Thursday, May 31, 2012

Work is work

I'm out walking the labyrinth on the church parking lot. On one of my circuits I notice a man pulling some kind of cart. It's piled high with fat, stuffed, black trash bags. He's walking through the park across the street. I'm wondering if this is a cart with all his earthly possessions. That's an awful lot of stuff to haul around the city all day, every day. I resume my labyrinth walk.

Eventually, the circuits of the labyrinth take me back to where I can see the man in the park again. He's sorting through things in the bag. It's not recycling pick-up day, when the gleaners come out early in the morning and pick out all the recyclables for which they can get money in return.

Another circuit. Yes, it is an enormous pile of recyclables. He's sorting them - plastic from glass, the only recyclables worth picking. He had to have been up and out working very early to accumulate that pile of plastic and glass bottles.

On another circuit I can see him, bent over the pile, like photos I've seen of people in the fields picking cotton. He looks just like that, bent over, sorting, picking, separating. I've gardened in that bent over position. It's really hard on the back and knees.

Work is work. He's been up early to go to work, picking, collecting, and now sorting. For how much, I wonder? I think I'll have to take some things to the recycling center at Stop and Shop where you can bring your sorted plastic and glass bottles and get money back. You're only allowed one bag of recycling per trip. That's the closest center I know, and it's quite a walk from the park across from the church. I want to know, roughly, how much he gets per bag, for all the walking he has to do around the city to gather that much recycling, sort it out, and then walk with his precious treasure up to Stop and Shop to cash it in.

Lazy? Maybe it's because you only see men like this one during the rest of the day, when they have already put in a days work trying to make some living from the stuff you and I throw away.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Spring in the City Wilderness

Once, long ago, we lived in the woods, in a house we were building ourselves. We were surrounded on two sides by an Amish farm, and on the third side by a single resident on a country road. There was one house across the street from us.

Wildlife was everywhere. Sometimes, I would wake up and look out at the lawn that was between the house and the woods, and there would be a fox, sleeping on a mossy hummock. We had the occasional black rat snake in the house (ick). There were three ponds. Every year some wood ducks would hang out at the ponds deciding whether or not to nest. We put up a wood duck nesting box, but wrens took it over - yes, tiny wrens, who filled up that box with twigs until it was at the right level!

When I first moved to Norwalk I missed those woods and the wildlife. We lived in a residential neighborhood where the only wildlife was birds (thank God for them!) and domestic animals.

When we moved closer to the church, in the center of town (although I have to say, it's not like any town center I've ever seen), I assumed it would be the same. Since then, we are regularly visited by skunks, possums and raccoons, as well as hawks perching in the trees in the rectory yard and on the church steeple.

Yesterday morning I took the dog, Miss Xena, Warrior Labrador-Mix Princess of all Norwalk, for her walk on the bike path a block from the house. It was six a.m. exactly. As we proceeded on the path, I saw, up ahead, two deer, on the path. Now, on one side of the path is a high, chain link fence, with a nearly perpendicular hill of trees and greenery up the short distance to the level of the route 7 connector. On the other side of the path are houses and yards. Behind us, across the street, is a small park, but certainly none of this was habitat for deer.

Where did they come from? I don't know. And they had no idea what to do about me and my dog. I turned Xena around and we went back to the beginning of the path, on the fence side, leaving the deer options for escape, because they were not going to be able to leap that fence, given the terrain. But that left them only escape through city-type back yards. One of them came our way, on the opposite side of the path, and, veering through the last yard, and between two houses, it ran across the street and took refuge in the open park. The other ran the other way and disappeared down a side street that is perpendicular to the path.

Where did they go from there? I have no idea. My first thought was will one or the other of them get hit by a car? Fortunately, none of that happened, at least not in my neighborhood. They were young - not fawns, but probably yearlings - long, leggy legs, the rest of their bodies not having caught up with their growth spurt.

Red Tail Hawks seem to have adapted to being urban hawks. Other wildlife - including coyotes - can be found in our city here and there. We destroy habitat in order to make it fit our desires. And still, the wildlife returns and tries to make peace with that - a peace we choose not to make with the wild life. We see them as pests and dangerous. Who do they think we are?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Life (Part 2)

