This summer began in smoke and fury as two big wild fires raged nearby. The Pawnee fire was burning in the north. And a couple of days later the County fire erupted in the south east. It raged through 90,288 acres of beautiful wilderness east of the shores of Lake Berryessa.
While the Pawnee fire burned 15,185 acres and 22 structures were destroyed, I was not close enough to think of evacuating but I had my eye on the computer maps, wind charts and audio feed from the fire fighters just to make sure.
The days are clear now, hot and dry. Everyone is holding their breath waiting for the next big fire, and hoping it will pass us by this year.
Since 2015 progress slowed at PsiKeep. The reality that all could go up in flames at any time put a damper on turning this wilderness into an art center. My emphasis shifted from development to defense. And last year I was sick most of the summer with a lingering bronchitis which got kind of serious during the winter. I am better now and with that the dream has returned. There will always be the shadow of the fire and the reality that it could swallow everything.
There are no dog days of summer when you live under the foot of the dragon.
So on this hot, July night I sit with a quart of Dryers’ Double Fudge Brownie already ¾ eaten and begin this blog entry. Of all the addictions I have dodged, only to be done in by ice cream. I can’t help myself. The cold, sweet chocolate in my mouth with that never-ending bliss…yum.
An Army of Cats
This summer has been an army of three new rescue cats and cat boxes and cat litter and cleanup and cages. And another cage with new chicks in the kitchen growing up and getting use to the dog and the cats and dander and dust. I finally got the chicks, who grew into pullets, moved into a coop in the barn and the last cat, Cosmos got released today. It looks like all the cats have gotten use to each other and their new home. It is time to begin the war on the mice and rodents.
Two of the rescue cats which were unadoptable because they were not cuddly cats were very close to each other. They had lived together in a cage at the cat rescue station for about 8 months hissing and snarling at anyone who came by. I adopted the little pale tortie female and then decided to get her companion the large black male. The little tortie I named Ajuna was in a cage in my living room for about 10 days during the County Fire. Since I only had one cage I released her when the threat of the fire was over. I could see her here and there for about a week. I made sure she had food and water on the porch.
I brought home, her companion, the black cat, Cosmos, and kept him in the living room for about a week. It did not take long for little Ajuna to find Cosmos in the cage. Cosmos would make guttural cat calls to her and she would come inside and lay by his cage.
After the fourth day of this I decided to release him.
I figured she would show him the ropes around the place. I have seen Cosmos a couple of times since he was released and Ajuna comes in to feed under the butcher block table and continues to sleep on my chair. I will see what happens to Cosmos in the next few days.
The third cat is a little black female named Kylie. I know I am going to have problems recognizing these two black cats in the days to come. But more on Kylie in a later posting.
Field Hospital at PsiKeep
This summer I seem to be running a field hospital for all the injured animals on the ranch.
Shetland, one of my two breeding bucks developed a wound on his horn about 8 inches out from the skull. He was in a pen with a yearling buck and the two goats didn’t seem to have any serious issues. One day I saw some blood on his horn. At first I thought he injured the younger buck, but I could not find any wound. A couple of days later I noticed blood on his horn again. I took him out of the pen and put him in a stall in the barn. I could see the wound and it was being aggravated by the buck rubbing his horn on the wire fencing. So I kept him confined in the stall. But the wound would not heal. I finally had to call the vet to come out. Wounds that bleed on a horn can be serious since the vessels connect with the sinuses and the brain. The vet gave me Uniprim and told me to keep it wrapped until she could talk with a furrier about how to get the keratin sheeting to grow back over the wound.
Next patient. One day I noticed that the Soay ram who broke two legs while he was a lamb was not running with the herd. I found him out in the lower pasture and it looked like he was limping but he was moving too fast for me to catch him. Three days later I was able to corner him in the sheep shed and drag him up to the barn. He is definitely not putting any weight on the right hind leg. I confined him to another stall and I have been treating him with Uniprim and aspirin. He is eating and moving around slowly. Lots of turning of his head which looks like the residual effects of the listeriosis he had as a lamb. As the days progressed he seemed to get stronger. I began feeding him vitamin B12 and E.
Then yesterday evening I got careless with the gate and to my surprise he escaped. Last night I left the gate to the orchard open so he could get in during the night. This morning I found him in the lower pasture but he was not with the herd. I worried all day about how I was going to recapture him. And this evening I made an attempt. I herded him back up into the orchard and closed the gate. He was limping but moving pretty fast and pushing with both his hind legs. Although I could see he was favoring the left over the other. I decided to let him alone for now and just make sure that he got enough food and water.
