Why I really got into show business…

I started out as a musician. 

6 years old with a 1/2 sized violin tucked under my chin. I was my teachers youngest student. She taught old school classical style. It was almost a Karate Kid kind of teaching … Hold this ball between the neck of the violin and you hand to make sure your wrist has the right curve. Place a glass of water on the back of your bow hand to make sure it stays level and smooth while you draw the bow across the strings. 
Trust me…That is right up there with catching a fly with chopsticks. 
I played all through elementary school and middle school, joining the orchestra as soon as I was allowed. While the other kids were learning “Mary had a little lamb” I was working on Schubert. 

Then we moved to a school district where there was no Orchestra…just band. I needed to learn a new instrument if I intended to keep myself musical, so I picked up the Tuba. From middle school to high school, that was what I played. I got good at that too. I even attended Interlochen Arts Academy during the summer to play with the best of the best. At school the band was very very small. At times we did not have enough students to cover all of the parts so sometimes I would fill in on drums or baritone. I loved it and was sure that I was bound to become a professional musician. It was my first love. 
My Sophomore year we had a change of band teachers. This was not a good thing. She was fresh out of college herself and lacked the experience and talent to run a small band like ours. She refused to help transpose pieces into the instrumentation we had and only allowed us to work on solo pieces. This was not what any of us had signed up for. On top of that she was foul tempered and lecherous. More than once I heard her drooling over some of the students out loud. It was crass, disgusting and just plain wrong. She was the only teacher I ever had a real confrontation with. Bad enough that I sent MYSELF to the office for my own safety. She had said in front of the class that I was talentless and had no reason ever touching a musical instrument again. This was because I had asked her if we could please work on something as a group and refused to work on solos anymore, I had accused her of not knowing HOW to transpose music. She threw a pile of sheet music at me and shouted the above.
The next year, there was no band class. It had been offered, but no one would take it. Not from her. Not ever.
My creative outlet was gone. 
People who say a single teacher cannot make a difference have no idea. One bad, very bad, extremely bad teacher changed the course of my life. 
I found out about an audition for a musical at the local community theater. Although at this point I had no faith in my musical abilities I decided to try out. It would give me something to do, even with a tiny bit part. 
I got one. It was not a huge part but at least I had lines to say and even got to sing a little. I was out on stage without my instrument to hide behind and I did ok. 
The next musical they did I got a much bigger part and was told that I had a really good singing voice. I was surprised by this but went with it. At 16 I was cast as a 35 year old Scotsman…I even had the dialect down. 
That is when I decided to be an actor. I loved being different people, loved the costuming, loved that I was part of a bigger story. Still…It was missing something. I couldn’t put my finger on it …
I went to college as a theatre major, concentrating in performance and dialect. I was cast in plays and musicals my Freshman year, even though I was up against students with much more experience and time in the program. 
Along that time I happened to see a television broadcast of David Bowie’s Glass Spider tour. It was good, I enjoyed it…Then it came to this part-

Watch it. Watch the whole thing.
There is a moment at the 2 min 50 second mark…A girl dressed exactly the same as Bowie…Saying each individual word as though she was singing the song herself. She is not just lip syncing…In those moments, deep inside her, she IS Bowie. He brought her along with him to the point that she is feeling the song, she is feeling what he is doing, she is not listening to the song she is transported by it. Transformed by it. 
I wanted THAT. That kind of power. To get that sort of energy from an audience. To give so much of yourself that the audience has no choice but to be one with you. 
In general I am a very closed off person. My emotions vary rarely come out and I don’t let many people in. To me this seemed such a dangerous concept, one that absolutely terrified me. 
I wanted it. More. Than. Anything.

Acting nudged at it. Since you are always someone else you can never really give everything that you are. Not entirely. 
I started to see my path when I joined the Rosier Players Vaudeville show. 4 nights a week we did three act plays. I would play in the pit and then run up to act on stage then back to the pit again. 

It was the 5th night where things became more clear. The 5th night (The Saturday night show) was variety night. We would do skits interspersed with musical numbers and other acts. The 5th night, I played no character. I was simply me on stage.

I had one solo song. The band would play and I would have the whole stage to myself and I sang.  It was one of the most frightening things I ever had to do. It was the song “Somebody Loves Me”. It is about a person looking everywhere to find just the right person…He knows that they are out there but does not know where. Worried that his one true love might pass him on the street without him noticing. 
I sang it and let myself be vulnerable. I let the feelings of that song come over me as I crouched at the front of the stage. I reached out and touched hands, I locked eyes with my audience plainly asking if they were the one I was looking for…
I frequently got mobbed after the Saturday night show. 
And I had a taste of what it is like to really connect with an audience. 
It was incredible. It was not acting, it was giving myself to the wonderful people who I hoped would want to come along…and they did.
This started me onto the path I am on today. Sure…It is a comedy show now but I am still trying to bring everyone along with me. The reason people cringe is because they can put themselves in my place. They can feel the glass under their feet or on the side of their face.  They imagine a trap snapping on their own tongue. They can feel how much I adore my partner and how much I really do trust her (Despite my protestations to the contrary). For the most part, they seem to enjoy the trip.
And every now and then if I have time before the show starts, I will tell a story. Quietly, sitting on the front of the stage I talk. I connect. I tell them of things that happened to me in my life…I look into their eyes and see that they are there. They are indeed with me.
It is amazing. 

