family, film, food, friends, holidays, love, marriage, music, nature, photography, travel

ThanksLiving

Listening to: In The Round – The Cardigans

I am flushed and warm.
I think I may be enormous,
I am so stupidly happy,
. . .
Squelching and squelching
through the beautiful red.

~ Sylvia Plath from Letter In November

It’s not a typo. i read it on a billboard that encouraged me to “Try ThanksLiving,” and it gave me pause, thinking on the implications of living graciously, happily . . . thankfully. In the last few months my reality has been superseding reality TV. This is not to say that i actually watch any of that garbage, but more that i have traded in cultivating my online life for actual life. This is also not an indictment on anyone spending inordinate hours here or copious time on the net blogging, posting photos, chatting, emailing, taking quizzes, general surfing and shopping – as i, of course, partake in all of the aforementioned activities.

But i offer here a pastiche of the sights, sounds, sighs, and movements in my life since September . . . those moments, amusements and muses i am thankful for:

i loved my Autumn . . . i breathed it in deep. That first bit trickled in the window, red and orange and gold and whispering . . . talking some liquid breathy jive about pumpkins big as carriages, soft-bake melt-mouth doughnuts, and oh yeah —- cider like Eve sucked into her mouth on that first bite that day in the garden . . . slightly sin. mostly cinnamon. the cool crush of the weather to come, burning wood, the crunch of leaves, apple cider, cinnamon, brown sugar, gourd vegetables carved out into crescent shapes, stew/goulash boiling, rolling over in a pot for hours in the kitchen, an afternoon nap in a chair, warmed by a slant of sunlight, and a fire in the hearth and in the heart. And there is the settling in: turning a tender eye towards the dying off of things. Pruning, scaling back, simplifying, bedding down for sleep, hibernation, preparation for renewal.

Barnyardpastoral perfection: Plymouth Orchards, MI

in September, i made a pilgrimage to Michigan to drink apple cider and eat fresh baked donuts, and also to see Imogen Heap – a woman whose music i have listened to and couldn’t pass up the cool venue in my hometown. i had my camera with me and the doorman just assumed i needed a press pass so i spent the concert in the pit, mostly just to the right of the stage where all her gear was set up.

Imogen Heap

Imogen Heap @ St. Andrew’s Hall, Detroit, MI

all that time i have spent in my car driving, thinking, working, relaxing, entertaining, sleeping to her music it was so rewarding to see her perform and be at her feet with no obstructions, just awash in her sound. and even moreso – a real treat to be able to tell her so and take photos with her and chat coolly and comfortably like old friends. immi was friendly and warm and told me to come visit with her after the show. later, after most of the people met her and took pictures and she had some time to unwind, when i asked if i could impose for a few pictures myself, she sweetly obliged and invited me to sit not just AT the bar with her, but ON the bar. we hopped up and she flagged down one of the other guys on tour to hand her the Toasted Head Merlot, a wine that features a fire-breathing bear on the label which she drank straight out of the bottle! she asked if her lips or teeth were wine-stained and i assured her she looked fine and we snuggled up for some nice photos together. You can see a collection of my photos from the show HERE.

the drive out to Michigan was interesting . . . i got out of work that nite much later than i anticipated, got home, finished packing, dumped ice into my cooler, burned a long mp3 disc for the car, did my little walk through and checklist, then, at 2am, hit the road.

a little after 5am and just outside of Breezewood, Pennsylvania (nice of them to FORCE corral you through that place to get onto your exit) i stopped at a rest area. my dumb ass forgot the all important pillow and blanket but i crawled over my backseat, folded some clothes into the shape of a pillow, pulled a sweater jacket over my legs, curled into a kitty ball and called it good. for 3 hours. when i woke up it was misty and cool and a light fog was moving through. my mother asked me where i slept and if i was worried about being broken into and raped. i’m pretty sure i just looked like a pile of dirty clothes crumpled into the corner of my backseat, so i had no fear. Besides, my kung fu is superior to most and my ninja style is superb.

i made crazy time, just under 9 hours. This is discounting the 20 minutes it took to get fuel at one stop off the Ohio Turnpike. To clarify – i pulled off because my reserve light didn’t give me quite enough warning and i stalled out directly in front of the toll booth as i remarked to the attendant, “i sure hope they have diesel up the road from here.” Lucky for me, there was hardly anyone pulling off where i had, she and her supervisor pushed me to the side of the road and she indicated the way just down an exit ramp and embankment about 2 blocks up where i could find a diesel pump.

i carefully scaled the hill full of really nice wild flowers and across the gravel and rocks lining an underpass (in my stupid flip flops) and managed to laugh a little as i informed the little old man there behind the counter, “i ran out of fuel at the toll booth, i need to use a gas can if you have one please.”

he grabbed up this big red can and shuffled out to the diesel pump. “how much do you want?”

“oh – i imagine about as much as i can carry up that hill in that thing,” i motioned to the impossible place my car was. he told me that normally someone was hanging about and he would run me up, but not this morning.

he smiled, filled the tank with a gallon or so for me and squinted at the display for a bit. “how much is it?” i asked.

“i can’t see so good, i just had cataract surgery last week,” he laughed. i gave him $6 for what looked like $5.88 and $10 deposit for the tank, told him i’d be back to fill the tank and walked back to my car.

i filled up, primed it and had to crank it for awhile to start it. when you run these things ALL the way out of fuel, they tend to get some air in the line so you have to open the hood, unscrew this little metal circle with teeth that looks like an oversized bottle cap which releases a plunger type thing you must push a little to get the fuel primed, close it off and crank it hard with the pedal to the floor until it roars into life and keep it revved until it no longer stalls when you allow it to drop down into idle.

i drove back and as he placed the 22 cents in my hand he said, “you’re lucky you got it started, most people don’t.” i explained to him the above procedure that most people fail to do with an old Mercedes, thus pissing the car off and NOT getting it started. after that fun adventure, i got underway again. i’m so glad i was not on the side of the highway flagging down a ride.

autumn skin

my photo Autumn Skin finished in the 2005 Maryland Department of Natural Resources Photo Contest with an Honorable Mention, a place in the 2006 calendar, and a $25 Gift Certificate to Ritz Camera.

By mid-month October, my roommates were craving baked pumpkin seeds, so they went and procured some pumpkins from a patch. i told them to bring me home a weird one. they succeeded. it was sort of squat but lovely, like an elliptical planet. and it was nearly RED, with green stripes through it. bravo!

