Up, Up and Away

Appearance - Cooper's Hawk - Accipiter cooperii - Birds of the World
Cooper’s Hawk, Birds of the World.

This week on Days of Squirrel Lives… things got a little tense. Horus, son of Harriet, has come of age. He dropped through the yard, on awkward wing, and made a play for Selma, daughter of Squirrleen, sister of Septimus, Sirius, Squirt, and Sandy. Selma ducked with a “What the what?” look on her face then went on eating. Horus landed on a pepper tree branch so badly he nearly fell off.

Cooper’s Hawks mainly eat small birds. I felt the need to remind of him that by walking out there and giving him the stink eye till he got the message and flew off. Granted I’d be upset about the small birds too, but far less so. Unless he nicked a lark sparrow. A few of them have decided to stay on apparently. Horus was punching above his adolescent weight trying for a small squirrel. He likely would have been hurt. Selma is one tough little cookie.

The next day, I looked out to see Horus flapping awkwardly in a tangle of branches, possibly with something in his talons, but I couldn’t see for the fence covering his lower body. Corwin, son of Corva, was there less than a foot away shrieking at him. The crows guard the yard from the hawks and coyotes, and have a symbiotic relationship with the squirrels (a portion of whose food they eat in return for protection services – it’s very mobbed up). Brothers Corrigan and Cormac then flew in and the 3 of them harried Horus away.

Amazon.com: Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy Movie Poster Don't Panic 24x36:  Prints: Posters & Prints
HG2G, all the Fun facts.

The yard was very quite and small bird and squirrel free that day. I later saw Corwin at the bird bath, soaking and then swallowing a leg of something. I was worried it was a squirrel. But the following day, a quick head count suggested not a squirrel. I’m guessing maybe one of the 40 mice. The mouse removal is up to 42. It went quite for days after that. I thought maybe the HG2G was right, 42 was the ultimate answer. But yesterday I heard 43 scrambling about in the garage, so the mouse hunt continues.

In vaccine news, my Da got his second Pfizer shot. 16 hrs later he started to have symptoms. The headache, eye pain, and nausea lasted the longest. He was still having those 48 hrs after the shot. I’m hoping his strong immune response bodes well for him on the protection scale. Mutti, interestingly enough, had no reaction to her first shot till this week. On day 8, she developed itchiness at the injection site. On day 9 she woke up with a large red crescent shape rash around part of the injection site. It was gone by Day 10.

In vaccine news of the north, the SO told me he looked into it and I have to still do the covid tests and 14 day quarantine, even if I’m fully vaxed when I go home. I’m fine with that. His parents get their second AZ dose in 3 or 4 months. So I guess that’s good. They can go back to Netherlands fully vaxed in the Fall, which makes their flight less scary. The SO can register to get notified for an appointment on Monday. Yippee. He’ll be getting Pfizer or Moderna, because in BC, AZ is for 55+ age groups only.

Bhutan what tourists need to know: Six Senses luxury hotel | escape.com.au
Definitely an “on the button” destination.

In BC, they have a system where you register once your age eligible, then you get notified by text, email or phone call that you can make an appointment, then you make an appointment. I think it’s a good system. But it does overlook people who are homeless or don’t have tech access, or phone access. The same sort of problems we ran into in California really. You have to at some point take the vax to the people if you want to reach everyone.

By the way kudos to Bhutan! 93% of adults vaxed in 2 weeks! Amazing. And by the way, they used AZ vaccine (called Covishield, made in India) for everyone. I really think the US should just release all its AZ stock to the nations that want it. Biden already said the US has enough Pfizer and Moderna to take care of everyone. Why horde AZ? Or J&J. If the US doesn’t want to use them, send them to places that do. It’s literally crazy not to do so. It’s in the US’s interest to get the world vaxed as fast as possible.

La Mere pointed out to me this week that they actually make part of the J&J vax in the Netherlands. Since AZ and J&J, which are the same kind of vaccines, I think there was some national pride involved in her and Le Pape getting the AZ vax. It was their way of saying “Hey, our country makes a safe, quality product and I’m taking it just to prove it.” I of course agreed. They are both safe, quality products. Nevertheless, I explained I was limited to getting Pfizer or Moderna now.

Detail from View of Delft by Johannes Vermeer
Vermeer’s View of Delft. Dated per a Texas astronomer.

This week on Weds, one of Gran’s “young” friends (she’s 78), called in a panic. Her caregiver had a family emergency. Gloria was due to have Joan take her to get her vax shot but now had no one to take her. Gloria was among the vax hesitant. But the “older” ladies of her Mahjong circle said they were restarting their game, in person, and if she wasn’t fully vaxed, like they all were, she couldn’t come back. They’d replace her till she could get vaxed. Yikes!

Thus motivated, Gloria had signed up. She asked Gran if she could borrow me, and Gran’s wheelchair. Gloria broke her tibia last month and was on a walker. It was difficult getting around. So off I went that afternoon to madame whisk her to the pharmacy. When we got there, turned out Gloria was the last appointment of the day. The store was deserted. The pharmacist looked at me and said “We have Pfizer vaccine leftover. You want a Pfizer shot?” I said “You bet.” Thus it was, one day ahead of being eligible to sign up, I got a shot! And then she booked me to get a 2nd. So, thanks Gloria!

