thejunipertree: (Default)
I came across an entry in [livejournal.com profile] deadphotos this evening of two luna moths. Ghostly green and lying face to face on a weathered wooden plank, beautiful and strange in their alien gauze.

For those of you who have never seen one in person, luna moths, Actias luna, are goddamn gigantic. The largest generally having a four and a half centimeters wide wingspan, they dwarf the moths people are more commonly familiar with. The gypsy moth, what most people in my area think of when think "moth", is a mewling cousin in comparison.

I've been a bit obsessed with lunas ever since the first time I saw one, on a camping trip I went on about eight years ago with the Engineer and the MWC. It was the second time I'd ever gone camping since I was an honest-to-God Brownie and I was pretty psyched at the prospect of building a great big fuckoff bonfire in the fire ring spending some time outdoors with my friends.

On our way there, a two hour drive, the Engineer and I stole constant unhappy glances at an ever-darkening sky. Storm clouds loomed over the trees and the temperature dropped several degrees, but mile after mile deeper into the Pine Barrens, rain still did not begin to fall. It was a slow and torturous drive full of quiet So, what do you think we should do? exchanged between the two of us. Neither of us had a cell phone at that point, so we couldn't call ahead to the site and see what was going on there, as our friends had arrived several hours earlier. I couldn't leave work early enough that day and so the added threat of the oncoming night also weighed heavy on our minds. The weather was turning to shit and it was getting dark, these are not optimum set-up conditions. Who wants to put up a tent in the fucking rain and the dark? Not this silly bitch.

When we finally got to the campsite, it was full-on dark and fat drops of rain had been splashing down for the past twenty minutes. The Engineer and I grabbed our tent and bed gear, leaving everything else in his PT Cruiser until the rain stopped. From the our parking spot, we had a hike about the length of a football field to the camp site, which was situated off the tip-most point of a wee penisula jutting into Parvin lake. Oh, sure you're thinking. A football field length of a hike, you fucking crybaby. And normally, I would agree with you. It's not that far to hike at all. However, there are certain times when that bit of a jaunt through the woods seem more like a trek through the Appalachians.

1. in the dark
2. in the rain
3. in the middle of the night

All things considered, my vote for The Worst Ever is number three. Normally, I am lazy to the point of staying in bed until I am in physical pain before I get up too pee. The mad dash to the bathroom after a morning of blanket-wrapped don't wanna is mercifully brief. In my apartment. That "mad dash" because some serious fucking business when one is on a camping trip and is a special realm of hell I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

First of all, we always camp in the spring and fall, so the middle of the night pee runs are usually done in damp, chilly weather. Damp and chilly weather is so not enjoyable when one has been curled under a down sleeping bag next to a snoring Engineer (seriously, he's like a fucking furnace). One particular camping trip in early April, a deceptively warm weekend had gone brutally cold overnight unexpectedly and we were so not equipped for that change of temperature. That time, I remember there being tears. Mine or the Engineer's, I will not divulge, but there were definitely tears.

But that night, that second-time-ever-trip of the rain and the dark and the hey hey hey? I remember walking down the trail for the first leg of unloading, it's pissing down rain and I can hear the Engineer mumbling unhappily under his breath ahead of me in the darklightdark bounce of my flashlight. We finally reached the site after a soggy dog's age and a half and I dumped the tent gear next to a line of brushes that started the natural, guarded perimeter of the peninsula. It was a great site and would prove to be extremely beautiful, come morning when the sun was out and it had stopped raining. As the bag hit the ground, I caught a flutter at their edge out of the corner of my eye.

Looking around the far edge, I found that I had just missed squishing flat a sodden moth the size of my goddamn hand, weakly waving its pale green and eyespotted wings in the rain. I'd never seen such a thing before in my life and forgot everything going on around me as I watched it twitching its antennae at my flashlight cutting beams through the dark. In my bookjunkie travels prior to this trip, I'd already read about luna moths and had found that they only lived in their adult form for a week and didn't have a mouth; so they didn't eat during that time, either. The handstapleforehead pretentious goth girl side of me that I've never been able to quite shake marveled at the impermanence of its life. To be so beautiful, for such a short period of time! It was tragic, a Grimm's come to life and before my very eyes.

With everyone situating themselves around the campsite, it needed to be put in a spot where it wouldn't be trod upon or squished unceremoniously flat by tossed gear (I still cringe at the thought of how close I came to unknowingly killing it, even now, so many years later). So, I took the time to select a nearby cove of shrubbery (hee, shrubbery) where it would be safe and as much out of the rain as possible.

That finally accomplished, I started the slog back to the Engineer's car to pick up more of our camp equipment. The rain had soaked through my braids and they were beginning to trickle down the back of my Dawn of the Dead hoodie, so I pushed back the hood and slicked my hands through my bangs, pushing them off my skin and turning my face to the tapering rain. I've always been a tactile creature, reveling in the feel of my fingers brushing down a perfectly smooth and cool surface or plunging my hands through the fabric of a dress on a store rack simply because it looks good to touch. Water in all its forms and methods of delivery has always been a favorite, so even though the conditions at the time were less than optimal, I still took the time to carve out a small moment of sensory enjoyment. I was already soaked through and it was fairly warm out, so what was the harm?

