Ahh, whale bones. Piled on the side of a house. Mmm.
My mother and I are part of a local art community called Ravenstone Arts
. The lady who runs it, Jill, (great gal, laughs like a hyena and micromanages like one, too*) lives on a bit of property by a lake, which also happens to house a beautiful old dance hall. She turned the dance hall into the headquarters of Ravenstone. The property also contains two metal giraffes, old circus props, nuclear reactor parts, huge imported zen-garden-like rocks, and whale bones. Oh, those bones
Ravenstone does all sorts of fun things like workshops, artist parties, and community gatherings. One such gathering was the Heavy Metal Art Show, showing our art projects we made during the art party with the same theme. I was pretty jazzed to go, you know... art shows, very fun, might earn a buck.
However, I had no idea the party was going to be held... here.
The building looked like an old brothel. Most of it looked like it was lived in, but to the left it sprawled out into a mess of outdoor seating and patios with an outdoor bar to boot. And the parking lot was motorcycles. A SEA OF MOTORCYCLES.
So we walked in and started setting up our stuff. We brought the tables in and priced the art and were good to go, when... the art piece I brought to show broke. You might know him. Furlough? The mixed-media sculpture of a green bird/bat thing? Yeah, both his legs snapped. That basically set my mood for the rest of the night-- lousy. It was also too hot for the outfit I was in, so there was that, too. What I'm getting at is basically life sucks forever the end.
I lied! The night got better.
Jill set up a huge piece of canvas on the fence and deemed it artistic fair ground, so I went to town. Luckily, I had brought my chalk pastels and had a lot of pent up art rage to loose upon the hapless canvas.
Giant mutated wolves always cheer me up. This one is also mauling a fish! Bonus!
Despite the generally obnoxious biker talk and chatter fouling the air, I got over it because Thursday is taco night. So as I prepared my stomach for a feast fit for Mexican kings, I noticed there was a parrot on a stick in a Coors Light cooler behind the taco counter.
At first I thought, "Man that is a realistic cutout of an African grey and wow look how they positioned it on that stick so reali-- WHOAH IT'S REAL"
So then the guy (who had more piercings than teeth) came out and after he made us our tacos (like a good little redneck taco-slave should) he introduced us to the parrot, named Raven. He let me give her a taco shell after we had a riveting human-parrot conversation.**
I was THIS close to stealing her.
One of these days I would love to own a parrot. They are so smart and pretty and think of all the feathers they would drop that I'd get to keep! It's like a win-win-win, give or take a few wins, depending on if I can train it to chase small children. Someday...
But for now, I'm just going to go to the midnight premier of Cowboys and Aliens.
'After this we should go get tacos.'
* No offence meant. I love hyenas!
** "What'cha say, Rave?" "Say Rave!" "Good girl!"
The title was going to be 'ferrendipity' but I feel like the play on words would have been too obscure.
On a slow day while I was working at my pet store, a lady comes over to the ferret cage and enters the "aww aren't you cute gooshy gooshy goo" routine through the glass. I, looking for any excuse to hang out with ferrets, walked over and opened up the ferret cage for her. We get to chatting, and eventually I learned that she ran a ferret rescue center in the neighboring town. Cool!
She said that her shelter was officially certified and had close to one hundred ferrets that had been rescued
. COOL. She gave me one of her cards because I had said I'd be interested one day in getting a ferret. (This was about a month ago, I think.)
A week or so later, my mom and dad and I were downtown getting out of the movie theater. And then-- wait a second, was this pet-a-palooza street fair here before
?! Dogs were jumping into a giant pool after duck decoys, adoption and rescue groups had booths set up, the atmosphere was generally very fun and exciting. My family and I, being huge animal nerds, decide to have a look-see. As we go down the street, we pass a ferret adoption booth. And I recognize the woman sitting in it-- the same lady from my pet store
. I ran up and was probably a huge nerd, comparable to a supergeek meeting Stan Lee for the first time, and one thing led to another. I picked up a volunteer form and a "Have You Hugged Your Ferret Today?" sticker, and we went on our merry way.
Before I continue, I have to say that I am a huge believer in serendipity, happenstance, whatever you want to call it. If I see something, am reminded of something, or keep noticing certain things-- it is often an animal, a place, a person, etcetera-- I was meant to see it for some reason and should act on it. That is what brought about my random bout of white bats, and one day the image of parrots would not leave me alone*. The fact that I had met this same woman twice in the past month meant something. I decided then to volunteer at her shelter: Denise's Delightful Dookers
. I was drawn to her and her work and knew I was supposed to be a part of it. It felt right.
