That Of Mice, Gravy and Foxes

The adventures of cleaning can be utterly horrifying.

Not all that long ago, both of my grandparents on my mother’s side passed away. My sister and I went to my grandparents’ sleepy, near-abandoned town to be there for the last moments. After our grandmother died (her husband died about seven months before she did), we, alongside our mother and some family members I didn’t even know I had…

…we set out to clean the house. Needless to say, it was not an easy task. There were dead mice in the house, to put it lightly. There were also many rattlesnakes. We were on a mountain of them, quite literally. Anyway, there is a massive pantry our grandmother had. A great deal of the food couldn’t be saved. Below is a well-captured example of such food, held by my sister and nephew.

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They are holding gravy mix in their hands, both being solid blocks that were as hard as a brick. The other four children were having a ball throwing them at the trees in the background, gleeful over the fact that many of the Gravy Bricks did not break on impact the first time around.

Here’s the thing: that gravy was twenty-three (23) years old! It was given to my grandparents in 1993, after the flood in St. Louis, as a means to help those who lost so much to survive. Twenty-three years later and my grandmother still has it. Until they were destroyed by five children and a handful of adults, naturally.

However, something interesting did occur. I saw a fox.

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Not the best photo, but she was moving around quite a bit. The white stuff on the ground in front of her is powdered food (cakes, jellos, gravy, and other such stuff) that we tossed into the forest to act as a fertilizer. She came hunting for food. She took off with the Gravy Bricks, much to our surprise. I had tried to get a decent picture but, as can be seen below, it turned out kind of blurry.

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It was a rather unexpected thing, but it was an experience that none of are likely to forget. Between dead mice, very expired food and a fox…

…we all had quite an experience. May my grandparents rest in piece. I am, however, ready to share the photos I took while in the wilderness with a broken well and a stench to make one keel over. I hope everyone finds something in this to brighten up their day.

If not? All I have to say is this:

“Gravy Bricks.”

Paper Forest

Sitting in a classroom, head tucked close to a book, I found myself drawn to my once-cellphone-now-MP3/PortableApp. Several months ago, I shut down my service (Straight Talk) due to the fact my biweekly paychecks couldn’t pay for my bills and a monthly cellphone plan. So I cut out the one I didn’t need, but decided to keep the phone itself just in case I decided, one day, to reactivate it.

I’m in college, now. I’m studying to be a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist at Metro Business College. Working my way through the first term, I sometimes find myself a bit on the bored side (first term classes are rather easy, minus math) and, after a test I had to take today, I found myself drawn to my OCNMPA. When I saw what today’s word of choice was, I spent the last fifteen minutes starting at my phone.

PaperOf all the things it could have been, it was this.

I was not quite sure what to make of that one word. It was something I saw every day. This one substance lurks everywhere I go, but rarely would I turn my thoughts onto it with a singular focus; not often am I asked to think on the word ‘paper’ and have a response to it. In this, I hope I am not alone.

What does one come up with, when given a word they don’t think of all that much?

It’s half-past six, where I’m at. In a handful of hours, I’ll be heading off to bed. As I sit here, hands on my keyboard, I find myself restless. Here is this word, one I do not often think about, and I find myself unable to come up with a story to go with it. So this is what I am doing instead. I am thinking aloud, my thoughts clear for all to read.

Perhaps I should ask myself a different question: ‘What do I see, when I think of paper?’

The answer is as rough, as unfocused, as before. However, now I have an image in my head. 300+ pages of text, holepunched in a binder, stares up at me. I am daunted by the task I have assigned myself; I have never done a fullscale revision before. The thought of having to read through of all that is as frightening as it is eletrifying. I want to do it, but, at the same time, I find myself unsure if it will matter in the end.

A writer’s insecurity, that one. A monster, in and of itself.

When I think of paper, I see my mathematics classroom. I’m sitting at a desk trying to work out the problems my professor gives me. Payroll is easy enough, so far. Then I’m in a different class, in Terminolgy. Fifty new words to learn on top of 175 I have already memorized; I have pages and pages of work to do, in regards to my schoolwork. If I could find the person who said ‘college isn’t all that hard,’ I’d hit them dead.

My thoughts go to the forests which create the paper I thoughtlessly use.

How many trees are destoryed so humanity can have notebooks, planners, sketchpads and all that other shit we take for granted? How many ecosystems are we crippling, taking from the earth yet not giving anything of use back to the planet that sustains us?

I want to start a garden. I want to grow something, yet I find myself, once more, unsure if I’d be any good at that. Part of me wants to say ‘my soil isn’t any good, so why bother?’ It is frustrating, these voices that whisper in my head. Excuses to not do something, they are. Nattering, useless little things that get in the way.

