Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Walking the Streets of Las Vegas.

Yes, I was a street walker on the streets of Las Vegas for about 4 years. I was a single mother with bills to pay, and walking the streets paid good money. It allowed me to own a home and help my kids with college bills. Walking the streets of Las Vegas was not an easy thing to do. There were the cars always slowing down or stopping to ask you questions, people staring as you walk by, there were always lots of howling and wolf calls from vicious man eating dogs. Of course then there are those boiling hot summers that can get up to 117° and winters easily get down in the teens, plus my mail truck didn’t have air-conditioning and was more like an oven. Can we say “Fried Brains”!  Yes, I was a mail carrier with the USPS. I preferred the old fashioned walking routes over the sit in my truck all day routes. Yet, the walking routes had dangers that truck routes didn’t usually have.

Can we say, DOGS! Little dogs, big dogs, sneaky dogs, bold dogs, fence jumpers, gate openers, and mail chewing dogs! I didn’t have a fear of dogs, until I became a mail carrier. Dogs don’t like it when someone comes up to their domain and touches their house day after day. They just don’t like it. I think dogs think that we are teasing them, “I can touch your place and there ain’t nothing you can do about it”! Day after day we violate their space and their anger grows. They wait, not patiently for their opportunity, their chance to get BACK!

photo from internet

With most walking routes the mail boxes are right by the front door of the house. There is nothing comfortable about walking up to a house to deliver mail while a very large pit-bull repeatedly slams against the large front room window trying to get out. Not a nice feeling, even as I write this years later.

Little dogs are just annoying, unless there are two or three and they gang up on you. It seems that if people have little dogs, they never have just one. Like the guy with 4 Chihuahua’s. He had a small fence around his front yard with a gate near the street. His mail box was next to his front door. I would try and sneak through the gate and get his mail in the box then sneak back out the gate before he would open the door to get his mail. As soon as he opened his door those 4 Chihuahua’s would bolt out after me. One time they had me cornered as I worked my way toward the gate, another time I was closing the gate as one was flying through the air at me, he hit the gate instead.

photo from internet

Then there was the dog, that I never saw. He lived inside his owners house. These people didn’t have a mail box. They had a mail slot in their door. These are little openings with a little flap, you open the flap and push the mail into the house. This is a very secure way of getting your mail. Unless of course there is a furry animal on the other side waiting. This dog must just sit there all day staring at this slot in the door, waiting and waiting. As soon as I push the mail into the slot it is violently pulled from my hand by the furry creature that I never see on the other side. Sometimes there was a growling or a vicious shaking sound on the other side of the door.

As the mail is sorted in the morning, many mailmen file a bright yellow card close to where a bad dog lives, so you have time to get ready. I didn’t have my own route, I filled in for those who had days off or were on vacation. I always had dread when I would look over the stacked mail and see lots of yellow cards filed through-out the mail. There is nothing like walking on pens and needles all day. Every leaf that blows by you jump…

photo from internet

Sometimes it is a first offense and you have no warning. I was on a long walking route one day. I had one ear plug in and was listening to my Go-Bible. I had one ear listening to everything else. I was on the sidewalk getting ready to cross the street when I heard nails digging into the concrete and a low long growl. I spun around just in time to see a large Rottweiler charging me at full speed! I swung my mail bag repeatedly at him to keep him away from my legs! At about the same time a lady drove up and honked her horn, this caused the rott to run away. The lady in the car called animal control for me. After she drove away, I had a hard time walking to finish this loop, my legs felt like rubber and my knees were soooo weak.

My last mailman story for today will be about the smart dog owners! One such owner stored dog treats in the mail box. This made the dog happy to see you. Sometimes I would get to do a driving type route. These are routes where you sit in the mail truck and reach out your door to put mail in the boxes. Or, the routes where you would pull up to the curb, put on the emergency brake, curb the wheels, and turn off the engine, take off your seat belt, then hop out and walk three feet over to put the mail in the boxes, then get back in, put on your seat belt, take off the brake, start the engine, don’t run over anyone, then drive about 30 feet and do that again. I HATED those routes. Ug On one of those routes I was getting hungry and I noticed that the regular mailman had left a canister of cookies in his truck. I thought, he wouldn’t miss a couple of little cookies. So I eat a two or three. They were kinda plain, like they didn’t have sugar in them. I didn’t think to much about it, till one day I was turned in my seat getting the mail for the mail boxes across the curb when all of the sudden, a big golden lab laid its head in my lap! My heart did a leap, but this was a big very friendly golden lab. She sat down on the curb with her tail wagging like she was just waiting for something. Then the owner appeared and he told me that the mailman always had doggy cookies for her. Doggy cookies? Then, it all made sense. That is why the cookies tasted yucky, they were doggy cookies! Want a cookie? Hahahahahahaha

To be continued...

