Books and cats – necessities of life

It’s the weekend after a busy week and today has been spent mostly reading. I’m currently reading “The Terror” by Dan Simmons, and am engrossed with the story. I finished the first 5 “American Vampire” TPBs, David Morrell’s “Creepers” and “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel since last I wrote. I started “Lemony Snicket” but I was rather annoyed with the constant stopping to define words. I understand that’s great for the kids for which it was written, but my patience couldn’t take it. I may finish it later. I read short stories in between. “Creepers” appealed to me as an urban explorer, although I haven’t explored for a while. MD was rich in abandoned hospitals and the like, but not so for SC. Well, the trip to the Southwest with Raven is booked for April, and I plan on checking out some old ghost towns while we’re out there. It should do us both good to get away. Travel has a way of clearing my soul.

Jack, the one eyed black kitty we adopted, is settled in nicely. I planned to get two cats, and should have got them at the same time, but I didn’t. So Jack and Merlin sometimes play, sometimes smack each other, but generally get along. Jack is a sweetheart… I really want to give him a better name, but nothing has seemed to fit so far. I still miss Wraith and Rudy. Especially Rudy… I had him longer and he was such a lovebug. I picture him often, with his various expressions, and remember how he looked stretching, and running and sleeping. I think he was doomed from the time he was dumped in the shelter, but with a lot of help from Ali, we saved him, and I’m grateful for the time I had with him. He always had health issues left from the shelter mess, and they are what ultimately killed him. But he knew he was loved for the three years he was with us and he didn’t go through a prolonged illness at the end.

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changes

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything on here. I guess I’ve been busy with life. I’m in a better place now than I was last winter… looking back, I was pretty depressed. Things are better.

Raven moved down here in June and that’s been great. I think it’s been good for all of us. Her most of all. I love to see her slowly getting better. She and Brian get along great, and it’s wonderful to see the people I love most smiling and joking around. Brian is teaching her knitting, and she seems to be doing well with it. She helps Brian with various things that I can’t and he is protective of her. I still worry about her and I’ll feel better when she’s made some friends, but overall she seems happy. Raven and I went to the local comic con and she dressed up as Death of the Endless.She looked great. 🙂 We have gotten into comics again. I used to collect years ago but I was spending too much on it an stopped. Now I’m collecting again and trying to keep a lid on how many I read. The main thing was the new Sandman: Overture series, but there are a bunch of others as well. Raven has to find a job so she can afford to buy stuff like that, although I do buy her some here and there. It’s finally cooling off here too, which means we can spend time outside.

I’m looking forward to our road trip in the Spring. She hasn’t traveled anywhere yet and I think she’ll love it. She’d like to go overseas and I’d like to take her, but one thing at a time. I had thought about taking her to Mexico for Day of the Dead. I know she’d love that. I keep forgetting to update my passport… so I should try to do that this week.

I’ll try to write more again… Brian actually told me to write today, but it’s something I should have been doing.

Dia de Los Muertos

Oaxaca was beautiful. We arrived early so there were no tourists. The first hotel we stayed at was less than satisfactory, but when buying a room online, you take that risk. The zocalo was a few blocks from where we were staying and we took to wandering down there every day. That’s the center of town, by the huge cathedral. There were a lot of churches, each one of them beautiful. This one was massive, with courtyards opening onto the zocalo. The zocalo is a square, lined with various shops, and we took to eating our meals there. Musicians of all sorts would gather in the square, some of them pandering to the restaurant patrons while others gathered for practice. There was a park in the center with benches to sit along, and in the center of the park was a tall pavilion where teenagers seemed to gather. Underneath was another store. The food was wonderful, fresh and abundant, although we had a time deciphering the menu. We quickly found that most of the residents did not speak English and I fear I’ve forgotten most of the Spanish I learned.

