Wednesday, December 31, 2008

WARNING: Graphic content follows

So, one of the many interesting nuances of living in an area that can still be considered semi-rural is that we receive occasional visits by roaming wildlife. Most of these visits are relatively friendly, but some are rather invasive and violent. Yes, yes, I know that my home sits on land that was once a mere foothill where deer and vermin and predators and so on could roam free. But this land was cultivated and altered by man many years before I ever got here and certainly several generations prior to any wildlife that currently strolls around down here.

That being said, I generally welcome most of these visits. I put out feed for the wide variety of local birds and find their antics amusing. We even encountered a deer once that had come over the embankment at the back of our property to get a drink in our pond. I've run a snake or two off the property as well for Dave's sake - he gets the spiders, I get the snakes. We have a completely symbiont life system taking place on our small little patch of earth that even includes us.

You see, we have also brought our own animals to live on and share this land. This has an affect on the wildlife as well. We feed the wild birds, but we also have ducks that require a similar grain-based feed. Mice and rats have a hard time reaching the bird feeders and the scraps that fall don't seem to be much of a lure when there is an ample and easily accessed supply in the duck pen. Snakes are then attracted to our property for the relatively easy access to our resident rodents. We are not in the least bit adverse to poisoning or even shooting any of these pests and do so when necessary. Though, to be fair, the only dead snake we have ever recovered from our property was not poisoned but run over in the driveway. Think what you will of all that, but these are both dangerous and possibly diseased animals that I do not want living in that close of proximity to my family if I have any means to do something about it. So, we occasionally utilize our means.

Our beastly dog, Ebony, generally deters most larger wildlife by her presence alone. Her scent is all over the yard and she adds to it everyday. But sometimes the lure to our wild yard is just too strong. There are regularly hawks and small eagles circling our neighborhood, but I've only once ever seen one actually in our yard and it didn't appear to be hunting. We have seen several raccoons, or possibly the same one several times hanging about our garbage can at night. Among all of these, the only critters that ever really bother me are the raccoons and rodents. Even these, however, are rarely ever actually seen - mostly just the evidence of their presence. In the winter, for instance, we will see rat trails in the snow going from hole to hole leading up to their food supply in the duck pen. Aside from disease, have you priced chicken scratch lately? Corn prices have shot it through the roof and I simply can't tolerate (or afford) sustaining a bunch of rat babies.

I have always worried about having the ducks out in the yard because of all of the wildlife activity, but in nearly five years of keeping ducks we've not once had a predator attack. Until two nights ago. They have a sturdy coop and are fenced in behind a 4' fence on one side and even higher on all other sides. There is a hill, however, that comes up to level with the top of a small part of the 4' fence and that was the point of entry and exit for our vicious visitor. Like the others, it left evidence. More than just the wreckage it also left distinctive tracks that I have deduced down to most likely coyote, or possibly a large fox.

I was in a rush to leave that morning because in my arduous job searching lately, I've been going through the multi-step insanity that is the Postal employment hiring process and had to make it out to a medical assessment within the hour. As I always do, I took a quick peek into the pen as I drove past it after rounding the corner and saw a crumpled looking white pile and I knew something had happened. My first thoughts were directed to the rat poison I had just put out the day before. I had jammed some way up under the coop where a rat hole had been dug and worried that one of them had managed to get their head down the hole and eaten some. What I found was decidedly worse in some ways. Only made slightly better by the fact that I wasn't directly responsible for killing my own pet, I found that two of my three ducks had been brutally massacred sometime in the night. As my pets, however, I also have a responsibility to protect them. Sometimes there's only so much you can do, but I am finding now that there is far more that I can certainly do to keep my remaining girl safe from harm.