Friday, March 25, 2016

Abbynormals Pet Bird---Introducing Sparky the Starling.

When we built our chicken coop we included 3 built-in wild bird nesting boxes of different sizes with removable backs for cleaning or peeking. A couple of years ago a pair of starlings started nesting in one of these boxes, right above the chicken door, almost at eye level. They are bold birds! With each clutch there seemed to be one baby that would always fall out (maybe pushed) not sure. So I researched and I found a great web site about starlings and their care. http://www.starlingtalk.com/index.htm 
I discovered that they can make great pets and even learn to talk! They are not a protected bird, meaning people can destroy nests and even shoot them, whenever they want. Soooo, I decided that I would raise up a starling as a pet and thus I set forth learning and getting ready for my new baby. Baby birds imprint at around 8-10days old. So I calculated hatch date by the pretty blue egg shells on the ground below the nest box and the sound of hungry baby birds. Eight days later I became a mother!
my little Pterodactyl

I named my little dinosaur looking bird “Sparky”, which would work for a male or female. She ended up being a female. The first thing Sparky got was a dust bath for mites, then she got fed. Starlings are insectivores and need a high protein diet. So a mixture of cat food, hard boiled egg and applesauce was her main meal.
I am hungry, AGAIN!
It didn’t take long before she was eating a lot and often, about every 20-40 mins during the day that first week, then about every 60-120 mins till 6-8 weeks or until she was feeding herself. I have raised up orphaned baby birds before, but some how you forget how much work it is. Sparky went everywhere with me those first 6+ weeks! When I had a trip to town, she went also. With her cage strapped into the seat and food to go, we went. When she was still very tiny I would tuck her in the middle of my sports bra. That would keep her warm and I am sure my heart beat was soothing to her. When she got hungry, she would let me know by loud chirping. I would then stop my shopping and head out to the car to feed her.

She grew fast like all little birdies do. Her first feathers were a boring plain gray. No “sparkles” till around 60+ days.
See my spots at 74 days & always hunting

I would give her flying lessons in my room with my bed as a landing spot. She learned fast and loved exploring my room. Starlings are like having a flying 2 year old in the house. She was and still is into everything! They are hunters in the wild, and all she does is hunt and hunt! Everything goes into her mouth, just like a toddler. She uses her beak to lift, open, poke, prod, and flip everything! Everything! AND she really loves toes!  She goes after every crumb or speck on the floor. So before letting her out of her cage I inspect the room/house and keep it childproof. Hahaha. Starlings can fly up to 50mph! That said, I keep windows covered when she is out.

Unlike parrots and other “pet shop” birds, starlings don’t like to be petted or touched. But, they want to be on you all the time, unless she is hunting or getting into stuff.
Removing book marks.

When I walk from room to room she follows me and rides on my head or shoulders. Sometimes she gets a wild hair and she goes zigzag flying around the house at warp speed and screeching! It is funny to watch. I have watched her catch bugs mid-flight. Our house is mostly bug free thanks to her.

At around 4 months of age Sparky started talking. She was very shy at first and would practice her words in private. As time went on she got bolder and we noticed that if we put music on or when I am washing the dishes she would talk more. Her first word was, Sparky. Now she says, “Sparky is a good girl, yes you are” and “Jesus loves you”. Plus many other noises and whistles.

She is very entertaining and when we watch a movie (after the popcorn is gone) she joins us. She usually finds a high spot to sit and talk during the movie.

Daniel built Sparky an indoor aviary. So when she is not out with us she can explore and fly about in her cage.

