shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
For a few years, while my family lived on the other side of the country, we rented our home to a destitute family for a pittance. Dad knew they didn't have much money, so charged them a mere dollar a month to live in our house. He figured the place would be in better shape with someone in it, plus he'd be doing these people a favour.

Unfortunately, Mel, the patriarch of the family was the sort of person so rotten that he seemed like a cartoon villain. He was an abusive man, dispersing torture to humans and animals alike. Our house was hacked to pieces and filled with feces, mouldering garbage, and slime. When we moved back home, he was evicted, and for quite some time, Dad stood outside our destroyed home with a match and a can of gasoline. To this day, I don't understand why he didn't burn the place.

But this story goes back a bit before Mel's eviction. Mel had a dog. It was a poor, wretched creature. Mel never bothered feeding him, so he subsisted on mouthfuls of grain and plundered garbage. Guy, the WWII vet who lived next door, took pity on the poor animal and put out a bowl of dog food every day. The dog began spending more and more time at Guy's place. After all, he was being fed there, and not kicked and whipped.

When Mel was finally evicted, the dog suffered the most. Mel decided that he was through with the animal. He got liquored up, got out his gun, and went hunting the dog. Terrified, the dog tore off to Guy's house. Mel managed to shoot the dog, but the bullet passed through its cheek. The dog cowered in Guy's porch while Mel struggled to reload his gun.

That's when Guy came out of his house with his gun in hand. Guy was a sharpshooter, and a damned fine one, at that. At first, Mel blustered about having the right to kill his own dog, but Guy, cool and icy as a November evening, told him the dog was his now, and if he ever saw him on his property or near the dog again, he'd shoot Mel the same way he'd shot the dog.

Mel left, and never came back. Hobo, as Guy christened the dog, made a full recovery and went on to be a great dog.

(More at The Sharpshooter I)
shanmonster: (Liothu'a)
My sweet little chinchilla was euthanized yesterday after her health continued to deteriorate over the past couple of years. She was about 15 years old. I miss her very much.

[Last visit to the vet]
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
[Masked Shrike]

(Photo of Masked Shrike by John Peacock)

The Masked Shrike is a medium-sized predatory bird notable for the dark stripe extending from the ear patches, across the eyes, to the base of the bill. Masked Shrikes are sit-and-wait hunters which perch and scan the ground for prey, often facing into the sun. In 2008, Reuven Yosef suggested that hunting into the sun gives the shrike an advantage over its prey because the prey's shadow is cast toward the Shrike, and because the Shrike conversely casts no shadow upon its prey. Researchers Reuven Yosef, Piotr Zduniak, and Piotr Tryjanowski wanted to test the function of the bird's mask. They formed the hypothesis that the Masked Shrike's mask acts like a football player's eye black to reduce sun glare, giving them a distinct hunting advantage when facing into the sun.

In order to test this hypothesis, adult male Masked Shrikes were caught, banded, and released within 30 minutes of capture on the same days they would be used in the experiment. The experiment was conducted over two seasons (2010 and 2011) in “the morning hours, in the same weather conditions and in clear skies, and the data from both seasons were pooled” (1). Seven birds had their black facial masks painted over with white gouache paint. Five birds had their masks painted over with black gouache paint. As a control group, eight birds did not have their masks painted over. Gouache was chosen because it is matte like the birds' plumage, and because it will wear off on its own over a couple of days.

The birds were then observed in their hunting areas, and evaluations made on the hunting success and foraging preferences of each of the birds. The birds which had been painted were observed both with and without the painted masks.

A marked difference was noted between the white- and black-painted/control Masked Shrikes. The birds with the white masks hunted with the sun to their backs much more frequently than the black-painted and unpainted birds. As the white paint wore off, the birds hunted more frequently facing the sun.

The hunting success of the white-painted birds was significantly reduced to that of the other birds. On several occasions, the observers noted prey reacting to the approaching shadow of the Shrike by escaping into a neighbouring bush.

There is no mention of hunting behaviours of the Shrikes during high noon when the sun is directly overhead. Do the markings provide any benefit to hunting during this time frame? Are the birds active after sundown? If so, do the markings provide benefit at this point? The experiment does not provide us with information for these time periods.

Nevertheless, this study is important because it shows there are other selective factors for the evolution of colouration and shape of markings than camouflage alone. It shows a way of experimenting with other masked animals to determine whether or not those markings aid the animal with its hunting.

Ultimately, findings show the mask of the Masked Shrike permits the bird to hunt into the sun, letting it identify its prey by the shadow cast toward the perching shrike, and letting it attack its prey without its own shadow warning off the prey.