Renaissance Festival Girls
Megan, Tracey, Me, Tiffany, Sally
Ren Fest October ’05

i managed to get to the Renaissance Festival, TWICE, the first time i procured some great thistle honey. as always, lots of good food and beer was had, including some evil dessert: cheesecake on a stick, in chocolate. on the second trip it was Oktoberfest and so for the occasion and for breakfast, i ate a spicy sausage with sauerkraut and onions and mustard that came on what looked like a loaf of bread sliced down the middle. when i ordered it ‘loaded’, the clerk yelled “BURPER!” i also had a big scoop of rainbow sherbet, one of my favorite things. we saw Johnny Fox, the sword swallower again, and i saw something i’ve never seen at his performances. a boy child of maybe about 4 or 5 was standing at the side of the stage and as Johnny swallowed the first sword, the boy moved close, curious, with his hands out and Johnny moved toward him, motioning and pointing at the hilt, and he bent close to the boy as the audience gasped and the boy bravely pulled the sword out of his mouth to the wild applause of the crowd! it was one of the most innocent and tough things i’ve ever seen a child do.


Johnny Fox, sword swallower and audience of 1 . . .

Monday nites have been dubbed Wine Nite ay my house . . . me and a bunch of women get together. We also joke and call it the “menstrual hut.” Sometimes men are invited and we call them the “manginas” and encourage them to get in touch with their “inner vagina,” a phrase that is accompanied by a hand gesture (formed by making a prayer-stanced diamond out of pointed hands and planted against one’s barren abdomen.) Sometimes we dance in front of my desk computer (entertainment altar) while iTunes spins a sexy mix. We’ve also danced in my living room to salsa and slow Spanish ballads. As Halloween fell on a Monday this year and we called it HALLOWINE and had Sangria and Spanish wines and tapas of cheese, breads, olive tapenade, dips, tortillas and chocolates. Olivia noted that one Tuesday as she left early, my half-open mouth looked like i’d eaten through a blackberry patch all nite. good times and good girls sprawled on my floor like tinsel torn from trees in the morning.

In October, i spent some time being haunted and walking about town like a ghost, scaring people, scaring myself a bit, but all my reflections showed up in the mirror and i came back, fully fleshed . . .

i met a boy who lives on a boat just south of where i just moved from in June from out of the woods. a graduate research assistant in marine biology. oddly enough, he was from my hometown, in fact – half a block away from my mother’s house and we shared stomping ground though we never met. we spent one glorious and oddly magical evening that led to a morning, proceeded to conquer our muses and write to each other everyday, until – well . . . it’s only slightly complicated from here. he made me recall that kissing is like learning a new language, rolling it around, becoming accustomed to the feel of it in your mouth. sometimes the accent is bad, the pronunciation improper; it can be a disaster. but he and i took to it like naturals – we spoke a very similar if not the same mother tongue. and in many other interesting, puzzling, gorgeous ways. but his life was full – maybe even too full for me. it would be a morning of slow breakfast and desk work, followed by rock climbing in the afternoon, boat maintenance early evening, a film on the wall of his boat and dinner with friends then swing dancing, and finally, as a late nite thunderstorm got underway, the fumbling steps through his new interest in yoga and meditation until he crashed on some random person or friend’s couch.

i admired his passion but eventually, his contact dropped off; partly owing to student life, sailor life, and largely the love life with his ex. his car broke down, he cancelled a date and avoided most future ones then messaged my phone one early random morning where he was in town and i was invited to meet him for coffee. of course, i drink tea but opted for hot chocolate as some strange compromise. we took a walk and soon enough, it was time for both of us to get on with the rest of our days. apart. it was so curious how from our beginnings we held pinkies under the table at dinner on the first date, nearly got arrested in public shortly after making out atop the granite steps and marble columns of a city courthouse, then his hands in my hair, pulling it in several directions and smiling at me half-asleep in the morning and that day, we could only manage an awkward embrace in a circle on the street. he emailed me finally and explained himself and what i already knew. he went back to her. sure darling – no regrets, but there is one sting . . . if his heart was still spoken for, he should’ve reserved his words, his mouth and other parts as well. and thus, so should have i.

i met another boy somewhere in my haunted travels who talked fast and lived even faster. he was a bruised beatnik in black and red, exuding sexual energy from every pore, a quick study who spoke my language, ate my candy, drank my favorite libations, was seemingly versed in the same food, films, books, music. Cocksure braggart, infamous destructor, people collector, devil on a walkabout, too topped-up martini meniscus threatening to spill out over the edges, a dark crescent dangling like broken glass in a shattered window pane, destined to fall, certain to slice, with a predilection for death and discomfort and drug addiction and ready to tell you all the fuck about it . . . he tore at my jeans and broke the zipper – eventually, i had to replace them both . . . some things are far easier to sew up than others, only one of them came back clean and fixed. i still wear the pants around town, but not the boy.

Love is a many-splattered thing so it should be used in good measure, not just tossed around, slapped up, glossed over and painted with a fresh coat over a tired one. i am in no haste to make waste of good stuff and redecorating is a real bitch. i’ve had to do a whole lot of it since June, so i know. i’m not on the fast track to love, but i have realized now, it is possible to love almost anyone in the world if they simply invest, if they simply follow through and keep on doing it. and more than ever, i am far less tolerant of the missed phonecall, the cancelled date, the thoughtless comment, the scattered lifestyle, the broken promise, the hidden agenda, the other woman, the thankless acceptance, the brusque or reserved affections, the little and constant freak-outs and the need for definitions. i now approach love and sex like a Jedi fucking Master and with Yoda’s advice, “do or do not, there is no try.”

but this brings me back to the title of this beast i am laying down for you and me to read here . . . Thanksgiving. i flew out to Detroit at my mother’s insistence and on her dime. my sister Racheal flew in from Los Angeles, me in from Baltimore and both of us WAAAAY earlier than we liked. it was frigid and snowy as we arrived, but after some hot breakfast and some peaceful sleep, me, my two younger sisters, my mother and her husband Frank assembled at the dinner table in the late afternoon for dinner. no one dressed or combed their extreme bed heads sporting hair bent in several directions. we simply shuffled to our chairs, all of us in our pajamas, ate slowly, laughed, talked about sex and food and the wedding we were to attend the following day, went through three bottles of wine, took a nap, had seconds, ate dessert, listened to music and watched a movie, had thirds and went to sleep late, never having to fuss over driving anywhere or getting fancy. it was utterly relaxing.

a bit of the bubbly . . .
Racheal enjoying a bit of the bubbly . . .

the next day we attended my cousin Crystal’s wedding. At first – there was concern over family spats and feuding that had been going on behind the scenes, including an escalation that might’ve precluded the bride’s mother, my aunt from attending her own daughter’s wedding. But all turned out well and we had the most popular table as we seemed to be having the most fun. at one point, the 3 sisters, me, Angel and Racheal, ran out in the snow and snapped some photos against the backdrop of twinkle-lit hedges. Even the blind date my sister and her friend Cody set me up with ended up being a lovely person who i am still in touch with . . .

