• Tag Archives Rigel
  • Road Trip Grandma

    Spring                                                                     Planting Moon

    MNDOT says the roads between here and Iowa are in good condition.  Much better than this morning.  Gertie and Rigel watched, worried as we packed Kate’s rental Nissan.  She got off after lunch out and a nap.

    No Quilt Museum this phase of the trip, she’ll drive into Iowa tonight as far as she can, then another day and another day and probably another day.  She may arrive earlier than she planned, but better before the birthday party than after.  Much better.

    On the home front I’m headed over to Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove tonight to see a cinema version of a Manet exhibition. I have no idea whether this will be any good. Here’s the details from the e-mail:

    Exhibition: Great Art on Screen – series begins this Thursday, April 11

    Exhibition is a new series capturing the world’s greatest art exhibitions and screening at a cinema near you.

    First in the series, Manet: Portraying Life takes viewers on a 90-minute virtual private tour of the career-encompassing collection of the works of Edouard Manet, currently on exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts with screenings from April 11. Two additional Exhibition events will follow including Munch with screenings from June 27 — a “once-in-a-lifetime” exhibition of the greatest number of Edvard Munch’s works ever, co-hosted by the National Museum and the Munch Museum in Oslo — and Vermeer with screenings from October 10 from the National Gallery, London where audiences will be given a unique perspective on the masterpieces of Johannes Vermeer. Go beyond the gallery to see exclusive behind-the-scenes footage on how an exhibition is created for public view. Hosted by art historian Tim Marlow, featuring special guests.

  • A Thought, A Sigh

    Beltane                                                                            Beltane Moon

    All day.  A thought comes.  A sigh, hoping to delve into, oh, say, renaissance humanism.  Dive in and just stay there until all there is to absorb crawls inside my skin and remains.  Or, maybe Romania.  Wondering just how the Slavic countries ended up north and south of Romania-Hungary-Austria.  Here’s another part of the world about which I know almost nothing.

    Later, watching Kate, seeing her sinking back into a life without paid work, a sense of relaxation, of being at home.  At last.

    Looking at the Google art.  A kris.  A southeast Asia blade with a wavy, not straight edge.  Indonesia.  Again, a country with a population comparable to the US and lots of islands, but, again, not much is in my head about it.  A little.  Bali.  Krakatoa.  Suharto.  My god, it has 17508 islands.

    Lyndon Johnson.  In the first volume of Robert Caro’s four volume (so far) biography.  He dominates, pushes, acts out against his parents.  The hill country of texas.  A difficult place, a trap for the unwary.  Most of the people who lived there.

    The dogs.  At the vet.  18 years to the same vet.  Many dogs, all panting, all nervous.  Rigel, Vega and Kona today.  Rigel and Vega, sweet dogs.  Kona more aloof.  A grand dame.

    Irrigation overhead busted in the southern vegetable garden.  Pulled loose from the pcv that feeds it water.  Have to fix it.  Plant more collards and beets.  I’ve touched most of the plants here, memories.  Buying them at Green Barn.  Digging a spot for them.  Pouring water on them.  Over the years, 18, lots of plants, thousands.  One at a time.  In the soil.  Maybe pick it up and move it or divide it.  That sense of a deep, long connection.

    Dream of the Red Chamber.  Chinese literature, the third classic of the four major ones.  Romance of the Three Kingdoms.  Monkeys Journey to the West. Sinking into the rhythms of another culture.  Reading it on the Kindle.  Odd juxtaposition of past and present.

    original by Ivan Walsh)

    Now, tired.  Smelling the lilacs Kate brought me.  Thinking of sleep.



  • See the Heads?

    Spring                                                            Beltane Moon

    Coming north on Highway 10 (or east, I can never figure it out and I’ve lived up here 18 years) just before the big Lowe’s store, it’s no longer unusual to see cars parked along the side of the road, drivers clomping out through the high grass, camera with a big telephoto lens in hand.  They’re headed toward a dead tree with a big clump of sticks in a high fork.

    Kate told me she saw heads there a month or so ago.  I began to look, too, and finally saw a bald eagle circling the nest, coming in for a landing, presumably with food for the young’uns.  I’ve seen a head or two though I’ve never been able to suss out whether they were chicks or adults.

    We hunger for peeks into the wild world, a personal glimpse of the life and times of creatures that live among us, but we rarely see.  Over the last 18 years Kate and I have a great horned owl hooting at night in our woods.  I’ve seen him/her once, it’s giant wingspan remarkable, yet hardly ever observed.