 

Speak it and it shall be.

A few years back, I said to Sylver “You know…I’d like to move into an actual house some day.”
We did, even though at the time I said it, it seemed impossible.
I had thought it many times but had dismissed it as something that would never happen. I said it out loud and it happened.
Some time after that, Sylver said “You know…I’d like to go to Mexico.” 
Again, impossible at the time…We had just moved into a house. A bit after that we found ourselves in Playa Del Carmen Mexico.
“I’d like to start an aerial arts school”
Silly… We had no location or a way to get one. 
Two years later we are housed at the largest Gymnastics Complex in West Michigan with classes 4 nights a week.
A month or so after we started that “I’d like to do a week long run at a large county fair.”
We wound up in Iowa for a week at the National Cattle Congress.
Right after that “You know…We should find a way to get onto national TV…”
We wound up on a reality show that will be airing in May of this year.

We have said a few things out loud since then, and several of them are on their way to fruition.
All of these things seemed impossible and we had no clue on how to make them happen when we said them. Yet things fell together at just the right moments. 
Why is this? Magic? The Power of Positive thinking? Some amazing deity reaching down from the heavens to align things perfectly to make our dreams come true?
Hardly.
You ever have one of those days when every time you looked at the clock it was 1:11, 2:22 and then 3:33?
An obscure song comes to mind and then you hear it three times in the same day?
Thought of someone and then very soon afterwards get a message of some sort from them?
Your mind is very selective as to what it hilights. 
There is a 1:11, 2:22 and 3:33 occurring twice every day. Once this sequence is hilighted we tend to forget the times we looked at the clock at 1:24, 2:36 and 4:35.
When we hear an obscure song that we just thought of, we neglect to remember the 30 other obscure songs we thought of but did not hear as well as the 30 other songs we did hear but had not thought of.
We forget the other people we thought of but did not get a message from.

When we say something out loud, our subconscious starts to run programs to seek out things relevant to that statement. I mention going to Bali and all of a sudden *BAM* I see a travel advert for Bali. I had most likely seen that advert for Bali many times but now my programs are running- It jumps out. Pathways to make it happen start to appear and it becomes clear how to make it happen.
I am not saying it does not take work. It does. We worked our bums off to make the aerial school happen. It took sacrifice and hard work to get onto the TV show. What the process does is finds a way to make the impossible more attainable. It shines a light onto the path that must be taken to achieve the goal.

This is different from my previous blog about seeing what you focus on as that only deals with the present. It helps you look at your life and say “You know…This ain’t so bad.”  This is more aggressive, it helps to shape your future. It helps to pull you towards your goals. A race driver once said “You will always drive towards where you are looking.” You look towards the inside of the curve where you want to go. If you look at the wall, you are going to hit it.
Say what you want, out loud. Say it in front of people that you want to get there with. Apply the filter that will help you see the important stuff: The things you are going to need. When all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. Look at what you want and then find the tools. After that, everything seems to fall into place.

Just say it out loud.

“Nice” Guys are horrible people

Another rant against the “Poor Me” types.
Yep…That’s me. Squishing my boot against the faces of the already downtrodden.
Hey there “Nice” guys (And girls too! I know you are out there!)! Got a thought for you…

Do you want to know why you never get the girl (or guy)?
You look at yourself and see someone who sacrifices themselves for the object of their affections. You are always there when their relationships are falling apart. You listen. You offer a shoulder to cry on. You take them out for coffee or dinner. You go help them fix their car when it breaks down at 3 am. You give them massages when they are stressed out.
You go in for a kiss and are rejected…Told that you are just friends.
Yep…You get friendzoned. Or worse.
“Why?” you cry inwardly. “After all I do for them…why don’t they care for me in that way? They should love me!!”
I mean…Look at all you do for them…You don’t ask anything in return. You just give and give and give…
Would it kill them to give you a chance?
I know at least a few people reading this are nodding their head in agreement.
Those are the people I am talking to right now.
You are NOT a “Nice” guy (Or girl…Consider that implied from now on).
You think that you do all of these nice things freely…That you demand nothing in return. That is a lie you have told so often you believe it yourself.
They do NOT owe you a chance. That is the payment you are expecting. Every time you lament “Why don’t girls go for the nice guys” you are implying that the simple act of being  nice should get you the object of your affections. Society owes you that and you are confused why it does not come back to you in spades.