3 sisters
Racheal – Angel – Andrea (me)
All three sisters together for one picture . . .

shooting, but not heroin
Mike Cody on camera and my sister Racheal being filmed . . .

the rest of the trip was spent hanging out with these two boys, Cody (aka Mike Cody) and his friend since grade school and my blind date Kevin. Cody is a film maker and Kevin is/was as well though he now finds himself composing music and taking photographs more full time. One nite involved much beer, Racheal’s limbs being made up like a heroin addict while Cody did some shots for a film project he is calling Ever Happened, some tinkling on the piano and plucking on guitars in Kevin’s basement studio setup and some general horsing around ’til the wee hours. Nothing quite like getting a bunch of creatively talented people in one room with plenty of alcohol, just enough energy to watch the sun rise and with phasers set to “stun.” And then there was the 2am trip to White Castle Hamburgers but i will omit THAT story. some of the evidence is on cell phone cameras . . .

Kevin Knox
Kevin Knox

And now . . . the mini-list of vision and sounds . . .

:::   :::   :::   :::

MOVIES i have seen and liked:

The March Of The Penguins
Kung Fu Hustle
Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior
In The Mood For Love
2046
Chungking Express
Garden State
Sideways
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Batman Begins
Good Night And Good Luck
Walk The Line
Capote

MUSIC i have acquired and played to death:

Fiona Apple – Extraordinary Machine
Imogen Heap – Speak For Yourself
Tegan and Sara – So Jealous
Sufjan Stevens – Illinois
The Cardigans – Super Extra Gravity
Feist – Let It Die
Zero 7 – Simple Things
Bertine Zetlitz – Rollerskating
Télépopmusik – Angel Milk
Peaches – Fatherfucker
:::   :::   :::   :::

dreams, family, food, gardening, music, nature, technology, travel

my garden kicks ass

What would it take for you to see
What i have got?
I’ve got more than you know
Open your eyes, i cannot be – what i am not

i’m not what i used to be, i’m not what
i’m not what i used to be, and i
I don’t know myself – from anybody else
I’m not what i used to be, I’m not what
I’m not what i used to be, and I
You don’t know what you have done
My frame is here but the mind is gone—gone away

So stay awhile longer
sweet tongue of  fur and feather
Don’t cut the white breast
I’ve been waiting for you here

I’m not who i used to be
Bigger and better and faster and wetter
And bigger and better and faster and better . . .

Superheroes ~ esthero

The last week of dreams have been dark, light, moody, and marked with memories and prophecies. in one, i dreamed i was a child, though in my mind i was an adult. i was small with pale arms like strands of pearls that hung around the neck of my grandfather, Andrew, who i was named after and who held me like a little monkey slung at his hip. i was naked and clung to him as he walked through a garden that was in the backyard where the crabapples used to fall from the tree and scatter – tart, green bombs for greedy birds.

He pointed here and there at flowers and i named them, remembering specifically, a bright orange blossom which i called, nasturtium, because it was and he nodded approvingly.

Yes – you all know how much i love nature and appreciate all things growing and alive, but pardon me while i geek out over the next few paragraphs about my newest adventures. Some strange thing in me has had the urge to garden. With all that space in the woods where i used to live, some things simply wouldn’t survive under all that cover – i would have to trek to the top of the hill where there might be some incidental sun, carve out an area in the tall grasses and cut away, deep into the ground until i made something suitable to plant in. A sanctioned area where things could grow. Now that i live here in this new house where the boy roommates are so busy and mostly MIA (one even works for the most beautiful & profitable garden center around which is fortunate), i took one look at that tangled back yard and overgrown garden box and felt the need to create something.

Yes – i know, the last years have been bug chasing and moth rearing but, now i am building a habitat for my little creatures to come to me, which is a far more exhausting, but rewarding an endeavor.

Over the last 2 weeks, three times i have come home, changed into some gardening clothes, pulled weeds, hoed the garden box for fall down to a good 12″ plus, which is rather like hacking at the ground with an axe, then i tore the ivy away from the strangled hostas and ferns and out from the cracks in the brickwork, mowed the lawn with an old-fashioned pushmower borrowed from the neighbor (how environmental!) raked the area, and wore far more Deep Woods OFF insect repellant (chock full of DEET) than is probably recommended by any medical professional. It was that or wear the big red bumps on my cheek, neck, and legs as i swatted furiously and futilely. We have a water view just down the path and thus, the mosquitoes are utterly vicious! West Nile Virus is probably just the tip of what these blood-letting bastards are armed with!

i bought seeds for Spring to include some plants that will attract butterflies and ladybugs. Van Gogh sunflower mix, Amaranth (Love Lies Bleeding), Mahogany Nasturtium, Pink & White Swan Echinacea, Cornflower (Black Magic Bachelor Button), Cosmos, Baby’s Breath, Coreopsis, Gaillardia, Siberian Wallflower, Forget Me Not, Bergamot, Rocky Mountain Bee Plant, New England Aster, Black Eyed Susan, Sapphire Blue Flax, Oriental (red) and Shirley Poppies, Rockcress, Royal Scarlet Sweet Pea, Kniphofia (aka Red Hot Poker, Tritoma, or Torch Lily), Yarrow, and Chinese Lantern.

tulip center purple crocus nasturtium

Of course, to look at the seed packs you will note i bought a healthy dose of RED but i have mixed in white, golds, oranges, violets, blues and many other lovely things i plan to rake through so i have a proper selection of wild flowers. And i really didn’t know much about Fall planting other than bulbs, so i did some reading and some research and bought some burgundy and orange and yellow pansies and mums and installed them, or rather, gave them some ground to eat which seems more organic in language than say, software put into the earth. Before i did any of this, there was the aforementioned hoeing (hacking) that went on plus adding a good 4″ of some fresh soil, fertilizers and compost. i also planted bulbs, added bulb food, tilled in some mulch for cover and protection and now, i wait for Spring when they come up: first the purple crocus, then Apeldoorn Elite Tulips, which are red with a defined yellow edge and some lovely things called Anemone ‘De Caen’.

Under a heap of cut branches and trimmings from the trees against our back fence (which i plan on bundling and removing), i found a pile of brown and grey flagstones, presumably left overs forgotten from the neighbors patio project. As deep as they were buried beneath the thorny branches, i am assume they will not be missed as they are now lining a newly-created crescent-shaped garden patch next to the box as well as circling the line of ferns and hostas across the way.

i installed a sturdy black wrought iron plant hook next to this crescent space, buried in ivy which now holds a large green watering can but i can imagine it holding a birdfeeder instead someday soon, so i can watch some winter birds . . .

There is a rabbit that hops through the yard occasionally, and i am hoping he/she will not unearth my bulbs and make Autumn snacks out of them before they have time to meet Spring. Oh – and did i also mention my two new plant friends who have joined my ivy? One is called a Polka-Dot plant, which comes in white, pink or in this case, red splotches on bright green leaves, honestly – looking rather like something has bled onto it. i planted it in a bright metallic red pot and adding to the red, i also pot-planted a big Amaryllis bulb called a Red Lion. i can’t wait until it starts to grow and bloom, which should be in time for the Holidays and it does perfectly well indoors in the Winter!

