Thursday, December 11, 2008

Small Sky Country

We live in deer country. I think I just made that up, by the way: deer country. I like the way it sounds, as if we borrow sugar from Big Sky country when we are baking or, better yet, making jam. The truth is I buy my jam from the supermarket and the county in which I live is just a bunch of houses teetering on hillsides or nestled in valleys like red-capped mushrooms. We are squatting on this land that once belonged to the deer in a way that one could never squat on the Big Sky.

This past summer Bryan cleared out a thicket of brush from the front of our house to plant some palm trees and agave. I don't think either one of us knew what a big undertaking it would be. Halfway through the project we ran out of money, so now there is a flat bald spot flanking our driveway dotted with a few yellowing Mexican Fan Palms. We soon found out that the brush had been home to a gaggle of neighborhood deer. Or a flock. A den, a family, however deer congregate, the thicket had been their home. In the mornings now we come out to find them clustered together sleeping on our flax bushes, exposed and covered with dew. And every morning Bryan runs at them waving his arms and stomping his feet, hissing SPSSSSSPSS! He hates the deer. They ate our Potato Vine, he says when I argue for their cuteness. The deer rise slowly, turn to look at Bryan as if to say don't be such a dick, and then they clatter down the driveway, I don't know where to.

Yesterday I sat at our kitchen table writing and looking for jobs that don't exist when suddenly I heard what sounded like a high-heeled supermodel clatter up the stairs to our deck. I looked out the window and there it was, a deer. Who knew they could climb up such a steep staircase? I thought maybe it was like those slats you see at the end of farm roads: the cows are afraid to walk over them and so the slats act as an invisible fence. But there it was, a deer on my deck, slowly sniffing at echeveria and ice plants as if sliding a tray down the counter at Fresh Choice. In my youth my parents sent me to an environmental hippie camp where I learned how to pull apart owl scat to find mouse bones, a skill I have not yet had to employ in my day to day existence, but at that camp I also learned how to sneak up on deer. Apparently deer have terrible eyesight and really only see movement, so I tiptoed up to the plate glass window, stopping only when the deer turned its big eyes on me. Freeze, both of us not daring to breathe. Audrey Hepburn had a deer as a pet. She brought him to the grocery store and called him Pippin. I tiptoed back to my kitchen to get a head of lettuce--surely that would be tastier than an ice plant. I envisioned nights spent in front of the fireplace, brushing my deer's coat, a montage of images of the deer nuzzling my neck which inexplicably included a young Robert Redford, but when I turned back around, the deer was gone.
Palm trees don't belong in deer country, and I am sorry for clearing their home. I think about what the coming months will bring to my family. Oh, I know we won't be spending the night huddled together on top of a flax bush, but still. I am just really sorry.

Top image: Sharon Montrose
Second image: Rupert, RIP
Third image: here
Last image: my deck


Miss to Mrs said...

I have a love hate relationship with deer. They're cute when they're babie but, then they grow up. My mom lives in southern Missouri in a small little community. They all feed the deer. And the deer expect to be fed. She had to put a gate up on her deck because if they weren't fed in a timely matter they would come up on the deck and stare through the sliding glass door. Now that's just rude and creepy!

I ♥ You said...

those deer are so cute! and i love me some pretty green potato vine so i sympathize with bryan.

Aartee said...

We have a ton of deer around where we are...they are SO pretty to look at esp when it snows. What's not fun is when it's dark and they run out in the middle of the road when you are driving!

ZDub said...

Oh, how I wish I had my very own deer to cuddle with. I would name her Olivia.

Nice work getting that deer picture.

Anonymous said...

You don't have to apologize. You did only what you thought was best, and hindsight is 20/20. That goes for deer families and human families.


krista said...

i have a completely ridiculous fascination with deer. i think i would spontaneously combust if i saw one in my backyard. and puppies and rainbows would splatter the sky.
(it should be noted that i live in a one bedroom apartment in la with no landscaping so i think to look outside and see a backyard would actually trump the deer.)