Thinking that you are owed love and affection because you do nice things for someone is no different than expecting sexual favors because you bought them lobster for dinner. That’s right “nice” guys…doing nice things to gain emotional leverage over someone is not nice. It is calculating and manipulative.
And it is remarkably ineffective.
There are really only three outcomes you will get from that sort of interaction:
1- You use it on someone with extremely low self esteem or very little emotional experience. You will then develop a very unhealthy relationship based on them owing you for all you do for them. This relationship will either end when they realize how there is nothing really there or continue on into a dreadful and abusive relationship based on who owes who what. Frequently, when the relationship ends, the “Nice” guy goes into stalker mode feeling that they are still owed more than what they got. Think about that “nice” guys…Have you ever gotten broken up with and serial dialed/texted/stood outside their house insisting that you get one more chance? That you “deserve” one more chance?
You don’t.
2- The person realizes that they are being emotionally manipulated and then distances themselves from you. You feel rejected and still “owed”. If it goes well, they drift away to a comfortable distance and you have lost a friendship. If not…See stalker mode above.

3- The person you are showering your niceness on is actually kind of a bad person. They will then allow you to be as nice as you can be and take full advantage of your generosity. They will stay just flirty enough to string you on while pursuing their own romantic agenda. Most “nice” guys eventually find one of these and will puppy dog around after them for ages. At least until the object of the affections finds the partner they were looking for. This will either end with the “Nice” guy confronting the object in a last ditch effort (Possible stalker mode again) or retreating to their “Why don’t they ever go for the nice guy” mantra.

So…What is the solution?
Should you go out and start being a jerk? Never do nice things for anyone?
Of course not.
Stop being a “nice” guy and start being a good one. No one owes you anything. Ever. Just be a decent person to everyone that you can. Appreciate when someone does something nice for you. Smile at strangers. Say nice things about people even when they aren’t there. Leave a penny by the motorized ponies at Meijers. Tip your server.
Expect nothing in return.
These are attractive properties.
It is kind of like the difference between a politician holding/kissing a baby and some biker looking dude holding/kissing a baby.
One is doing it because it looks good to the public. One is doing it because babies are awesome.
Ask around on that one. See how attractive something like that can make you…If you are doing it for the right reasons.
Be selfless, be good. It will all come to you.
Promise.

And a moment of full disclosure- I’ve done it too. All the way down to serial calling and standing outside of a house in the pouring rain insisting that I deserved another chance. That she owed me that.
Yeah. Not cool at all. Kinda pathetic really. I got better.

 

Mirror Scrying and Wax Divination- Methods of Meditation

These are the notes from a workshop I gave at Grand Rapids Pagan Pride Day 2006. A couple of people have inquired about them in the past, and another one just today, so I thought I’d post them up for anyone interested.

Here they are, my notes for Mirror Scrying and Wax Divination. Let me know if you have any questions.

 

Mirror Scrying (Or Water Bowl Scrying) and Wax Divination

Presented by Gwydion Sidhe aka: Gwyd the Unusual

The Scrying

The mirror or bowl selected must be kept in complete darkness for at least 7 days before use as a scrying device. Covering with a silk cloth is recommended.

Preparation: In a clear glass Jar or bottle, collect a small amount of stream, rain or other natural source of water. Add to that a stick of cinnamon (Increases psychic awareness), a clove (For protection and heightened senses), and if you have it, a small piece of Amethyst (Also increases psychic awareness, and can be used to hold certain energies). Set it out at night before, during and after the full moon. DO NOT LEAVE IT OUT DURING THE DAY! This will allow the water to cleanse itself, and collect the energy needed to scry. This is the same water that I use for wax divination, something I do after almost all mirror or bowl scrying .

Method: This is something that can only be performed at night, OUTDOORS, preferably one with no moon or much ambient unnatural light. Whether the sky is cloudy, there are trees overhead, or if the sky is completely clear and starry should not matter, but different people get different results. (Personally, I would love to try sometime when the northern lights are out…) Find what works best for you.

Cleanse your space through whatever method works best for you, be it casting a circle, projecting while light, etc… Incense is always a nice touch. Find one that will help you focus. Also light a candle (Prep for the candle described below in the Wax Divination section) to keep burning throughout the scrying.

Sit cross-legged on the ground, the mirror set in front of you lying flat. Breathe in and out slowly three times, and you are ready to begin.