The strangest thing is now that i have been working so hard out there, and the season is cooling ever so slightly, the window AC is out, the adjustable screens are in, i can hear crickets as i sleep and oddly enough, the ladybugs HAVE indeed come . . . there have been three or four of them trundling along the walls and ceiling in my room and it drives my kitty Odin wild! He bats at them lightly and they just crawl back up. The other nite i reached over to pull the chain on my nite table lamp and a little red ladybug was hanging from the end of the silver ball! What do these little visitors mean?!?!

Now that i think of all this – i should’ve taken before and after shots of the yard before i went out guerilla gardening, but for now, i will venture out and document the semi-fresh, partially naked ground and keep a photo diary of my garden’s progress. And i found a really fun website with an accompanying book that has really inspired me despite the silly title of You Grow Girl. My mother always had the best luck with plants and the most beautiful garden on the block with honestly, minimal effort and fuss besides planting, watering, fertilizing 3 times a year and waiting for growth and beautiful blossoms. i will say that i have some monstrous plants on my porch that i have had now for several years, carried around, re-potted several times in progressively larger containers, some of them more than four years old with tiny beginnings, one i inherited from Marcy which has gone wild and lovely. These include: Golden Pothos (Devil’s Ivy), Nepthytis or Arrowhead vine, a Heart Leaf Philodrendron, and two coleus, one dark red, one red-green and both, oddly enough, plucked from the sidewalk and rescued from a dying arrangement now flourishing.

And then there’s this bushy and resilient white petunia that Megan gave me just before i moved, which has somehow managed to survive having all of its leaves being chewed down to stems by invisible green caterpillars. i say invisible because i saw their frass (little black dust specks of bug poo) and then, once they got big enough, i plucked them off and put them elsewhere in the wild and off my precious plant. it’s even started sprouting new leaves so it can collect the sun and feed itself again. what can i say – caterpillars are not pests to me after having seen them sprout eventual wings. maybe if i had tomatoes, but even then – i don’t know. everything in its place in the cycle . . .

it had been a long time – a few years since i visited the Maryland Renaissance Festival and it was SO much fun and the weather was perfect for it. i bought some Thistle honey, while my friend, Andreas bought Killer Bee honey. i took in some scheduled shows featuring jugglers, contortionists, aerial dancers, sword swallowers as well as some non-scheduled public displays featuring general drunker merry makers. i also went on a mission to find some new silver jewelry. i never know what it is, but it always turns out to be something magically suited and in this case, something fae – an ear cuff with a faerie on it which now clings to my left ear and quite honestly, i was in the market for a new moonstone and something to go on that naked ring finger on my left hand which i constantly twist for the missing pear-shaped diamond when i wash my hands, dismayed and saddened to no longer see it. i did, however, find a dainty little ring with a blue-coloured rainbow moonstone with two silver balls, one dropped to each side, small as period punctuations and the stone is delicate, tiny, reflective and shaped like a teardrop. i am now married to myself and i stand to NOT be disappointed.

i’ve been listening to a lot of internet radio and stumbled across a wonderful place run out of the basement of a nice man named Michael near my home town in Michigan. It’s called auralgasms, and i encourage you to LISTEN! (top left you will see “Listen” then click “Launch Radio Player” and select your connection speed, keep the main page open along with your player as it will update, or refresh if you like and you can see what you’re listening to)

Speaking of music, i am making a road trip out to Detroit to see my family for the Fall, drink some apple cider, eat some fresh fried donuts, crunch my boots in the leaves and ok, also primarily – to take in a concert at one of my all-time favorite places, St. Andrew’s Hall. There, in an intimate concert venue that holds a mere thousand, i will see Imogen Heap, Butch Walker, Cary Brothers, Peter Searcy, Jim Bianco, and all of these collectively under a show called The Hotel Café Tour. i am supposed to be accompanied by my friend Shane, but i am starting to worry . . . he’s been so busy he hasn’t really confirmed with me, so i may be flying solo.

This is of course, all fine and well. A 10-hr drive consisting of me, my iPod, some foggy radio stations, a packed cooler of goodies and some alone time should do me some good. As i have driven it, navigated it, watched it out the window or slept through the trip more times than i care to count, i should arrive safe and sound to the mothership of Destroyit, (to quote my friend and former bandmate Jim Flynn) a new coined term for the city of Detroit. He has promised me dinner at my pick of restaurants and i am sure to host a barbeque of some sorts to gather my friends close to me at my old house one of those fine nites.

Speaking of eating and thinking of bounty . . . lately, i have been eating the spectrum of simple foods that bring me comfort like pierogies with sour cream and applesauce then ranging into the rich, gourmet and elaborate like fried tofu, sushi and lobster, duck with blackberry sauce . . . On one occasion i was invited to a benefit dinner at O’Leary’s Seafood where half the proceeds of food and beverage sales went to New Orleans for relief from Katrina. It was good to simultaneously eat, indulge and allow someone else, perhaps to eat, rebuild and possibly enjoy the same things i am so grateful for lately – good food, good wine, good books, good music, good friends, good times, and a garden that kicks ass.

gardening, nature, relationships, tv, weather

it all takes more than a day to build

Well, now that Six Feet Under has wrapped up, it’s time for the next major HBO production, Rome. Apparently, if you read about the show you’ll discover it is monumental not only in scale and ambition but in dealings, “A co-production between HBO and the BBC, ROME is one of the largest co-production deals ever by the BBC for an American series, and marks the first series co-production of the two networks. HBO and the BBC previously partnered on the 2001 miniseries Band of Brothers, which won six Emmy® Awards, including “Outstanding Miniseries.

Needless to say – i am looking forward to it, and hope it’s sexy, bloody, gold, red and reveals “a place of vibrant cruelty” that parades in with as much grandeur as it appears to have stocked behind it.

i’ve been putting in a lot of hours at work and this has been keeping me ahead of the bills and my mind out of bad places. i really want to buy a color laser printer. For some reason, i have the urge to make some collages, printed art out of my photos. i don’t know what yet, but i want the proper equipment to do it with. Any suggestions in the way of printers would be gladly received, of course.

The weather has been cooling some, and i can smell just the hinting crush of Autumn to come, but this morning a little rainstorm brought back some humidity with it. And apparently there’s some nasty little bitch storm called Hurricane Katrina wending its way up the East coast which probably means some wicked thunderstorms here in the early part of the week. She’s already upgraded to a Category 5. Yeee-haww. Anyone seen her yet?

Tomorrow on my day off, i think i will go buy some gardening gloves and a spade and a few other tools and turn over the weed-ridden planter box / garden bed in the backyard. it really is a pretty place back there with crickets and birds and even a little bunny lives there. it just needs some love and attention. i was given a hardy orange mum plant today, i may put it in the ground back there and see if there are any bulbs i can plant now or what i can do about seeding in the Spring. i do have some great wildflower mixes for later . . .

i am eating chocolate hazelnut cookie twist thingies called Crème de Pirouline and boy are they tasty!  ok – just one more . . .

