Just Shelley Places

Soft arcs of winter white

Recovered from the Wayback Machine. This is derived from trip notes recorded in paper journal

I started the trip to California under clear skies that lasted with me until Colorado. I arrived at Denver around sunset and the sky was beautiful, a blue-gold color that speckled the dark grey clouds gathering to the west, and gilded the green of the trees and the grass on the side of the road.

I stopped for the evening in Cheyenne, spending the night listening to the many trains blowing through town, each with its own distinctive whistle. I would begin to drift off when a whistle would blast, close by, startling me awake. I would listen, heart pounding as the whistle faded, the sound becoming softer, sadder as the train moved further away.

Leaving early the next morning, the snow started falling as soon as I left the city behind and entered the pass. The traffic, the few of us, a minivan, a small red car and myself, slowed, staying behind a couple of trucks that had downshifted for their trip down the mountain.

The driving was challenging but manageable, and the reduced speed allowed me to look about. I noticed ring-billed gulls, sea gulls really, next to the road. They lost much of their grace and speed under the onslaught of the cold snow and frozen rain, flapping hard to clear the land, rising awkwardly rather than with the sureness I had seen with gulls at the beach. They didn’t seem right there by the side of the road in a land locked state, chilled by the cold.

I was looking at one pair when out of the corner of my eye I caught an arc of white coming over the concrete divider between our lanes and the lanes of the freeway going in the other direction. A white car had lost control and was spinning on the highway, throwing snow all around, like petals on a flower suddenly opening in a spiral of white.

By some miracle the car missed a truck that shared the road with it, but I didn’t think it could miss the divider. I didn’t see how it could miss the divider. However, when I looked back, I saw it regain control and continue on down the road, unharmed.

I had tensed while watching the car spin about, and once I saw it was safe, I relaxed, yawning from the sudden cessation of stress. I didn’t see the two sea gulls in the road as they tried to take off. I did see the one lift just enough to fly safely to the side of the car. And I saw the other hit my window, flowing up and over the car and falling in a boneless, soft arc of winter white and silver grey to the road as I watched in my rearview mirror.


Magic moment in a tiny body

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

The weather was beautiful today and I and my roommate went for a walk at Powder Valley. The forest was just getting its new green and mixed among last years fallen dead leaves were delicate pink, purple, blue, and white flowers — some hardly more than a mote in one’s eye.

As we were walking back to the parking lot, my roommate yelled out, “Stop! Don’t move!”


“Look down.”

squirrel2.jpgAt my foot was the smallest squirrel I have ever seen, a baby grey squirrel I had almost stepped on. When I stopped, afraid to move, the little guy walked up to me, climbed my tennis shoes and held on to my laces for dear life. The moment was indescribable.

Eventually the little creature decided I wasn’t it’s mama after all and crawled down to the sidewalk. It could barely walk, and moved with drunken movements in a circle, shivering from fear and hunger. Obviously this little guy was too soon out of its nest, and was in trouble. What was worse is that it would go towards people, looking for comfort and if they didn’t see the little thing they would almost step on it. Two younger guys came close until the small crowd that had gathered by that time yelled at them.

“Watch out! Don’t step!”


“Look down.”

My roommate went to the park center to get help while I stayed to keep the creature from harm. Well, I stayed with a group of about ten people, all forming a circle around the little baby to keep anyone from hurting it. Unfortunately the park folks were gone for a couple of hours. A nice man with a dark sweat shirt and grey hair stopped, kneeled down, and the baby crawled up to him. The man put his hand down and the baby crawled into it and stopped shivering, content to have contact with a warm, soft creature.


I know the scoop about baby wild animals — don’t touch. You can get your scent on the creatures, scare away their mothers, the whole thing. But if we left that baby alone, it would have been dead. Of that we had no doubt.

By helping the baby, we interfered with the natural development of this wild creature. If it was meant to die it should die. But then, we interfered with the creature when we built the cement walk that confused and frightened the baby. When we filled its home with tall, strange creatures that were warm, but didn’t have a nipple to suck, we were interfering. We also interfered by polluting its air with the fumes from the cars we rode in to get to the park. This little creature’s whole life was a result of human interference. A little late to quibble about interference when you’re looking into tiny, innocent eyes, and feel a small clawed paw wrap around your little finger.

The man made a little bed in his shirt for the tiny creature, who curled up, though still hungry. When I got close to look at it, it nibbled my nose. I looked into its tiny, clear eyes. It nibbled my nose again.

The man and his friends were at the park for a presentation that night. He said he would watch it, keep it warm and safe until the park people came back. We, reluctantly, left for home.

When I got home I went online and looked for information about lost baby squirrels. I found out that it’s perfectly fine to intervene and help the baby; it can still be safely re-united with its mother even after human contact. If not, the park has a rescue service for hurt or abandoned baby animals. The little baby will be fine.



The Blues and Bourbon Mississippi Social

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Howdy. Burningbird’s evil twin here.

I wanted to send out a hail and hie thee well greeting to Liz and the new Many to Many (M2M) weblog at Corante. Especially since this drags Clay Shirky into the murky, strange sea-green depths of the weblogging world. Damn glad to have you here Clay. And with comments, too.

This is a good move. I’ve been out and about reading and one issue that seems to be coming up frequently is that folks feel there is an elitist as well as exclusionary aura to the whole social software milieu. While some of this feeling is warranted, some is not.

Dave, in a rather breathless and impressive display of seeing how many people he can offend in one week, on topics ranging from RSS to Moveable Type to social software, wrote:


It’s wrong. We don’t need this. Weblogs are about punching through the hype machine of idiot analysts and reporters who go for their BS. Social software has existed for years. What’s the big news? A few people are looking for a pole to fly their flag on. Pfui!

While I also dislike the we’ve found the ultimate solution hype that goes with too many “new” things today, seems to me that Liz and Clay and the gang are actually trying to bust the hype surrounding social software, as well as making it accessible with their new effort. And considering it’s a weblog, which should automatically make it holy and free from harm, like the cows in certain parts of India and oil companies in Washington DC, I’m surprised to see such vehement pushback in response to Liz’s gentle introduction at the blogrollers interest group and elsewhere. Boys and, well, urh, boys — if this ain’t your thing you don’t have to go to the party. I’m sure that M2M folks will find someone else to play “pin the tale on the donkey” with.

I’ll have to admit after this discussion, BloggerCon holds little hope for being a venue of open and honest discussion from differing viewpoints and interests.

Instead, I hereby invite all folks who would rather just chat and smile and talk and have fun, join me in St. Louis at that time. We’ll hitch a ride on the river boat, plug in our laptops, and blog the waterways while sipping bourbon and listening to the Blues. We’ll call it the “Blues and Bourbon” Bloggers Anti-Conference Mississippi Social. Leaves are right pretty that time of year here. Right pretty. Why they even match my tasteful, warm weblog decor.