Drip three drops of the water into the center of the mirror focusing on the powers that surround you, asking that they open a window showing that which you need to see (If using a bowl for the scrying, fill nearly to the lip, other than that bowl scrying is nearly identical to that done with any mirror). When starting out, it is best not to be too demanding as to what you want to see, once you become more accustomed to the tool, then you can get more specific. Wait a moment in silence to give the window time to open. Touch the drops of water at the center of the mirror with your power hand just enough to wet your fingertip. Touch that drop of water to your “third eye” (The space up just a bit between your eyebrows). This should waken your “third eye” (Your psychic eye) and connect it to the mirror.

Now look at the center of the mirror.

Just look.

Don’t think.

Don’t wonder “Is this going to work?”

Just LOOK.

It is a focused meditation that will bring you what you need to see. You need to lose yourself in that tiny center part of the mirror. If you need to blink, blink…But with most people that urge fades pretty quickly, at least decreasing in frequency.

Just look and relax.

Look at the shapes the water has made on the mirror, look at how the sky is reflecting through those drops.

At some point, you should start to see something. At first amorphous black shapes, and when you learn to keep focusing through that, images will start to appear.

If you try this for a looooong time and are getting no results at all, take a break and stare at the candle for a minute, then go back to looking into the mirror. This is kind of like a little jump start, giving your regular eyes something to start out from, some amorphous blobs that can be guided into the shapes and images that will show you what you need to know.

Some people see clear images of things to come or will see the path they should take, others will see symbols or symbolic images.

Once the images fade out, tap your “third eye” three times with your off hand to disconnect from the mirror. Release your circle and end your ritual as you normally would. Make sure to do this whether or not you experienced a vision. It is important to disconnect from the tool. Leaving yourself open to any part of an ethereal plane is not a good idea, and can cause bizarre hallucinations.

Write down what you saw immediately. These images tend to fade like dreams, and can be hard to recapture without prompts.

If you are one of the lucky ones who simply sees events, meditate on these to figure out what exactly they mean. For symbolic visionaries, you may need to consult a symbolic imagery book or dream interpretation book (Not a Freudian one though…That guy had issues!) Personally, I prefer personal interpretations of images. More on that later.

For now, on to the paired Divination…

A side note– If you experience a vision that seems hostile or extremely disturbing, tap out your “third eye” immediately to disconnect from the tool. End your ritual. Cleanse the mirror, and do not attempt further scrying for one full lunar cycle. Put it somewhere where you will not even see it for that period of time. If you have repeated visions of an unpleasant nature on subsequent readings, get a consult from a trusted reader. You may need to get some additional help.

Divination  with Melted Wax

Right now, you are probably wondering why I combine the two of these together…You just did a mirror scry, so what is the point? You know what you need to know now, right?

Perhaps you do. In fact, I hope you do! However, there are two good reasons to always be ready to do a wax divination after a scrying.

1-       If you did not see anything in the mirror due to distractions, tension, something was blocking you or simply because you are not able to reach the level of focus at this point, you have a backup. You will already have the energy raised, it takes only a minute or two to do, and it is a great way to release energy at the end of your personal ritual. Wax divinations, while not as in depth as mirror scrying, have almost guaranteed results.

2-       The results from a wax div are physical. There is something left from the process that you can actually hold in your hands. This has some distinct advantages. The images from a scry are ephemeral…They dissipate quickly like a dream. Even if you wrote something down, it can only capture the simplest essence of what you saw , and a lot of what would be learned can be lost. With the wax you can have a constant reminder of what needed to be learned and you can revisit the results daily. Another advantage of the fact that the results are physical, is you can get a second opinion. If you are really stumped, you can take it to someone else and have them take a look and tell you what they see.

Wax divinations can be done on their own without the scry as a quick and dirty Q&A. I do a lot of them by themselves. But whenever I do a scry, I do wax divination at the end.

Preparation: First, a candle must be selected. Personally, I find it easier to go generic and use white. It is neutral, and won’t be influenced by your thoughts on the subject. A lot of people would say that you should go with a color that matches your question. I tend to disagree. I’ll explain why in a bit*…For now use the white.

The type of candle is a little more open for debate. Pretty much anything but a taper. You need something that can pool wax in it. Tea lights are ok, but the metal can get hot. I like to use a votive in a glass votive holder. Holds the wax in, looks pretty and if you are doing this with the scrying above, it will help to shelter the flame from the outdoor winds. You don’t want to break focus to fumble with a lighter.

For the preparation of the candle itself…Like your ritual space, cleanse it in a method that you are familiar and comfortable with then dedicate it to it’s purpose.

Method: Take the remainder of the water you have left and pour it into a chalice or goblet (If you are doing a water bowl divination, use your bowl), asking that the water will pull out the images you need to see in a way that you can understand.