Speaking of tasty boys . . .

i met a nice new friend. we ate some food and drank some wine and finished with some evil chocolate dessert thing at a local place i like. yes – he is a boy. yes – we met online through a volley of emails and phone calls. yes – we had fun and it was laid back. no – i am not comfortable calling it a date. no – he did not pay – we went dutch. no – there was only a hug good nite and promise of more time spent. perhaps perhaps perhaps. all of it, with me most ginger on the approach.

This new infused hope i have for printing, for gardening, for dare i say “love” has prompted me to study myself for what i was missing in my relationship and for what i want from Mr. WhomEverTheHellYouAre. And i have asked for the following:

a clever boy with careful hands who will look me in the eye when he’s talking and when i’m talking to him. someone who will walk beside me, not charge ahead to lead, and hold my hand in public. i don’t mind a little mystery and intrigue, but don’t appreciate narcissism, ticket-punchers, people who treat sex and intimacy like an oil-change and the lies that accompany leading a double-life.

be with me whether i am present or not.

please be sociable, polite, humourous, thoughtful, affectionate, passionate, emotional but not too messy, domesticated but well-traveled, adventurous but not utterly reckless, endearing, inspired and inclined to create.

of course – i have not mentioned that if you look like Jeff Buckley or Jean-Marc Barr as he appeared in the movie The Big Blue circa 1988, then you’re definitely my flavor. but we cannot have everything, and i won’t find him by sitting in here.

and it all takes more than a day to build . . .

friends, myth, nature, relationships

shot down . stuck fast . dark flight

just when i think it’s too much to bear . . . when my life seems turned on its ear, snaking about on a twisted, circular track and i feel like curling in on myself . . . i go back to the beginning as i end again.

i have been absent. from everything (including here and my photography as well) except work, which i have been doing quite a bit of.

my eight-year relationship recently self-destructed. and i’m just going to make it plain for you and for me . . . mostly, i am profoundly heartbroken, numbed and utterly daunted by the idea of dating, taking meals, movies and sleeping alone, weary of having to explain myself and learn someone new, having to relearn myself, afraid of being disappointed, dreading the whole “this-is-what-i’m-about-how-’bout-you” exercise, farting in front of someone new, being naked, learning a new kiss. it all horrifies me and i don’t even want to begin. i had a man i love dearly, i had a house, i had two cats together. i planted my tree there, i buried my cat there. i planted my heart there in the woods and let it cover the ground like ivy.

Brooks, my long-term boyfriend broke up with me. and to tell you how it all went down, and on my 33rd birthday would read so utterly cliché and rife with melodrama that i wish were NOT my life to report. Well – i have entered my Jesus year – he was 33 when he was crucified.

damn if it isn’t always the worst timing, the wrong thing said, the poor choices, the little misunderstandings that just chip away at things, until you can no longer see the good and the way through something or someone. there are things he thinks he needs to do for himself, and sadly – he wants to do them alone.

i met him when i was 25, online and through email. i didn’t even know what he looked like before we started speaking and growing close. he sent me pictures a book and a bottle of wine. he took me places i have never seen. he taught me so much about so many things natural and mechanical. i moved my whole life from Detroit, Michigan to be here with him in Maryland. we went through his Crohn’s disease (which he still endures), dead pets, funerals, vacations, all the things you can imagine, and we weathered my leaving twice while we were building a house to get some sanity and space from living in close quarters with his parents, and then, a monstrously stupid wasteful affair on my part. there are some things a relationship cannot survive, i suppose. people suffer their self-esteem, people stop forgiving, people build walls.

i would like to chalk it up to an early mid-life crisis on his part or humanity’s new short-attention span with love and excitement, and a case for those who don’t know how to commit and invest in people when they have fear of death, fear of confrontation, fear of friendship, fear of settling for the not-quite best sex/lover/relationship/etc. (insert fictional mind meld illusory mental/emotional state here). clearly the compromises he felt he had to make in order to be with me were too great. this is simply it. i just wish it felt better to say to myself and not cry every time i think of his absence. there are not enough pillows on this bed or friends i can talk to that make up for the empty space.

and i will leave it all at that. as he has reminded me it was NOT all goodness and light, though the love and loss of it has changed me profoundly and the memories of how it all began, how many many things we shared as friends, how THAT friendship is perhaps the only salvageable part. there is so much i could write, and i have, but it is largely personal and i will not trouble anyone’s eyes or conscience with it here. i am spilling out over the edges as it is . . . even the camera i shoot with, a gift from him, serves as a reminder.

i am living in Annapolis, Maryland. right downtown in the Historic District. it’s a nice house on the water, i rent it with two male roommates one of whom is Jason. mostly – i have the house to myself as Jason visits his girlfriend Jean quite a bit and works a lot, and Andrew, well he’s a handsome young man of i think 22, and he is gone quite a bit also, for various jet-setting to Chicago and New York, early work hours and socializing. so it’s mostly me and Odin just hanging out at home, purring and snuggling in, trying to get some sleep, eating lightly only for sustenance and hoping to adjust. there is a nice pair of windows in my room on the 3rd floor, my ivy plant is happy here, new leaves have erupted where dead spiny limbs were and i am able to crawl out my window and get onto the slanted roof to a platform area where i can look out across the neighborhood. it’s nice for sunning and watching the people, birds, and gardens.

what i have come to see is that nature continues to frighten and amaze me though i am no longer in my beloved forest . . . where all good elves belong. still i learn things like the will to fight, resilience, the inevitability and impartiality of death and my persistent love for all things great and small.

my last batch of moth eggs collapsed – they never hatched, perhaps not the product of a successful mating, which seems a terrible metaphor for the course of things lately, but no matter. i may still find some other specimens to raise and get interested in.

i watched two blackbirds trounce a mouse with their needled talons on a gravel path as the mouse interrupted their feeding and scavenging. i intervened and they took flight.

i watched a small sparrow fly too low before the eyes of traffic only to be batted pitifully against headlights and fall to the side of the road like a stone.

i see countless butterflies flittering with all of their might to make it across the lanes of whooshing traffic, dashed and left flapping like shutters, tiny cyclone trapdoors on the hot pavement, stuck like confetti fallout after a New Year’s kiss delivered to a perfect stranger.

Eastern Box Turtle peeking out

but i picked up a Painted Box Turtle, burnt ochre shell with starburst splashed and neon orange scales and head, with cherry red eyes. he was walking in the middle of the road, certain to be crushed. he rode on the floor of my passenger seat until i released him into the woods – but not before taking his picture . . .