Richie Designs said...


Anonymous said...

that is a sad story, made sadder by the fact that you cleared away the deers habitat for nothing. how could you not notice a deer family living next to your driveway? and they ate your potato vine? um, you tore down their house!

Judy said...

Jesus F. Christ, dour Anonymous, you need either a good laxative or a sense of humor or both! I believe that the gist of the post was that Sus feels bad about removing the deer habitat in a metaphorical (look it up) parallel to the losses she and so many other readers are experiencing/anticipating in this anxiety provoking financial and economic upheaval. And since that concept is probably way over your head, there are the facts. It's not like the deer group had to find a Homeless Shelter...or even a Contractor and Decorator....uh...they STILL live in the same spot quite happily, possibly delighted with their new flax bush bedding. Clearly, they have no fear of the humans who live there in the house with steps. In fact, it appears that they now rely on Bry as their personal morning wake-up service. They've added a new exotic foods aisle to their near-by, convenient "grocery store" by traipsing up the front steps to peruse new ideas for Din-Din time. No doubt, had the described deer shopper on aisle 7 waited a minute, he/she would have bagged a hand-delivered head of lettuce!

You sound like such an annoying, whining Ninny who completely missed the point but just had to stop by to try and make sure that no one here is having too much fun. If you read this blog or had a clue, you'd know that there isn't a softer-hearted, more caring (of all creatures great and small...including "small" humans such as yourself) person alive than my Daughter.

Go away if you don't have something nice, creative or witty to say.
MOPF (Mom)

Miss to Mrs said...

Yay for Judy! The best fan a girl could ever want in her corner!

Petunia Face said...

Yeah, watch out for my mama. If you so much on breathe on me wrong she will totally kick your ass.

krista said...

i heart your mom. she reminds me of mine.

Anonymous said...

Oh man, anon sounds like the same hysterical animal rights activists that accuse me of taking dogs from the pound breaking their legs in the name of science. They can't see past the cute face of an animal to think about how ecology actually works. Next to a driveway in an area that has been developped is not an ideal place for a family of deer to thrive anyways. This will force them to move out to an area that has better natural resources for them and ya cars...

I came by to say that I also took apart an owl pellet as a wee lass and I DO use this skill in my life. It teaches how to do gentle small dissection. It was basically practice for the small animal/rodent surgeries I perform. It's tiny in there!

Linnéa said...

Deer is so beautiful animals <3

Anonymous said...

anon here: i am actually an avid reader of this blog, but have been so turned off lately by the 'woe is me" attitude that the whole deer story just pushed it over the edge for me. seriously, the deer are fine i'm sure, but it's the whole 'isn't my life unique and tragic' tone this blog has taken that is irritating. we get it already, sheesh.

Petunia Face said...

Anon @ 5:59pm: I almost deleted your comment. But I didn't because I really want to say this to you and not just in my head but as publically as you've said your piece to me--
That's the short version.
The longer version is this:
This is my blog. You don't have to read it if you don't want to. If I'm irritating you, it's simple. Stop reading. I write about my life and I'm dealing with something that is better than some people's situations and worse than other's. I get it. Really, I GET IT. My life is NOT unique and tragic and I've said that over and over again. But I will continue to write what I am currently feeling and refuse to censor myself because of anonymous critics such as yourself.

Some might argue that in blogging I inherently open myself to criticism. But here's the thing: I am not writing this blog to be torn down. And I don't have to take it. I don't. And I won't.

But more important than whether or not I "turn you off" is that you would take the time to anonymously write such a biting and mean comment. I honestly don't fucking get THAT. Why? Why not just stop reading? Why try to tear someone down? Especially in a forum in which I share a lot of myself. Does that make you feel bigger? Better? You in your anonymous small voice telling me to get over it?

I'm pissed off. I have met thousands of beautiful people in the blog world; I am just truly sorry I had to meet you. I am now toying with the idea of not allowing anonymous comments, but that kills me. I know a lot of perfectly normal people want to comment but don't have the time or the inclination to create a sign in. Do I change my comment settings for the handful of dicks like you?