However, this daily prompt also reminds me of one other thing: Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF).

I joined ADF in 2015, in the early days of November. For those who are unfamiliar with ADF, it is a druid organization that focuses on researching our past, our roots, in hopes of learning what our ancestors believed long ago. It is a mixture of scholarly studies and of learning to live, in harmony, with the world and community around us. A worthy task, I believe. People no longer act as they use to; we are absorbed in ourselves, in the technology we have created, but the connections once had are diminishing.

What happened to the simple, pleasant coversations with our neghibors? Where did the days go when children could play in the front yard without having to worry about a stranger walking up and wisking them away? What happened to people helping one another, to working together, instead of living a singular, self-involved lifestyle?

I am as guilty of many of those things and, likely, many more. Yet these questions pop up, and I have no answer. Has our communities fallen so far that the people we live beside will be nothing more than strangers? Perhaps, being young myself, the things adults older than me were taught simply…never reached my ears.

Again, I am reminded of paper. Many times I have been tempted to find a book or two on how to talk, interact, and work with people. I’m an awkward personal, and social interactions can be unnerving due to the fact I often don’t know how to act in many situtions. I tend to be quiet, simply opting to watch in favor of trying anything else.

Books are a lifeline for me. They keep me company. Books are made of paper.

Paper is made of countless, beautiful trees.

Trees are part of a forest.

Paper, it seems, can make me think of many things if I give myself time to work it out. In the vast landscapes of my mind, one singular word branches away to form many different roads leading to interesting places. Am I alone in this? No, I know I am not, but it is always nice to have someone else to speak with.


For My Readers

What are your thoughts on this matter? What does ‘paper’ say to you?

Do you agree with me? Or disagree, as the case may be?

Share your thoughts, and I will share mine.

 

Creation

The world we live in is one that is ever-changing, a tempest of vivid color and possibility. It is a world ruled by humans, though this does not mean we are in charge. And, no, I am not speaking about some divine being residing over the world with an omniscience eye.

On earth, humanity is not alone. We are not a singular existence. All that we are floods into all that is around us. The ‘cor’ of us, should we use medicinal terminology, centers around the power of creation. The ability to create, to invent, coupled with the capacity to learn and evolve, enables humanity to do anything we set our minds on.

We can build towering buildings that reach the skies. It was humans that found a means to fly and then to travel to the stars. Should one go to a historic site, or to an art gallery or to a concert, it is, once more, human creation we witness around us. Granted, there are natural creations all around is. One only needs to look out their front- or backdoor to see the wonder of the world for him- or herself.

Nature is truly miraculous. However, what does it mean to ‘create?’

To understand this, one must understand that creation stems from imagination. I would say many artists are asked where they get their ideas. I have often asked the very same question to my favorite books and movies. Never did I get an answer. Inanimate objects are not yet able to respond.

It wasn’t until I was much older that I found the answer. Thoughts and ideas, inspiration, can be found wherever we look. Even the most terrifying of forces can be a spark that ignites a blazing inferno. How many horrors do we see on the news? How many heartbreaking stories do we see when we walk down a street in a part of town that is essentially dead?

Think of witnessing a dam breaking. See the water surging forth, stones breaking as the force of the water is propelled out of cracks along a stone barricade. Hear the roar of a river unleashed, see the world below toppled under the water’s rage. Feel the earth rippling under your feet, trembling as the earth is trampled by water so fierce it might as well be thousands of pounds of unyielding concrete.

Somewhere else in the world, a wildfire eats through a forest. It is both beautiful and tragic, a world old and ancient gone in a span of hours. Hear the crackling of the flames, feel the heat on your skin. All that was is gone, nothing more than ash on the wind. On the same hand, the ashes give birth to new growth like a phoenix reborn from the remains of its death. Under a blanket of black char, something green starts to grow.

Two different sorts of natural disasters are quick to remind humanity that, while we may be at the top of the food chain, we are certainly not in control. The world we live in is not ours alone. This world of ours is a place we share with living creations and the rumbling undercurrents that forms the earth we stand upon. Alive and powerful.

Those disasters gave birth to a human invention that captivates and scares many: movies and books based around natural disasters. I’ve seen many of the first, too many to name. The Sci-Fi channel is renowned for its movies in this genre. How many shows has it aired that feature these sorts of issues? How many focuses on potential life-altering disasters such as super volcanoes, unexpected ice ages, global warming, and meteors falling from space? Too many to name, I would dare say. Certainly too many to count, nor would I ever be tempted to try.

Creation and humanity go hand-in-hand.

The human brain is naturally inclined to try and unravel puzzles far older than any can dare guess. In a world both beautiful and harsh, forgiving and not, it is the art of creation that gives human a light to starve back the darkness.