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I encountered a wake of vultures on my walk today.

This species does not have a syrinx, so they communicate with ghoulishly spectacular hisses.


Dance with the Sufis
Celebrate your top ten in the charts of pain
Lover brother bougainvillea
My vine twists around your need
Even the rain is sharp

–Tori Amos

July 2013 011

My Mistress is on a rampage.

todays injuries

I’ve been burned, bloodied, and bruised this month.

But I’m still in the ring.

RIP Indie

RIP sweet Indie

Kozo at everyday gurus has issued June’s Monthly Peace Challenge, the topic of which is Peace at Home.  This is my contribution.  I hope you enjoy!


I’m currently reading Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now.  How this book wound up in my life is its own story of synchronicity. After I was hired sight-unseen for a teaching gig I hadn’t been seeking,  I discovered this book was on my predecessor’s syllabus. I mentioned this a few weeks ago to a friend who had popped in for lunch.

“I think I need to read this book.” I said.

“Oooh! Goosebumps.” she said, ”  I have that book in my car right now. I knew it was meant for donation — I just didn’t know it was meant for you.”

She had planned to run a few errands following our lunch, which included dropping off a few items in donation.  The book was in her donation pile.

Let me tell you, I am learning that now is very powerful indeed.

So this week I was reading a chapter about using and relinquishing negativity. Early on in the chapter Tolle discusses the problem of negativity,

Negativity is totally unnatural.  It is a psychic pollutant, and there is a deep link between the poisoning and destruction of nature and the vast negativity that has accumulated in the collective human psyche. 

You might imagine my delighted surprise when I came to a passage about ducks.  When I read what Tolle had to say on the topic I had to laugh.  He starts with….

Even ducks have taught me important spiritual lessons.  Just watching them is a meditation.  How peacefully they float along, at ease with themselves, totally present in the Now, dignified and perfect as only a mindless creature can be. 

–Eckhart Tolle

This man has obviously not met my ducks, I thought and closed the book.

You see, earlier this week we had a duck fight.   One of the bad boys, Myrrh, started it.  He grabbed ahold of poor Hiram’s neck with his bill, forcing Hiram to retailiate by grabbing Myrrh’s neck and the two side-stepped back and forth like they were slow dancing.   It was really ridiculous.  Myrrh then joined his juvenile deliquent brother, Frankincense, in bullying their sister Mistletoes.

Frank & Myrrh

Frank & Myrrh

Finally, after one Mistletoes rape too many, I tossed both Frank and Myrrh out of the pen and chased them to the pond. Aside from the departed baby Penguin, none of the ducks had ever been out of the pen in the great beyond. I told El-D I didn’t care what happened to the hooligans, which was almost true…

…until the next morning when I went outside to see if they looked ready to atone for their ruffian behavior and sexual shenanigans.

The boys were nowhere to be found.  I called El-D to whine about it: I didn’t mean to sentence them to death!  I just thought a little overnight banishment into the great beyond might do something to improve their disposition.  El-D joined me in the search for the missing ducks.  We found them…in the pen. In my indignation the previous day, I had absently left the door ajar and the little jerks had snuck back in. All ducks were present and they were laying around murmuring to each other about whatever ducks murmur about.

ducks 005Ok, so I was happy to see them.  Besides, their little adventure did seem to have a positive effect – they were definitely more subdued. There was no aggression, just companionable communication. I guess a day of swimming and doing duck things in the great beyond wore them out.

So….we decided to experiment. El-D wrangled the guys again, which was quite a show. Each one struggled to get away as El-D carried them out of the pen and up the hill.  As soon as they caught another glimpse at the pond, they became still and quiet.  When El-D released them, they went flapping to the water. At the end of the day, they were easy to herd back to the pen.  The next day, when I opened the pen door the bad boys ambled out on their own…followed by Mistletoes.

When I next opened Tolle’s book, this is what I read:

Occasionally, however, two ducks will get into a fight — sometimes for no apparent reason, or because one duck has strayed into another’s private space.  The fight usually lasts only for a few seconds, and then the ducks separate, swim off in opposite directions, and vigorously flap their wings a few times.  They then continue to swim on peacefully as if the fight had never happened.  When I observed that for the first time, I suddenly realized that by flapping their wings they were releasing surplus energy, thus preventing it from becoming trapped in their body and turning into negativity. 

—Eckhart Tolle

What a lesson in forgiving and forgetting.

june 6 032

Today all seven are playing outside in the great beyond. At sunset I will go out there and they will make their way to the pen for their cracked corn dinner.  They are as just fancy about this routine as you please and as well-behaved (at least for now) as the Peabody ducks. All they need is a little red carpet.

