Sunday, March 20, 2005

porcine antics

My Granny was a frail woman even before she got old. Tough but slight in build. As a younger woman, she had kept chickens. She and Papa had squeaked through the Great Depression and in a rural area one way to keep fed was to have chickens. They really don't require much care and when you are hungry you can go kill one, stew it up and there you are. Post Depression, she had continued to keep the birds. I can understand why.

First, food. Secondly, they can be absolutely beautiful. My wife and I kept several different varieties of chickens and they can be staggeringly pretty. The pictures don't really do them justice. Thirdly, they are fun to watch. It is interesting to watch them work through their social trials. The birds were important to Granny. Papa kept pigs for food as well. Hogs can be predatory animals and will eat anything they can. Chickens included. Hogs are also industrious escapers. It is difficult, short of concrete flooring and welded steel, to keep a hog in a pen. So they had a hog that had escaped and was taking advantage of the relatively free range fowl. Quite frequently this hog would kill a chicken and devour it. Hogs in general are large animals. At least 150 lbs. sometimes on the order or 200-300 lbs. Imagine trying to pull a 150 lb. person off a plate of fried chicken and mashed potatoes with gravy. Imagine that person had no compunction against biting you or stomping on you with a cloven hoof. So chickens were being eaten and Granny was getting more and more furious. The morning of the summer day in question the hog had jumped a chicken right in front of Granny. So the anger was a blinding screen pervading all my Granny did that day. My Granny was an imminently peaceful woman. As full of grace as I would have imagined Christ.

Today, however, was money changing at the temple day. As the hog rounded the corner, in full view of 4 of her daughters, she picked up a rock and threw it at the hog. When I was a child I threw a rock at a friend. As it left my hand I had the worst feeling come over me. Not that I had thrown a rock at my friend but I calculated the trajectory of the rock and my rapidly retreating friend and determined that, indeed, the two would intersect and that I was going to be in serious trouble. It was a Bad Feeling. I wonder, did Granny go through the same calculus for a solution of Triumphant Feeling? She hit the hog right between the eyes and down it went. Stone dead, literally. Killing a hog was something that was generally done in the winter. The cold cut down on the flies and other insects. But this summer day they had a hog killing and dressing. You can't let that kind of meat go to waste.

Friday, March 18, 2005

to and fro

Weirdly after penning the last entry I really haven't been able to notice much while headed to work. Maybe it is sheer desire to get to work that drives all else out. Maybe it is just feeling my seat under me. I did happen to see a crow carrying some food on my ride out yesterday. I find crows interesting. They aren't very loveable to me. I did have a neighbor who had one as a boy. He felt like someone poisoned it and after at least 50 years you could tell he still hurt over the death of his bird. The crow carrying the food made me wonder. Where was it headed and who else might see it?

The Arkansas Department of Game and Fish has a tracking site for ducks that they have tagged with GPS transponders. They can be tracked here. Following a registration page and a brief (optional even) survey you can view a map with the ducks current locations. AGFC tagged 53 new ducks this year and they will be online shortly. It's a very neat program and I wonder if it could be implemented for crows. Voyeurism apparently intrigues me.

I flew a remote control glider for a while. The same kind of voyeuristic impulse struck me when flying. I love the aerial photos/movies that are taken using RC aircraft. Even free flight photos are very cool. Why is the sense of looking outside myself so intriguing?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

seven miles

I ride my motorcycle 7 miles to work each day. I have noticed that the thrill of wind in my hair (somewhat untrue as I always wear a helmet) keeps me from noticing things. Truth of the matter is, it is just so damned fun to twist the throttle I can't notice anything else. Silly, huh? So I'll write about what I notice in a conscious effort to increase my awareness of the moment. It is about more than just opening the bike up. Sometimes.

Today was 40 degrees and wet. The rain made interesting patterns on my wind screen. I ride in all types of weather, good and bad. It is a great and wondrous thing to have a nice rainsuit. I get funny stares quite frequently but unknown to the curious occupants of those vehicles, I am comfortable in 30-35 degree weather. 17 degree weather is another story altogether.

I was briefly stopped by a short, 2 engine Union Pacific train. I barely put my foot down and it was past. It's neat to watch these trains travel back and forth. We live not 2 blocks from the tracks and 40 or so trains pass by throughout the day. In a weird sort of way the trains are very romantic. You'll wake up at 3:00 AM and the house will be shaking (yes, that close) and the whistle blowing. I picture the engineer hurtling through the night, lights blazing. Their hearts must feel close to their machines. Very cool. The engines themselves are sometimes stopped for days at a time by the house, for repairs I suppose. To walk around them is to truly understand how large they are. They are, like motorcycles, beautiful machines.