1. Yosef Reuven, Zduniak Piotr, Tryjanowski Piotr (2012). Unmasking Zorro: functional importance of the facial mask in the Masked Shrike (Lanius nubicus). Retrieved from
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
When I was about six or so, I remember hearing my cat Siam making a ruckus in the porch. I went to see what was going on, and to my horror, I saw her chasing a bat. The bat flitted in desperation from one end of the porch to the other, and I screamed at the cat to stop. I flung myself on top of Siam, trying to hold her down, and the bat continued to swoop.

It was obviously a vampire, and my cat didn't know it was in mortal peril. She just thought it was a mousebird.

Siam squirmed beneath me, determined to resume her hunt, and I held the cat even tighter, determined to save her from becoming the undead. I was also scared, myself, because the vampire might turn me, too.

I screamed for my Mom, and eventually, she came running. I think she'd been working in the garden or something. She opened the door, the bat flew away, and Siam gave me stink eye.

And then my Mom sat down and told me a bit about different kinds of bats, and how vampires weren't real.

It was a bit anticlimactic, somehow, to realize vampires aren't real, this kind of bat only eats bugs, and the worst possibility was only rabies.
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
Elder Squirrel Demon Summoning Circle is an environmental installation artwork piece which I placed on my back deck. A multimedia piece, it incorporates a demonic squirrel head, chalk, roses, herbs, peanuts, salt, and pinecones.

I created the centrepiece by hacking a Big Head Squirrel Feeder. Horns were fashioned out of Sculpey by my roommate Amelia, and I affixed them with KrazyGlue. The eyes and eye rims were painted with bright red nail laquer, leaving slit-shapes unpainted for the irises. This gives the eyes a blood-filled, demonic aspect.

Next, lengths of binding wire were attached overhead to the roof and a nearby tree. The wire is green and blends in with the foliage. I next connected the wire to the head with lengths of transparent bracelet cording. This transparent cording makes the head look like it is hovering unsuspended.

I next adjusted for height by winding the binding wire until the head hovered the correct distance from the ground. Because of the elastic nature of the transparent cording, this process had to be repeated several times during the exhibition of the installation piece. Once the head was in place, I marked the centrepoint beneath and sketched out a circle in chalk. I drew the pentagram, then added Enochian text traditionally believed to have been used to summon demons. Technically speaking, a traditional demon summoning circle looks different (and contains far more Enochian text), but for the purpose of making the circle more identifiable to the average viewer, I chose to go with a circle of protection. Besides, I doubt squirrels know the difference. ;)

To add colour and to tie in the elements with nature and the history of the occult, I also added roses from my garden, herbs, small heaps of rock salt, and pine cones gathered at a nearby cemetery.

Since I intended to make this piece interactive with nature, I included peanuts to summon the squirrels. Then I sat and waited for the squirrels to get cheeky and brave enough to approach while I awaited with my camera. To aid with the summoning, I participated in a dread occult practice: the osculum infame. In other words, I made kissy noises.

Eventually, a black squirrel demon was summoned.

My ritual worked!

As a note, no squirrels returned the next day, but two days later, when I went to look, the peanuts were gone, and in their place, at the centre of the summoning circle, was a cherry. I summoned a demonic cherry! I swear I did not put it there, and no one else was in the yard all day. Ooooo. Spoooooky!

I confess that I ate part of the cherry, but as of this time, I have not evinced any signs of demonic possession....

Pics and video behind the cut! )
shanmonster: (Zombie ShanMonster)
Lewis Carroll (née Charles Dodgson) follows in similar tradition to naturalists of his time. The whimsical pigeon scene is not only entertaining, but, much like the works of Edward Lear, Charles Darwin, and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, educational. The two major elements of the pigeon scene are Alice's long neck and the pigeon itself.

Charles Dodgson may have first become acquainted with pigeons because the pigeon clubs popular in his lifetime (1). At least one club was in the vicinity of his alma mater, Oxford University (2). The scene demonstrates a common problem for keepers: snakes eating eggs (3). Carroll entertained with this while teaching something of bird behaviour.

Although Dodgson showed no particular interest in natural history, he wrote on and illustrated the pigeon, as did Darwin (4). Some critics find Darwin's research absurd and his illustrations anthropomorphic. Carroll's nonsensical animal illustrations and portrayals are anthropomorphic. Dodgson entered into a correspondence with Darwin, sharing a photograph “of an emotional expression” to him for the purposes of research and illustrations (5).

Dodgson had commonalities with naturalist Edward Lear. Until Lewis Carroll came along, Lear was considered the king of nonsense verse. Dodgson was familiar with and respected his work, for he gave his nieces copies of Lear's Book of Nonsense (6). Lear, too, made illustrations of pigeons (7).

