Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mr. Bat Is Free (with 1 min. video at the end)

Mr. Bat, who has probably endured the most horrendous five days of his life, is FREE!

His sad adventure began on Tuesday night in the kitchen light fixture pictured in the third paragraph. This is the
only picture on this post that is not in full power. The fourth picture, in which the bat is hissing, is especially worth clicking on to view it in full power.

I was on the family room couch going through accumulated mail on Tuesday night when I heard a rattling sound. At first I feared that a serial killer might have sneaked in, then decided that this was unlikely and went into the kitchen to investigate. I was pretty sure that the refrigerator was malfunctioning. I'd had a part replaced earlier in the week by the second repairman sent out by a local appliance store. The first repairman had a meltdown on his second visit when I told him that he'd broken the water filter when diagnosing the original problem. He left in a huff, replacement part in hand.

I opened the refrigerator doors, saw nothing amiss, moved the refrigerator away from the wall, checked behind it and pushed it back against the wall. The rattling stopped. I'd fixed the problem. Or not. The rattling began again within seconds of my return to the family room couch. I regarded the refrigerator with disgust and opened the doors again, then realized that the sound was coming from above, from the fixture housing the fluorescent lights it seemed. I turned on the lights and saw a blob with what looked like four little feet.

At this point and for the next twenty minutes or so, I vacillated between wanting to kill and wanting to save my unwanted guest. It was in my humane mode that I used a broom handle to move aside one of the panels. When I did this, I discovered the my guest had wings. He made his way to the opening and I freaked out. I became the typical eeeek woman who screams upon seeing a mouse.

I've been at close quarters with bats before. A number of years ago, Rachael and I took a class sponsored by our local junior collage and taught by two of its professors, in Costa Rica. One night we joined local naturalists as they discussed and displayed members of a bat population that they were studying. I had held two of the bats after learning how to properly do so. I thought they were highly cool.

This was different. The thought of a bat flying free in the close quarters of my kitchen/family room area terrified me. I tried to return the panel to its original position. In the process of doing this, another panel shifted out of position. At no point was I able to get all three panels back to where they belonged. The inevitable happened and a bit of bat wing slipped between a crack. I called 911, told the operator why I was calling, was put on hold, and was in full screech mode when the operator returned. By this time the bat had flown over the kitchen island and was circling the family room. The 911 operator calmly told me to go into a room where I could close the door. I feared for Mousie, my orange cat, but followed her instructions. She told me that Animal Control would be calling shortly.

Waiting for Animal Control to call, I got braver. Closing the bedroom door behind me, I slowly made my way to the family room, prepared for a quick retreat if I saw the bat. I did not. When Andrew from Animal Control called, I agreed that it would be okay to wait until the next morning for him to come. He'd been on-call and was asleep when 911 called him; my place was about a half hour away from where he lived. I returned to the bedroom leaving the door slightly ajar so that Daisy, my black cat, could come in the room. By the time that Andrew called on Wednesday morning, the bat seemed to have disappeared.

All day long, there was no sign of the bat. In the evening, when I had friends for dinner, there was no sign of the bat. When I was brushing my teeth, no bat appeared. It wasn't until I was laying in bed that I noticed that Daisy was in a state of hyper-alertness. I followed her gaze, saw movement in the drapes and then THE BAT swooping across the bedroom. I hid under the covers, peeked out, and saw the fearsome flight of the bat. This happened one or two more times and then the bat seemed to have disappeared. I grabbed my pillow, closed the bedroom door, and slept upstairs.

The next morning, by this time braver, I opened the downstairs bedroom door and gingerly searched for "Mr. Bat." My giving the bat this title was an early sign of the delicate bond that I began to feel with the poor creature, though I have no idea as to whether Ms. might have been more appropriate. I kept the bedroom door closed throughout the day and also on Thursday night, when I again slept upstairs. I also left out some water and food for him: apple chunks, raisins, almonds, and cheese. Besides not wanting him to starve, I figured that I'd know if he was there if he went for the food.

Friday morning arrived and with it, no sign of Mr. Bat. Andrew, on whose answering machine I had left a message on Thursday, returned my call and said that he'd stop by to look for the bat. After a futile search, we had the following conversation:

"I was thinking of using a sheet to trap him if I find him," I said, "and then, I guess, I'd let him go free."

"You don't want to do that," said Andrew. "You should call us."

"What would you do?"

"We'd test it for rabies."

"And then what? Would you kill him?"

"Yes," said Andrew and then reiterated the importance of my calling Animal Control.

I had made plans
for this week-end to attend a regional gathering in Sacramento of a group to which I belong. I left shortly after Andrew was gone, closing the bedroom door and fully expecting to come home to a decomposing bat corpse on Sunday if Mr. Bat had not found a way to escape. Since my bedroom was free from the odor of death upon my return earlier this afternoon, I assumed that Mr. Bat had found his own solution.