Well, now I understand.
I understand why I am having trouble retrieving words I know like the back of my hand.
I've just been watching an episode of Life (Part 2) on public broadcasting.
It's the fault of the digital age.
First, I am being referred to as a digital immigrant - someone who was later in life when the digital age came to be. I'm not ashamed of that. I proudly refer to myself as an analogue girl in a digital world.
Second, the generations that followed me are called digital natives. Suddenly, I have become a second class citizen. As if being a woman weren't second class enough in a still tenacious patriarchal culture.
Third, it is changing our brains, both native and immigrant digitals, that information and connection is constant and instantaneous.
Even when we walk away from our digital connections - take a day off from email, try not to fret about not posting a blog post for over a week, turn off the iPhone - our brain is waiting, anxiously, and in the process of stressing out, it produces cortisol which -
 - yes, we know, leads to obesity, but what you may not have known, is it - shrinks the memory centers of the brain!
Well, I'll be unplugged for the next three days. I can guarantee, I won't be able to totally not know what's going on. But I'll turn my phone, not to vibrate, but to "off" for most of the day except to check in with mi esposo in the morning and at night.
And now, a real live creature, my dog, wants my attention. At least I can make eye contact with her.

For a Mothers' Day Grouch

I received this email from my doggy, Xena, Warrior Lab Mix Breed Princess of all Norwalk, this morning:

Dear Mom:

Thank you for everything you do for me; food, walks, pets, and a safe place to live. 

I try to be good all the time but sometimes I can't help myself — and MP says that's OK.

I Love you,


What I want to know is, how did Xena know MP? Oh, I forgot, she corresponds with MP's doggies!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Where the Wild Things Are

Maurice Sendak lived near here in Connecticut. His death was in my morning paper.

Rest in peace, Maurice.
May Light Perpetual shine upon you.
May your soul, and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

No ease for the wicked

Well, my car died last night. Good thing it started when I left where I was last night. But after that, while in the driveway, it would not start. Not even make that rrr rrr rrr sound a car makes when the battery is dying or dead. And the panel, which is supposed to give me a coded message to tell me what's wrong, is not working either.

So, the tow guy is here to take it to Danbury to the Chevy dealer who took over the Saturn warranties and service when Saturn was discontinued.

My poor Saturn Astra. If you want to see one in action, watch Top Gear (the real one, the British version, because the U.S. American version is rubbish) and listen for references to the Vauxhall Astra - same car. A nice little vehicle. Quick. Reliable on the road. Nimble. Please, God, heal my car!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Wilderness in the City continues

Well, actually, it's a report from Watkins Glen, New York. Mi esposo reports that yesterday he had Painted Lady butterflies practically thick on the ground.
Yesterday, also, in the rectory back yard the Painted Ladies were joined by fritillaries. And evidence of skunk early in the evening, around 8:30 or 9.
Today is drismal, and no one except the corvids and icterids are about.  (Now those two, and the fritillaries you must look up for yourself. Take charge of your own learning!)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Yesterday I was enjoying the brilliant, late afternoon sun in the back yard of the rectory when a Painted Lady butterfly crossed my field of vision. As I watched it land, I noticed there was another. After about ten minutes I realized the yard was flittering with several Painted Ladies, all apparently mating. I wonder if they came out of their cocoons in the yard, or somewhere else nearby. It was a delight and I had a hard time returning to reading my Kathy Reichs mystery, Monday Mourning.

Early this morning, about 5:15, just in between dark and the beginning of first pre-dawn light, Xena and I were in the back yard for her first morning constitutional. She was more interested in exploring, focusing on the chainlink fence on the parking lot side of the yard.

Suddenly, she ran, hell-bent for leather, from the far back corner to the gate near the parking lot, barking. I joined her at the gate to try and see what had roused her.

There was, on the lot, a hunched figure. It was standing perfectly still. Yesterday, Sunday morning, as we went out for our 6 a.m. walk, Xena had alerted me to something not right near the church office entrance, but she would not go any nearer the entrance. When, after the walk, I returned to check out what was amiss, I found a raccoon, trapped in the long, large, deep basement window well under the office windows. A wild animal removal company took it away later that morning. But I was wondering, had the raccoon come back?

However, even though it was just barely light, I could not make the shape I saw coincide with that of a raccoon. Suddenly, it took off. It was clearly a cat, but almost twice the size of any cat I've ever seen. It was no coon. It streaked from the lot along the back fence and, as it disappeared in the blind spot in the back corner opposite the lot, it reappeared in the back yard of the dentist building next door.

I remember last year reports of a bobcat in the area, near the bike path, about a block from our house. When it was full light, I went along the outside of the back fence, to the place where it joins the railing at the back of the dentist building. There was a clear, large cat paw print. If it was a household cat, it was really big!

So, raccoons, the occasional skunk, possums, a probable bobcat, and a hatch of butterflies. Who knew that living in the city could be so - wild!