Alice's serpentine neck has a counterpart in the work of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in regards to his speculations on giraffes. Lamarck believed that as they reach up to the treetops, a “nervous fluid” is released into their necks, making them lengthen (8). Although in the pigeon scene, Alice eats a morsel of mushroom, the “nervous fluid” is reminiscent of the earlier “drink me” fluid.

In these ways, Lewis Carroll follows in the same tradition as 19th-century naturalists.

Footnotes/works cited )
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
When I was in grade six, I was very briefly one of the popular kids. It's easy when there are only five people in your whole grade. I lived in a tiny community, and there wasn't a lot of opportunity to be choosy about one's friends. And so I became friends with Adrienne, who was a nasty, manipulative girl (she once told me she was friends with me because she surrounded herself with ugly people so she'd always be the beautiful one).

She invited me to sleep over at her place one night, and my parents agreed to this. Excited at my sleepover date, I went home with her after school and she showed me around her yard. She told me a joke I didn't get, but laughed at so she wouldn't think I was stupid. I still remember the joke: How do you know you had oral sex the night before? You wake up feeling like a glazed doughnut.

She showed me her fort out back. It was made of lots and lots of 2x4s, all arranged in a maze-like fashion with plywood on top as a roof. And then she took me into the house. She showed me the bed where her big sister slept, pointing at a stain in the sheets left from when she'd had her period and soaked through her pad.

I was still years away from puberty, and all this talk mystified me and made me determined that I never, ever wanted to grow up.

And then she showed me her pet. His name was Buzz, and he was an enormous rattlesnake. He was inside a terrarium. The glass was badly cracked.

When I asked why the glass was cracked, she said she'd tapped on the glass and it made him angry. He struck so hard that the glass cracked. I asked if she was scared he'd make it through the next time, and she laughed.

I wasn't so secure.

I stayed over, but wondered about that giant angry snake.

When I told my parents about the snake the next day, they were upset, and told me I could never stay there again so long as there were rattlesnakes in the house. I didn't argue, because I agreed with them.

Sometime later that year, my teacher, Mr. Trepanier, said he had a special treat for us. He brought a large box into the classroom. It was made of wood and screen: the sort of screen you might have on a screen door. Inside the box was a rattlesnake. People crowded around the box for a closer look. I was curious, but kept what I thought was a respectable distance. I suggested to the others that they might not want to get so close.

My teacher smiled at me. "Are you scared of snakes? It's ok. He's inside the cage. There's a screen in the way."

I looked at him. "Not particularly. But I'm cautious. Considering Adrienne's broke aquarium glass, I don't think a screen is the best barrier."

His smile faltered, and he ushered the kids further back.


Oct. 30th, 2012 10:14 pm
shanmonster: (Zombie ShanMonster)
Gentle hunter
his tail plays on the ground
while he crushes the skull.
Beautiful death
who puts on a spotted robe
when he goes to his victim.
Playful killer
whose loving embrace
splits the antelope’s heart.

Anonymous - translated from Yoruba by Ulli Beier
shanmonster: (Zombie ShanMonster)
I remember my collie dog, Buoy, desperate to jump into the back of the truck any time we went for a drive. Whenever he rode in the back, he'd bark joyously and with metronomic regularity. He barked the entire way across Canada, from Newfoundland to British Columbia. A few years later, he barked from British Columbia to New Brunswick. His voice gave out at some point on the trip back, and his bark never sounded the same. It was an old man dog voice, hoarse and squeaky, but still filled with canine joy.

I remember my fat grey dapple pony, Dolly, when we coaxed her into the back of a truck. She was often a cranky pony, but when we drove past farms and forests and rivers and more, her ears perked forward and she whinnied again and again with a preposterously basso profundo neigh. When it was time for her to get out of the truck, she did it with reluctance, and tried to get right back in. She enjoyed travelling every bit as much as Buoy.
shanmonster: (Zombie ShanMonster)
Earache makes sick Shan a sad Shan. Go away, plague of never-endingness, now with achey tinnitus. Go away!

On the silver-lining side, my aerial workshop was cancelled today. It's just as well, because the way my sinuses feel, being suspended and spinning upside-down would be a special room in Hell.

I was invited to a party tonight, but I'm feeling destroyed. I was really hoping to get to the gym to do some lifting today, but it didn't take long for me to realize that would be a Bad Idea. Feh.

Despite the malaise of my head tubes, I was productive. [ profile] f00dave, Meredith, and I installed a buttload of new shelves to replace the seen-better-days old shelves I had in my room. It's starting to look nice in my room, instead of just cluttered randomness. Now it's eclectic with a theme. Whoa. I never thought that would be possible.