Eastern Box Turtle

on from turtles and NOT to the rabbit, but the mouse . . . i know – they are rodents and vermin and potentially carry disease and reproduce and ruin food storage and clothes, but i loathe the sticky supposedly non-toxic glue traps that catch mice – or more i should remark they don’t so much “catch” as mangle and rip a creature limb from limb as they try to escape losing fur and feet if they DO manage to escape. i don’t know – i prefer “SNAP!” you’re dead than starvation and thirst and drowning in your own feces and struggle as you get more and more bound and twisted.

so, i am a bad employee – i saved a mouse from one of these grotesque things. i was setting up an adjacent dining room when i thought “eww, i better stash that trap so the guests don’t see it.” and upon picking it up, it stirred wildly and fluttered out of my hand and i screamed a bit. i wondered about what kind of unholy fucking cockroach/insect/mothra/beast might be twitching inside with 60,000 legs and pincers and fangs. i kicked it a bit across the room in the direction of the trash, then finally got brave got down on the ground and looked inside.

it was a tiny grey mouse, stuck with its little nose down, its whiskers bleeding, its mouth stuck open, tail behind it on display, feet tangled awkwardly below it in unnatural positions, stuck fast by its furry side and not escaping but still very much alive. what was i supposed to do? put it in a corner and ignore it (denial), put it out of its misery by bludgeoning it (personal), or worse – throwing it away (neglectful). so i took it to the sink in the nearby bathroom and turned on a small trickle of warm water, which it greedily lapped, working its mouth and blinking up at me. this gave it the energy to start squirming more, but i tried to keep it still so it didn’t rip itself apart.

i began by peeling the tail away and trying to unstuck the feet and head so it could close its mouth. then i went about dampening the trap with water and soap to loosen the glue, tearing off bits and pieces of the trap rather than trying to peel the mouse away by its loose body parts, which i was afraid would damage organs and break legs.

this took a good 10 minutes or so near the end of which the mouse became more excited, realizing it was being helped and was better able to move. once i had it free, its front paw a bit favored, perhaps stiff or injured, it scrambled and spun in a circular track in the sink basin. it nipped me ever so slightly, but grew calm as i scooped it up in a pile of paper towel. it curled into a little crescent, breathed quickly and i cupped it in my hands, cooed at it a bit to be calm, which it did and grew very still as i carried it outside to the huge bush i had seen mice in and out of before.

i put it down in the mulch and it appeared as if that one leg may have been broken, but it looked around and scampered off inside, ducking down into a little hole. somehow – i felt such a deep sympathy for this creature, stuck against its will, wanting to be removed, wanting to move. i can only hope it will heal or at least, die on its own terms.

Two nites ago i was out in the backyard here, a wild tangled overgrowth of hastas and ivy and low hanging branches looking over into the soft lights in my neighbor’s garden. The neighbor is a bed and breakfast called The Charles Inn as we live on Charles Street. it also has the window where i shot this cat photo:

While looking over in the garden with its fountains and stones and wonderful flowers, i saw a little orange flicker – the glow of an eye, something in flight. It was 11 at nite and all i could think was BAT! But no – you wouldn’t believe it – it was a hummingbird of all things . . . at NITE! i thought they went into torpor to keep warm and still in the dark and only flew in the sunlight, but here it was, a ruby-throated hummingbird darting aimlessly about, trying to find its way into the nectar caves. Turns out, i read that they don’t have a sense of smell. But more interesting is their affinity for the color RED . . .

The Ruby Throated Hummingbird is Maryland’s native species. It weighs only a tenth of an ounce and is attracted to nectar supplied by native plants or attentive homeowners. The flowers hummingbirds use for nectar sources have evolved with them. To attract a hummingbird, a flower must be red, bloom in the daytime, be rich in nectar and lack any sort of landing pad thereby eliminating competition from other birds. They like red so much in fact that folks in Louisiana hang lots of red Christmas ribbon, red surveyor’s tape, and other red items around their yards to be sure hummingbirds won’t pass them by. Some believe the hummingbirds fly down pathways (like roads) and have trails of red leading from the road into their house which must be an incredible spectacle!

My nitetime sighting sent me on a journey to discover myths and faerie tales about the hummingbird of which i found a nice handful and all of them Native American . . .

A Mayan legend says the hummingbird is actually the sun in disguise, and he is trying to seduce a beautiful woman, who is the moon.

Another Mayan legend says the first two hummingbirds were created from the small feather scraps left over from the construction of other birds. The god who made them was so pleased he had an elaborate wedding ceremony for them. First butterflies marked out a room, then flower petals fell on the ground to make a carpet; spiders spun webs to make a bridal pathway, then the sun sent down rays which caused the tiny groom to glow with dazzling reds and greens. The wedding guests noticed that whenever he turned away from the sun, he became drab again like the original gray feathers from which he was made.

A third Mayan legend speaks of a hummingbird piercing the tongue of ancient kings. When the blood was poured on sacred scrolls and burned, divine ancestors appeared in the smoke.

There is a legend from the Jatibonicu Taino Tribal Nation of Puerto Rico about a young woman and a young man, who were from rival tribes. Like Romeo and Juliet, they fell in love, precipitating the intense criticism of their family and friends. Nevertheless, the two of them found a way to escape both time and culture. One became a hummingbird and the other a red flower.

To the Chayma people of Trinidad, hummers are dead ancestors, so there is a taboo against harming them. An extinct Caribbean tribe called the Arawacs thought it was Hummingbird who brought tobacco. They called him the Doctor Bird.

Hopi and Zuni legends tell of hummingbirds intervening on behalf of humans, convincing the gods to bring rain. Because of this, people from these tribes often paint hummingbirds on water jars.

There is a legend from Mexico about a Taroscan Indian woman who was taught how to weave beautiful baskets by a grateful hummingbird to whom she had given sugar water during a drought. These baskets are now used in Day of the Dead Festivals.

The Pueblo Indians have hummingbird dances and use hummingbird feathers in rituals to bring rain. Pueblo shamans use hummingbirds as couriers to send gifts to the Great Mother who lives beneath the earth. To many of the Pueblo, the hummingbird is a tobacco bird. In one myth Hummingbird gets smoke from Caterpillar, the guardian of the tobacco plant, which is a nice Alice In Wonderland segue!

Another Pueblo story tells of a demon who is blinded after losing a bet with the sun. In anger he spews out hot lava. The earth catches fire. A hummingbird then saves the beautiful land of people and animals by gathering clouds from the four directions. Hummingbird uses rain from these clouds to put out the flames. This legend says the bright colors on a hummingbird’s throat came after he fled through the rainbow in search of rain clouds.

A Mojave, and my most favorite legend tells of a primordial time when people lived in an underground world of darkness. They send a hummingbird up to look for light. High above them the little bird found a twisted path to the sunlit upper world where people now live.

It is a place i hope to arrive at soon myself . . .

nature, weather

walking (carefully) in a winter wonderland . . .


