I have this mantra, taught to me by my beloved mother at a very early age. Our cat Puddy had been missing for a day or two and I was ripping around the apartment building and through our unit looking high and low in a frantic fruitless search all the while bawling like a baby at her being gone.

Mom sat me down and had me compose myself and said she’s going to teach me the “magic prayer.” And she made me repeat it after her, over and over and over:

“Nothing is lost, it is simply not revealed.”

Of course as a seven or eight year old, when Puddy did not reveal herself immediately, I went back to tearing my world apart, but at least instead of crying, I just kept saying those words over and over and over and over.

And you know what. I found Puddy soon after. She was trapped in the cabinet under the bathroom sink. Thankfully she was OK — doubly thankful because in fact, losing her had been entirely my fault. Mischievous brat that I was, I had seen her enter through the open cabinet door and I rushed up and closed it behind her. Of course I hadn’t intentionally planned on leaving her confined in the dark without any food or water for the next day-plus. At some point I must’ve gotten bored waiting for her to scratch at the door from inside and I went and found other ways to occupy that day, ultimately forgetting about her. Or at least until I couldn’t find her yet had still forgotten where I’d left her.

But me being an idiot evil child isn’t the point. The point is the magic prayer worked.

And it has done so throughout my life. I can’t give you a scientifically determined percentage of success, but over my many years when garage door openers or keys or lists, or phones or wallets or paperwork, or my sanity has vanished, I literally say those words out loud and more often than not whatever was lost becomes revealed. Sometimes it happens quickly. Sometimes not so quickly.

It happened not so quickly just this morning. Last week after the raptor presentation at Wild Birds Unlimited out in Thousand Oaks that Susan and I went to, we bought a couple of hummingbird swings. While Susan was at the market this morning I went out to mount themnext to the feeder sand in the course of screwing in the hook for the second one, it fell out and down from the porch to the brick walkway about 10 feet below with a plink. I went down and did a cursory search of the ground and came away empty handed.

So I said “Nothing is lost, it is simply not revealed” and went about my business.

A short while later, Susan got home and after putting away the groceries she came to me at my desk and handed me an eyeglass case, to which I was all “huh?”

I opened it. and inside was a long-missing favorite pair of sunglasses, themselves of which had been absent since sometime around a hike we had done, coincidentally, in Thousand Oaks nearly two years ago.

Waaaaay back then when they came up as gone I’d said the magic prayer, and then every now and then I’d remember they were still missing and tear the place apart only to end up reciting the prayer again.

Susan said she found the case in the driver side door compartment of her car where it apparently sat for aaaaall this time, because a yellow piece of paper there caught her eye. Ironically that piece of yellow paper had the address of Wild Birds Unlimited that I’d written on it and had dropped into that compartment upon our arrival last week.

Huh.

As to that hummingbird swing hook. It’ll turn up. One of these days. Or years.

Nothing is lost, it is simply not revealed. Indeed.

If the following press release ends up getting covered by any of the local media outlets, it stands a good bet that you are acquainted at some level with the Friendly Neighborhood Humane Officer involved in this all-together awesome of a happy ending, more than two years in the making.

JUSTICE FOR KING
2015 Animal Cruelty Case Results in Conviction

Los Angeles — Rather than stand trial on April 28, 2017, Marcus Kemp (DOB 11/15/1965) entered a no contest plea to one misdemeanor count Penal Code 597(b), animal cruelty, at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center (Division 47) for his part in the suffering of King, a four-year-old pit bull mix dog in his care. The terms of Kemp’s probation include 36 months summary probation, $250 fine plus penalty assessment, and 16 animal cruelty classes, among other conditions (Court Case #6CJ01732). The charges are the result of an investigation by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA). The case was prosecuted by Michelle H. McGinnis, Supervising Deputy City Attorney, Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, Criminal Division.

In April 2015, spcaLA Humane Officers responded to an animal cruelty tip on the 800 block of E. 109th Street in Willowbrook. In the backyard of the residence, they found King tethered to a cyclone fence by a heavy metal chain . Fatigued but alert, King was underweight and had a severe ligature-type wound to his left hind leg resulting from becoming entangled in the chain to which he was unlawfully confined. This injury resulted in undue suffering and neglect. Criminal charges were filed against defendants, Kemp and Keesha Price (DOB 11/26/1970) in March of 2016. Price later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

King, before and after.

While in the care of spcaLA, King recovered from his injuries with proper veterinary care and nutrition. Despite neglect at the hands of his former human companions, King remained a happy dog who loved to play and receive affection . In February 2016, King was adopted into a loving home.

spcaLA is the only private animal welfare organization in Los Angeles that is also Law Enforcement. spcaLA Humane Officers hold the same powers of Peace Officers in the state of California when investigating animal cruelty. spcaLA is a non-profit agency that relies on donations for its programs and services, including animal cruelty investigations. To donate, please visit spcaLA.com or call 323-730-5300 x233.

For more information, please contact Miriam Davenport at 323-730-5300 x233, 323-353-4658 cell or mdavenport@spcaLA.com.

Since 1877, spcaLA has been the premiere independent, nonprofit animal welfare organization serving Southern California. There is no national SPCA, parent organization, or umbrella group that provides financial support to spcaLA. Donations run programs and services including Cruelty Investigation, Disaster Animal Response Team, Humane Education, and a variety of shelter services.

Bonus video of King romping about: https://youtu.be/YvHSQ6_qi4E

As a San Fernando Valley resident at the time and far removed from the greater LA basin, it’s rather ironic how I came to experience what I did on April 29, 1992, and where; roughly a 4.5 mile straight line to the riot’s epicenter at Florence and Normandie. I was a student at Pierce College in Woodland Hills at the time and a photography class assignment to illustrate the theme of “Man’s Impact On His Environment” (speaking of ironic) was coming due. On the early afternoon of April 29 I got on my motorcycle from my home in Sherman Oaks and rode to Baldwin Hills with the idea of photographing the oil derricks pumping there along the hills and ridge lines. Dissatisfied with the compositions I found I ended up at serene oasis that is nearby Kenneth Hahn State Recreational Area at one of the horseshoe pits, taking set-up shots of my shoe print and a crushed flower in the dirt.

 

While I was doing this a woman came over, sat on the backstop of the pit and watched me for a few moments until she finally asked me if I’d “heard the news?” I stopped and shook my head. “They were found not guilty,” she said and I knew instantly she was referring to the officers on trial for the beating of Rodney King. I expressed my incredulity and then promptly went back to taking pictures of my shoe print. She waited a few more moments before standing up. “I don’t think you understand,” she said, and I looked back up at her. “I’m getting out of here.” I stared blankly. “And I’m black,” she finished, and started walking purposefully toward the parking lot.

Finally and fully I comprehended what she was trying to get through my thick white head, and when I did I offered up an emphatic “Thank you!” wished her good luck and wasted not another second getting back to my motorcycle at which time a pick-up truck drove slowly past me, stopping a few spaces down. In the cab were two young black men with two more riding in the bed and all were staring at me with a fury the likes of which I will never forget. There was no mistaking their rage and that it was focused directly at me and the color of my skin. Fortunately — no: miraculously — parked farther down past them at the end of the lot was a black-and-white — not LAPD but rather a “Safety” police vehicle, whatever that meant. I couldn’t see if there was an officer inside, but its presence made the four men hesitate enough looking from it back to me and back to it to give me enough time to get my helmet on and my motorcycle started and like a bat outta hell I was northbound on La Cienega and gunning the throttle.

By the time I got to the bottom of the hill, the Fedco at Rodeo and La Cienega (now it’s a Target) was already on fire and being looted, and I split the gridlocked lanes between cars many of whose drivers looked terrified stuck there in the gridlock as if a tsumani was bearing toward them from the rear and they had no escape.

When I got home to the relative calm of the valley I turned on the television and the Los Angeles I had earlier been in the middle of had turned into a living burning hell. I locked the doors, loaded the gun, and stayed glued to the newscasts broadcasting the horror and the heartbreak of a city seemingly hell bent on burning itself down.

I watched the endless replays of the attack on Reginald Denny, and who’s to say what might have happened to me if that woman hadn’t warned me or that police vehicle hadn’t been there, but I’m thankful either way I didn’t have to find out.

Days later after the chaos had been quelled and a certain order had been restored, I was in the dark room at Pierce College developing images from those few frames I snapped for the photo class assignment (I believe I got a C grade for the passable quality of the photos as shown with comments that I took the assignment too literally), and it dawned on me that the image’s subject matter was something I could have easily recreated in the comparative safety of my own backyard instead of in the midst of the waves of rioting that flooded the city.

Adding water to the birdbath, somehow I caught something reeeeally tiny on a rock just as it got washed off. It took some looking but I managed to rescue this littlest of mantises and brought him inside to get the following vid/pix and let it dry off before returning it outdoors.

It’s odd how you can get the biggest sense of accomplishment from the smallest of acts.

mini mantis movie link

No April Foolin’! Susan and I brought Ranger with us and drove all the way out to Wind Wolves Preserve near Bakersfield and enjoyed its magnificence via an eight-mile hike up a canyon and back along a plateau. Here’s a two-frame 360-degree panorama of Ranger and Susan with seemingly the entire park to themselves somewhere between the fourth and third mile markers of the Tule Elk Trail (I’d encourage clicking to embiggify the image):

From the kitchen window I spied this little red-headed bird sippin’ and scratchin’ and shakin’ for a spell in the backyard fountain…

Then here’s Patchy Cat entranced by the same birdy during a replay on my computer…

For those of you who do not have palm trees on your property with which you have to deal, I am a bit jealous. We happen to have two. One is roughly a sixty footer that has been growing for perhaps near as long as our 1906 house is old. It stands majestically and relatively out of the way in the northwest corner of the backyard. The other comes in somewhere upwards of forty feet and it is literally and maddeningly situated smack dab in the middle of the backyard, about ten feet back from the kitchen windows.