I video called the SO, and said “Guess what?” He looked concerned. I don’t generally video call him during business hours because I know he’s working. I quick showed him my band-aided shoulder. At which point, he McConaugheyd me. There was a long pause, he leaned back a little, and drawled, “Well, alright, alright, alright.” That’s his way of not flipping out like a 3-year-old on a sugar high and looking “un-cool.” Of course when his Texas drawl is more Delft than Dallas, I can tell his excitement level is super high. He went straight to the fridge and pulled out a champagne bottle.

It was good day.

Chaos at the Heart of Orion | NASA
Chaos at the Heart of Orion. NASA photo.

Alright, last week I was on about how keeping one’s eyes on the big pillars of your government (like, equality) make it easier to sort out lesser issues (like, health care). If you didn’t get that from last week, sorry. This week I was thinking of that same thing but on the personal level (as well as about the BOSS Great Wall, but that’s for another day). The secret to keeping your personal head stable (while others are losing theirs) is the same: focus on your topline values. Who you are at the core of your being.

One of Gran’s neighbors said to me this week, “Oh, we’re finally getting to stuff we put off because of ….” It was “I’ll deal with it after the crisis” thinking. And there’s definitely a place for that in life. Someone gets sick, you have to exist in that “will they, won’t they” period. But a natural world crisis is a short-term thing. You’re a zebra. You see a lion. So, you run. You can’t run forever. You’ll die of exhaustion, or starvation. It’s not how you were designed.

Humans have turned crisis into a day-in day-out multi-decade endless state. Politics, business, many religions. It’s just crisis mode all the time. And while some crises exist in the world, there’s a world of influencers telling people the wrong clothes, or hair, or car, or job, or whatever is a crisis. People stop thinking – for themselves. People forget who they, as individuals, are and what they, as individuals, need or want. This is dangerous. This is substituting surrender to external “fate” (what turns up in your feed) which kills motivation for self-directed autonomous thought and action that moves you along your path.

Viggo Mortensen's Advice to Young Aragorn Actor | IndieWire
You may see a peasant. Aragorn knows different.

Ultimately, you need to be who you truly are. You can’t be anyone else. It’s not that people can’t change, grow, become. People have a child. They become who they are – as a parent. But they are their own version of a parent. They stay true to themselves. They find their way. And I don’t say that lightly or that it’s easy. It’s just, life isn’t always easy to begin with. Why make it even harder? If you lose yourself, you lose your way. Strider wandered, but he was never lost. Because he knew who he was.

A lot of people right now feel lost. But I think it’s a case know thyself, and returning to who you are to get going again. Recognizing that life isn’t supposed to be continually putting out fires, is a good first step. Now and then lives get burned, sometimes to the ground. But you can recover. On the other hand, sometimes there are fire starters in our lives. They keep burning us down. They live on your attention, that’s their oxygen. Just walk away. Who cares what they think. What’s important to you?

This week I spent some time revisiting Man’s Search for Meaning. It actually has a lot of interesting thing to say about dealing well with long-term uncertainty. What I came away with was something I already knew really, while I can’t control everything around me, I can still control me. And this is always true. Daunting though it seems, you can always be you. You can rise to any moment, by simply holding true to who you are, to what you value. You being you can give you a surprisingly high tolerance for external chaos. And it can help you unlock a lot of your hidden potential to meet those challenges that fate may bring your way as you walk your path in life.

I think Mel Weitsman, a Zen teacher, had some good advice as well,

From this small corner of the circular world, let us set an example for those around us. Please remember to make the best of this present situation and don’t get caught wondering when it will be over. The characteristic of our practice is to find our uprightness in our present topsy-turvy situation, moment by moment. If you find your balance in this moment, you can find it in the next. As Adam said to Buddha, “Here am I.”

Sojun Roshi, of the SF Zen Center. (italics added by me)

No one can find your uprightness for you. No one can find your balance for you. It’s in you. You alone can find it. You can find it in this moment. You can find it in the next. You decide the level of importance you give things or people or whatever in your life. You decide if you want to live your life for your reasons, or fake live someone else’s life for their reasons. Mentally detoxing other’s thoughts, beliefs, politics, concerns, woes, goals, etc might be a helpful first step in rediscovering who you are.

Most people have a clue who they are, deep down. What they think, deep down. What path they want to take. They might be afraid to be or express or follow who they are. But it’s actually the easier path, the more productive and satisfying one. We waste a lot of time, energy, and resources trying to be people were aren’t. It’s draining. And in the end, it’s unhelpful. As much as you need to be the real you, the world needs you to be real you more. You’re unique. You have something unique to contribute. Pick that wonderful self up, dust that set-on-the-shelf self off, and start being you all over again.

This Friday morning SO’s love song was decidedly upbeat. Of his many worries, my wandering about in California’s covid hotspots has been the worst. I understand. It’s a terrible uncertainty he chose to live with, for my sake. Now I’ve been vaxed, he feels relieved. I feel just the same. I don’t think the chaos or uncertainty bothered me as much. Death in Tehran thinking? Maybe.

Well, whatever. Hot air ballooning is now definitely on my list of things to do this summer. Binos will be polished. Champers will be chilled. Not sure I can fondue using balloon burners, but…. I’ll figure it out, once I’m up there. Nothing is more thrilling than living, loving or learning on the fly.

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