I can't remember if I mentioned or not, but a while back, I discovered a huge abscess on Princess Tubby's face. I don't know how it went unnoticed for so long. I guess I thought she was having a bad fur day for a while until I realized the lump was the size of a marble. That would be huge on my face, let alone on a little critter like Tubby.

I took her into the vet, and he checked it out. The good news is that it wasn't a tumour. The bad news is that draining and rinsing it out then giving her a course of antibiotics didn't solve the issue. So surgery was next. She had the lump removed, and I was worried about her for quite a while after that. She lost a lot of weight overnight and was miserable. But then her appetite returned and she gained her weight back.

Alas, but the surgery site was starting to refill. The abscess was trying to return.

Ends up the bacteria in the infection was not responding to the antibiotic. For chinchillas, antibiotic options are very limited. She's been put on a new medication, and I think it is finally working.

She hated the taste of the old stuff. We had to force feed her, and she made horrible faces all the while. But this new stuff? Well, take a look for yourself.

Tomorrow morning, I'm going to Mississauga to see this: Canada East Crossfit Regionals Competition. A team from my CrossFit club qualified and I'll be there to cheer them on. I sure hope this earache is gone by then. Gah.
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
Seriously. I can't watch it without grinning like a fool.

shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
(From this writing exercise comes this:)

I am from landwash, mountain valley, trailer park, and forest, from saddle leather, horse liniment, big yellow bags of No Name dog food, and from baling twine and Watchtower magazines.

I am from the white and green mobile home converted to wooden house. I am from the home-made white camper, and 31' fifth wheel travel trailer pulled on the back of a 3/4 tonne crew cab bright orange Chevy.

I am from the humble potato, planted, weeded, picked, peeled, and chopped until my back ached, knees cried out, and fingers cramped and waterlogged, from the fields of green and gold timothy, heads bobbing in sweet-smelling breeze, pulled out with care so I could chew the tender stems and pick my teeth with the tough ones.

I am from door-to-door Saturday mornings and three-times-a-week Kingdom Hall meetings, from hours spent reading novels on the back of a pony, from picking berries and rose hips after school, from stacking wood onto the dogsled and alongside the house, from Powell and Twombly and Rolf.

I am from the attention-seeking side of the family, the side that always says "Look at me!", and from the side who believes it is a sign of weakness to show tears. I'm from skin stinging from turning the other cheek.

From blood of the butchered chickens, pigs, deer, moose, goats, rabbits, and fish being poured onto the ground and always reading the labels to be sure there were no animal byproducts--not even in the cat food--and being told we weren't superstitious even while I shivered to hear tales of demons coming out of role-playing books, second-hand clothing, and Smurf wallpaper.

I am from three preceding generations of Jehovah's Witnesses, zig-zagging their ways back and forth across both sides of the family. There will be no fifth generation. It stopped with my sister and with me.

I'm from Dorn Ridge and Springhill and Dead Man's Bay, from plain-cooked meat and boiled potatoes, and from Jiggs dinner on Sundays.

From my Dad embarrassing me by doing backflips and log-rolling down hills in front of the other kids, Mom's Barbara Cartland and Louis L'amour books covering every table, countertop, and shelf in the house, my sister spearing a broom handle through my door during yet another fight between us.

I am from washed-out photos from Cameron Beach, pictures of us eating lobsters or of us all holding collie puppies up by their arms, from hikes through sagebrush and tumbleweeds to craggy outcrops and jigsaw pines, where we'd light a fire and boil water in a tin can and eat bannock cooked over a stick. I couldn't want for more colour and flavour.
shanmonster: (Zombie ShanMonster)
I've been disquieted by one of the feel-good memes floating around on the social media sites lately. It is superficially adorable. It starts with a picture of a cute little girl hugging a dog. Then the flavour text goes on to say how the girl and the dog were inseparable until the dog died of old age. The little girl was devastated, so the parents explained how the dog had gone on to Heaven to be with God.

The little girl decided to write a letter to God with a few instructions as to what the dog liked, and included some photos, so God would be sure to recognize the dog when he showed up at Heaven's gates.

The letter was mailed to God, with lots of stamps since Heaven is a long way away. Some time later, there was a letter in responses, ostensibly from God, thanking the girl for the letter and saying the dog was happy, etc.

Now, all sorts of people are all melty and gooey from this, but I was left saddened. I'm sad the girl lost her dog. I really am. I even got a bit teary eyed, dang it! But I'm also sad that so many people are taking part in an elaborate ruse, when reality can be acceptable and reasonable to children. Things die. It's sad, but death is a part of life. And when they die, all sorts of fascinating processes take place, like decomposition, and fertilization of the soil, and regrowth from that rot. Fido isn't in heaven, but Fido could very well be helping new trees to grow. The bugs and worms that eat Fido get eaten by birds which get eaten by cats which contributes to the cycle of life. And yes, this same cycle will allow some other little girl or boy to have their very own dog who they love and who loves them back.
shanmonster: (Zombie ShanMonster)
My Dad fancies himself a good cook. Sometimes he does make good food. Other times, well, not so much.