Watch any plant or animal and let it teach you acceptance of what is, surrender to the Now.  Let it teach you Being.  Let it teach you integrity – which means to be one, to be yourself, to be real.  Let it teach you how to live and how to die, and how not to make living and dying into a problem. 

–Eckhart Tolle

Like sands through the hourglass…these are the ducks of our lives.

–Lunar Euphoria

RIP Penguin May 16, 2013- May 20, 2013

RIP Penguin
May 16, 2013- May 20, 2013

Penguin, the beautiful little duckling, died yesterday under the rump of his mother and shells of his sisters and brothers.   In his short little life, he managed to miraculously escape the pen twice. While apparently easy to find a way out of the pen, finding the way back in proved problematic for Penguin. After each escape he stood outside the pen peeping like crazy, as if the rest of the ducks were free and he was the prisoner.  Both times he was rescued from the great beyond and delivered back to his mama’s nest, only to have his mother deliver him to the Great Beyond.

The day he died another baby hatched. It was a terrible sight to behold, really. Blind, contorted, and slimy, it looked like something you’d see hatching in a monster movie – like a baby dragon or something. The creature’s stick-neck was folded at an improbable angle and one tremulous leg kept working the shell open a little at a time. The bird’s dinosaur lineage was quite evident in his appearance.

Meanwhile, not to be undone by Kiki, P. Recious Rainbow has built a new nest right next to hers and plopped down numerous eggs of her own.  There the two sit quacking out the duck version of Dueling Banjos. Or maybe  it’s the duck version of a dance-off…which would be a lay off?

Who will win this game of nests?

Who will win this game of nests?

Mistletoes is standing on Kiki in that picture because she was running to me, her champion protector. As the youngest female, she is tormented relentlessly by the boys. Every time I catch them trying to gang rape her I chase after the boys clapping at them and yelling mean things about how I might become a carnivore again if they don’t leave her alone.  So now she has the habit of running TO me when they’re after her.

I’m sorry, dear reader.  This is not a post I want to write, but it is one that needs to be written so my heart doesn’t close against this hurt. Just pass it over or bear it along with me.


Nilla Bean, December 26, 2011-October 31, 2012

Nilla Bean filled our lives for nine months with her brilliant puppy light and boisterous spirit.    She was a force of nature with exactly two settings: BOUNDING JOY or asleep. She welcomed every guest in our home with a two paw greeting, manic kisses, and often a little piddle on the shoes because she just couldn’t keep all the excitement contained.

She loved to chase cats, balls, and children around the house and yard.  The more noise these things made, the better. If something else wasn’t making a racket, then surely she needed to be. She learned to bark and growl menacingly from a German Shephard at the park.  Whenever she spied Nickel the Barn Cat in the garden, she would stand at the bedroom window and use her “Big Dog” bark to complain about it. She also used her Big Dog bark whenever she went to the vet to show the other dogs who was boss. Every morning her “big ole tail” pounded out a tattoo on the floor, the bed post, the wall.  Then she would get all chatty, going on and on about it all in this prolonged grumbly-howl-chewy-bark-sneeze sort of way that always made us laugh, no matter how many times we heard it.

She loved rides and I loved watching her ears sail on the breeze.

Nilla Bean was a beautiful girl, brimming with enthusiasm, vitality, and joy. Her short life reminded us to love with wild abandon, to celebrate life, to enjoy every moment, and to take joy rides with the windows down.

The passing of her sweet spirit is deeply felt. She will be greatly missed.


He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds; my other ears that hear above the winds. He is the part of me that can reach out into the sea. He has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason for being; by the way he rests against my leg; by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile; by the way he shows his hurt when I leave without taking him. (I think it makes him sick with worry when he is not along to care for me.)

When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive. When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile. When I am happy, he is joy  unbounded.  When I am a fool, he ignores it. When I succeed, he brags.  Without him, I am only another man. With him, I am all-powerful. He is loyalty itself. He has taught me the meaning of devotion. With him, I know a secret comfort and a private peace. He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant. His head on my knee can heal my human hurts. His presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things. He has promised to wait for me… whenever… wherever – in case I need him. And I expect I will – as I always have. He is just my dog.

 —Gene Hill

RIP Miss Beans

A friend is someone who knows where all your bodies are buried.  Because they’re the ones who helped you put them there.

–Jenny Lawson’s dad


This morning, a dark, dreary Monday, was a perfect day for death.

