Sundog –noun 1. parhelion. 2. a small or incomplete rainbow.

Posts tagged “critter

Beware the Dinosaurs!

Looks like another dinosaur has escaped. Maybe we’ll go to a different beach today…
Dino Patrol


Snowy Updates

It has been a three days since the cold front finally broke. When it did we got a couple inches of snow, not really all that much for around here. I expect a couple more snow storms before winter is done. This one only lasted a day this time which was very nice. Luckily behind the snow was a warm front and now it’s a balmy 50 degrees today, though it does come with the price of heavy rain showers. Such a huge change from our well below freezing temperatures less than a week ago, feels almost like spring! Here are a few pictures I took of the snow:

View from under our tarps.
View from under our tarps.

Jeremy getting jars for us to stay warm.
Jeremy having to keep dry while getting hot canning jars for us to stay warm.

The beauty of the snow.
The beauty of the snow.

The rest of this is just a quick update to my previous blog articles.

For almost the entire month of November both Jeremy and I had a really difficult time around here. I wrote about the crash in “Tides of the Storm” and “Ex nihilo”. It was probably one of the hardest months we have had since moving into this tent and very possibly the hardest in the last 2.5 years. November ended with me having one of the worst flu bugs I can ever remember having and Jeremy having a tooth extracted that had been abscessing for the last several weeks at least. But with the first week of December we both started feeling slowly better and getting our feet back under us solidly. We decided that a rest was much needed and are taking a month off of all detox inducing supplements so our bodies can heal and be ready for the next round.

I have written a few times of the animals we have around here in “A More Simplistic Life” and “Squirrels!” We still see our little Winter Wren friend and he has become much braver in the last couple months. Just a week ago he was hopping around and looking for a tasty bug to eat when he got some crazy notion in his head that the pill Jeremy was handing me must have been for him. Right as I grasped the capsule I suddenly see this little form dart from the corner of the tent and do a quick swoop past my hand. As he went by I felt his little feet grab my finger nearest the capsule and quickly let go as his momentum carried him onwards. What he was thinking, we will never know but it did provide for a nice bit of comedy.

Our squirrel friends (or annoyances as was the case for several months) have been quieting down as the winter progresses. Surprisingly we saw one just behind the tents digging in the snow on Sunday, looking for some maple seeds. I wouldn’t have expected to see them out on the one day of snow, but can’t argue instinct with something who’s vary life depends on it. Luckily they have been much quieter in the mornings and so we get to finally sleep as our circadian rhythms need. I think this is certainly one of the big things that is helping us to recover from our crash in late October and all of November.

Also, an update on our progress after the big doctor visit we had early October and written about in “Back from the Wizard”. We have been taking our b12 shots every three days, using the hormones as prescribed, and taking all the additional vitamins suggested (vit D, more C, more Selenium, and more CoQ10). I have changed several of the brands we used for our vitamins. Where monetarily possible we are now on food based vitamins which feel a lot better to be taking. I wasn’t sure if there was a real difference between food based and something developed fully in a lab. However, when I had the nasty stomach flu a few weeks ago I quickly felt the difference between the two types as the fully lab manufactured ones were not even able to be tolerated by my stomach for five days, while the food based ones caused no stomach trouble.

That affected a lot of my decisions when it came time to buy our vitamins the following week and I think I have us on substantially better vitamins now because of it. I also was disturbed to find a possible source of mercury ingestion in our fish oil, apparently at some point it changed from “free of mercury” to “lower than industry allowable limits.” Ack!!! We now take krill oil and it is worth every extra penny to know it will not be adding to the abundance of mercury we must deal with.

In small ways we are seeing the benefits of these changes. It is very likely that the crash we just went through was brought about by some of the readjusting going on in our bodies to the new therapies. Certainly the vitamin b12 shots (administered at home) would be a huge catalyst for change even if nothing else was. I have noticed some good changes in Jeremy as his hormone levels are going back to normal and some positive things as mine do as well.

