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My Writing Journey

Hell on Wheels

(Photo by Dawn Pisturino.)

Hello! My name is Isis.

Don’t let my sweet, innocent little face fool you. Although I let my human mommy hold me on her lap and cuddle me and kiss me on the face, I’m the Queen of the Jungle. Whenever the OTHER cat comes into the living-room, I want to rip her ears off. A couple of weeks ago, I tried. My human mommy got mad at me, but she doesn’t understand. There can only be one Top Cat, and that’s me. My human mommy strokes my fur and tells me to be a good little girl. I try, Mommy, I really try! You know how I always stop in my tracks and listen to you when you scold me, but I just can’t help myself. I just have to attack my housemate cat, whether you like it or not.

I’m sorry. Please forgive me.

I love you, Mommy.

Isis

~

Dawn Pisturino

June 24, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Native American Tattoos – A Short History

native-american-tattooMany Native American tribes across the United States practiced the art of tattooing for a variety of reasons: to mark special rites of passage, such as puberty; to identify other members of a clan; to scare off enemies; to express spiritual beliefs; to honor great achievements, such as bravery in battle; to provide magical protection and strength; and to mark certain leaders, such as the medicine man.

Tattooers used geometrical designs to represent celestial bodies, natural phenomena, and animals. A person receiving the tattoo of a turtle, for example, would expect to achieve a long, healthy life since turtles symbolized Mother Earth, water, life, and health.

Tattooing was a painful process, but many tribes believed that pain brought a person closer to the spirit world. Designs were cut, hand-tapped, or hand-pricked into the skin with sharp needles made of stone, bone, or other materials. Then dye was rubbed into the wounds.

Black dye could be made from soot or charcoal. Ochre mixed with clay produced a brownish-reddish hue. And blue came from indigo or other materials.

These tattoos became permanent markings on the skin that could be enhanced with temporary body paint, especially during time of war.

Dawn Pisturino

September 25, 2012

Copyright 2012-2015 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

(This short article was originally a sidebar on another history-related article.)

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Bigfoot!

bigfootCrack! The bullet zings past my ear, hitting an old oak tree.

I drop the salmon wiggling in my hands and run along the bank of the Mokelumne River, propelling my long, hairy arms for speed. Behind me, the hunters move carefully through the dense underbrush, tracking my movements.

Sharp green thorns snag on my hair and tear at my flesh as I struggle through the blackberry briars and wild grapevines. I hike deeper into the wilderness on two strong legs, climbing skillfully around granite boulders barring my way. In the distance, the jagged outline of Deadwood Peak rises above the trees. If I can only get there, I will be safe.

Rounding a bend I see her, tearing meat from a rabbit carcass with big, sharp teeth. Mama! Her shaggy brown head turns in my direction. With a low growl, she opens her long, hairy arms as if to embrace me.

And then she smells it, the distinct odor of musky sweat. The hunters are near!

We run, ignoring the stones piercing our feet, causing us to stumble. Behind us, the humans call back and forth, “Bigfoot!”

Together, we melt into the shade of a thick stand of pines, hoping to slow down and catch our breath. But our feet become tangled in nets concealed by pine needles, and suddenly, we are swinging up, up into the air, and dangling from the limbs of a sturdy pine tree.

Mama struggles inside her net, growling with rage. I struggle, too, yelping helplessly as the net swings back and forth above the hard ground.

“We’ve got them now,” says a bearded hunter to his companions. “Bigfoot! That TV show, Monster Search, will pay us big bucks for these babies.”

“We’ll be famous,” cries a husky hunter with red hair. “Scientists won’t laugh at us anymore. Finally! Proof that Bigfoot exists!”

“How are we going to get them back to San Francisco?” asks an old man with spectacles. “I mean, we weren’t really expecting to find anything.”

The bearded hunter pulls out his camera. “I’m taking plenty of pictures, just in case something goes wrong. They can’t call it a hoax this time!”

While the camera clicks and the three men argue over the best way to get us back to the city, I turn my head from view and gnaw on the net’s thick webbing with my teeth. Pretty soon I’ve made a small opening, large enough to stick my fingers through. I wiggle them at Mama, and she understands what to do.

The red-haired hunter chuckles as he pokes me in the back with a long stick. I give him a warning growl, but he keeps it up. My powerful jaws chew faster on the netting.

“We need some of that fur,” says the old man with spectacles. “We can send it to a lab for analysis.”

“Good idea!” says the red-haired hunter. “Then, if they get away, we’ll still have proof.”