The Engineer caught me like that, face in the rain and grinning like a fool. A purely happy moment that I sometimes revisit when things get shittastic, as they have been lately. We've pulled mostly through and can see at least a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, but it's shaky. Money is tighttighttight, as always, and I'm starting school again next week after being out since I graduated from CCC in December. I have tense moments of quiet desperation and there is a constant sense of teetering, which have driven me into either a series of short and intense bouts of depression, or just one really long one with peaks and lows.

I come home from work snarly and make sure to rub Timothy's belly as soon as I get in the door. It is a tiny joy I wait for all day. I try to laugh as much as I can, when I can. I make elaborate-on-a-budget meals and have experimented with ingredients I've typically shied away from, purely for eking out the thrill I still get whenever I make something from nothing. Taking my little pleasures out wherever I can has largely kept me from going completely into the deep end lately.

I think of my moth; nothing is permanent.
thejunipertree: (Default)
I don't have much call to use this particular icon all that often anymore, as it is of Charlie and she is long past.

However, I finally knuckled down and completed one of the animal preservation projects I'd been talking about for a while: namely, the jugging of Charlie.

possibly not for the squeamish )
thejunipertree: (Default)
It has been suggested on more than one occasion in the past few months that I may have some difficulty with "letting things go".

Confused? Probably not, if'n you know me, but I'll explain further anyway.

I'm more than a touch morbid in that I seem to have an undeniable attraction to dead things. Wee animals in jars, animal skulls, human cremains. It all holds a strange fascination to me, to the point where I actively collect these things.

I've also started talking about preservation methods for my pets. Out of the animals from my household who have died in the past four years, I have more of them in my freezer (and the Engineer's freezer) than I do in the ground or cremation boxes. I've talked about preserving some of them in fluid, in clear jars, for display (and I still think this isn't a bad idea). I've made semi-serious jokes about having my marmelade cat, Baby, taxidermied when he finally dies. But, instead of having him frozen into an unnatural pose, I want him filled with those tiny styrofoam balls they put in squishy pillows. And a heating pad. So I can still sit on the couch and rub his belly into oblivion.

When discussing these things a couple of weeks ago, it mentioned to me that perhaps all of this is the reason why I am so drawn to funeral service and am so determinedly (is that a word?) pursuing my education in it.

And honestly? I am not sure sometimes.

I have an incredibly strong fear of death, which has gotten much worse since my mother died and I have grown older. I obsess over it. I lie in bed in the little hours of night, unable to sleep because my head is full of "what if...?"s. I paralyze myself with thoughts of car accidents, gun attacks, and malignant cancers. A terror grips me when I think of what comes next after this life; my religion has been shaken to its core and barely provides shelter to me any longer.

All of this is so bizarre to me. I used to be perpetually suicidal; I've attempted it three times in my life when I was younger. Everything hurt so fucking much, I just wanted it all to stop. And as I grew older, I recognized I couldn't ever put those I loved through the particular kind of hellish pain the survivors are left holding, but the thought of self-annhilation was never very far from my mind.

Now? The very idea makes me sick to my stomach. Suicide is now an abomination to me. Mine, or anyone else's.

I don't understand any of it, personally. My brain has become such a whirlwind over the past few years that I'm not sure how I even get my boots on, half of the time. I'm so tightly wound, if one were to flick me, I'd probably *ping!* like a fine crystal wine goblet. Which is hilarious when I think about it, because I'm always hollaring at the Engineer for being uptight and how he needs to be more laid-back.

I think I need to go smoke a cigarette and shake this off my back. Who writes this shit on a Saturday afternoon, anyway?



My biggest fear is if I let you go,
You'll come and get me in my sleep.
thejunipertree: (Default)
Any lingering doubt that I could handle mortuary science/funeral service has now been erased.

I just sat and read through this webpage (warning- lots of really gross images, I'm not kidding), while eating a messy cheeseburger, and didn't even fucking blink. No queasiness, no 'omg, eww!' episodes. Nothing. All I felt was sympathy for the poor ratty and a burning curiousity for the inner workings of mammals.

Over the years, I've handled a wide variety of corpses before, ranging from pets to roadkill to family members to fetal remains. It doesn't phase me, other than feelings of sorrow and those are moreso intertwined with the personal attachment to what used to inhabit the bodies and my personal relationship to them, rather than any sort of 'omg, death!' ickiness.

I can so do this.

Now, if only I would stop getting heart-stopping letters of "YOU ARE TOTALLY NOT GETTING THIS GRANT/SCHOLARSHIP!" that masquerade as FAFSA notifications. I've gotten two so far. One of which was from the college and stated that while I showed considerable need for financial aid, I didn't qualify for it at this time (most likely some sort of county-specific thing that they run everyone through) and the other was from HESAA (telling me my eligibilty index was too high to receive aid, the Engineer got one of these also). Neither of them are the big, important notifications. So, I'm going to attempt to quit freaking out about them.

Pay special attention to my use of the word 'attempt', mind you.

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thejunipertree

January 2011

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