CAREFULLY lift up the candle that has been burning throughout the scry, being careful not to spill the pooled wax. Hold it in front of your eyes focusing all of your remaining energy into the wax.

Don’t rush. Hold it until you are sure it is time.

Pour the pool of wax quickly into the center of the goblet.

Fish the cooled piece (Or pieces) of wax out of the goblet and set aside to dry off.

Pour the water out onto the ground and end your ritual.

Take a break…Get a drink of water, take a short stroll, whatever…The key is to get a little bit of distance from the ritual and clear your head.

When you are back to a more “Normal” state of mind, go back and gently pick up your piece of wax.. tuen it over, turn it upside down, look at it from all sides. Write down any shapes you see. Don’t interpret yet, just find the recognizable shapes. You will probably find that the overall piece has a certain shape, and that there are other shapes inside of it, and even shapes inside of that.

Image Interpretation

Now, how does one interpret what they see?

I am of the belief that there is no single way to read an image. Each thing means something different to an individual. To one person an image of a snake embodies evil, fear and loathing. Their brother used to torture them with snakes in their bed, so now, a snake could not mean anything but. For me, a snake embodies patience, longevity, wisdom and comfort. I have a beautiful old pet python that is the sweetest most perfect animal companion on the planet .She waits patiently for the right moment to grab her food, she is aged, but still healthy, she wisely only bites things that she can eat, and her weight on my shoulders as she coils around my neck for warmth is incredibly relaxing.

Same critter, but she would send a lot of you screaming for help where it just makes me want to cuddle.

So…How do we apply this?

For each image that you saw while scrying or coiled inside the wax, write down what it means to you.

Do not think of your question, just the presented images.

What do you see when you think of a duck? A hammer? A duck with a hammer? A frog? A human hand?

Once you have written these all down (In the order you found them in) then start applying them to your question. You will find that the images seen first are the surface of the problem, or the perceived problem. As you go down through the list, you will get closer and closer to what you need to know until finally, you will have a clue.

Revisit the wax shape several times over the next few days to see if it has more to reveal to you.

If you are still stumped, then talk to someone else about what you saw (Preferably someone who has a clue about intuitive divination). Alternately, show the piece of wax to a child. See what they see in it.

You might be surprised.

They have amazingly unclouded eyes.

Gwyd

*Colored candles chosen for specific purposes can add an unintentional slant to a reading. Example-

Anna has a question about love. “Why is her boyfriend so distant?”

She does a divination with a red candle for love.

In the shapes, she finds a heart, a beautiful red heart with legs. She determines that this must mean that he has taken his heart elsewhere, has found someone else. She decides that she needs to break it off before she gets hurt.

If she had done the reading with white wax, the red heart with legs would have not looked as much like a heart, but a white frog. To her frogs meant money because as a child she used to catch frogs and sell them to a French Restaurant to make frog legs.

Her boyfriend was distant because he was worrying about money.

Colors force images, so I don’t recommend using them.

How the Lytro camera added a new level to my philosophies…

I am a gadget freak. I love gadgets of all kinds. I see something new and then I read up on it…Then pin it on my Pintrest page as something I should look at getting at some point.

Recently the Lytro Camera caught my eye. Have a peek- www.lytro.com
This camera takes a picture and uses all of the light it collects…or something like that. Basically it has no focus. What that means is that you can take any picture with it, and then decide the focus when you edit it. Everything in the picture can be adjusted to be in focus. Like that person in the front of the frame? Focus on them while the rest blurs out. Like that tree in the background? Adjust the focus and it comes into perfect clarity while other things fade.

You see only what you focus on, and you can focus on anything.

Hrm… So…If I took a picture of a dog. A happy dog. A dog that was happy that it had pooped. The poop is also in the picture looking like poop. I now have two objects I can focus on. I can make the picture all about poop to the point that it is the only recognizable thing in the picture, or I can focus on the happy dog to the point that nothing else matters except “Holy cow! Look how happy that dog is! Wow! Wish I were that dog!!”

I am very used to a fixed focus camera- basic point and shoot like my cell phone. If I took a picture using my cell phone you would see an even balance of poop and dog. My cell phone camera just captures what is there, flat and simple.

We are not like a fixed focus camera. We do not see all things as equal. We give certain things weight and meaning. We get to decide what is important and what to focus on.

So many people love the poop. They focus on the poop. The frame the poop and tack it up on the wall. They make t-shirts with collages of all of the poop they have photographed and wear it around to show everyone.

When they look at the pictures other people take they try to find the poop..it must be hidden in there somewhere.

When they think about the pictures they will take in the future, they just know that everywhere they look, they will find the poop they are already familiar with.  In fact, they are sure they will find the biggest poop yet!
And amazingly enough the find the exact poop they were looking for.

Every.

Dang.

Time.