Starlings love water. I keep a small tub of water within the bathroom tub for her to bathe in. Sometimes she is in that water 5-6 times! She loves her baths. But, of course, after she bathes she has to land on our shoulders and shake! After each bath she spends a good amount of time preening her feathers and making herself beautiful.

Sparky all sparkled out!
She is 8 months old now. She is nothing like what I thought a pet starling would be, yet she is much more then what I could have imagined. She can never be set free, for people are her flock, and she has not learned how to survive in the wild. Starlings can live around 18 years and there are some neat stories, videos and books about them.

One book I read is called, "Arnie the Darling Starling" by Margarete Sigl Corbo and Diane Marie Barras.

A beautiful Wild Starling, Photo from the internet.

Sparky is now 3 years old. Here she is checking out her Birthday Present.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

For the Love of Rocks-- An Abbynormal Relationship---

I have always loved rocks. Some of my youngest memories were hunting for rocks. I believe it is an inherited trait past on from my mother’s mother. When I was young and living in Oregon our place was across the street from my grandmothers. She had tons of beautiful rocks that grandpa and her went out and found. They also had Indian arrowheads and bowls with grinding stones. Some of the rocks were huge and full of crystals. Some were small and full of beautiful colors. Agate, Jasper, Quartz, and petrified wood, were the ones I remember the most. Rocks are important to some of the other members of my family also, so much so that my grandmother’s rock treasures are already spoken for when she passes away.

When we moved to Las Vegas , I had to readjust to the rocks you find out here. Many weekends during the summer, my parents would take us out to the lake. I would spend a lot of time looking for special rocks and fossils. I loved fossils and wanted to be an archeologist when I grew up. I would search, and search until my back ached hoping to find the big one, a dinosaur fossil. I never found the big one, just a few sea floor fossils and small interesting rocks. I never quit my hunting. A few decades later and I am still in love with rocks. In fact, rocks are my favorite gifts to get. I tried to teach family and friends in my life to bring me rocks as gifts when they were out of town. This was quite the problem for some of them. They did not seem to know how to hunt for a rock. Was this too simple? Maybe it was not enough of a challenge for them. Maybe they needed a moving target. Did they feel that they had to spend money? I am a simple person and I do not need someone to spend money on me, yet to give me some of their time, that is special. It takes time to hunt for rocks. One guy friend I had drove an eighteen wheeler. He brought me rocks from each state from here to Louisiana . When he would stop at the rest stops, he would go out hunting for rocks. He remarked about how it was crazy to be looking for rocks, yet there he was wondering around hunting for the “right one”. He rather laughed when he found himself scanning the sides of the road as he drove, hunting for rocks.

Some of my mighty hunters have done well, bringing in rock trophies equal to that of a mighty elk. Some on the other hand brought me road kill. It is the thought that counts, right?…

Rocks hold memories of the beautiful places I have been. In addition, unlike souvenirs that collect dust around my house these can be kept outside in the garden.

In the fall of 2008 I took a trip to Carmel California to see the Tor House, a rock house and tower that the late poet Robinson Jeffers built for his wife Una. He put into the wet concrete mortar of the walls of his house special rocks and souvenirs from places that his wife and he had visited from other countries. The place was breathtaking! My creative mind was screaming. What love a man must have to build such a beautiful place for his wife!

While at delivering mail one day I came across a house that had the whole outside done in rock. Not just your normal all the same type of rock, but a wide variety of rocks. Like someone’s rock collection!  I stopped and talked with the owner of the house one day as she came out to get her mail. She told me the man who did this many, many years ago went as far as New Mexico and Arizona

to gather rocks. Whenever I am delivering mail in this neighborhood, I stop to admire his handy work. I feel a sort of kindred spirit when I am near places like these. To know I am not alone in my creative abbynormal feelings.