The three men stand under the nets, looking up at our shaggy brown bodies hanging in the air. Suddenly the nets give way, and Mama and I find ourselves lying on top of the three men on the ground.

We howl victory cries and scramble to our feet. The men, tangled in the nets, shout curses at us as we run away.

The Miwok Indians tell stories about us — great hairy beasts roaming these desolate mountains. They fear us and protect our sacred habitat on Deadwood Peak. We are going there now, secure in the knowledge that we cannot be followed. Men from the city will continue to hunt us. But, with help from the Miwoks, they will never find us. And we will never let them capture us alive.

Dawn Pisturino

©2014 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

BIO: Dawn Pisturino’s poems, limericks, short stories, and articles have appeared in/on Danse Macabre du Jour, Brooklyn Voice, Underneath the Juniper Tree, Working Writer, and several newspapers and anthologies. She currently resides in Arizona.

Please visit my website: http://www.dawnpisturino.org

Thanks!

 

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OUR GREAT EMU ADVENTURE

Steve Pisturino tries to capture a lost emu wandering down Chinle Road in Golden Valley, Arizona.

Our great EMU adventure began when the neighbor’s dogs started barking at something in the field across the road.  We figured it was the coyote that comes to drink water in our front yard. Boy, were we wrong!

Racing through the desert was a prehistoric-looking creature with long legs and a long neck that looked tired, hungry, and thirsty. I don’t know how long or how far he had run, but the temperature was at least 110 degrees outside, the noontime sun burned with fierce intensity, and the only water available  came from human sources.

My husband grabbed some water and followed the animal in his truck while I got on the phone and called every agency I could find in the phone book. The standard response? “We don’t handle emus.” It didn’t matter that the creature was going to die without food, water, and shelter. Frustrated, I called the local newspaper and reported what was happening. Happily, one of the reporters also got on the phone and began calling people.

I finally got hold of a local animal rescue sanctuary, and the owners told me that if we could corral the emu, they would come and get him! Finally! Results!

By that time, my husband had returned home. He had offered him water, but Big Bird ignored it and ran off — luckily, into a residential neighborhood. We took off in the truck and scoured the neighborhood, hoping to find him, capture him, and send him off to the animal sanctuary.  We finally found him wandering down a dirt road, tired and worn out.

As you can see in the above photo, my husband tried to befriend him and lasso him with a soft nylon rope. But the animal wasn’t going for it and took off again into the desert. I ran after him, trying to herd him back to the road. Once or twice, I got close enough to touch him. He never tried to bite or kick me and seemed friendly enough. He was obviously accustomed to humans. But he was scared and didn’t know his way home.

I chased him to the edge of a wash. Big Bird realized that the sides of the wash were too steep, and he let me herd him along the edge and back to the road. Several times he looked back at me with a glint in his eye, like it was some sort of game, and I had high hopes that eventually he would stop and let me catch him.  That was an idealistic thought!

Back on the road a man in a red truck offered the bird water, but once again he ignored it and headed on down the road. My husband parked his truck and threw me the rope. Finally, I got close enough to the bird to throw my arms around him and hang on for dear life. I managed to loop the rope around his neck, but I was so scared of hurting him, I let it hang loose.

My husband asked me, “Okay, now we’ve got him, what are we going to do with him?” Good question! The man in the red truck had taken off, and we had nobody to help us. We decided to walk Big Bird back to the truck and somehow get him into the back.

When we got back to the truck I told my husband, “You get behind him and push.” He reluctantly grabbed the back end of the bird and tried to push him up into the truck.   

Big Bird bolted, gouged my left ankle with his huge toenail,  knocked me flat on my back, and ran off into the desert!

Hot, tired, and thirsty, I laid in the dirt with the sun in my eyes and waited for the stars to stop swirling around my head.

As my husband helped me up I said, “I’m done. I can’t do anymore.”  Beaten, bruised, scuffed, cut, dirty, sweaty, and stunned, we drove home in defeat.

To this day, we don’t know where the emu came from or where he ended up. We suspect that somebody who didn’t want him anymore let him loose in the desert. A cruel thing to do in the hot summer! At the very best, somebody found him and gave him a home. At the very worst, coyotes attacked and killed him. Even as I chased him through the desert, vultures circled overhead, waiting for a fresh kill.

Was it worth it? Even though he injured me, and we weren’t able to catch him, I feel happy that we at least tried to help this poor creature. I have the satisfaction of knowing that the newspaper reporter tried to track down the owner.

And I have a great story to tell my future grandkids.

Dawn Pisturino

Copyright 2012 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved. Photo by Dawn Pisturino.

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