Let me tell you about the time Dad decided to make supper for my sister and me.

He chose to make hamburgers. Sounds pretty basic, doesn't it? Well, not this time. Dad decided to become creative, and began mixing all sorts of things into the meat. I don't recall most of it, but I do remember he minced up lettuce and blended it with the ground beef.

When he slapped the patties onto the pan, they stank. Not like rotten meat, mind you, but like something horribly wrong. The meat was an unappetizing pallid grey. He put the ruined meat on buns and presented them to us. We shook our heads and said no, thank you.

Dad got furious at this, and told us to eat the burgers. I took a bite, then spit it out. It was disgusting. I couldn't make myself eat it. My sister was more stubborn, and wouldn't even take a single bite.

After railing at us a bit more, Dad finally decided to try his own cooking. "Oh," he said, then spit. "Oh. Oh."

In the meanwhile, our little yap dog, Terry, had been dancing all around us, begging for food. One of his nicknames was Garbage Gut, because he would eat anything.

Dad put his burger in Terry's dish.

Terry took a bite of the burger, lifted his leg, pissed on the burger, then ran away yiking like he was being kicked to death.

And so Dad threw the burgers out and we had Corn Flakes for supper.

Kitt. Cat.

Jun. 14th, 2011 02:16 pm
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
Hectic. Hectic. Up and down.

So [ profile] f00dave was away in California for a week, and I spent my time cleaning like whoa. My room has a bare floor and furniture uncluttered with leaning piles anymore! I even organized my bookshelf, which has been on my I'll-get-around-to-it-sometime list ever since I moved here several years ago.

At some point during all this, the hard drive on my computer died. I tried not to panic as I thought of all my research and writing files that might be lost to me forever. I tried not to worry about my music collection. But I worried anyway. The most annoying thing is that I'm getting Dave's old computer shortly, and would have been able to transfer all my files if my computer had been nice enough to wait just another week or two before dying. I didn't even know it was dying. It seemed healthy enough.

Fortunately, double-plus good DOES happen from time to time. Dave came home, and gifted me with an early birthday present: a new laptop! I promptly named it Kitt. And then, miraculously enough, my computer eventually did load up again. In fact, I'm typing on it right now, although it is acting sluggish. I have most of my files transferred over, and am hoping this machine will last until I take over Dave's old computer.

And all along, I keep cleaning and tidying and cleaning and listening to audio books all the while.

And then my poor part-time kitty, Tasselhoff, took very sick very suddenly. And today she was put down. She was calm and peaceful, thankfully. She graced me with one last bout of purring when I patted her. And then she had an injection and slipped off into sleep and then death. It felt wrong to leave her in the room, unattended. She'd been there, and now, it was just a vacant furry body, still looking like she was just sleeping. Poor kitty.

Now I'm sad again.


Not Dolly

Mar. 4th, 2011 09:41 am
shanmonster: (Default)
[Not Dolly]

This is not my pony Dolly. But she looks so much like her that I can pretend it is her. Dolly's mane was much thicker, but that's about the only difference I see here.

I miss my horses.

My Cats

Dec. 20th, 2010 08:56 pm
shanmonster: (Default)
I do not own a cat. However, over my life, I've owned many (or been owned by them, from the cats' points of view): possibly over a hundred, even. Until my mid-teens, I could recite the names of all these felines, but now, I can only remember a few.