*Graphic Warning*

I couldn't say if this creature built up in ferocity as it went or if it started strong and ended lamely. I tend to believe the former because of what I found. When I spun my car around and rushed down the yard to assess the situation I was greeted by a gruesome and infuriating scene. The back of my drake's neck was completely missing and his upper back had been rather brutally gouged into as well. The rest of him remained virtually unscathed aside from a few minor punctures. The female that was killed had also been attacked from behind but only insomuch as to end her life. I found the remaining female that had survived cowered in a corner next to the lifeless and mutilated bodies of her companions. Upon initial inspection she appeared to be okay aside from being terribly frightened. I was in such a hurry that all I knew I needed to do at the moment was to move the bodies. With Christmas having just passed I happened to have a few boxes that worked. These were no small birds mind you, weighing in at about 10-12 lbs. each and being roughly twice the overall size of the average house cat.

I called Dave once I hit the freeway to let him know the contents of the two boxes so as to keep the dog away from them and for him to dispose of them while I was away because I simply couldn't do it. I replayed the visions of the wounds over and over again in my head on the way to my appointment becoming more and more upset. I tried to push my thoughts elsewhere, but could not succeed. I am not the person who feels bad for the gazelle when the leopard finally makes that swipe that takes it down. I have compassion for the fact that the predator/prey relationship involves pain and suffering. This was not a predator seeking a meal. It was a slaughter. As awful as the scene was and this may sound, I would have felt much better to have cleaned up my good friends if they had even been partially devoured. It just feels like senseless destruction, almost malicious.

At any rate, Dave and I built a door for the coop to lock my lonesome gal up at night for the immediate future and managed to find a chain link dog run for sale on craigslist that has a roof structure and 6' walls. Who says functionality can't be cute?

Much as I would like vengeance on the sneaky bastard, I will instead seek my peace of mind by doing everything I can to outsmart the instincts of such critters. The Perkins residence will soon be home to a venerable duck Fort Knox.

In memory of Dr. Drake Remore and his Little Nurse (lighter). Big Nurse (darker) already misses them both.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

So, maybe I'll be a writer when I gets all growed up.

I've been writing away quite a bit lately, which has been making my 100+wpm little fingers very happy. All this writing is also starting to give those fingers a good reason to begin drawing again, which also makes them very happy.

Here's the skinny: I woke up around 2 in the morning two nights ago with the hamster wheel spinning away in my brain. I woke up thinking about all of the rambling writing I've been doing as of late and how I should direct my focus into a new project. But where to dip my cup into the pools of inspiration? Well, I used to draw nearly every day. Whether for school or simply because I felt like it, I've built up quite an extensive portfolio over the years. While lying in bed trying to figure out why I had woken so abruptly in the first place and then working to reconcile the flashes of streaming thought, an image entered my mind. A drawing I had done about ten years ago after seeing the movie, "The Fifth Element". The opera diva led me to create a series of drawings:

But one drawing is missing. THE drawing. My organizational skills, while seemingly quite obsessive are actually borderline chaotic. I tend to keep things in piles in various locations around the house. My parents observed this of me and my bedroom while growing up, particularly in my teenage years. It's a habit I still have. Whenever I don't have the time or the will to really organize something, be it the laundry, the mail, shoes, anything, I will make piles to revisit at a later time. Organized chaos. So, the same is true of my personal effects. I have drawings on printer paper, lined school paper, graph paper, napkins, post-it notes, whatever was available when an image simply had to escape my mind and become part of the world. There are about four or five places that these have ended up being tucked away in various corners of the house. Not one of those places I scoured turned up the drawing. All of the others I drew within that approximate time frame were found. 

The significance of this drawing is that it sparked a train of thought that began to develop into something exciting. Something that kept building and building up strength and energy just like a locomotive. By 2:30 I couldn't stand it anymore and accepted the truth that if I didn't record any of this right NOW that I would certainly lose nearly all of it by sunrise. I slid out of bed as quietly as I could because both Dave and I were already sleeping restlessly because he had final exams the following day. I turned on the computer and began to write a short story about the man in my drawing. About three or four lines into it, it began to rhyme. Two hours later, "Crimson the Collector" had a life and a voice of his own.