Why don't you get it already and just GO THE FUCK AWAY. In your own words: Sheesh.

Peace Out Motherfucker,

Anonymous said...

Okay so I've commented here before but this is my first attempt at signing in as non-anonymous girl and the only reason i've been anonymous before is because being non-anonymous (for a technologically unsavvy person like myself) was Hard and Complicated. So I just need to say that from now on (as a non-anonymous person), anyone who is mean to my girl S will get a comment from me (as a Real Person). I mean, seriously, how could anyone be mean to this girl? Haters should go. Cause we are trying to be happy here. :)

Anonymous said...

p.s. everyone's life is unique and tragic. no exception. :)

Petunia Face said...

Thank you Meinkc and everyone else who is nice and supportive. Or even neutral. :)

I shouldn't have even responded to anonbutthole but I did and it's done and now it's the weekend happyhappyjoyjoyiloveyoupeaceandgoodnight.

Judy said...

This is to "Anon here" with her viperish crticisms that my Daughter's blog is just becoming too "woe is me and isn't my life unique and tragic". What a puckered Asshole you must be! You claim to be an "avid" reader of this blog but I doubt that very seriously. "Avid" means enthusiastic, ardent, dedicated. comes from the latin avere meaning to crave. Your comment here blatantly shows that you are NOT an avid reader, you don't even seem to be a reader who understands the blog. If you were an avid reader, you'd know that for every "down and scared" post, there are at least three upbeat, happy posts. Susannah is the least entitled person I know. She is compassionate, kind, caring, generous and, most of all, she is completely grateful for every single thing she has. She spends a great deal of her blog celebrating her life and all it entails. Is she honest in this blog? You bet she is-courageously so. She has blogged about her panic attacks, being laid off the first and now the second time and how frightening that is for her. She has been extremely clear in her posts that she does NOT feel "unique or tragic" and she clearly touched many, many others who are in similar situations and who are comforted-as she is-to know that they are not alone.

I suspect that you are the same anonymous who questioned in a previous comment on an earlier blog as to whether Susannah was indeed a "Marin person" who cared about childcare, the kind of car she drives, living in Marin, etc.-as if those are bad things.

Sus was born in SF and we moved to Marin when she was only 7 mos. old. We bought our house for $31,500.00and lived there for 18 years. There's been nary a hot tub or a peacock feather in her life-except for some feathers I bought years ago at Cost Plus. She never had a new car, she worked to earn money. Sus is a real homebody and is incredibly loyal to her friends-many of whom she has known since Pre-School. She married her childhood sweetheart whose family also lives in Marin. What the Fuck is your problem? What is wrong with wanting to live where your family and friends live-in the place you grew up? As to caring about bet she does! Any Mother who didn't care about who they left their child with should be reported to CCS! Cares about her car? Right again...ditto on the making sure that her car is safe and reliable for a child.

You with your pre-conceived are every bit as bigoted and dangerous as any rascist.

The "Deer blog" put you over the top", WHY? it described a deer coming up the front steps almost close enough to eat from her hand. It was a sweet and wonderous blog, you Fuck!

I, like my Daughter, am absolutely perplexed as to why a person like you would even comment on this blog. It ISN'T mandatory reading. You have to go out of your way to find and read it. If you don't like the content, why not just go shit on someone else? You are the very kind of person that makes writing about one's most personal feelings and observations, so difficult. Do you think that it's easy to commit to writing a blog almost every day? Do you think that it's comfortable to put your soul out there, your fears, your petty side, the real you and share it with anyone out there who visits and feels a commarderie, a "likeness", a common ground? No, it surely isn't easy. And it takes guts and dedication to do it. It is a "giving of one's self", a sharing, an attempt to make this big, bad, scarey world a little less so, it is an effort to establish community. If bloggers like Susannah and so many of the incredible group of fellow bloggers and readers only posted when they felt great, if all they blogged about was the "good. the nice", what would be the point? THAT would be a lie, why not go read Reader's Digest or Redbook.