Within two days of our doctor trip we also stopped eating all soy products, though I did just find a couple supplements that had some soy still in them. These are now gone too. We have stopped being vegetarians, something which was hard from me as I had been one for 12.5 years, but can feel a lot of benefit happening from now eating animal sources for protein. I think this is also responsible for some of the good changes taking place in us. Currently we are working towards a large change in diet and are excited to see what might happen once we have fully made the change. We feel better in small ways every meal we eat differently now, I have high hopes for what may occur when all meals are changed.

As for our house… well nothing seems to have come of all my efforts to find help finishing it and described in “To dream of a Home” and “Fate’s Quirky Sense of Timing.” One woman at the NW EcoBuilding Guild did seem receptive to talking about my situation but after hearing how bad things are she completely disappeared. It is unfortunate she couldn’t at least have been kind enough to say she couldn’t help, but to act as though we do not exist anymore is pretty ridiculous.

I also spoke with the president of the guild who upon learning that we were not paying members she immediately became very aloof and wanted nothing to do with us either. I had tried to explain that being almost completely housebound, on a fixed income with high out of pocket medical costs, and scrimping every cent we could to finishing building our house that it just hadn’t made much sense to pay monthly membership dues for meetings we would never be able to attend.

But it did not matter at all. Unless we had been paying for services we were too disabled to use even once in the four years we have been trying to build, she wanted nothing to do with us. If it were me, I would have looked at an opportunity to get us as new members and make a statement that it is an organization not just about recycling building products but about the people who live in the world we are claiming to want to save. I have to wonder who they are trying to save the planet for if not for the people who are in their community.

There are a few other exciting bits of life that have been going on around here but I will save those for later as they develop more fully. I am starting to finally feel like there is some progress being made from all the hard work we have been putting into life for the last four months since starting the climb back up out of the hole this summer’s crash left us in.

Ok, maybe this wasn’t such a quick update after all. Surprising to see how much has been happening when most of the last few months I often felt as though very little was going on. Small things have a way of adding up over time to much bigger things.


A More Simplistic Life

Two years ago, a little Winter Wren started frequenting our camp. We often see them in the bushes in the woods, flitting from one spot to the next without ever a having a care for the giant who stands watching them. They are so small, other than hummingbirds they are one of the smallest birds we have locally. Yet they are also the bravest. As though they trust themselves and their own abilities to escape danger much more than the larger, often times more clumsy, sparrows and juncos.

The wee one who became our regular visitor during winter a couple years ago was a small bit of joy every day. It did not matter what we were doing, when he came around we would pause life for a moment while we watched his beauty.

He moved on during that next summer as bugs became more plentiful and easy to find. We briefly saw him again in the fall but then he disappeared one day. We would allow the spiders to make homes in the corners knowing the wren would find them a tasty snack. But eventually, we had to start clearing them out ourselves and accept that our friend was not coming back. This made us sad because of how easily it could mean he was no longer alive. Old age, a predator, starvation, or the elements could all have taken such a small being.

Winter Wren

Now and then we would see a wren in camp and always wonder if he had found his way back to us, but when the little bird would only briefly stay and look in the obvious places for bugs, we knew it was just another traveler passing through. Time passed and we stopped looking.

A couple days ago another wren came through camp. It did not stay long before flying away. Then we saw it again later that same day. This was new; they don’t usually come back twice, not since our wee friend left. Then there were two of them at the same time, both looking for bugs and double checking where each had just been, that a morsel was not left behind.

You learn personalities of birds when near them enough. Based on this, I can say that the second one has not come back through having only found the remains of the first one’s feasts. But the first wee wren we saw that day has been back many times since.

He visits at least twice each day, hopping around and eying every surface under our tarp for prey. At times we are treated to some amazing acrobatics as he snatches a bite to eat. Jeremy’s monitor is beside an open window in our tent and our bird has found this to be a good resting spot for spying around inside. Never any fear from him, you can see this when he looks right at you from atop the monitor.

As with our first wren, this one also is learning all the spots bugs hide that the other, less curious wrens always miss. I love watching him hop around on the outside of the tent, his antics when he spots something but it turns out to be on the opposite side of some screening and out of his reach. Sometimes his little feet will make small scratching noises on the nylon walls as he scales the side seams of the tent. A quizzical look will appear on his face at times, as he peers around looking for his dinner. You can almost see his thoughts… “If I were a spider, where would I hide?”