I am now feverishly trying to recreate my vision of the missing Crimson. I know what he looks like and now I'm trying to convince my fingers that they still know what they're doing after a long hiatus from daily drawing. Stay tuned for more on bringing Crimson the Collector to life.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

And now for something completely different

I call this piece: Infanity

I really was starting to get better; recovering from my temporary and involuntary obsession. Over the last two and a half months since I discovered the Twilight universe I read all four books four times. I did slide two other completely NON-fiction books in there during that time too, so don't get too worried about my mental well-being. I'll check off my fifth reading of Twilight later today as I wait in line for the movie.

I came incredibly close to seeing a midnight showing last night in Syracuse, but since I already have my two tickets pictured above for tonight and tomorrow afternoon plus one more scheduled show on Saturday I figured that I could be patient for one more day.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I never do this...but what the heck, I have everything to lose.

Whether you ever wanted my opinions or not, you’re going to get a few very strong ones right now because for one reason or another you like and maybe even love me so you keep up on what I’m doing every now and again. How’s that for a run-on sentence? So, what am I up to right now? I am currently fighting the queasiness I have near-constantly had since this year’s election season began. If I didn’t know better, my stomach would still swear that I was standing in the doorway of a plane at 13,000 feet spoon-style tandem strapped to this stranger I am trusting as an expert. Will our chute open? Am I prepared enough to know what to do if it doesn’t? I’m much more inclined to be an optimist, but with this election I simply can’t shake the instinct that things are about to go horribly, horribly wrong. I am educated as to what our President elect has planned for this nation. Let me just say that for those for whom ignorance is bliss, I envy you at this moment.

A rather heated family feud ensued about two weeks before elections this year among my immediate and extended family. It all began after my ultra-conservative aunt sent the following email to the whole family:

Here is a creative approach to redistribution of wealth as offered in a local newspaper...

Today on my way to lunch I passed a homeless guy with a sign that read "Vote Obama, I need the money." I laughed.

Once in the restaurant my server had on a "Obama 08" tie, again I laughed as he had given away his political preference--just imagine the coincidence.

When the bill came I decided not to tip the server and explained to him that I was exploring the Obama redistribution of wealth concept. He stood there in disbelief while I told him that I was going to redistribute his tip to someone who I deemed more in need--the homeless guy outside. The server angrily stormed from my sight.

I went outside, gave the homeless guy $10 and told him to thank the server inside as I've decided he could use the money more. The homeless guy was grateful.

At the end of my rather unscientific redistribution experiment I realized the homeless guy was grateful for the money he did not earn, but the waiter was pretty angry that I gave away the money he did earn even though the actual recipient needed money more.

I guess redistribution of wealth is an easier thing to swallow in concept than in practical application.

Political satire as delivered through the medium of comic strips has long-been one of my favorite means of this type of expression. I found this one today, though it is not at all new, and think it fits the above story well.

At any rate, the email started a written war of epic proportions from all of the liberals in the family who felt that they had had enough. They were each abusive in their own way – more, I think, from previous and similar emails they had received from this particular aunt. They each also hid behind a fa├žade of peace that was anything but peaceful. I’ve always held strong that just because you offer up a disclaimer of, “I don’t mean to offend” or even, “You know that I love you, but…” these statements don’t pave the way to unleash whatever horrible things you might have to say simply because you’re going to say them “nicely”. It reminded me of the absolute joke that is the positive discipline process. Here, please allow me to butter you up so that you’ll brown nicely when I throw you in the sweltering oven in just a moment.

I too, had had enough and made no pretense of any niceties in MY email. I know that there were some who responded in their own way by only contacting this aunt individually – as was both appropriate and respectful. I purposefully chose the platform of including the entire group in my own email so that we could all be assured to be embarrassed by this kind of behavior. I ran each one of them through my own little ringer – including the aunt. There were different reasons that I was upset with each and every one of them. I am no peacemaker, and this was not a group of people having a debate. It was textual mud-slinging with no intent past mere soap-box moments. Arguments for arguments sake.