  1. Jack: He was my very first cat, and ruled the house before I was born. I think he died when I was about two years old. I don't really remember him. I think he was a tabby.
  2. Kitty: Kitty was a tiny grey tabby. When I was about three or four years old, my family rented a cabin at Magaguadavic Lake. He came with us, and disappeared. We called and called him, but he didn't come back, and we were sure he was gone forever. But one day, he came back, mewing piteously, with a nasty injury on a back leg. Maybe he'd gotten caught in something. In any case, he did heal up. I don't know what ever became of him.
  3. Tigger: Tigger was a big orange tabby who just showed up one day when I was about four or five. He was big and friendly, and very lazy. We had a poodle at the time named Shabu who was Tigger's personal slave. Shabu was a consummate mouser, and would hunt down mice relentlessly, and lay them at the feet of Tigger so that Tigger would pick and choose which one he would like to eat.
  4. Siam: Siam was a purebred lilac-point Siamese. She thought she was a dog, and would go on long walks with the family. We went to visit our brand-new neighbours, one day. The man looked at us with Siam and blanched and said, "Quick. Get your cat out of here. My dog is a cat killer." But it was too late. The dog had already seen Siam and was making a beeline for her. Siam may have been tiny, but she had the spirit of a lioness, and with a mighty Siamese caterwaul, she launched herself at the dog, who screeched to a halt in his hurry to try to reverse. She threw herself at him and all but destroyed his nose, and he ran screeching and yiking back under the house while she chased him, all humped up and hissing.
  5. Marmalade: Marmalade was an utterly psychotic calico given to us by neighbours. Her mother had had distemper, and we suspect that's why she ended up being such a violently evil cat. She had violent mood swings at no provocation. One day, when she launched herself at me trying to claw my eyes out for no known reason, my Dad picked her up, went outside, and came back without her. And that was the end of Marmalade.
  6. Bimbo: Bimbo was one of Marmalade's kittens. She was a longhaired orange and white kitten. When she was young, she was fine, but as she matured, she was showing signs of becoming as unhinged as her mother. We were able to give her to a chicken farmer as a barn cat, where her lack of social skills was secondary to her mousing expertise.
  7. Orangey: Orangey was Bimbo's brother. He was a medium-haired orange tabby, and moved with us from New Brunswick to Newfoundland, and then to British Columbia. He apparently got sick and tired of all this moving, and moved in with another family. He became a minor cat celebrity when he climbed a power pole and refused to come down for three days. The newspaper photographed him and put him on the front page. I guess it was a slow news day. Before we moved yet again, my Mom put his certificates of vaccinations and such in that family's mail slot.
  8. Ankaru: Ankaru, or Anky, was a big white tom with grey tabby spots. He farted a lot. He also liked to eat the neighbour's honey bees. He died when he was hit by a car.
  9. Cleocatra: Cleo was a chocolate-point Himalayan who was so weak she couldn't even climb a tree. She was extremely feisty, and always had hissy fits at my Dad. She was too weak to break the skin, though, so he thought she was the funniest thing ever. Too weak to hunt such prey as mice and rats, she was able to take on the neighbour's honey bees, and killed and devoured dozens every single day. Ankaru taught her how to do it. We are pretty sure the bee farmer ran her down.
  10. Cougar - Cougar was one of my favourite cats, growing up, and Anky's brother. He was a huge grey tabby, and very wily. He always looked both ways before crossing the road, was a clever hunter, and roamed a lot. We found him dead on the side of the road, where a stud from a studded tire had shot out and got him in the head. His death seemed to have been instant. When we found him, I was so upset, I said "Fuck" for the first time in my life. And then I said it a second time. And then I didn't swear again for almost ten more years.
  11. Trubble: She was a tiny calico kitten when we got her, orphaned far too early. She shouldn't have been weaned yet, and we weren't sure she would survive. But she did. She had no cat skills, whatsoever. She didn't know how to bathe, how to hunt, or anything like that. So we taught her. And she ended up becoming one of the best hunters we ever had.
  12. Purrcy. Purrcy was a very shy grey tabby who was given to me by a pig farmer. The man looked at me, grabbed a tiny kitten from the hay loft, thrust it to me and said, "Here, have a kitten." The poor thing had likely never even seen a person before, and was utterly terrified, hiding under my shirt and trembling in fear. He was scared of everyone but me for a very long time, and only got used to my family when he was full grown. He would hide any time we had company.
  13. Foofoo. Foofoo had a ridiculous name, and the longest tail I've ever seen on a cat. She could curl it all the way around herself, and then halfway again. She was a beautiful long-haired calico, daughter to Purrcy and Trubble, and had a very serious temperament. She was quite paranoid about her kittens, and refused to birth in the house, but only in hidden places, bringing her kittens out to meet us only after they had been weaned... except once. One day, I looked out the window and saw her limping badly, carrying a tiny kitten in her mouth from the barn toward the house. I ran out to see what was wrong, and she passed the kitten to me and headed back toward the barn, her paws skewered by porcupine quills. I put the kitten in my pocket and followed her, scooping up all her kittens and then her, taking them back to the house. She had fought off a porcupine that had tried to eat her babies.
  14. Monster. Son of Purrcy and Trubble, Monster was an enormous kitten at birth, hence his name, black with a white chest. I once caught him peeing in the bathtub. I picked him up by the scruff of the neck to throw him outdoors, but he nonchalantly refused to stop peeing. So I let him finish in the tub, rather than have him spray all over the house. Someone stole him before he was fully grown, and he ended up in a neighbouring town. When we saw him and asked the people with him how it was they came to have him, they said they found him in our yard and thought he was a stray. *facepalm*
  15. Dumpling. Dumpling was a really bizarre tortoiseshell kitten, daughter to Trubble and Purrcy. She was probably my most favourite cat, ever. She loved reggae, heavy metal, and tomato soup. She was spiteful, hated tiny kittens, but liked teenaged kittens. The first time she got pregnant, she gave herself an abortion by leaping over and over again onto the edge of the box of the truck, landing on her midsection. The kittens were finally stillborn. The next time she got pregnant, she decided against the coathanger solution, and instead had her kittens inside my very tightly made bed, so she was smooshed between my hospital-style sheets. Her next litter was under the eaves of the porch, next to a starling's nest, which was convenient for her, but not for the panicked starling. Dumpling regularly abandoned her newborn kittens to the care of Foofoo and Trubble, but took over the care of all kittens, hers or otherwise, once they reached teenaged status.
  16. Orange One. Orange One was one of Dumpling's kittens, and was a total moron. He was by far the stupidest cat I ever had, and I caught him angrily trying over and over again to leap through a mirror. He was orange, of course.
  17. Tommy-Dude. Tommy-Dude was my last cat, son of Foofoo, who he grew to hate. He was a grey tabby, and an extremely fierce fighter. We didn't even know he was a fighter, because he never came home with a scratch. But all the neighbour's toms were wrecks. All the neighbours' cats were slowly beginning to look like Tommy-Dude clones. He had strong genes, it seems. None of the other toms were getting the chance to procreate. It was only when he became elderly that he started losing fights to his sons, and coming home beaten up. He started losing so badly, that he was forced into becoming a housecat, which he was never pleased with. He was missing many teeth, the tips of both ears, about an inch off his tail, had a broken nose, several broken ribs, and countless bumps and scars all over his body. But he was a very content cat right up until he finally had to be put down due to decrepitude.