Next patient. One of my does developed mastitis which I am trying to cure with the last dregs of my penicillin supply. Just so you know there is a shortage of Penicillin and I can’t get any more until September. See the issue about Penicillin at the following link. https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/05/world-suffering-penicillin-shortage-170517075902840.html
It has beena week of injecting her with 3 cc of Penicillin per day. Today I got her teat to soften enough so that I could milk out some of the fluid/ puss. But I am having troubles getting the local antibiotic up into her teat. Dry-Clox which is a long-term antibiotic designed for this sort of issue has also been unavailable. I got another product from the vet which contains Dry-Clox but it came with syringes with a short nose so I am unable to get the medicine high up into the udder.
All in all, the distribution of meds and special care is taking up a good part of my day. But I did make time to work on the cement Dolmen.
I began this piece a couple of years ago. It was going to be the keystone to my Launch Pad sculpture which is sitting incomplete out in the forest. I just could never get the funds together to buy the crystal for the Dolmen. So I decided to give it to my sister since she has help me so much with surviving out here. But without the crystal I just could not get behind the piece for a couple of years. This spring I began a sketch for how I wanted to modify it to my liking.
It has been a week since I completed the first side of the Dolmen in cement I will have to let is set for several more weeks before I get a crew to help me turn it over. Working in cement in this hot, dry and windy weather has been a chore. The cement begins hardening so fast that I have had to mix small batches in order to work in the details.
Angry Poetry on the America
I have also been putting my anger and frustration into writing poems about the state of America since the Trump election and do not mean to say the election of Donald Trump. We have been overthrown. Period. This is a terrifying time for this country. Below is a recent poem I wrote titled “The Battle Will Be Won” because we have to win. We have to triumph against the rise of fascism in America.
The Battle Will Be Won
The battle will not be fought with blows of violence
The battle will not be fought with words and phrases to deceive the mind.
The battle will be won by strong of heart.
The battle will be won by determination and the indomitable will of creative energy,
by loneliness turned into conviction
by courage forged in the darkest hour.
It will be won by using the forces of suppression against itself
by opposing hatred with the power of laughter
by opposing brutality with the power of love
by opposing death with the power of life.
It will be won by an eye-sharp focus on the final end of despair.
The battle will be won by being small and agile
by being everywhere and nowhere
by boycott and sit-in and protest march
through imprisonment and defiance
and by all the people who come before and after to draw a line in the sand
to say to those who choose to walk in darkness and destruction
This battle will be won
It will be won.
At last I close with the following image. Sometimes a glory is a glory and sometimes it is just dust from the road.
Mushroom Wedding Arch completed
The sculpture was completed on December 24, 2014 but I finally took down the tarps the day before yesterday so I could photograph it. The weather report was forecasting strong winds and I wanted to get the tarps down before the front moved in.
This was a long project. It took five years from conception
The armature was constructed out of 1/2 inch steel pipe. In the summer of 2013 I decided to modify the armature and insert a parallel pipe construction, which was connected with unions in order to give more strength to the structure.
Most of that time was spent trying to figure out how I was going to sculpt the underside of the arch. I did not want to be lying on my back on a scaffold eight feet in the air trying to apply wet cement above my face.
My solution was to sculpt and cement the top section of the arch separate from the two upright pillars and then convince some very good friends to help install the completed top section back on top of the two pillars.
The summer of 2014 was spent carving the pillars and then shaving down the carving to allow for a 1/2 inch of cement to be applied on top of the Styrofoam.
I began applying the first coat of cement sometime during mid summer of 2014. The next stage was to sculpt the gills on the mushrooms. It was a good day was when I sculpted the gills on six mushrooms. There were a lot of summer days like this out in the heat under the shade of the tarps with NPR screaming on the radio. God I made a lot of mushrooms on this piece. Ahh!
Lorna Sue Sides came by in August and helped out by sculpting the gills on some of the mushrooms.
and yours truly grimacing under pressure.
The construction around the arch still needs to be cleared away. The Wedding Arch needs a larger footing, which will be incorporated into the steps and the wall below the arch sometime next summer.
After all this time of blood and sweat and tears it is finally done. It still needs a christening. After that it belongs to Lake County, to PsiKeep and to all the people who may or may not walk beneath the arch to wed.
Below are details of the arch. Best regards to all.