I see people on the book of faces who have the worst things happening to them all of the time. Everything they put out for the world to see is about all of the poop they seem to keep finding over and over again. They lament about how their world is just full of poopy things and they don’t see how it is going to get any better.

“Why don’t girls like me?”

“Why don’t people love me for me?”

“F*** my Life…Nobody cares…”

“Another one night stand…Why doesn’t anyone ever call me after…”

“I’m shouting really loud about my particular politics and everything is still screwed up…Just like I did yesterday…Are you people all stupid? WHY AREN’T YOU LISTENING TO ME!!!”

“I hate fat/skinny people. They are all gross! Can’t everyone see how attractive I am by comparison?”

“No one understands my poop!”

“*vague depreciating statement about life being terrible and they are going to die alone, wasted away in the friendzone while life passes them by*”

You know why no one likes you? Why people only seem to pity you and not actually like you? Why you feel like you are burdensome and no one really wants to hang out with you?

YOU ARE SURROUNDED BY POOP! ALL YOU SEE AND TALK ABOUT IS POOP! WE ARE ALL SICK OF YOUR POOP!!

Who wants to hang around with that?

I get it…I really do. Some people are genuinely depressed. It is a very real condition. This is not about them.

Some people actually have real events in their life that are earth shattering. Deaths, divorces, illnesses…This is not about them.

If you are actually one of those people above…Please get help. You deserve it. Just go. We will still love you.

This is about people who have a choice. I am one of those.

There is poop in my life. As much as anyone else. I prefer not to focus on it. I mean, I see it in the fixed focus…”Yep, there it is.” I need to see it a little so I don’t step in it.  I prefer to focus on the stuff with real meaning that will matter to me and those around me in the long run.

I am not all sunshine and lollypops. I don’t always see happy things or pretty things, just things that matter.

Like that cool camera, I can look at things in my past and change the focus. Things that were awful at the time I can adjust so I can see the bigger picture, see the things I was not focused on. It brings a whole new depth to my life.
Bottom line-You see what you focus on, both in the past and the future.

Why you wanna take pictures of poop?

 

 

Gwyd and the Ungrateful Turtle- Misadventures with Wildlife

Locally, I have a bit of a reputation as a person who knows all about weird animals. I can identify them, have a storehouse of information on them, know their temperments and how they react to human interference. I was not surprised when I got a call last Thursday to come check out something that crawled underneath a friends car. They didn’t want to back out and squish it. They had called me before for snakes, salamanders, spiders, wierd bugs, a shrew…
All of these I would capture and relocate to a place that would be safer for the animal. The area I am in has a huge migrant population and these folks are from areas where it seems that everything is poisonous. They see a snake, lizard or weird bug, they are very likely to kill it without any hesitation. It took me years to get them to stop and at least call me first so I can get the critter, do a little education and save the beasties life. When they call, I get there quick!
This was the first time they had ever called me about a turtle.
I arrive on the scene and look into the dark under the car just as it was starting to rain. There it was. A massive brute of a turtle. I could see the outline of the shell (At least 18″ long and 9″ high) and the face. It seemed to be standing up more on its legs than most turtles. It’s shell was completely off the ground and the legs were more like hooves then the webbed claws I was used to seeing on turtles of that size. From the size of it, I first thought it must be a snapping turtle of some sort, but from the hoof-like feet and the fact that it was holding itself up off of the ground, I changed my thoughts a little…Perhaps it was some sort of tortoise. It was warm enough that it could have been a sulcata tortoise that someone had released into the wild, but it was really too dark under the car to see. I grabbed a stick and waved it in front of the face to see if it would react at all. It ignored it completely.
Ok…Not a snapper.
I was just reaching under the car when one of the many gathered to watch said “I wouldn’t have called you for a turtle, but it had such a weird tail.”
“Weird tail?” I asked, pausing for a moment.
“Yeah…it has these weird spikes…”
I yanked my hand back just as the head rocketed forward.
It was indeed a snapping turtle. I had messed with these fellows before. They stay very docile until they are sure they can get you and then WHAM! You are missing fingers. I just didn’t expect to find one in the middle of a parking lot, in the dark, under a car.
There was about 2″ of clearance between the top of the shell and the bottom of the car. I told the owner that she could back up very slowly and the turtle would be ok.
She pulled back and the monster was revealed. His four inch wide beaked mouth was gaping at me as he stood his ground. I looked at him carefully, checking the carapace for cracks or wounds. There was a leech attached to it that I removed from behind while distracting it with a stick. This was a beautiful tough old turtle. The feet had looked like hooves because most of its toes had been bitten of and so it stood funny.
It was about a half mile from the nearest body of water, and there were roads between it and safety. I was going to have to transport a very surly animal quite a bit of distance.
I had someone fetch me a box. It was fairly tall with an open top. I figured I could set it down in the box, throw it in the back of my car and drive it the short distance to the lake.
I set the box on my back seat and started to pull out. I turned around to look behind me, and that is when I noticed the giant turtle head peeking out between my seats and looking at my elbow in a non friendly fashion.
Have you ever seen someone jump out of a car in a state of panic because there was a bee inside?
Yeah. It was kind of like that except that a turtle that size could bit off my elbow.
It had overturned the box and was now set on defending its new territory. The back seat of my car.
I managed to wrestle the snapping flailing turtle from my back seat and held by the sides at arms reach. It was stretching out its neck over its shoulder trying to grab my fingers and missing by centimeters. There was no other way to do this but walk to the pond, holding the turtle so tightly my knuckles were turning white. Each time it snapped at me, its whole body jerked violently and it was slowly wearing me out. The rain picked up at the point into a downpour.
I walked the 1/2 mile to the lake in the rain with a berserk snapper flailing in my hands. I got to the steep, grassy, leaf covered bank to the lake, my flat soled Vans type sneakers squishing with water.
Flat soled Sneakers on a wet grassy leaf covered bank.
Yep.
I landed on my back with a “Woomph!” sound, throwing the 20 lb turtle high into the air. I had just half a second to think “Ooh…That hurt!” before the gigantic 20 pound turtle landed on his back in the center of my stomach with a second “Woomph!”
This apparently was the turtles cue to begin break dancing as it tried to right itself. It’s rear feet flailing, its neck stretching out jaws snapping frantically for purchase…something, ANYTHING to grab on to.
I pushed the turtle one way and rolled the other. I landed in a low crouch backing away as the turtle, now having righted itself was literally charging at me, mouth agape.
I screamed and dove to the side, a frantic push with my foot sending it spinning down the bank into the lake.