This election season literally turned brother against brother in this country and it makes me sick. These states are not “United” as Barak would like us all to believe. He would like us to believe all of the things he says. He is a politician, after all. He is undoubtedly a man of hope, I won’t deny that. But he is no more so, however, than any other candidate we’ve ever seen in this nation’s history. He is just better with rhetoric and as such, was able to persuade the majority vote. I don’t begrudge him his victory, but I do look with mournful eyes at those loved ones of mine who helped enable this. That is part of the pain this brings me now; knowing that I have lost something very important to me in some people I have held respect and admiration for.

Worse yet, there is an air of humor and mockery coming from supporters of Obama’s policies and I don’t know whether I am more afraid that they don’t understand what they’re supporting or possibly worse, that they do understand and still support such potentially destructive ideas. Pathways to hell are frequently paved with good intentions. You might not guess it from what I have just said, but it is still true that I am every bit as much an idealist as I am a realist. Idealism, however, can be every bit as dangerous as a loaded gun being pointed in your direction. It can have the same ultimate effect. History is a wonderful teacher of what ideals like Obama's lead to.

We have all heard and seen the interview with “Joe, the Plumber”, but what I can’t understand is how anyone can really listen to this interview and not believe that they are supporting Socialism by supporting Obama. Marx, Stalin, Obama. Don’t even think for one moment that I’m kidding.

Joe: Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn’t it?

Barak: It’s not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they’ve got the chance at success too. I think that when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.

You either understand what this means, or you’re kidding yourself because you like the guy, but this is Socialism, pure and simple.

Read up, my friends and family, on what exactly has been voted for. Karl Marx once spoke regarding America where he said something along the lines of them not being able force Communism on us all at once, but if they started us down the path of Socialism that little by little we would succumb without even knowing what or how it had happened. Socialism is the bridge between Capitalism and Communism. Again, not kidding even a little bit.

Socalized medicine is no different. I hope you have enjoyed seeing whatever doctor you liked, pretty much whenever you liked. Get ready to pay the same as you are now, possibly more, and three hour lines to see a PA.

Churchill said it best, as usual, "Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery." There's your equality. You can't simply "hand-out" better situations, people actually have to make some decisions in their lives. Well, actually, now they won't be required to. We have elected President Robin Hood to steal from all the evil rich people (didn't you know that having money makes you a bad person and an even worse person if you don't give it away?) and give to all of the good poor people of this country (conversely, didn't you know that being poor makes you a humble, decent, hard-working person?). Money reveals character and we've already seen exactly what handouts more often than not reveal: complete dependence and reliance upon that handout. I am a Christian and I will only teach a man to fish, not steal them from my neighbor because he got up off his ass and went out at 3 o'clock in the morning and what? how? he has the most fish? Well, that can't be fair that he has the most. I should go take some to give to my other neighbor who rolled out of bed hungry at the crack of noon. May I never be too grown-up for sarcasm.

I had no pony in this race, folks. Just because I am opposed to Obama does not mean that I was a McCain supporter. I don’t think we’ve had a Presidential race that wasn’t up to “the lesser of two evils”, so to speak, in a few decades. Yes, I was unquestioningly more supportive of John McCain, but there was a long string of mistakes and policies that made me disappointed that he was the Republican nominee.

So, why am I now choosing to bring all of this up? Because many of the people I have been closest to throughout my entire life I am learning are so fundamentally and philosophically divergent from America’s foundation that I am, as earlier stated, sick over it. I think a lot of these controversies come from what everyone eventually ultimately asks themselves, “What is this country all about?” I’ll make it as simple as I can and from my own experience: If you’re a Mormon and you want to know what is true of your church, read the Book of Mormon. If you’re an American and you want to know what is true of your country, read the Constitution. Neither was written with any “blinders” on and I cannot throw my support behind anyone who believes so or wants you to believe so. There are very few things that I am absolutely certain of in this life, but of this I am: God’s divine inspiration was behind both documents and God wears no blinders.