These are the cats who stand out in particular, for me. I'm sure I'll remember more, later.
shanmonster: (Default)
Some day, I'd really like to have a Christmas tree. I didn't ever have one growing up, of course. About three years ago, [ profile] snowy_kathryn had hers set up here, but that's the only time I ever had one. Unless you count the time I once decorated a houseplant with disposable pink razors. I may be no Martha Stewart, but I do get a kick out of decorating trees. Maybe it's because it's still a total novelty for me.


I think this octopus is just the cutest thing I've seen all day.


See it and other nifty critters at Ten Weirdest New Animals of 2010: Editors' Picks.

The bad-ass of the week award goes to Gaius Marius, who was one cantankerous SOB.

f-words from plantagenet-era england: I think some of these should reenter common parlance.

Oriental Costumes: Their Designs and Colours: Good historical costuming resource.

All right. Back to proof-reading I go....
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
(I wrote this back in 1996, I think.)

Note: This is a true story. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Once upon a time, there lived a woman nicknamed Cheri. She was young and beautiful, and lived all alone. One fateful day, a handsome young man showed up. His name was Wally, and he was a stereotypical "bad boy." He had devilish good looks, and a demonic personality to match.

Cheri, like so many other foolish women, believed she could change him.

His demands for sex were flattering. He made her feel desirable. His amorous overtures were animal-like in their raw sensuality.

Out of an antiquated sense of morality, she refused to give in to his sexual demands. But her resolve was weakening. She yearned to experience the pleasures of the flesh. She was a virgin when she married Wally, but didn't stay that way for long.

On their wedding night, the brusque act was completed within five minutes.

Afterwards, she huddled in her bath wondering what exactly had happened. Was this all there was? A few quick pumps and a squirt? She didn't feel loved. She felt used.

In the meantime, Wally climbed on top of the roof and started announcing his exploits to all who could hear.

Cheri was morbidly ashamed.

She swore to herself she wouldn't put up with his advances again. She decided to get the wedding annulled. Unfortunately, she discovered she was pregnant. Since she had no one else to turn to, and didn't feel able to raise the baby on her own, she decided to give Wally another chance.

Time passed, and Cheri's abdomen grew turgid with the life she carried within. Wally became sadistic. When she refused his demands for sex, he would attack her, pulling out her hair, kicking her, and biting. But she was able to protect herself and her child from any serious injuries. Like so many other abused women, she still thought she could change him. She was determined to love him, no matter how badly he treated her.

When Wally was spurned, his violent needs for sexual release grew stronger. He began looking for other women to woo, but none would have him. His perversions worsened; he assuaged his sex drive by long, ornate masturbation sessions. He became adroit at orally pleasuring himself, especially when Cheri could see him. He began to practice coprophilia, and would languidly masturbate while sitting in his own feces.

Horrified and repelled, Cheri turned her back on him.