A while later at a friend's house, I got an email back from Denise. I was sitting among a book club to which I did not belong, awkwardly typing my response email on my new smartphone, making excited giggly noises under my breath**. I guess it doesn't make sense to a lot of people, especially ones my age, but doing household chores and pet maintenance in a small house filled with possibly 100+ small ADD animals seems like my kind of thing. I could be peeling 1,000 potatoes or spinning hay into gold, but as long as an animal is nearby, the work would be tolerable, if not fun. Animals are my therapy and my joy.
Annie and Liesel, ferrets at the shelter.
When I arrived at the shelter, my "interview" roughly translated to "here, clean some litter boxes". In the process of being put to work immediately, I learned a lot about the shelter and the individual ferrets. Most of them had come to the shelter because of a move (to an apartment, to college, to a no-ferret state), allergies, or financial reasons. The adoptable ferrets were kept in one room, while the permanent residents (sickly ferrets) were kept in another. Most of the permies had adrenal gland disease or emotional/behavioral problems from bad homes. They were all sweet. (Except for one, Sarah, the "White Girl of the Apocalypse". We won't get into that.)
When the other volunteer was pulling two ferrets out of a cage to clean it, she said, "And here's Owen and Haru..."
Something struck me. "What? Owen and Haru? And their previous owner's name was... Mike, right?"
"I bought their old cage. From Mike. He's my boyfriend's friend. Those were his ferrets."
It's times like those that I love the world-- and how connected it really is!
When we bought Zaphod, we drove to Seattle to buy Stark's friend's old cage. He mentioned offhandedly that his old ferrets were Owen and Haru, and he had to give them up because of financial reasons. They were aging and had some intense health problems. He said he'd found them a nice shelter and was sponsoring them. I never thought that a mere two weeks later I would be meeting those same ferrets.
Small world, man. Far out.
Needless to say, I plan to volunteer at the shelter often. At least two days a week. The work is satisfying, the people are great, and the ferrets are always awesome. It feels good to be using my spare time doing something else besides playing Portal and Minecraft and drawing kung-fu fish.
Ok, scratch that last one. Kung-fu fish are awesome.
Oh, and here's Jiggers in a bucket! Pow!
All photo credits (sans banner) go to Denise
* Can't I shop for antiques in peace without being followed by parrot trinkets?! Apparently not.
** They totally heard me.
SO many things have happened lately. But one event is much cooler than the rest.
1.) My boyfriend, Stark, is moving back into his house, since it is a heck of a lot cleaner now. Woohoo!
2.) We got a free Roomba, which I have named Reginald. He is a very nice Roomba. I enjoy putting Pokemon figurines on his back while he cleans.
3.) I finally have a ferret! That's right! No kiddin'!
Now if you know me at all, you know that I am animal-crazy. I work at a pet store, my pets gallery on my Facebook has the most pictures, if we get a new critter in at work I have to learn more about it, I paint animals at the zoo and end up teaching children why flamingos are pink, etcetera. When my friends have an animal question, they go to me. If someone needs a pet sitter, I got your back.
Needless to say, I love my pets. (Even the snails.) However, for the longest time, I have felt that something was missing in my extended animal family. I wanted a critter that I could take with me on little outings, something to cuddle with, something more playful than my aging dog (she's still game for cuddling, though). A ferret fit this bill perfectly. However, my dream of owning Mustela putorius furo was forever doomed to be thwarted by my parents and their adamant insistence that the ferret would definitely be killed by our dog, a terrier, who is very good at killing rats and mice.
But finally, the time was right. I knew that Saturday the 9th of July in 2011 would be the day I got a ferret. I knew this because at 4:30am, I couldn't sleep. I had woken due to overwhelmingly lovely dreams about ferrets. But when I was fully awake, the dreams became bittersweet. I could never have a ferret. Mother forbade it. I should just go ahead and quit trying. But still my mind carried on! By five I was still planning where I could fit a cage in my room. My tiny, animal-filled room.
At 6 am, I decided to just commit to waking up fully. My friends and I were going to the annual local street fair today, so I might as well get ready early. I tried to distract myself from the tantalizing little weasels, but to no avail.