I will continue to live my life as I have always done and pray for personal peace for myself and others and as always, we'll see what happens. If you know me well at all, you know that I don’t write notes when I’m angry and frustrated, I write novels. And since this is my blog and I like to keep it a predominantly harmonious place, this is likely to be my only rant of this scale. Thanks to anyone who persevered through to the end (whether you agree with me or not).

Sunday, November 2, 2008

And now, to suffer the malaise onset by the passing of another Halloween

It's that sad aftermath now where there is the longest amount of time before the next Halloween. Tim Burton, however, can always deliver the mood if you are hit with a spell of despair and longing for the morose.

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Highly Hallowed Evening

We had our biggest turnout yet by striking fear into the accelerated beating hearts of no less than 60 young souls. Take a little tour of their journey up the driveway:

The graveyard:

When lacking in coffins, simply improvise:

Seriously, this guy still scares the hell out of me and this year we added to his creepy factor by putting a strobe on him:

The bubble-fogger had its trial run this year and was a unanimous success. Blowing the fog into bubbles only to let loose once the bubbles pop.....whoever came up with this idea is a freakin' genius:

We can't have anyone getting lost, now can we:

The final approach:

This lovely fellow kindly lights the way (you should see the giant wolf spider that has set up shop in this guy's sleeve *shutter*):

Another new addition this year, more giant spiders, but this one's animatronic:

Every Halloween calls for at least one witch brooding over her brew:

A brief flash into my future:

Some of the best stuff was inside this year. Who knew a balloon and cheese cloth could be so creepy?:

This reaper is actually a smoker, but he took a dive a few days ago and the top of his head crumbled into pieces. I have some rebuilding still to do, but when you put cone incense inside him the smoke comes out of the hollow face, it's super cool:

I came up with a great way to use those permanent pumpkins - lampshade!:


Good night sweet Doppelganger, until next year.....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Catching up on a thing or two

I've recently decided to try my hand at face-painting and my very willing nephew never shies away from being my guinea pig. He was headed to a BYU game and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for a little practice.

He was thrilled that the teeth stretched into long fangs whenever he was going to scream at the game. It's the little things in life, isn't it?

Next on the catch-up itinerary is just a few of my choice favorites from shooting my cousin's vow renewal ceremony two weekends ago.

The quintessential image of mother fastening daughter into wedding dress:

The lovely bride:

Four generations apart:

I'm quite sure that none of the ladies pictured here would like this image at all, but I love it because I know these women so well. Three generations of fiery red-heads. This photograph tells MANY stories:

The lovely couple:

I simply could NOT get a good shot in this corner and gave up, but had to include the best of the lot anyway for the sake of showing off the kilts (a staple at any of our family weddings):

A nice moment:

A coy moment when a pregnant woman (my sister-in-law) would love to snatch that glass of champagne that her husband (my brother) just poured:

This shot reminded me of a paparazzi frenzy over a budding new Hollywood couple:

I love my brother so much.

There is so much about this picture that I love; every element of it:

If you know my grandparents AT ALL, this photograph will make you laugh out loud:

Cute as buttons, but hell on wheels:

Just something about this one, I really like it. There's something so "them" about it:

I have the most beautiful sisters, here is one of them:

Ok, if you're going to pose, which is hammy anyway, go all out:

I took a TON of casual conversation shots. These are just three of my favorites from the night:

It's the cute ones you have to watch out for:

I swear, this girl was born a teenager:

Sometimes, the best father/son images are the ones you don't expect at all:

No wedding would be complete without family regaling one another with hidden talents: