mountainghost: (bouncing huskies)
The season is changing and I feel so alive. Summer doldrums are behind me and my world is filled with crisp smells and cool breezes and harvests of apples and tomatoes and pumpkins and sweet potatoes. I went on a twenty five mile bike ride this morning for the hell of it. Our indoor garden is all set up for winter. I'm starting a new life chapter in a new town and that sort of drastic change always feels amazing. I can't relate to people who are unsettled by life changes. I'd wilt. 

My body has never been able to handle heat and humidity well, two things that are unfortunately always well in abundance in the summer months. I always approach the season of oppressive heat running full tilt, doing what I can to maintain Spring's energy. But the momentum only carries me so far and by the end, I always look back and realize that I've slowed, more even than I notice in the moment. I dragged myself through severe roommate stress this summer, job difficulties, vicious family drama over planning for my damned wedding, and the stress of dealing with the logistics for our move. The heat and stress burned me to the core, drove me to a state of deep spore-like dormancy. But for me, that which is tempered by summer fire emerges new and full of vibrant energy, as the seasons turn again. 

The stress isn't gone - when is it ever. Life isn't generally just rainbows. But the scorching fire is gone, drastic life-change is afoot and I feel refreshed, stirred awake by cool breezes, alert and ready to welcome the change, stress and all. Our new town is farther from the city, small, insanely bikable and surrounded in wooded parks. Job related things are enjoying new success beyond our wildest imaginings. The stress of the family and the wedding will soon be behind us. And I'm able to make some tough but very important decisions about the nature of my relationship with my family, with a clear head. 

I was, not a very contented animal this summer. I spent a lot of time draped restlessly over things, sprawled in high places with gangly legs dangling awkwardly, panting, bristling and showing my teeth, slinking about in the shade, crawling fully clothed into any muddy body of water I happened across....just generally wallowing and wary. Several times I had detailed visions of biting deep into throats. And that was just the animal shifts. I'm not even sure I can describe the different ephemeral, flickery, nightmarish things that I spent a lot of time functioning within. such strange, dangerous forms I start to take on when I'm feeling especially disconcerted and restless and frustrated. I have acting skills enough to cover much of this from the eyes of others, but it was always there. 

I experienced a major increase in rattlesnake shifts in particular: defensive, just wanting to be left alone to rest out the summer heat in cool scales, but dangerous when pushed and full of warning. And ohhh, I was definitely pushed. The feeling of wanting to strike out, to sink fangs deep and then retreat, was very strong at times. There's no joy in it. Only defense and frustration and fear. 

But now, now I'm geographically farther from a lot of the summer stress and it helps. And in Fall, my brain can't help but get caught up in the frenetic energy of life's winter preparations. My hunt drive is up, my collection drive is up. I've been all sorts of things lately: crows and rats and raccoons and cats and foxes and squirrels, most often. My rat girls too are lounging about less and bickering with each other less, so they're more interested in bouncing around and playing with me. They're feeling it, same as I am. 

My hunt drive mostly finds outlet in a recent large rabbit harvest that I did from our meat rabbits. And my collecting drive well...it's at a ridiculous high right now. I've been arranging and fiddling and rearranging my collection of rocks and feathers and shells and bones. The rabbits are all stored in the freezer and a large number of potatoes and onions and other things are hung in the basement. Rabbit pelts are drying for winter use. I've been adding extra-obsessively to the food in the pantry. I've bulked up the size of my food-insect colonies. I've been picking at my food less and starting to eat more, and healthier. I nearly died of happiness when I found and collected three dead crows recently. I've been taking plastic bags along with me on my long, restless bike adventures because I keep finding roadkill to collect. 

Ahhhh yes, this ever-shifting animal-whatsit is most definitely awake now. Summer is over. Bring on the change. 