Abbynormal Falling---

There are two types of falls in my world... First, there is the type of fall where you are on the dance floor swing dancing hard and fast to an oldies band. When right in the middle of a move you find yourself lying on the dance floor with that look of “what happened”. Of course, it was my shoes fault. You get up take a bow before the group of watchers then you just pretend that nothing happened and you finish your dance. Then there is that “other fall”. Same music, same crowd, same band. You’re dancing hard and fast. Your partner pulls you in, winds you up, sends you out for a spin, then you are suppose to do your turn come back take his hand and move on to the next move. Well this time he pulled me in, wound me up, sent me out, but instead of coming back, I spun like a lop-sided top away from him. It amazes me how your body can be moving at the speed of light yet your brain is moving in slow motion. My brain was telling me that this rope divider next to these tables is not going to stop me, that I am going to go through it and I am going to pull it down with me. Then it tells me that I am going to hit the ground and land on my back then my head is going to fly back and hit something hard. Of course, when it is over, you are lying on your back on the floor with your head on someone’s knee, and there is a divider all around you. Then of course, your first thoughts are I am so glad I wore dance shorts under my dress and when I get home, I am throwing these dance shoes away.

Before trying the more graceful sport of dance I was training hard to be a world class, okay maybe just a really good masters long distance runner ( I can be a little on the dreamy side). I had a few interesting falls during my “career”. One was the type of fall when you are running along the road minding your own business and out of nowhere, your shoe “it’s always the shoes fault” decides to catch a pebble that would take a magnifying glass to see. The next few seconds or milliseconds you find your life passing in front of you as your body contorts itself in ways you never knew it could as it try’s everything it can to avoid the hard ground below you. First your back arches like a gymnast, then your hips go left as your legs do a number from the ballet “Swan Lake”, all the while your arms look like they’re trying to fight off an attack of killer bees.. At the same moment, your knees are cringing because they know this is really going to hurt. Next thing you know you find yourself rolling toward the gutter because cars are coming and people are looking at you as if you are crazy. Kids are asking their parents, mommy, why is that woman rolling across the street? Of course no one stops to ask if you are okay, they are to busy laughing and wishing they had a camera so they could make some money.
Took 3rd in Lindy Dance

Abbynormal Spa Time---

When our children were young and I still home schooled
 them, my friend Kate and I found the need to get out and
 get rejuvenated every couple of weeks. We would plan
our different escapes over the phone. Most women think
of going to spas or movies to be rejuvenated, not us, we
were going kayaking! The night before our outing, I
would load the kayaks. Then I would rise at 3am the next
 day. I would make a checklist for my older children, load
the rest of my gear, and be at Kate’s by 4am. To create
the atmosphere of tranquility on the drive out I would put
 in one of my nature or bird sound CDs. Sometimes we
would talk, yet sometimes we would just be content to be
 quiet and listen to the relaxing sounds. Upon arriving at
the lake, about dawn, we would unload the kayaks then
we would spend a couple of hours paddling around the
quite coves. There is something very relaxing and peaceful
 about being on the lake at sunrise; the dawn of a new day,
when the birds are singing and fish are jumping. We
always brought our binoculars along to try to identify the
 different birds. We sat in our kayaks and watched the
male birds do their version of “Swan Lake” to impress the
females. We saw herons standing around on one leg like
statues. There were cormorants, grebes and different types
of ducks. One particular type of water bird was very noisy
 and always kept their distance making them hard to
 identify, and as our time had run out, we loaded up the
 kayaks to head home to our families. I started the
engine then got ready to put it in gear when all of a
sudden we heard the water birds very loudly, very near
the van. We both started looking all around and out our
 windows, it was a very eerie feeling looking for
something that loud and close and not being able to
find it. It was as if they were there in the van with us!
Then almost at the same time, we both remembered
the bird CD that was still in the CD player. It was playing!
 What were the odds of the same bird sound playing in
my van that we were trying to identify on the lake!
We got a much-needed laugh out of the situation, and
came home refreshed and ready to start a new day.
Summer of 1999 (Picture of my friend Kate on one of our


Monday, March 21, 2016

Abbynormal Beginnings---

Written in 2006

I first remember being an abbynormal thinker when I was in my mid teen years. For some reason I did not think like everyone else. I did not like material things like your “normal” teen. At about this time I was exposed to the great sport of backpacking. I was so in love with it that I wanted to be in that type of environment all the time. First I started sleeping on top of the blankets and in the wrong direction on my bed. Then I started sleeping in my sleeping bag on top of my bed and if that was not enough to drive my “normal” mother crazy, I started sleeping out on the back patio. I became obsessed with the outdoors. One of my goals was to have everything I own fit in a single trunk and to one day live in a one-room cabin.