I do not think this is the same Winter Wren we had two years ago, but I am very quickly finding myself growing fond of the newcomer to our home. I am looking forward to my wee friend’s visit today and the bit of peace he brings. That ability to take me out from my own world and step into his much more simplistic life for a few minutes.


Zen from a Turkey

Living in the woods as we have been these last seven years sounds very daunting. Indeed, at times it makes me look back and wonder how we have managed to survive as well as we have. The first things that come to mind like this all involve winter and the times our usually mild climate here in the Pacific Northwest, isn’t so mild.

But even in the midst of all this, I still take time to pause for a moment and look around me. There is so much beauty to behold here. So very much that would never be seen were I not living this close to nature.

The chance sighting of a turkey hanging out in the bushes less than fifteen feet from our window is one of these occurrences. It was the rustling sound that drew my attention to it. A sound that would have been much fainter had I been behind the straw and glass walls of my house. There it was, just looking at me as I looked back. Both of us seemed to wonder what the other was doing here, because to each other we were equally out of place. Quietly he turned and continued on his way, in no hurry to where he was going but definitely having a destination in mind.

What a turkey was doing in our woods I’ll never know. It was a few weeks before one of the turkey holidays last fall, so we assumed that the he took his life into his own hands and decided not to be dinner for one of our neighbors. The calmness of that turkey is what stays with me more than anything. He was so very calm, as though knowing the direction fate had planned for him but with great dignity deciding to change that direction.

In the last several weeks, I have been feeling this change come about me and how I view the world around me. Oddly, though I still have no options as to how I will be living indoors by first snow this winter, I find myself becoming nostalgic about my years here as though I am already moving on.

Taking more opportunities to pause for a moment when I find myself outside and just breathe in the scent of pine and cedar. Stopping to listen to the wind whispering through the canopy above me or to watch the play of light on a falling leaf. The little rustles of small birds searching for a meal in the underbrush and the way they then dance on our tarp roof while taking a bath in some leftover rain water pooled there. And remembering that hush that falls over the woods when snow begins to fall, quietly blanketing everything into a new and pristine world.

I will miss being this close to nature when I am gone.


Squirrels!

After living in these woods for five years, I had thought I had seen just about everything nature would throw my way. I have seen four foot snows dropped in three days, rain torrents that last for weeks without more than the briefest of breaks, and winds rattling the tree tops around me in a cacophony of sound. None of these can compare to the three furiously driven squirrels that have made their home in the trees surrounding us this summer.

Each spends his days collecting coniferous cones in preparation for the long winter months to come. Sometimes they will sit low in a tree, skillfully stripping each individual scale off the cone and leaving a shower of debris on the ground below them. Inevitably, one will stray into the other’s kingdom of branches and a chase begins. They spiral around a tree trunk in frenzy, their little claws making loud scrabbling noises on the bark, until finally the intruder escapes with a daring leap from one tree to the next and jauntily scampers away.

All this would be very entertaining to watch were my nerves not raw and my eyelids heavy from yet another morning awoken by the piercing voices of these very same critters.

Sleep. The nectar of life when you have CFS. Without proper sleep life slowly grinds to a halt. On a daily basis you will see your projects decline, needed tasks sit half finished while you start walking around in a zombie stupor of sleep deprivation.

With the first hint of dawn of the horizon, all the squirrels of the forest wake and greet each other with an intensity unlike any other. You can hear their greeting sweep through the woods, an approaching wave of chatter breaking the silence of night as it crests upon my sleep and continues on. As if by their very cries they could banish the night and bring in another day for gathering.

Never before have they woke us up like this day after day.

I am a semi nocturnal creature by habit and by need. The squirrels are strictly creatures of the light and they make sure to drag me into the new day with them every morning during their daily greetings of the new dawn. My flimsy tent window does nothing to diminish their voracious cries.

Oh how I long for the days when I will be able to once again sleep past day break with a secure knowledge that nothing shrill will be shouting at the tops of its little furry lungs, ”GOOD MORNING WORLD – STAY AWAY FROM MY TREES!!!”