mountainghost: (snow leopard eye)
 I'm a very sporadic sort of writer. Sometimes the words spill, but most often I'm more comfortable keeping my musings and my experiences firmly in my brain. Spoken language is often a frustrating interpreter, as it is. I've never quite learned to be satisfied with any one tone, especially in writing. 
I couldn't really get into this journal business before. Must not have been in the right headspace. But strangely, I appear to be now. Or at least, I can feel the beginnings of that writers itch coming on. We'll see if it lasts. *grins*
mountainghost: (Default)
 Two things have me thinking about motherhood today, and well, the societal state of parenthood in general I suppose. First, my boyfriend mentioned a quote from something he was reading for a project where a child (four years old) was shown some new plastic toy figures to play with and her response was "wow this is great! it's like a pretend app!". This is somewhat upsetting to me for obvious reasons. The second thing to happen was yesterday, when I came across and watched the new movie Wolf Children. There's plenty to praise about the movie (and plenty to criticize as well), but the aspect that had me thinking was the theme of being free to choose a path. The children are by necessity trapped and hidden in an urban setting, so the mother moves her family out to the far more secluded country where her little human-wolves can have the freedom to be their full selves and make their own choices for their future. 

It'd be horrifying to me, to bring a child into the world without being able to provide them with a great variety of experience, perspective and an overall respect for this life and this world. I have little cousins for whom the world is like that of the little girl who no longer even recognized toys as being real; just "pretend apps". When my cousins visit, they sit and poke furiously away at an ipad for the duration of the visit. If anyone tries to take it away for a moment, they scream. They're only 5 and 7. Their mother is on facebook more than most people I know. Screen time is fine (indeed, it'd be hypocritical of me to say otherwise) but I'd never want my life to revolve around apps and ipad games and facebook. I don't wish to live in a societal bubble and I'd never want to raise a child in that way as well. 

I hope to live somewhere where balance is more easily achieved. I want to provide any children of mine with modern medicine and social options and many wonders that technology has to offer, sure. But I also want them to have a respect and understanding for everything else that isn't "us". I don't want them to have a stunted and cartoonish sense of how our species relates to other species and to larger ecosystems. I want my backyard to be forests and streams and hidden places and open fields and rough craigs. I want cold, beautiful, ruthless and resourceful nature to be just as much their teacher as I could ever hope to be. I want them to climb and fall and explore and wade barefoot through the mud and wonder and learn and get a little lost. I want them to come home with skinned knees and rodent skulls and injured insects, as I did. I want to build things with them and go on crazy camping trips and have wonderful, hilarious and sometimes frightening misadventures. I want there to be choice and balance and variety, but I want the world beyond ipad apps and facebook and fashion trends to truly *matter*. I want to give them a thirst for the world beyond the known and experienced. 

Lucky for me I found the perfect partner, and if the time ever comes that there are children in our life, then I hope that we truly can give them that perspective and respect for the world. We have our dreams of extensive traveling and then settling down and constructing our own part-treehouse, off-grid home so if children end up figuring into that, I fervently hope that we can provide the right setting and the right lessons to keep them open-minded and awestruck about life. I don't know if I could bear to have a child of mine see the world in terms of apps and pretend apps or to be like my little cousins. The idea of such a task is quite daunting and a little terrifying. :/

For now we'll stick with our rats and our travel goals and our weird, spontaneous adventures and I'll try not to worry too much about my ability to be the right kind of teacher for a child. With any luck, I'll be ready if that point ever comes. 

mountainghost: (Default)
 My boyfriend and I just went for a long bike ride along a leafy trail in a park next to a stream and my mind went completely nuts...or at least more so than is typical. I've been a little cooped inside with work and bad weather the past few days and then last night, I watched part one of the double episode called "Beginnings" in the Legend of Korra series. I don't know who knows about Korra and who doesn't, but it's a spinoff of the Avatar series and it doesn't tend to be nearly as wonderful. I'm basically still watching it only for the flashbacks of loved characters and glimpses of the uh...less modern and less irreverent past in the Avatar world. Beginnings, and its story of the first ever avatar did NOT disappoint. It was so different from what the series has become; such a completely beautiful and subtle animation style and an ancient world of spirits and people that seemed taken straight out of the mind of Hayao Miyazaki. Needless to say, I was captivated and fell asleep with my mind swirling with the images of the the forest scenes and the fantastical spirits. My dreams were wonderful.

I woke up this morning and hungrily drank up part two of the episode and then, still breathless from the climatic ending, we went on our bike ride. We love to wait until there's no one around and then get moving as fast as we can, stand up on the pedals and look up a little so we can no longer see our bikes and then just whip along over the leafy trail feeling likes birds in flight. It's always exhilarating and it never fails to make me feel the sensations of strong wings gliding over the ground but today it made my mind go out of control. 

