Sunday, July 10, 2011

Parsing out Leisa-land "Stuff" from The Perplexed Investor

I shouldn't let my state of peplexion (This is a word that I freely made up when naming this blog in 2006) fill this space with other "stuff" that I want to write about that has no bearing on the market.  But I like to write, and I like to share the other stuff, so I elected to create a blog called Notes from Leisa Land.  It is a bit cleaner, and is likely to help eliminate some confusion about why the heck am I writing about wine, snakes or countertops.

I hope you'll visit me there.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Notes from my Life: Life and death

If I had some perspicacious or lucky guess on this market that we are in, I'd comment about it.  I've no clarity of thought, and I've been preoccupied with other projects and some down notes that Nature plays in her sometimes awful symphony. (This is a rather morose post, so if you are feeling down, you'd best move along).

First, my long-deceased brother's birthday was over the 4th of July.  I did pause to remember him though we were estranged at the time of his death.  I wrote about the circumstances of his death here.  I hope that you'll take a moment to read it if you are preoccupied with what you do, how much you earn or any other externally calibrated notion of you worth.  You can find it here:  If you are quizzical and cautions and are wondering what the post is about, it is simply about my brother who lost his money in the stock market and took his life.  He had a beautiful wife and two young girls. He has been gone more than 21 years now.  Perspective is everything in most things.  Never lose yours.

Rusty, the orphaned deer, had to be dispatched to the netherworld. A raging infection---likely the result of no mother's milk gained the upper hand. He was one of the gentlest creature I had the pleasure to ever know.  What a gift to know him.  Nature blew a rancorous note on a trombone with respect to sweet Rusty.  How I am glad that I was a small part of his short life.

I learned today that a friend lost two dogs over the weekend under a tragic circumstance. I mourn for her loss.

Today, we had to dispatch a snake to the netherworld.  I do not say this lightly.  Here is the fella snaking his way into the bird feeder bush.

Well, I didn't kill him (I left that to the men-folk), but I did enter the discussion with my husband and son on this fella's fate.   I ensured that we had not mistaken him for the more harmless puff adder/eastern hog nose. You can see that the color and striking pattern are similar but distinct enough.  All snakes heads look triangular to me in my fear filled squinting eyes.

Trust me when I tell you that our bias was to let him go.  However,  he was just too close to our normal activities (which should have shooed him away).  After careful deliberation, we agreed that the risks of his staying in this habitat were too great for us.  Had we encountered him just 25 yards away we would have let him be.  10 feet from us is just oo close.

This bush that he was in is a snowball bush; and it is in it that we have our bird feeder.  The birds were still feeding in that last frenzy before they go to winkie land.  This bush is adjacent to the house and the deck on which we were sitting.  Mark spied the movement and saw that Minnah and Malcolm had a bead on him.

We brake for snakes.  We don't take killing snakes lightly, and letting them be is a very high preference.  I took some pains to make a positive identification as you can see above.    I will always remember the Richmond Times-Dispatch outdoor writer, Garvey Winegar, writing a column about donning a mining hat to safely view the dusk-post dusk ground in Virgina to keep from stepping on these diurnal feeders.

While there used to be much made of the eight degrees of separation between all of us and Kevin Bacon, I can say that I'm 1-2 degrees separated from 3 people who have been bitten by a copperhead.  That's too close for me.  Further, for myself, I have had plenty of close encounters (wrapped around a bush that I was weeding around, raking them out of the flour bed and on the road while walking).  That does not include the many copperheads (some bigger than my arm) that I have seen crossing the road at night. Once my daughter accidentally ran over a very large copperhead--large enough that in her Jetta it felt like a speed bump.  We circled back to make sure that he was not suffering.  He was gone.  No doubt breeding this frisky fella for revenge.

I'm quite certain that given my fear of snakes, I would likely die quicker from fear than the bite should I ever be bitten. I will credit an Audubon book on reptiles given to my daughter at age 2 by a neighbor (eagerly called for as 'the snake book') as a major force in helping me desensitize myself to these serpents.  Nevertheless, snakes always startle me.  If you enjoy picking blackberries, sooner or later you will find a vine that moves or one beneath the bush.  Once I looked down to see my sandaled foot adjacent to the eastern hognose that you see above.  However, when I saw the strongly patterned snake, I thought (in a frantically shouting in your skull sort of way) copperhead!  My berries went one way and I went the other.

This fella was in the wrong vector of time and proximity to my home.  Too accessible to one of us trodding upon him, or one of the cats or dogs messing with him sealed his fate after careful deliberation.  Not 15 minutes earlier, my husband was filling the birdfeeder in that bush.  No doubt he was attracted by the last feeding by the birds.  The snowball bush provides ample cover from the hawks who view bird feeder's as a buffet.  Our feeder, nestled in the entangled branches provides amble cover from predatory birds, but apparently not great cover from snacking snakes. A paradox, no?

I do give that bush a keen scout before venturing into  the arching branches.  Some years ago I watched a black snake crawl into that branch structure, and just hang out like our venomous friend above.  I would shudder as I imagined replenishing the bird feeder only to come eye to eye with a snake.  I have played that vision over too often in my head.  Here it was repeating twice real.

We captured the cats, and herded the dogs in.  Our business was done quickly with minimum agitation to the snake.  It was just too much danger to ourselves and our pets.  Had we been in the woods, we would have let him be.

It is a good time of year to be vigilant in Virginia.  While Garvery Winegar's admonishment to wear a mining hat in Virginia's beautiful summer evenings is not one that I've heeded, I do keep a sharp eye out when I can see with my naked eye, and I stay inside otherwise or have a flashlight.  You should too.  It was surprising with the level of  activity that this fella was even about.  Don't pick up buckets or anything else that has been turned over, and be particularly vigilant if you have rubbish/firewood near your home.  A woodpile is a very accommodating habitat.  While not a fatal bite to humans (pets another matter), the bite can cause a great deal of necrosis, swelling and accompanying pain.  One friend's son almost lost a finger (snake bit him when the boy's hand was placed down behind him to support sitting); and another friend's wife was bit in the leg.  That bite cause a lengthy hospital stay and continued swelling more than 6-8 months later.

I hope that your symphony is playing kinder notes. Sorry this post is not better written, but .....

07/07/11:  Today I learned that Mr. Winegar passed away.  I've long missed his writing since he retired; and I'm sorry that he has departed.

07/08/11:  Another picture