    We have opossum, raccoon, woodchuck, rabbit, deer, coyote, skinks, snakes, frogs, pileated woodpeckers, bald eagles, great blue herons, egrets, too.  These last three we see from time to time, usually in flight, though the egrets are often there, serpentine necks ready to dip suddenly into the water.  The rest, almost never.

    Around Christmas tree three or four years ago, back when I still fed the birds, a opossum took to visiting the bird feeder around midnight.  I happened on him one night and checked back frequently after that.  His small pink paws looked almost like human hands and I delighted in watching him do his opossum thing.  Why?  Because it was a glimpse of a neighbor, a close neighbor, one who shared the very land I claim to own, but whom I rarely–up till then, never–saw.

    This takes me back to the discussion of mystery I had here a few weeks back.  We do not need to imagine a world beyond the one to which we have ready access; there is a large, unimaginably large world shrouded in mystery that lives near us, with us, within us.  Take the billions of one-celled entities that share our bodies, help us live our lives in return for some benefit derived from the eco-system that is our body.  A mystery, certainly.

    Or the baby opossum I found huddled up far inside a dead tree, doing what all prey does when confronted by snarling predators–Vega and Rigel–hiding in an inaccessible location. If Vega and Rigel hadn’t been obsessively interested in this tree, I’d never have known the opossum was there.

    The morels that visited us once 18 years ago, never to return.  Or, at least never to be found.  A mystery.  This is a revelation to us, the way for us to an original relation with the universe.  And, it’s in our backyard.





  • Ouch

    Winter                                        First Moon of the New Year

    We landed.  We drove.  We napped.  Ah.

    Got up, went to Armstrong Kennels to get the dogs.  While getting the dogs, Kate had Rigel, a big girl, around 100 pounds, on a leash.  In her eagerness to get in the car and go home, Rigel tugged the leash, Kate tripped, hit her head and opened a three-inch gash over her right eye.

    She’s at Urgent Care right now getting it sewed up.  No, she did not want me to drive her.  She’s tough.

    Rigel got in the car.  Now she’s asleep on the rug upstairs.  Back home again in Minnesota.

    BTW:  It cost more to board the dogs than it did to board Kate and me at the Best Western.  Hmmm.

  • Untamed and Primal

    Fall                                                Waxing Autumn Moon

    Warning:  weak stomachs should not read further.

    Kate yelled, but I didn’t hear.  Rigel, let inside after breakfast and a morning’s romp in the woods, came in, lay down on our small oriental rug, and, as dogs sometimes do, threw up.  Gross, I know, but after a while with dogs, many dogs as we have had, this becomes part of the experience.

    In this particular case however, it was not eaten grass or clumps of cloth (some dogs love to shred and eat cloth), but most of a recently ingested rabbit:  the head, a hind quarter and much of the softer parts.  Since none of breakfast came up with it, this was a post-breakfast hunt, likely followed by bolting because three other dogs Vega, Kona and Gertie wanted some, too.

    Since we have about an acre and a half of woods with many brush piles, which we create intentionally for the purpose of harboring wildlife, our dogs always have hunting options, but we’ve not seem many offerings brought up on the deck in recent times.

    Since our dogs are all sight hounds, or at least half sight hound coupled with half coon hound, they come equipped at birth with the instinct to hunt and kill on their own.  We’ve had various levels of skill among our dogs, but some have been exceptional.

    Rigel is one.  Sortia, our Russian witch, a female Irish Wolfhound who weighed around 180 and was never fat, was and remains the champ.  She took down a deer by herself during an interlude at the breeders.  She brought us raccoon, ground hog, many rabbits and, to our chagrin, the occasional neighborhood cat who strayed foolishly over our fence.

    The whippets are no slouches either.  Kona has killed many a rabbit, one time bringing a very fresh head and dropping it at the kitchen door.

    Long ago I slipped over to the Farmer McGregor attitude toward rabbits so I have no problem with our dogs keeping the rabbit supply on the thin side.  They’re protecting our vegetable garden.  I imagine their presence also keeps out deer.

    It’s not why we keep dogs, but it is a good side benefit.

    All this hunting reminds us, too, that beneath the cheerful, loving persona our beloved dogs show to us, there is still within them an untamed and primal beast, a carnivore not really so far removed from the wolf.