We had planned to get married there, but could not find a priest who spoke English so we put it off until we returned. We spent our days wandering the churches, the shops and the huge market. We visited the local ruins and were blown away by them. We spent a lot of time in bed, laughing and making love, and when we wandered, we always touched. When our first room reservation came to an end, we moved to a much more satisfactory room right along the zocalo. The bed was better, the location, the service, everything, so we stayed there for the remainder of our time. Brian, being a workaholic, could not resist doing some work, so I wrote and read while he did his work. We had plenty of time, a little too much for him.

Tourists came in on Halloween and stayed the next two days. Altars were set up everywhere, each more elaborate than the last. The zocalo was transformed. Tents were set up for an altar competition. A huge part of the courtyards were given over to sand decorations. Those had started early, so we would check their progress each day. They were huge and elaborate. Too big to really photograph properly, so my photos are of details. I would have needed an aerial photo to capture them properly. They were amazing. There were parades on the 31st and 1st, leading through the zocalo and into the streets. Many were dressed up, and they carried someone atop their shoulders. There was singing and speeches, which I could not understand, but could still appreciate. Everything was so beautiful and everyone was in a festive mood. The smell of flowers hung over everything. Tuberose is one I associate with Mexico, and it’s one of my favorites. Then there were marigolds, marigolds everywhere, and calla lilies. These were the species calla lily and they smelled wonderful.

We visited a couple of the main cemeteries. One had a stucco wall with recesses, each holding a candle and a name. Inside the cemetery, the individual graves were all decorated and personalized for the person who had died. We wandered around the cemetery in the dark looking at the graves. It’s a joyous holiday, but also solemn, because it is still for the dead. Looking at the graves, you are reminded of that. You are reminded that each one of them is for someone who died and is mourned by the living. We went to another cemetery the next day and in the daylight you can really see how much detail was put into the decorating. Some of the individual sand paintings were just as well done as those in the zocalo.

We also visited an incredibly large tree located nearby. The Tule Tree is supposed to be one of the oldest and largest in the world. I can believe it. Unfortunately for me, it is fenced all around it. I understand it’s for the tree’s protection because someone always has to be an ass, but I wanted to feel it, and the fence ruins photos. We visited a nearby village where they make black pottery and saw how it was made. It was a wonderful experience and I was incredibly happy.

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The Upper Amazon

I was reading about the uncontacted tribes of Peru. One group in particular has been trying to make contact recently. Of course this gets me to thinking about my time in the Peruvian rainforest, and in the rainforest of other countries as well. It’s the most peaceful, beautiful place I’ve ever known. My two favorite trips were to Egypt and Peru. They were so completely different that there isn’t really a way for me to quantify which was better. They were both amazing. But the rainforest is where I wanted to live… I remember when I was in Peru, there was a woman running a clinic for the locals there. I begged her to let me stay on as an assistant, but I had no medical training. I started going to school with the hopes of becoming an ethnobotanist.. but that’s another story.

By day I helped the researchers collect bugs.. mostly katydids. It was entomologists from the Smithsonian, and the trip was through Earthwatch. In my free time, I wandered the rainforest. It was stunningly beautiful, and everywhere I looked life grew on life, various layers creating the ecosystem that so entranced me. At night I was filled with an exquisite happiness. I was content.. and rocking in a hammock outside, listening to all the sounds of the forest at night made me feel I belonged there. The local Indians I met were curious and friendly, and at one research station they made this music with primitive instruments that only added to my contentment. I loved everything about it. There are a million things in the rainforest that can hurt you, and I knew that, but I learned quickly what to avoid. The browns and greens of the rainforest are accented by brilliant reds, blues, yellows.. poison dart frogs, sap from the Dragon’s Blood tree, a caterpillar advertising that it was posionous to touch. I fell in love with it.

There was a shaman there.. he spoke no English, but had a botanical garden for his cures. He did a cleansing ceremony on us, and when he got to me, he drew a circle around my wrist with his plant ink. I asked if it meant anything, and he told the interpreter that it was to drag me back to Peru. I’ve thought about that often, and I think I left part of my heart there. I want to go back.