Last night we were in the darkened atrium watching The Rings of Power on Amazon Prime when suddenly, right in the middle of a very tense scene surrounded by orcs, there was a big thud followed by thumping up on the roof...
We were startled, turned on some outside lights, and went up to the loft to close the ventilation windows. In the loft I could hear whatever it was cross from the east side all the way across to the west side as I was closing windows right below it...
Still have no idea what it was. Our roof is a high-ceilinged 2-stories without external access except to flying creatures. There are no squirrels or raccoons here. There are monkeys in nearby mountains but I've never seen any in our little valley and the nearest tree is much too far a leap. Don't know what kind of bird it could have been thumping around on an open roof in the middle of the night, but that's the most probable answer so far. The preferred answer would be a flying squirrel gliding down from the surrounding cedar trees. They do exist but they are rare and I've never seen one. I would love to add flying squirrels to the menagerie that we have somehow organically developed here over the past few years--
Let it be a flying squirrel. Please not goblins. nor monkeys.
Fluffy Flying Squirrels would be delightful. (I think)
Climbed through the ventilation windows onto the roof this afternoon to investigate during the daylight... I'm not Aragorn, but I'm pretty observant and I found nothing of interest to report. So we are left with a mystery to be solved another time...
Last week's mysterious rooftop visitor returned to thump about again, this time with more urgency or desperation or mania... but this time I was ready for action. I turned off all the lights and pointed my big flashlight through the loft ventilation windows to catch a passing glimpse of the long tail and cute face of a masked palm civet. A bit rare in this region and totally nocturnal, they look kinda like a raccoon-ferret-skunk hybrid. Not a flying squirrel as hoped, not some large bird as expected, but also not a monkey, goblin, or orc...
A NEW CHAPTER:
Well, it's been about half a year, and the situation has evolved. It turned out that our initial visitor was a masked civet jumping onto the roof from the nearby overgrown jungle trees. Civets are cute, but very destructive to houses, and this one started scratching the roof maniacally trying to get in and live in our loft. After several midnight visitations, I trimmed back the overgrown branches beyond its jumping range. No more thumping in the night, and the surrounding forest had a healthier layering to the foliage.
A little later, we were visited by a badger who took shelter from a morning rainstorm UNDER the house. Also quite cute, and also potentially destructive to the foundation, so after he woke up in the evening, we discouraged his returning by asking Alexa to play sounds of barking dogs and howling wolves... which honestly felt a little silly.
Finally, six months later in the spring, a midnight thumping and skittering on the roof signaled a new arrival from the tall surrounding cedar trees.
And guess who?
Yes, at last, a Japanese giant flying squirrel. Yay!
Looks like someone is living in our woodpile... This morning I uncovered the woodpile to dry out after the typhoon because we'll be needing it next month, and found this Aodaisho "Blue General" snake sleeping in there. From the sheddings in, on, and around the woodpile, it seems he has been making this his home for a while, and probably he's the baby snake I used to find curled up on the back deck last spring. We'll have to be a little careful of him while getting wood this autumn, but this is actually a good situation because Aodaisho are not poisonous and they keep away the highly dangerous Mamushi Vipers.
Living this close with nature is always an adventure and a cooperative effort--
Survived a major typhoon last night with no damage. Very thankful!
Today I got stung on the knee by an Asian Giant Hornet while clearing downed bamboo and branches from the driveways... Ouch! She must have been agitated by the intense storming, because even though they're known as Murder Hornets in the US, my interactions with them here are usually pretty calm and uneventful. I felt light-headed with elevated heart rate and was a little concerned about being alone in such an isolated place, so a very kind neighbor drove me to the nearest hospital to wait out any adverse reactions...
Well, now I'm sitting in the lobby waiting for my wife to pick me up from having spent the typhoon helping at her family home. Thankfully the only adverse reaction is pain... it's considerable. it's bearable. and it's definitely nothing like the time my foot was run over by a forklift...
I'll still have to hobble around and clear a few more big bamboo branches before we can drive up and park the car, but with a little reiki and a lot of gratitude for what didn't go for the worse, I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep safe and sound--
what Craiyon AI thinks a mad murder hornet looks like... yeah, pretty close...
This spring my father peacefully left this world for greener mountains and brighter adventures on the way to his heaven. He wasn't much of a talker and rather preferred to experience this world through his hands and his tools. Well, I turned out to be quite the talker, but to my father I owe a keen sense of observation of the world and its nature without which I could not be the sensitive poet, artist, philosopher, and teacher that I am today. So today, a poem dedicated to exactly that... Thank you.
A love of landscape
of smooth deserts
of broken mountains
and lakes like flattened wads of tinfoil
some with water
but no oceans
A sense of adventure
taking turns fast
not so fast
but slow winding treks
to abandoned mines
on two wheels
churning in the mud
irrigating the sage with desert
in a boat
churning a hard channel
to ski in
and mapping edges
the top of Angel’s landing
the end of Whittier narrows
miles between the cliffs
into the rutted crater
of an ancient volcano
in dark limestone caverns
mostly shallow and dirty
and pissed in
running out of gas
always imminent flash floods
one possible lava eruption
But no sea-faring
An eye for scavenging
in red-brown desert dumpsites from the 50’s
bits of old, dulled glass sun-colored blue
and rusted tin cans in the shape of log cabins
in mineshafts and leveled grey cabins from the 1850’s
rags of stiff yellow newsprint
shell casings, square head nails, and railroad spikes
caves and sandstone cliffs
for mineral rosettes, veins of gold, arrowheads,
lakes and piers
dredging with five-pound magnets
And old TV’s, VCR’s, stereos, and cars
for bits of colored wire,
good transistors, diodes,
and condensers to make shocker grenades
A taste for wild game
rabbit shot with a revolver from a moving camper
and wild boar never found
bass, trout, catfish
And how to gut it, skin it, and preserve it
Fascination with artifacts
circuit boards, copper wire, silver solder
housed in metal and wood
transmissions, brake systems, pulleys
caked in dry, sticky dirt
cast and machined
engines and their parts
guns and their keys, pins, and stops
bearings—balls, rollers, and their cages
all wrapped in fine oil
And how to dismantle them
and fit them
A green army belt
A nickel plated .357
A combat medic dress coat
complete with shoulder braid
I am particularly fond of that shoulder braid
The smell of sage
The smell of leather
and light machine oil
Cool dank castles of large appliance boxes
that could be broken down into tank treads
to roll away in
down-hill, when too confining
It's the winter holidays and it has been cold of late, often dropping just below freezing overnight. Though the mornings start quite 'brisk', the passive solar well of light that is the heart of Sant-o-menel slowly collects the warmth of the sun's lovely rays throughout the day. And by 3pm, while it is only 12C (54F) outside, I am here on the couch 'glistening' in a pink t-shirt and loving it. It will eventually start cooling down as the sun sets around 5pm, and I will close the curtain at the top of the well to hold in the heat for the evening. Gradually we will layer up again into the usual winter-wear but hold off lighting a fire in the woodstove until we need its cheery warmth after dinner around 9pm.
I hope we can all take inspiration from collaboration with nature's abundance in our lives--