I would estimate that in the course of the near thirteen years that tree and I have been acquainted, I have spent a cumulative total of two hours and thirty-six minutes just staring in WTF-style amazement at it wondering which one of the previous owners had the opportunity to uproot the palm tree in its infancy some half-century ago, but instead decided it would be a dang good idea to allow it to grow in pretty much the most obtrusive possible place that one could allow one to grow. Many’s the time I’ve looked out the kitchen windows and admired how much its trunk has all the view-blocking beauty of a utility pole or smokestack, and doubly so how its position subsequently limits any landscaping opportunities. Not coincidentally, many’s the time I’ve dreamed about going back in time and whacking that person in the shoulder with a frond for being such an idiot.

Speaking of fronds, that’s why I’m over-telling this story today. With the winds this past week, comes the trees’ inevitable shedding of its dead. The sixty-footer did so last week, dropping twenty-nine fronds heavily but mostly harmlessly onto the north sideyard. I came home last night to find the forty-footer had shrugged off twenty-seven. Why is it I know the exact number? Because I chop up each and every one — the better to pack them into the green bin and get them the hell outta my sight.

It wasn’t always like that. For our first few years together, the fronds would fall (I remember one bunch totaling 60 that practically scared the poop outta me when I was napping in the hammock and heard it break off in mass with a ridiculous shhhhnraaack! and then crash with a ground-shaking shhhhwhump to earth) and I would go about tying them up in bundles of 10 or so, lugging them all down to the curb and then praying and hoping that my bulky item pickup request with the sanitation department would get fulfilled — which it sometimes wouldn’t, forcing me to make another request, and the fronds would then sit there at the curb for another week. Maybe two.

I’d guess it was finally around 2008 or so that I decided to cut out the middleman, and instead purchased a pair of heavy duty shears, wherein after each frond fall I would cut up each one of the sometimes seven- to eight-foot tall beasts into three parts (as you can see in the accompanying timelapse of me attacking the forty-footers twenty-seven this morning): first separating the fan from the shaft, then the shaft from the tail. The process makes for a pretty good workout, especially considering that until chopping up the sixty-footer’s offering last Sunday, I was being a dumbhead in making the process aaaaaaall the more laborious by using the shears to forcefully make a full cut between the shaft and the tail.

Here’s the thing, decapitating the fan is a piece o’ cake. The shaft is very thin at the base of the fan and all it takes is a literal snip to make that separation. Down at the other end is a different matter. The shaft has not only widened out but it’s way thicker and denser too, thus making a full cut through that section took a lot of effort and time. It takes force, it takes position, it takes leverage, and then some more force, responsitioning and leverage. Factor in the inevitable dulling of the shears’ blades and it’s not a party. Not only that, but as a bonus on occasion, in the course of attempting that arduous cut– many of the fronds are lined with sharp little thorny spikes –the shaft would snap against my neck or head, cutting me. I sooooo rejoiced at the glory of life whenever that magic would happen. Hallelujah.

Apologies to Steinbeck for the “Of Mice and Men” reference, but for as much as I like to think I’m George, I can be such a total Lennie.” For whatever reason last Sunday, after cutting off the first fan I went to work at the other end, and it was only after roughly ten years of doing it the hard way of huffing and puffing and groaning trying to cut aaaaaall the way through that a light bulb went off and a voice said “Relaaaaax you numbskull. Don’t force it. Instead just cut into one side enough to score the surface and then bend it away from you!” And I was all, “Wha…?” And the voice was all “Just trust me. Truuuuuuust me.” So I said “OK,” and I scored the surface and then bent the shaft down and away and dang if the frond didn’t let out a satisfying kraaack! and part from the tail. Not fully, but after that making the remaining separation was an effortless snip with the shears on par with that involved at the other end.

I rejoiced in my ten-year-late discovery and upon finishing the job in record time came running in to share the news of my exciting discovery with my beloved Susan. In the end, let’s just say she looked at me very much the way a parent might look troubled upon a child who might be showing themselves for the first time (or fiftieth) to be perhaps a peck short of a bushel. In fact, I’ll it’d be a safe bet you’re looking at your screen in much the same way. I understand. Go ahead and tell me about the rabbits then, huh? Can ya? Tell me all about the rabbits!

Anyway. There is much joy here in Frondville on this day. Next year when the palms drop their next batches upon the ground I won’t be jumping with joy at the task at hand, but at least I’ll be accomplishing it more efficiently. Hallelujah!

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