He looked up at me once, and then swam off like nothing had happened.

Ungrateful little twit.

Alone on Beaver Island…A Gwyd the Unusual Adventure!

By popular demand, another “Things that happen to Gwyd” post. I guess that it is the fall weather, the leaves and thoughts of bonfires that push me towards the “spooky” stories in my life. So, today will be the tale of my stay on Beaver Island and those odd things that happened there. As always, this story is the absolute truth as I perceived it.

Tomorrow, a potentially offensive rant on body issues 🙂

Here we go…

It was early spring of 2002 when I left for Beaver Island. I had lost my sole source of income late in 2001 due to a downsizing at the company I had been working at. I had a Wife and two children and we were reaching the end of our financial rope. I had been offered a job laying a hardwood floor in a cottage on the shore of Lake Michigan. The job was scheduled for two weeks, ending just before the start of tourist season on the island.
Note that this was before the tourist season. The winter population of the island is scant at best considering that the only way to get back and forth to the island is by a two and a half hour ferry ride  or private boat. Not a practical solution for Lake Michigan during the blizzard months. This was mid May. Still cold but little chance of snow. The only real population outside of the main town were folks like me, coming up to prep the properties for their owners.
The ferry ride was a bit rough but uneventful. I arrived on the island at dusk under cloudy skies.
After stopping at the small store for some supplies I headed down the South curve of the 13 mile long island, cursing at myself for having written my directions in pencil…Nearly impossible to read by the dome light. Even as simple as the directions were, finding the right address in the dark where the street signs may or may not be there was difficult.
Finally I saw the reflector that marked where the end of the driveway was and turned in. Finally I saw my destination some 500 feet from the waters edge. I shut down my car as the motion sensing light turned on, got out and let myself in.
The place was amazing. Cobblestone floors in the entrance and kitchen, a fireplace, rough hewn wood furniture…But the most striking feature was the windows. Floor to ceiling all along the water side of the cottage. Of course, being night now and with the lights on inside the cottage they were now merely 10 foot tall black mirrors showing nothing but the inside of the house and my own reflection.
I selected one of the rooms, dropped my bags and crashed for the night. I would have a much better opportunity to explore my surroundings tomorrow.
The first couple of days passed uneventfully. I found my building supplies alongside the house where they had been delivered the week before and set to work. I would empty a room, tear out the old flooring and then put in the new…Rough dirty work but of the sort that made me happy.
Between bouts of work I ate, watched TV and explored. The phone was not functional as they only turned it on during the  months they were actually there but there was satellite TV and a DVD player. During the day, the view through those windows was spectacular. At night…I found them a little off putting. I don’t like situations where I can’t see what can see me.
So  the third afternoon I decided it was time to do some exploring by car. I needed to get some supplies and figured I would just keep driving around for a while to see what else there was. I had heard about some nice small lakes and some state owned areas where I thought I might get to see the coyotes I had been hearing or perhaps some deer.
So off I trundled into the dark in my lil minivan. It was a dark night with only a sliver of moon covered by clouds.