At the fair, everything reminded me of ferrets. (Curses!) Little bowls? Those would be perfect for a food dish. A dog wearing a sweater? That reminds me of that photo of ferrets in sweaters!! AWW!
Best. Photo. Ever.
I made my ferret-brain-plague known to my friends, which included Stark. And since he had recently come upon a large sum of money, well, you can imagine what happened next.
I guess I could have picked a better photo of him, but I love it when he mauls Pikachu.
We came home with this little guy.
We bought him and all of his supplies at my work, so I could get the 20% discount (cha-ching). I originally looked at a little badger-striped one, but I remembered that he probably had Waardenburg's syndrome, a genetic defect that causes deafness. (I usually am completely attracted to owning defective or "broken" animals, but for my first ferret I decided to pick one that would be easier to train.) We also looked at a really dark sable boy with a black nose (!socute!) but he was an intense biter. We ended up going with one of the older ones from a previous shipment: a nice big ol' cinnamon. And man, I am glad we did.
We decided to call him Zaphod (ZAY-fod) after Zaphod Beeblebrox
from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
So far, after having Zaphod for close to a week, he's already come so far. His litterbox training is going well, he hardly bites (and when he does, it's a nip), and is learning that Stark and I are the "alpha ferrets". (We totally are.)
At first, the shock of it all didn't sink in. I was surprisingly calm, sitting there in the passenger side of Stark's truck, playing with the animal I had been longing to own for a whole year. And now, today, this moment, it still hasn't sunk in. I think ferrets were the pet I was meant to own. It's almost as if he's always been here. It seems... normal. But simultaneously the most exciting thing of my life.
Here I am, back from my vacation. Well, I guess it was technically a vacation, even though it was a lot of work and I think I'm more rested now than I was during the actual vacation. Maybe I should reevaluate my definition of vacation... That aside, I returned from Ocean Shores*, WA with flat, round, smooth rocks lining my pockets, purse, bags, and glove box. Whenever I see a nice skipping rock, I have to pick it up. I can't pass up a good skipping rock. (Or can I not skip a nice passing rock?) The beach is a perfect place to find excellent skipping rocks. Thank you, erosion! Mindless hours of combing and perfecting my walking-barefoot-on-sand technique**, I ended up with a too-heavy plastic bag of rocks. Oh boy a bag o' rocks!! I'd pay it's weight in gold for such a fine bag of rocks. Well, if I had gold to spend willy-nilly, anyway.
Back at the body of water that wasn't fussy with waves (the canal), I set to work. I rolled my pants up, took the stance (think: kung-fu), and set to launching those rocks across the surface of the water.
My mother bought me a book called "The Art of Rock Skipping" by Norene Sandifer. It has some wonderful things to say about rock skipping. This lady gets me.
"Propelled by one single motion, the stone skips and soars-- for a few seconds defying mass and gravity-- before it inevitably falls back to Earth."
Skipping rocks is for sure one of my favorite hobbies. Broken into percentages, rock skipping is: 40% Fun, 23% Meditative, 2% Showing Off to Your Friends, and 35% Bonding with Nature. First you have to seek out the perfect stones. A couple inches in diameter, flat, and smooth. Some claim that triangular rocks work just as well as smooth rocks but I am not a believer. Oval and circle rocks all the way, friends. After your pockets are so heavy with rocks that they're threatening to pull your pants off, you're all set to begin skipping. I can spend hours skipping. It is the best form of meditation. (I almost typed "medication", but then I realized how appropriate that also is.)
So there I was, standing in the canal, waters warm from the sun, my rolled-up jeans soaking, my feet wedged into perfect divots of mud, poised to strike. Or, you know, skip.
Pew pew pew! I always want to give rock skipping photos laser sound effects.
This one is my favorite because you can actually see the stone...
I'd also like to point out that it is very difficult to snap a photo of yourself skipping rocks with no timer or tripod. I wore the camera around my neck and had to trust that I had focused it a moment before to get a decent photo. It was quite fun, though!
*Also known as HEY TOURISTS COME HERE AND SPEND YOUR LIFE SAVINGS ON SALTWATER TAFFY AND KITES.
**You know how penguins walk? Kind of waddle-y, back-and-forth? Yeah.
On an unrelated note, here's a photo of Jomo in my closet.
And my Dr. McNinja poster.