  • Queen of Relaxation

    Mid-Summer                                                            Waxing Honey Flow Moon

    Our new pack Kona, Vega, Rigel + Gertie has begun to calm down.  There are fewer tense circling moments, fewer snaps and growls.  Life with dogs has its rhythms, just like life with vegainwaterhumans.  Vega, our biggest girl, lays on the window seat, tail thumping, watchful, inviting me to come down and sit beside her, enjoy a moment of relaxation with her.  She is a great role model for relaxation.  The 4th of July fireworks season has moved into the  past, or the future, and Rigel no longer barks at the night sky.

    Our tiered perennial garden and its brick patio have gotten neglected in our push toward the orchard, vegetables and bees.  It was my focus for so long and now it grows on its own, almost, with little help from either of us.  It looks that way, too.  I began this morning a three or four day project to clean it up, weed it, mulch it, arrange and clean up the furniture and potting bench.  This involved, today, pulling the lovely green chive like grass that volunteers everywhere, then putting down a heavy blanket of birch leaves, sweeping the bricks and clearing litter off tables and benches, killing weeds growing in the brick crevices and emptying old pots into the compost.

    There’s still plenty to do and I’ll get on with that tomorrow.

  • Second Life

    Beltane                                                                      New Garlic Moon

    Rigel has spent the morning with a very worried look.  She doesn’t like thunder and barks at it to tell it to go away.  That doesn’t work well.

    She’s not nearly as reactive as Tira, one of our Irish Wolfhounds, who somehow had it in her head that she was safest inside a vehicle.  That meant if a window in either the truck or the Celica had been left open, she’d jump inside.  My Celica still has her clawmarks in the upholstery.

    In the wee hours of one morning I found her hanging worn out over the top of a chain link gate we used to keep the big dogs out of the garage.  She’d jumped it, but gotten stuck.  In her frenzy she ripped the truck license plate, which was within reach, to shreds and scratched up the truck hood.  The license plate cut her lip and there was blood everywhere.  I thought she was dead.

    Running over to her, I lifted her off the gate–not easy, since even the smallest Wolfhound bitch weighs in at 150 pounds–with sheer adrenalin.  She struggled to her feet and looked very happy to see me.

    Stayed up a bit late last night working on my avatar in Second Life.  Inspired by the presentation yesterday I decided to check out a virtual world.  There’s a learning curve to it.  So far my avatar, Quam, a Latin word for why, has ash blond hair and is wearing a get up cobbled together from an array of clothing options, none of which really suit me.  In this regard a typical male, however, Quam does not want to spend all his time figuring out how to be a clothes horse so his current outfit is good enough for now.

    Quam learned how to walk, fly, push things, see up close, how to chat, how to change his clothes, but his meat package real world avatar got sleepy and had to go to bed.  Not sure I’ll stick with Quam, but if I figure out how to do it, I’ll get a snapshot of him and post it here.

    Here’s the weird part.  I had dreams of flying and of going to the tops of buildings to scout the terrain.  I did both of these things in Second Life.  Hmmm….

  • We Inch, Slowly, Toward Spring

    Spring                                                                 Waxing Bee Hiving Moon

    Kate comes home tonight.  Yeah!  I miss her when she’s gone. I’ll follow our usual procedure and pick her up at the Loon Cafe, conveniently located at the end of the light rail service 650-herb-spiralfrom the airport.  Makes the drive much shorter and I get a good meal in the bargain.

    After the biting and the barking and the adrenaline I figured out a somewhat complicated solution to the Rigel/Sollie problem.  It involves making sure that one set of dogs is in their crate before admitting the others to the house.  This way nobody trespasses on anybody else’s territory.

    It demands a careful watching of when Rigel and Vega are away hunting so I can let Sollie, Gertie and Kona inside.  Or, alternatively, when Rigel and Vega are on the deck and the others are out hunting.  A bit baroque I know but I have no more indentations in the leg.

    (pics from April of last year)

    As the Bee Hiving moon goes from New to Full, our yard will lose its snow and we will have several species of flowers in bloom, a few vegetables in the ground and as it begins to wane we should have our new bees hived and happy in their new homes.  There are things that need to happen before this last, not the least moving the hives to the orchard, cleaning all the frames of propolis and burning the old hive boxes and frames I got from Mark, the bee mentor.650-apple-blossoms

    Seeing the bulbs planted in the fall begin to emerge always heartens me because it reminds me of hours of labor spent in the cool air of late October or early November.  We won’t be here for that time next year, so probably no new bulbs this year.