I should probably mention that I had watched “The Blair Witch Project” the night before on DVD.
I know…a lot of people say it is not a scary movie. My response is this- Try watching it alone, when you have not seen another living person in two days, in a cabin on a near deserted island with 10 foot high windows at your back in the dark.
Much scarier than you might think.

Keeping that in mind…When my minivan blew out a tire out at the Southwestern tip of the island…I was not thrilled. When I got out of the car and saw that I was in the middle of a massive Birch forest… Ghost White tree trunks in all directions… I was even less thrilled.
When the coyotes I had been looking for decided to let me know that I was now directly in the middle of their happy place by starting to howl on all sides of me at once… I was downright grumpy.

So I changed the tire, having to turn my back to the coyotes and their yips as they came closer and closer. I could hear their footsteps mere yards away.
I can only imagine what sort of “prey” signals I was sending out to the winter starved beasts. Crouching against a large object (the car) sweating with exertion but not going anywhere, grunting in my efforts to loosen the lugs, blood dripping from one of my knuckles from where I had banged it against the tire rim.

Yep. Prey.
I’d be disappointed in them if they weren’t considering eating me.

So…I am a little freaked out by the ghost white woods, I am miles from anyone, I have a flat tire (And no cell phone), I am bleeding and am slowly being circled by hungry coyotes. I have nothing besides a tire iron…

A tire iron and the vocal power of a trained Shakespearean actor…

Have you ever seen a video of a silverback gorilla  charging around the jungle banging sticks and things together just to show how big and awesome he was?

I did that.
“Rawargh!!!” I stood suddenly, banging my tire iron against the rim of the tire. “Raaaaaargh!” I beat my cupped hands against my chest.
The yipping stopped and I heard quick coyote footsteps fading away.
I never finished changing a tire so fast.
Did they leave because I seemed like a a great and mighty primate?
Or did they leave because they don’t eat crazy?
I went back to the cottage and spent the rest of the night staring at the huge black windows.

I took the weekend off from my labors. The construction had been going well, I had over half the job done and hadn’t managed to cut off any limbs while unsupervised with power tools.
Time for more exploring.

I had been eyeing the beach for some time. It was far too cold to swim but it seemed a pleasant place to walk. So that is what I did. I took my camera, some snacks and a big walking stick and set out.
Well…If you know me or have read any of my previous entries, you know that nothing good happens when I set out for a walk. You would think I would have learned by now…
I went too far and missed my point of no return. In a plane, that means you have flown so far you do not have enough fuel to turn around and go home. You have to continue on.
In my case, I had walked too far to make it back before it got dark.
I mentioned that the moon had been a sliver earlier in the week? It was gone now. No moon at all. No stars either because of clouds. No light pollution because I was on a freakin island in the middle of nowhere.
I had left a light on at the house so I would at least not walk by it in the dark…but it was still a half hours walk distant when night truly fell.
I made my way along the shore, my left foot occasionally splashing into the surf, my right foot sometimes tripping over driftwood. When I ran into a place I thought seemed rough, I would take out my camera and take a picture, using the flash as a momentary light. The half hours walk turned into an hour and I was concerned that the light had somehow gone out and I had missed it entirely.
Finally I saw the little yellow bug light from the porch of the house. There was a good path that ran up from the beach so using the flash, I found the end and started walking up. It was still pitch black but at least I had a beacon.
Of course, it was at this point, I heard something. Footsteps of some sort off to my left. I paused, they paused. I moved, they moved. I slowly raised the camera to eye level and aimed it to my left. I pushed the trigger.

*Flash!*
I looked intently where I heard the noise from  when the flash went off. I saw nothing. I laughed quietly to myself thinking “Squirrels in the dark” and chiding my timidness.

Then I looked at the display of the camera. It was showing the last image taken. Some low lying pine trees, some scrub brush…Nothing out of the…
Just outside the range of the flash, barely visible through the pine branches I could see two points of light. Two points of light at my eye level. Anyone who has taken a picture with a flash before would recognize this… eye shine or  red eye. There are even tools to remove it in any photo program.
In the dark, there was something causing eye shine at my eye level and it was just 12 or so feet away.

I backed my way the last 50 feet up the trail to the house.

The next morning I went to check out where I had seen the camera flash lit eyes.
Just behind the pine tree was a slight rise…A foot or so. On top of that rise I found (Much to my relief) deer tracks.

So…Even I can spook myself given the right set of circumstances:)
The rest of the time on the island was uneventful. I finished the work and came home. Two weeks as a hermit was both surprisingly easy and surprisingly hard.
Would I do it again? Sure…But I would bring a friend.

It was creepy!