The Devil handed me a shovel and through the mud and muck I followed him to bury the body.  My rainboots were too cheerful for the occasion, but I wore them anyway, grey pajama pants tucked into the rims. Fuck Prada, The Devil wore work boots because he’s practical like that. The ground was squishy and sucked at the rubber soles. The wind flung leftover raindrops from tree leaves as he dug a shallow grave.

Hellcat (aka Baki, Lili, and Zombie Cat) was intimidating for such a soft, fluffy creature.  She packed a surprising amount of viciousness in her little frame. She would attack anyone and everyone who was within claw distance without the slightest provocation. In her heyday, she groomed incessantly.  When she wasn’t grooming she pranced around and preened to show off her fluffy coat.  Her favorite pastime was to jump into the laps of unsuspecting guests as if she wanted affection and then lash out the moment a hand was raised to pet her. Maybe she was just misunderstood.  One thing is for sure, she loved The Devil.

Hellcat’s final resting place is under the trees near the broken fence, just beyond the pond. RIP Baby Kitty.


Perhaps the best cure for the fear of death is to reflect that life has a beginning as well as an end.  There was a time when you were not: that gives us no concern. Why then should it trouble us that a time will come when we shall cease to be? To die is only to be as we were before we were born.

–William Hazlitt

I stepped into the barn and paused a moment letting my eyes adjust to the shadows. Then I began to systematically photograph the murder scene.

It was gruesome. The body had been dismembered. I could only imagine the fear she must have experienced in her last moments or the fear the others must have felt being trapped in this space and forced to witness the horrors that played out before them. Would one of them be next?

There were no footprints. The perpetrator, or perpetrators, had scaled the walls. The perp(s) had been in no hurry to devour the queen. The queen’s wings hung from the ceiling, a haze of flies buzzing around them.  Her webbed feet and bill were cast aside in the opposite corner. White feathers were scattered everywhere in between. The brazen predator(s) had crawled up into the rabbit hutch to defecate leaving twin piles of feces containing P.Queen’s innards.  Why the rabbit hutch? This was the mystery that would haunt me into the dark hours of the night.

You killed the duck. That was bad enough. But you killed the duck and shit in the rabbit hutch?  Twice? Oh Little Bandit, enjoy your full belly while it lasts, but don’t expect to come back for seconds with such ease.

Out of the mist your voice is calling, it’s twilight time.

When purple colored curtains mark the end of day,

I’ll hear you, my dear, at twilight time.

–The Platters, Twilight Time


Catherine Soule, or Kiki, graced this world from August 1, 1914 to June 14, 2004.

She sometimes drove with her elbows propped on the steering wheel, her chin resting on her hands.

She smelled like roses.

She loved hamburgers.

Her living room was a sacred place to welcome guests. Everything in it was just so and it was off limits to grandkids. When she got new carpet, we had to take off our shoes and leave our socks on to walk on it.

She grew mint just outside the backdoor.

Before I knew her, she wore little dainty white gloves. I never saw her wear them, but she had a lot of them.

She would visit the beauty shop to get her hair done every week.   Immediately following each visit she’d spend a very long time in the bathroom restyling it.

She kept all the greeting cards she ever received in a box under her bed.

She used Scotch Tape at night between her eyebrows to keep frown lines at bay.

She swore that ½ a banana would cure everything from headaches to nausea.

She would prop the end of her ironing board on her bed and lie on it upside down to undo the effects of gravity.

She referred to earrings as earbobs.

She watched Johnny Carson every night.

She once told me to “give the finger” to a person who cut her off in traffic.  When I looked over at her horrified she gave me a little wave with her index finger to demonstrate what she meant by the phrase.

One of her favorite songs to play on her organ was Twilight Time. She also would play Love Me Tender.

When I spent the night she’d always tell me I looked like “the last rose of summer” in the morning when I woke.

She taught me to end each day by counting my blessings and praying for loved ones.

She was married to Hiram Soule for 72 years.

Hit the play button before reading on.



You are going to die.


(Morbid much?) 

Sorry, but this is Reality and Truth

 Your time is limited.

Each second ticking by on that clock is bringing you closer to your last breath.

It is bringing you closer to the death of those you love. 

 There is absolutely nothing you can do to change this simple fact, so now is the time to deal with it.


What is important?

Having six pack abs?

Racking up trophies and awards?

Updating your “status”?

Writing that next blog? 

Investing energy in that grudge you are holding?


Do not walk away from this question: 

What matters most?



Now, what exactly are you going to do (or not do) about it?

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