Then something happened, I got married! I moved away to California with my new husband and my backpack. My abbynormal behavior infected my husband and soon we had our backpacking tent set up in our master bedroom for sleeping. As my family grew, I knew that my simple way of life would have to allow for the “extras” that a family needs. Yet I never wavered from my way of thinking. Anything new meant getting rid of something old. I “tried” to teach my children the art of living simple. How was it possible for someone like me who was so abbynormal to have normal pack rat kids? I think it drove us all crazy!

Five children, three grandbabies, and many years later I find that I am still an abbynormal thinker. Like what started as a normal wood gathering in the mountains for firewood, turns abbynormal when I spy some long slender poles. My mind says tee-pee out back. Then, I think, tee-pee bed, in my room! My brain reasons that I am alone and I can sleep on what ever I want to. Why not? Therefore, I bring home around a dozen poles on top of my 15-passenger van… Doesn’t everyone want to own a 15-passenger van? Anyway, I proceed to de-bark, sand and finish the logs myself, then cut them to the right length to fit my room. Then with the help of a very patient friend, we assembled the “work of art”. We raised the logs, put in the custom 7ft round mattress, put on the custom tee-pee cover, which included skunk, coyote, goat, and weasel skins. Then we sat inside with our legs crossed and had a good laugh! The things that normal people have to put up with!

My bed seems to be quite the show and tell for my kids whenever they have company. When my oldest granddaughter Awbrey, then almost four, (She is now 14!)came over for the first time to see my bed, I climbed inside and used some matches to make smoke come out of the top. She said “grandma your bed is cool”. Nothing like a little complement to help encourage me in my already abbynormal behavior. Maybe my abbynormal gene skipped a generation!....(Photo is last picture taken before moving from LV. The teen-aged boy of the people who bought my house wanted it, so it stayed. It was the most comfortable bed I ever had.)

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Abbynormal Peace--written many years ago

We all have some place that we go in our minds when things get ruff or stressful. A place we think will bring that peace we want. Ever since I was a teenager, I had an ideal escape in mind. I wanted to live up in the mountains like a hermit. Just me and the animals and plants. I wanted there to be a lake or small river near by so I could fish for my food. Not realistic at all! I think that at times we all want to run away from the stress of this life. We just all have our different ideas of what that looks like. Some try to find escape by numbing themselves with to much alcohol, drugs or TV. My most recent thoughts of escape came a couple of years ago while I was having a tough time in a relationship and my job was stressful. I pulled into the parking lot of a local hardware store and I noticed they had some sheds by their garden center. One shed in particular caught my eye. It looked like a small sturdy red barn. It was perfect! I stood there in this shed and redesigned it to become my house. It had a couple of small windows and was tall enough that I could put a small loft in it for my bed.. A small wood stove is all it would need to heat this small “house”. I could put a gas grill outside for doing my cooking. My creative mind took over and I stood there designing then redesigning this little, very little house. Then reality set in. Where would I put my bike? Where would I put company? Would I need two maybe three sheds? Would my place end up looking like a Boy Scout camp with little cabins all around to fit everyone? Have I become too much like the rest of the world? This world is very materialistic with its big houses and bling, bling cars. Everyone trying to keep up with the “Jones”. The more stuff we have the more time it demands from us to take care of it. As I got older and had a family, I realized that a cabin alone in the mountains was not going to happen. My family had grown to seven. When my children were young I raised them watching Little House on the Prairie and The Wilderness Family, shows that seemed to project a more simple way of life or time. Therefore, I planted tons of trees and put in a pond, trying to bring the mountains to me. At night when most people relaxed in front of the TV, I was out by my pond watching the crayfish sword fight each other and the bullfrog catching mice.

Nevertheless, things change, kids grow up. My youngest is heading off to college and then the Army. The number in my house is slowly shrinking. Soon it will be just two, my husband and I. What then? What really matters? God, people, our families? Yes, this is what matters. Not stuff. The book of Ecclesiastes talks about life as Meaningless and that there is a time for everything, a time to be born a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. The conclusion is, Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. A change of location will not bring peace. How or where we choose to live should be just part of our personalities, our uniqueness, they cannot replace or bring about true peace. That only comes through God. If I ever get my cabin in the mountains, it will be because I am unique, or maybe a little Abbynormal.