I felt so alive, speeding along in the crisp, cool air and once I was standing on the pedals and pumping with adrenaline with the beautiful Korra episodes still fresh in my mind, it was like I was drugged. My perception of my physical form slid into a kaleidoscope of ephemeral spirit-like shapes and glowing eyes and flowing colors and strange combinations of phantom animal forms and features, my surroundings took on surreal properties and my perspective flickered and jumped ahead of me until I felt like I actually was gliding through this rush of sensation, bike almost completely forgotten. The practical part of my brain that kept me from crashing into anything or falling was still there, but it was like it was on an extreme and largely ignored version of autopilot. 

At some point I guess I decided that as exhilarating as this whole moment was, it was probably a better idea to calm things down a little and the next thing I knew I was standing beside my bike in a deeply wooded section of the trail, pressed up against my partner with blood pounding in my head and the sensations still moving in and out and rushing by me. I stood looking around me (I was told later with a look of utter excited amazement) and sort of looked about without really seeing much until my view on the world pulsed and melted and reconfigured itself and eventually grew less fantastical and deeply strange. My boyfriend chuffed at me and bumped my cheek and I collected myself behind calm snow leopard eyes. We spent several more hours out on the trail and the same feeling never quite came back, but I felt like I was flying the entire time, even when I wasn't standing on the pedals. God I love biking in the woods. 


mountainghost: (Default)
 New post in the Hyperbole and a Half blog today! They're few and far between these days, but always so wonderful. She'd remind me of me if she weren't quite so...out of control. Though I can't relate to that, she reminds me of a few aspects of my personality in how she views and responds to the world around her. It's difficult to explain unless you've seen the blog though. It's a popular humor blog illustrated with MS Paint pictures. She talks about everything from crazy childhood experiences, to the trials and tribulations she has with her dogs, to dealing with her current depression. She has a strange and fantastic approach to life, and I completely love it. 
Her post today actually focused on human nature and an experience of how that changed for her when she once wore a dinosaur costume at the age of four. She talked about how when she'd put the dinosaur costume on, she'd feel different, powerful and not quite human anymore. It was a very funny read, but it was also interesting to muse on how much of an effect a costume can have, symbolically, on the way we see ourselves and the limits of human nature. She was essentially describing a "mental shift" of sorts in that when 4-year-old her put on the dino costume, she felt powerful and had overwhelming urges to go on crazy rampages as opposed to when there was no costume and she was "just human". It's a fascinating phenomenon that we can put on masks or costumes or internet avatars and feel the power and freedom to completely remake our identities, in a way that we don't feel we can do otherwise. Another thought-provoking post.
mountainghost: (Default)


Hello there. I'm mostly here because I wanted to share essays with animal-people, as I have a bond with snow leopards. Simply put, I have a vivid imagination when it comes to seeing the world through a variety of animal and other natural forms. To me, that's all it is: imagination. It's my way of connecting with and viewing the world around me. Though it is a highly emotional experience, I am a scientist to the core and do not personally subscribe to the spiritual aspects of therianthropy. No judgement here though! Just figured that'd be a useful disclaimer.

I am snow leopard, I see the world through a kaleidoscope of animal form and perspective, and sometimes I like to write about it. A longer intro specifically for the Animal Quills community can be found here.

I know a fair amount about snow leopards and the snow leopard conservation community. I recently spent six weeks in Siberia on a snow leopard conservation project that I created and I've given a number of conservation lectures. If you're someone who likes to talk snow leopards, shoot me a message.

I don't only talk about snow leopards though! I have an ever-growing variety of pets that currently include two cats, a parakeet, a corn snake, three rats and a small colony of exotic roaches. I've fenced on the national level for most of my life and also love sailing, windsurfing, skiing, and well...any outdoor adventure sport I can get my hands on. I've dabbled in a number of difference sciences including my recently obtained undergrad degree in geology, where I wrote my thesis using data from the Phoenix mission to Mars! Now that I have this journal, I'll probably end up writing about a variety of things. I'm beginning to dabble in travel writing to see if it is a viable hobby/ long-term side project, so I may end up posting travel pieces here as well. Time will tell.

I like to go by Ghost out of respect for snow leopards, sometimes known as the "ghosts of the mountains" and the challenges they face in the wild that help to keep them that way: as ghosts.

Greetings, and always feel free to send me a message.

Ghost

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mountainghost

September 2015

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