Well it’s Groundhog Day and that fat, furry little buck-toothed bastard popped (or more properly, was pulled) out of his hole by a man wearing a top hat in ::snicker:: Gobbler’s Knob, Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. “Punxsutawney Phil, King of the Groundhogs, Father of all Marmota, Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of Prognosticators declared to a host of booing people in groundhog hats that it’s going to be cold and we’re all going to hate it for six more weeks.

In related news . . . i know several people who have slipped and fallen on snow and ice. People are showing up to work with bruises, sprains, and abrasions. A couple nights ago i nearly lost control of my car. In a tailspin on a slippery dark country road, i saw headlights, tail lights, trees, barriers, ditches and then with a maneuver straight from a Starsky and Hutch, i finally skidded my car to a halt facing the opposite way at the side of road and then called a couple people to affirm that i was indeed, still alive.

i have been parking my car at the top of the VERY steep hill that is my driveway; otherwise, the tractor will have to pull me out. i love my old Mercedes but it is an absolute sled in this weather. Four wheel spins in 2” of ice or snow and forget it, i’m crippled. i’ll have to rock out, dig out and have someone push me. This has happened 5 times or so already.

Tonite i amused myself by venturing down the driveway, found myself slipping, attempted to back up, made the loud squirrelly, scratching sounds of tires with no traction, nearly slid into a tree and then into the NO TRESSPASSING sign, and finally made it back out of the driveway and onto flat land where i could park safely. The only reason i was seeing how far i could go is because i have been accumulating heavy items that need to get into the house, but are too cumbersome to carry that far. There is a huge mirror with a wooden frame in my backseat (for three days).

But tonite, the 40lb box of kitty litter had to come in.

i slung my purse over one shoulder, my messenger bag for work over the other, decided the now empty Chick-Fil-A bag i had for dinner could stay, and i hefted the box of kitty litter out in front. i descended the treacherous driveway of white hell slowly. It was dark, cold and the box was slipping out from my gloves. Before it got dicey and i lost my footing, i got this brilliant idea . . . “put the box down and kick it along.” And why not! Everything else was sliding and sure enough, the box of kitty litter careened down the hill like a toboggan, much to my delight! At the bottom of the hill nearer to the stairs i began laughing like an idiot to myself as i pushed the box along like some perverse curling stone, and the thought of THAT sport got me laughing again.

“Kitty litter curling!”

Now if i just had one of those ridiculous brooms . . .

i know i know – i shouldn’t make fun . . . it’s a very old Scottish sport and hey, the oldest Curling Club in the U.S. is the Detroit Curling Club, in my home town, which started playing on Lake St. Clair, in the early 1820’s. Of course, it is those kooky Canadians, who probably are able to subsist on snow, that boast more curlers in total than any other country. But i digress, i don’t care for winter sports . . . skiing is a bit rich for my blood and sledding is a death trap headed for trees and then there’s snowboarding. the idea of strapping myself to any size wooden or otherwise highly polished, waxed synthetic plank is of great consequence to the way my limbs are arranged. Getting in and out of my driveway is sport enough and if i wanted to do any of that, i’d simply hurl myself down it with wild abandon and great style and see how it all turns out.

The groundhog only comes out once a year during mid-winter, and if it gets worse, it may very well require a man in a top hat to pull me out into the snow any time soon . . .

nature, photography

Winter Watch, Red Sparks

Well – it seems i survived the Storm of The Century of the Week. The Weather Channel kept referring to the approaching snowstorm as the “WINTER WALLOP.”  i only see about 8″ but that’s enough to put everything to a halt out here. Maryland closes the schools and government if someone even whispers the word “snow.” The winds rolled in today, 24 hours late to do its job of whipping up some window high snowdrifts.

It was especially nice getting that call from work that said, “don’t bother coming in.” Of course – i missed out on money at work, but it wasn’t going to be your average Saturday nite nearing $300, so i didn’t risk sliding into a ditch for an unusual $80 or less.

What was really nice was watching the snowfall, baking croissants to eat with butter and homemade apple jelly spiced with red cinnamon, brewing some tea and watching the birdfeeder.

It’s butterflies in the summer and birds in the winter. Ok – so, i’m a bird nerd too.  The birdfeeder has been like an airport the last few days. All manner of bird zooming in and chirping: chickadees, juncos, sparrows, tufted titmouse with their funny crowns, winter wrens, grey-cheeked thrush, red cardinals, and most exciting, i found (or it found me) a red-bellied woodpecker.

red-bellied woodpecker
i shot a few from inside, caught some glare and then went outside, standing still and crouched against a wall to observe them swooping in to peck at the feeder. i then turned the camera in to my own window where Odin was watching intently, and probably wondering what i was doing out there in the snow with that silly white-spotted leopard flophat.

Odin in the Winter Window

i don’t enjoying skiing or sledding or anything like that, but this kind of winter sport, i can learn to love because i love to learn.

leopard snow hat

family, nature, photography

homeland, heartland, the story & image

:::    :::    :::     :::     :::    :::    :::     :::    :::    :::    :::    :::    :::

I will tell you something about stories,
[he said]
They aren’t just entertainment.
Don’t be fooled.
They are all we have, you see,
all we have to fight off
illness and death.
You don’t have anything
if you don’t have the stories.

~ Leslie Marmon Silko – Ceremony

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god is RED

My mother has an affinity for the Native American People. As her daughter, i felt the same connection to the earth beliefs of those tribal people: the interconnectedness of all things. i was born on Whidbey Island near Mount Baker and a reservation. The first shoes i came home in from the hospital were moccasins, and in my travels, i remember the pair of fawn-colored moccasins my mother used to wear. My mother had long auburn hair that swept the back of her thighs and the wind pulled it behind her like the dark, red scream of a horse’s mane. i remember driving across country, kicking up sand, looking out over desert and prairie. Looking out for rattlesnakes.

My mother recently visited me here in Maryland after the holiday and before the other and final one just passed. She brought my little sister Angel, who is now 13. We visited The National Museum of the American Indian, a most impressive circular, curving structure Situated on a 4.25-acre trapezoidal site, and new in the Smithsonian area on the Mall. So much care was put into the 15 year planning of the structure and design, i encourage you to read about it . . .

We watched some native dances, with accompanying drumming and singing. This took place in the Potomac, the central gathering place in the museum’s entry point which soars 120 feet to the top of the dome and spans 120 feet in diameter. All the way up, curving stairwells are lined with the heads of people, peering over to watch the presentations & dances. The word Potomac, which comes from the Piscataway word meaning “where the goods are brought in,” honors the Native peoples from the Washington, D.C., area.

I watched several dances including the Welcome Dance and a Fancy Dance. In some dances, performers imitate the movement of warriors sneaking up and killing an enemy or of them – Counting Coup, which was a way of bettering an opponent, almost teasing him, sneaking up on him, frightening him without killing him. The children volunteered to line up in a circle as a dancer performed the Counting Coup, startling them when he leapt in front of them randomly, then taking a “gimme five” slap to show they stood their ground and did not move. The act of touching a live enemy and getting away from them, touching rather than killing the enemy, was a way to show bravery. This was called Counting Coup and Eagle feathers were awarded for this act, the Grand Coup.

