

I came here because I wanted to understand how people could be monsters. People turn in to monsters sometimes. Not the crazy people or the serial killers: just normal people. They have enormous fights in their families. They get drunk or use drugs. They kill themselves with cigarettes. They sit unmoving in front of the television. They fight family or close friends. Families sue each other over the parent’s will. They fight over the stuff or over mother or over who will take care of father. They disown each other. They say “I only let nice people in my life.” That leaves me out. And I don’t want anything to do with anyone who says that. That is monstrous. Do they turn the other cheek? Do they love their neighbor as themselves? No. They are monsters.

I kept studying the monsters and studying them, until I found my own. I rescued mine from a deep hole. The monsters were babies. They were filthy and frightened and crying and abandoned. I washed them and diapered them and fed them and wrapped them in blankets. They stared at me, sullen. They had no idea how to respond to being cared for. I had to learn to love them. I loved them right away, even though they were monsters. I cared for them and they grew up, loved, happy, adults.

And then I see the monsters in other people. People hide their monsters, stuff them in dungeons, neglect them, deny them, scream at them. The monsters realize that I can see them and they start crying. “Help us! Please! Let us out! We are cold! We are hungry! We are neglected!” I learn not to talk to the monsters until the person is gone. The person may never talk to me again if I acknowledge the monster. They think I am the monster. I’ve reminded them of theirs or named them! Most people hate it. I learn, slowly and painfully, that I can only talk to the monsters after their people leave. The monsters hang around. They tell me their stories. They tell me their misery. I hold them while they cry, heads in my lap, howling and breaking things. But eventually they have to return to their person, to their jail, to their suffering.

I like the monsters better than the people. Some people wear the monsters on the outside. Veterans, almost always. To keep people away. They come to clinic and try to scare me. This is very very difficult because I like the monsters. I am delighted to meet the monsters. This is startling and the veteran promptly calms down. I am not afraid. I like the people who wear their monsters on the outside: they are not hiding them. It’s the ones who hide and abuse and torture their monsters: I do not trust those people. And I feel huge grief and sorrow, pity for their monsters. I can’t fix them. The people must each turn to their own monsters. Let them come to consciousness. Face them, comfort them and at last, love them. And this is hard. It is very hard. It is a life time of work. It is emotional maturity. It has nothing to do with educational level. It is hard work worth doing.

I choose to dwell in the dark with the monsters. Because they need me most of all.

Blessings.

Frosted

Ok, it’s not frost, is it? It’s snow.

I went out each morning to get the frozen feeder and wrap a hot towel around it until TicTok could drink. TicTok would yell at me if I didn’t fix it as soon as it was light.

The Anna’s hummingbirds can overwinter here. It got well below freezing. They can slow their metabolism and do an overnight mini-hibernation. They are hungry as bears when they wake up!

Taken in 2019.

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: frost.