You, snipey, asinine, mean, stupid, ill-informed, small-minded, Gutless Wonder; go away. Be someone else's "avid" reader. No one here wants to hear your opinions when it is so very obvious that you don't "get" it, you never will. You are one of those who "can't" so they just come over to wreck everyone else's. There just aren't words to say how small and pissy you are. GO AWAY. Nobody here wants to hear from you. Nobody here CARES what you think or have to say-especially while hiding behind "anonymous".

On an upbeat note that should please you, I am so very, very delighted that when I look in my mirror, I don't have to see YOU. And even better, I get to know that I don't have to live in your skin! And those are very good things. Go away and stay away, you petulant Skank.

h. m. settoon said...

Dear Judy, I don't know you, but I think I love you. If you're ever in the mood to adopt a 37 year old, pudgy gay man, please let me know.

Anonymous said...

A different Anon here. And a fan. But I'm not here to say "You go girl!"

Here's the thing. You want to be a writer. But you don't want to be "judged."

Once you put a book or even a magazine piece out there, all you will get is judged.

It doesn't matter if the judges are named Anonymous, Ann Onymous, "Decor Lover," "New Mom 2," or Harold M. Zelinsky of the Sunday Leisure Section. They are there to judge you, and it is absolutely right that they do so.

Writing finds its only meaningful end in reading. And reading is meaningful only if it is done with judgment. With discernment.

When you put out your first book, are you going to let your mother write nasty, scolding rebukes to every critic who dislikes it? Because your literary career is going to last exactly one book.

Which brings up my totally unsolicited, sure-to-be-wildly-unpopular advice:

If I were you, the blog posts I'd delete first would be my mother's.

Yes, she's the "cool mom," the "more-like-a-friend" mom, the mom who says awesomely un-mom things like "this economy sucks dirty dicks."

But her constant presence here, screechingly defending you against what are, objectively spearking, very mild "threats," gives your whole blog an infantile air. Do you really need your mother to come rushing in to defend her poor frail daughter?

Couldn't your mother have friends her own age, and spend time with them, rather than hanging out here and poaching YOUR friends? Can't she leave you to very capably defend yourself on your own blog?

Is she not confident that you can do that?

Because despite all her hipster "dirty-dick" talk, she is treating you not as an equal, but as a four-year-old.

Her vigilant presence here, her CONSTANT scolding of everyone who questions you, just contributes to the "I'm a princess, I should be protected!" vibe that people are starting to complain about.

Petunia Face said...

Hi Anonymous at 5:59om.

Interesting comment. I think you have a lot of great points--both about accepting criticism and my mother.

There was a time that I asked my mother to not comment so much. It was not easy to ask and I am sure it was not easy for her to do. But as time went on her comments crept back.

My mother loves fiercely. It's hard to tell someone how to love, to back off a bit or whatnot. And I can see how you might perceive her comments as mollycoddling. I guess I don't get angry or feel infanitilized because she is my mother and this is how she loves me.

Still. Interesting points and I thank you. :) I'm going to think about them.


Petunia Face said...

Except of course now I feel disloyal for not sticking up for my mother more. I don't want that post to hurt her feelings. I don't want anything I say or don't say to hurt her feelings. She is a phenomenal woman and mother. I love her and lots of the people who comment here seem to love her.

I am sure she will always see me as her baby who needs protection. Even if she KNOWS I am strong and perfectly capable myself.

But I still see your point.

Anonymous said...

I'm the anon that lusts after your father, not any of the other anons that have posted here. I am an artist who is scared to death of criticism, yet I wish sometimes that people would honestly tell me what they really think about my art. Even if they say it's schlock. Because then I can agree or disagree. And if the criticism hurts me, it's usually because deep down inside I already know there's a small kernal of truth in that criticism. But that's just me. I don't think you should feel that you need to defend yourself. Consider the comments, take what you need from them, be thankful that not all are sycophants, and continually strive to improve your craft.