Finally, the day came when Cheri went into labour. It was a quick and painless birth, with a surprise. Wally and Cheri were the parents of twins: one boy and one girl. They were named Lisa and Jonathan. No sooner had the babies been born and cleaned off when Wally savagely raped Cheri. She didn't have the strength to fight back.

The next day, Wally tried to rape her again. This time, she was ready, and fought him off in a savage flurry of attacks. He was left stunned and bleeding. Cheri kicked him out of the house, and decided to raise the children on her own. Anything was better than letting Lisa and Jonathon grow up around that sort of monster.

At first, Wally stormed about in a crazed rage. He soon wore himself out, both physically and emotionally. The exiled Wally became lonely and melancholy. He regretted the terrible way he'd been treating his wife. He called her repeatedly. He told her how sorry he was to have treated her so badly; he told her he wanted to see his children, the fruit of their love; he told her how much he loved and missed her.

After a week, Cheri gave into his pleading.

At first, they seemed to get along. Wally was surprisingly tender, and would cuddle with Cheri and their children.

But then the violence started again. He tried to force himself upon her, but she managed to get away from him. Then, to her horror, she discovered he was molesting the twins. This was more than her abused psyche could handle, and her mind turned itself off. She sat in the corner of the house, rocking herself back and forth while staring blankly at the walls. In the meantime, the babies cried piteously as their pedophile father sodomized them.

The babies grew up to be good-looking children, but they were emotionally scarred. Their father repeatedly molested them and their mother didn't appear to care. Child welfare services found out about the abuse, and the children were shipped off to foster homes.

Cheri became pregnant again.

This time, the baby was a boy. He was named Samuel, and was a bright-eyed and bushy-taled little guy. Wally decided to take Samuel under his wing, so to speak, and show him how to be a real man. As Samuel grew older, he watched how his father forcefully enforced his commands. Wally was indeed the lord of his castle, and Cheri waited upon his beck and call.

When Samuel was still a little boy, Cheri became pregnant for a third time. She was starting to feel like a broodmare. She was amazed to give birth to triplets, this time. They were all boys: Michael, Martin, and Zach.

When his newest sons were born, something snapped in Wally's mind, and he once again began to molest his wife and children. When Cheri refused him and stood between him and the infants, he began raping Samuel. He would even do so in front of Cheri and his baby boys.

This continued for quite a while. Samuel, who used to be a bright and cheery boy, became a sullen and moody teen. Cheri became withdrawn, once again, and began to falter in the protection of her three youngest boys. Soon they too were being molested on a regular basis. Wally also upped the frequency with which he physically assaulted his wife.

It all had to end somehow.

One night, Cheri, Samuel, Michael, Martin, and Zach attacked Wally. They flew into him with every weapon at their disposal. They clawed, bit, and kicked him. They threw furniture at him. They pulled out his hair and raked the flesh off his body.

There was no way he could fight them all off. By the morning, there wasn't much left of him. He lay on his bed a bleeding, oozing mass of pus and coagulating blood. He was in shock, and was bleeding to death. His left ear was almost completely detached. His nose looked like it had been chewed off.

A neighbour chanced by that morning and saw Wally through the window. Horrified, she called an ambulance and he was taken to the hospital. His ear was reattached, and he was treated with antibiotics. However, despite the hospital's best efforts, he died later that day.

His family demonstrated no remorse.

Samuel and Cheri were taken to court. The jury decided they had acted in self-defense, and recommended counselling in lieu of jail time. They believed Samuel and Cheri would not be a further danger to society. They did, however, remove the three youngest children from their mother's care.

With Wally out of the way, Cheri began to come out of her shell. Correspondingly, Samuel became less moody.

Nevertheless, their life was by no means normal.

Cheri began to experience sexual desires once again. Unfortunately, they were directed toward her son Samuel. Samuel's twisted upbringing combined with his adolescent hormonal surges. His mother was still a beautiful woman. And her flirtations were provocative indeed.

It wasn't long before they consummated their lust.

And the ever-fertile Cheri became pregnant yet again. And again.

The newest children don't know their brother is their father. The oldest children are unaware of their newest siblings, and their mother's relationship with Samuel.

For reasons unknown, child welfare didn't step in again.

The cycle is bound to perpetuate itself.

This story is the stuff from which legends and soap operas are made. It has repeated itself many times: the Greek myth of Oedipus and Jocasta, Grimm's fairy tale "Donkey Skin," William Shakespeare's Hamlet and King Lear, and John Boorman's Deliverance. It will repeat itself in the future.

The main difference between these tales and the preceding one is that of species. Cheri (née Chichi), Wally, and company are (or were, in the case of Wally) all chinchillas.

July 2017

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