    In fact, I’m declaring finished to our orchard, garden, vegetable, bee expansions.  We’ll stick with no more than three hives, the raised beds and other beds we have in the vegetable garden, the trees and bushes we have in the orchard and the flower beds we have in place now.

    We’ll always have to replace dead plants and put in new ones in their place.  We have to care for the fruit trees and bushes, plant vegetables and maintain the bee colonies so we’ll have to plenty to keep us occupied.  I just want to get good at the stuff we have and begin to slowly limit the work we do over the course of the year.

  • Then Bang, Things Happen

    Spring                                                               New (Bee Hiving) Moon

    You know how things go along for a long time and nothing happens, then bang, things happen?  Sollie and Rigel got into it again and in breaking them up Rigel bit me.  Not bad, a scrape really, but it bled, around and below the right side of my right knee.  I had been using the knee to separate the two.  This is out of hand at the moment and I’m not sure what to do next.

    In addition I have a family member in crisis, a faraway crisis, so it’s difficult to tell what’s exactly going on.  That means trying to do my part from 12,000 miles away.  My family, and I may have not mentioned it here before, my mother’s family to be precise, has a history of bi-polar disorder.  One of my Aunts was hospitalized most of her life, another for several years and a third in essence starved herself.  My mother never showed signs, but she died at age 46.  Although afflicted from time to time with melancholy, I’ve never manifested the bi-polar symptoms, nor, at least up until now, has either my brother or my sister.  That’s not to say that we haven’t had struggles of various sorts, the kinds brought on by life, but deep depression, no.

    This may be a referented depression; that is, one occasioned by a definite external circumstance, but it’s so difficult to say without being there.  And even then…

    When I was in analysis, with a Jungian, we discussed nuclear families and John, my analyst, said, “You have an atomized family.”  It was true.  After my mother died, our lives began to spin apart from each other.  I left home first and eventually moved to Minnesota.  Mary next, ending up after a stint teaching at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, in first Kuala Lumpur, then Singapore, where she has lived now for many years.

    Last of all Mark left home and moved first to San Francisco, then in 1988 took off on a round the world trip.  After crossing Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railway, working on a kibbutz in Israel and harvesting olives in Turkey, he found his way to Southeast Asia, too.  Bangkok.  He has been there ever since, more or less, teaching English as a second language.  We have ended up far apart, physically, and distance imposes its own psychological barriers.  It’s just not as easy to see each other, help each other.

    Now that both Mom and Dad are dead, we have our own worlds, Mary at the National University of Singapore, me here in Andover and Mark in Bangkok.  Once in a while Mary comes home, I’ve been over there once, but it’s difficult to stay really connected.

    Now something is wrong.  And I’m not sure what to do in that case either.

  • Big D

    Spring                                                                Waning Bloodroot Moon

    The weekly let down after my round of Ovid has set in, exaggerated by the two day drive-a-thon to Lincoln, Ne and back.  Let down may not be the best phrase.  An easing up, a lull, a caravan serai.  All better.  An internal nod to the energy of the week and the things accomplished, a time to enjoy, not focus.

    The Sollie-Rigel wars have not yet fully waned, but they will.  Rigel rolled Sollie over on his back last night in the living room.  I thought that would settle things, but not wholly.  Dogs love to defend passage ways, a door, a cage entrance, a passageway around the couch, a gate.  Sometimes that defensive trigger gets punched and restraint soon flies away, giving way to bared teeth, raised ruffs and lots of snarling.  Very primal.

    It is, I noticed, much easier to step into the midst of a fight when the contenders all weigh 100 pounds or less.  When the Wolfhounds fought, Tor and Orion for instance, it was 180 pounds against 180 pounds.  Puny human of not much account.  That’s the time for buckets of cold water.  Works surprisingly well.  When I got tired of the posturing last night, I barked myself, put a hand on Rigel’s collar and another on Sollie’s and finished it.

    My leeks and herbs have not started.  Not sure what I did wrong, I might have fouled up on getting the potting soil wet enough.  Or something.  But, I have to start over at any rate.  A weekend task.

    Each domain, vegetables, dogs, perennials, bees, Latin, art, politics, friendships, family has an inexhaustible number of lessons to teach us.  Staying open to learning is so important.  And sometimes pretty damned hard.