Until I noticed a dead bat lying on the living room carpet. That I'd been so oblivious as to not notice it when I'd gotten home shocked me. I felt a heavy sadness that Mr. Bat had died after all. I got a couple of plastic gelato spoons from the kitchen and used them to try to move him. He seemed to quiver. He was alive! Eventually, I was able to put him in a box which I took outside and opened. Mr. Bat slowly moved his head and then seemed to be actively sniffing the air. His ears perked up as he heard the birds. He raised himself up. He moved from one area of the box to another. At some point, I was able to shake him from the box. He remained where he landed for a while, sniffing and listening to the birds. Then he craned his neck, lept into the air, landed on the ground and then flew, first in a couple of circles and then high above the house and away to where my gaze could no longer follow him.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

At This Moment

On the one hand:

I am no longer
The most important person
In the life
Of he who was

Without agenda
I am free
Out of context

On the other:

There is an open space
Where I wait
Learning the lessons of patience
Letting relationships evolve

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Presence of Random Strangers

I've just had the surreal experience of being the only person in a movie theater. Instead of being caught up in the on-screen action, I was keenly aware of my role as a spectator. The sound quality was the worst part; it was as if it and the visual effects of the film were separate entities. I almost walked out on the film and later was glad that it was "Up In The Air,"the dreary story of a guy who goes around firing people, rather than "Hurt Locker" or "Crazy Heart" that I was seeing this way.

As I left the theater, I felt weighed down by a sense that my experience was a metaphor for life's meaning (or meaninglessness) or the nature of reality. This feeling continued as I entered the parking garage where earlier I'd managed to find a well lighted place close to the entrance. Unexpectedly, the woman who was tonight's attendant greeted me as I entered the garage and stood by as I put in a couple of dollars in the payment machine. Her presence where I'd expected to be alone was a pleasant contrast to the emptiness of the theater.

I hadn't realized before this how much the mere presence of random strangers comforts me as I make my way in the world.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Morning With The Tax Man

The dream is a fairly typical one. It's the day of the final exam. You haven't read the book. You haven't been coming to class. You're totally unprepared. "That," I told Al, my accountant, "is how I feel today." I laid 5 or 6 files of loosely organized papers on his desk and waited for him to take charge.

It's been hard for me to wrap my mind around a year's worth of Matt's record keeping. By the time we went to see Al in years past, Matt was able to give him, in a highly organized way, all the information necessary to prepare our taxes. I spent the five days prior to this morning's appointment trying to replicate what Matt did. Mostly I procrastinated, was enormously distracted, and felt mind numbing fatigue which I tried alleviate with handfuls of cold cereal and other carbs. Ultimately, I accepted my limitations and hoped that Al would do so as well. Next year, it will be different I assured him. I'll have my own system. I'll continue with some of the things Matt has been doing, but will streamline it in a way that is more comfortable for me.

These annual meeting that Matt and I had with Al have always been 30% tax prep and 70% chat as old friends. For us today, the percentages were similar. Al was very patient with me during the first part of our time together as he sorted through the papers that I gave him. Only once did he say, "Matt would have had this on a chart for me." And then we chatted. I was surprised how freely our conversation flowed, how much I enjoyed it, and how much I learned about this 79 year old man that I didn't know before today.

People are really quite fascinating once you hear their stories. Mostly, we're busy bobbing around in our own lives, passing others by as passers-by and seeing people in their relationship to ourselves. Sometimes, though, we get to listen to their stories and hear the music of their lives. We hear something new, something unexpected, and it changes us, even if only a little.

Monday, March 8, 2010

OMG! It's Harrod Blank!

I saw a film about Harrod Blank at a documentary film fest yesterday. It was the only film that I saw there. I was drawn to it by a promo that said that Harrod Blank was a Big Name in the art car world. Also that he was a pretty eccentric guy. Check out the link above.

I first learned about art cars in 2001, the first time that I went to Burning Man. Art cars there are frequently also mobile bars and party places. Some are jaw-dropping amazing. There will be an Art Car Fest in the bay area from Sept. 25 - 27. I plan to attend on at least one of these days.

I came away from the film thinking that I'd like to jazz up my Prius a bit, maybe paint some flowers or birds on it, maybe add some shiny things as well. I'm just not willing to trade anonymity for flamboyance on a permanent basis. For now, I'll keep playing with glass and saving jar lids for some future creative use. And the door beads that I got at Goodwill last week, they're going to go on a wall in the pink room.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I Have Wings. I Can Fly.

Another trip to the Goodwill's store of last resort (before the stuff gets sent to the dump) and I emerged with a glorious treasure, the butterfly wings to the left. At $3, they were pricey - considering that ALL the other things that I bought, pictured at the bottom in the only clickable picture on this post, came to $7. This is not the first time that I have purchased butterfly wings. The ones that Big George has been wearing since his first trip to the playa in 2003 are pretty well trashed. So, for that matter, is Big George (though he will hopefully be Burning Man bound in 2011.) As to the multi-mega-mighty awesome wings that I got today, I'm looking forward to sporting them at some of the music festivals that I'll be attending this summer.