WWII

The WWII Memorial, newly erected in Washington, D.C., was something my mother wanted to see especially, out of all the monuments. Her father, my grandfather, Andrew Joseph Paull, who i was named for, would’ve been thrilled to see such a site, finally honoring those veterans. He was a POW in Tunisia, North Africa for two years before he finally came home. From him, my love of music, my knowledge of the guitar and Blue Grass, love for gardening and nature, the sour taste of crab apples, the sweet taste of creamed coffee and pancakes, buttered corn on the cob, and falling asleep to John Wayne Westerns.

Remembrance

Every time i visit, Arlington National Cemetery, i see and learn something new about the place itself and about American history. How “the remains of the Vietnam Unknown” at the Tomb of the Unknowns “were exhumed May 14, 1998 and based on mitochondrial DNA testing, DoD scientists identified the remains as those of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie, who was shot down near An Loc, Vietnam, in 1972.” (the year i was born) He is no longer a soldier “known only to god” as the white marble sarcophagus declares. Of course we visited the Eternal Flame where John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis lie, flanked by two of their children, and the simple white cross at the Robert F. Kennedy gravesite. Something i had not seen before was the Nurses Memorial. A bone white, smooth granite statue of a nurse in uniform overlooks a rounded burial plot, her hand gesturing lightly from beneath a cape as if to say, “look at all these women who served alongside and cared for you.” The plot of grass where the nurses are buried is curved and concave, like a spoon where medicine is delivered, a bowl where food is given, a basin where the body is cleansed, a cupped hand to hold the head and hand of the dying, and a womb, a place to hold you and deliver you back.

My mother loves the Native American people and its history, my mother’s father was a WWII veteran, my mother treats men who are veterans at the VA hospital in Detroit, Michigan, my mother, the nurse – i wondered if she saw all of this.

All creatures great and . . .

There were birds: geese flying over the frozen Reflecting Pool before the Washington Monument and black squirrels everywhere we went on the path to the memorials. On the way back to the Metro a boy and his father sat on a park bench. My eye was drawn to the small, brown mouse sitting between them, eating a tiny, gold ball of caramel corn, shuddering. “His name is Buster,” said the boy smiling, “i think he’s cold,” he then said, adding a frown.

As for me . . .

This year. Wait. Last year. Right, the day has past already. All is quiet on New Year’s Day. This will not be my Year In Review, but more my time for reflection. It was a year for growing, for losing, for gaining. I lost three friends – i gained three others back. i lost a beloved pet, i welcomed a new one to love.

My Photos. My Pictures. My Scrapbook. My Informal Online Gallery. i am not brave enough to use phrases like my “work” or my “art.” Eugghh . . . no offense to anyone who feels comfortable with that sort of language, but i would just see myself as some wildly pompous assclown to go around touting myself as some grand photographer. I don’t even get PAID to do this stuff unless it’s a wedding. And i intend i think, to keep it that way, unless i sell it to someone who truly enjoys the image enough to hang on the wall, fridge, bulletin board, etc.

Have i gotten any better? i think so. And more – i SEE things better now and understand the tools and am getting better at conveying the basic and emotional element contained in the images i see and try to capture. Which means with more time (and MUCH more $$$) i will go about improving the tools i have to truly render the images i can see, but not perfect.

i try very hard to explain why and what i see when i take a picture as sometimes, the content is not fully expressed until perhaps you know what you are looking at and why. “Why did i want you to see this?” and “Do you see what i see?” is a game i play with all of my photos.

There’s not enough space or time here, but in my next rant – i will be sure to tell you what i think photography has done for me (and others) as an [art]form. People like to squawk about that one, and also like to argue about how digital technology is an abomination to the process. Lest we forget, any artform is documentation of the human experience and the human experience is a vast story book upon which everyone wishes to scribble on the pages. It is all proof we existed.

You don’t have anything
if you don’t have the stories.

dreams, nature, weather

sweet songs of winter sparrows

:::

her breasts like birds
that shape upturned
he likes to call sparrows
and “stand there by the window”
narrow, profiled shadow
he commands and clothes like cages
open, free him under the gentle press
of birds upon his feathered chest.
kisses for the small of the back
the foreign curve of hip
on your collarbone she perches
purses her lip and before the rest
can come undone
the sparrows take their leave
in December’s twilight sun.

~ Andrea E. Janda

:::

snowfall. first of the season here. white-throated sparrows gather in bare thickets and dig at the ground by hopping backwards with both feet, scratching at the surface and uncovering food.

i haven’t felt much like eating, though i do like sleeping. something about winter sets me into hibernation. squelches my desire for anything besides warmth and quiet. a grizzly-bear stupor. a need for nuzzled affections and nesting places.

outside the snow drift spackles the window and surprises the spider webs with its glittery gather, hanging under the eaves like pulled out sweater strands. you’ve seen raindrops this way – but have you ever seen snow in a spider’s web?

silvery mists of powder catch the wind – aimless, circling, whispering cyclones. the icicles begin to weep from the edges, long witchy, translucent fingers pointing the way down, showing the snow where to land.

i am scratching at the surface. i am looking for the unknown hunger in the fallen leaf bed. i am sleeping in unlocked dreams. my blanket is snow, the web is taut, my fingers reach, begin to weep, i set my nest, warm to the affections and look for directions on the place to land

family, nature, pets, photography

snuggling in . . .

here kitty . . .

i’m just as proud as a new mommy
and quick with draw of the camera too . . .

forgive me if i innundate you with photos of Odin.

Right now, he is snuggling my butt, i am sitting on the front edge of my office chair and he is parked behind me. i don’t know what will happen when he becomes too big for this practice. My right hand is a bit shredded and full of miniscule scratches and bites. Odin thinks i am his litter mate and this is the hand i use to taunt him with. He also likes to pounce on my face in the morning, and push his paw into my eye to see if i am ready to rouse. Wicked little thing . . .

Pixel, my other Bengal spent the last week looking out the front door, waiting for Miles to return, howling a little sad song he reserves for the departing of one of us – Brooks or i on the way out for the day. Pixel still comes to bed quite late, but he is adjusting.

Odin has tried to nurse Pixel (who is a BOY cat) and Pixel has tried to drag Odin around by the scruff as if it were his own. It’s really great to see the cats getting along, and i love waking up with them all piled together and sleeping on me.

speaking of – i am sleeping better, dreaming more, and finally eating.

the sky looks strange today . . . it has been warm the last week, unseasonable for November. but today has the look of winter: lemon yellow & pale grey skies. i bought an overabundance of soup, bread, butter and tea at the grocery store yesterday.

i think i will start hibernating . . . i have plenty of furry snuggle buddies.

smallish

nature

Curioser Still . . . Where Do The Butterflies Go When It Rains?

Rain.

Floridian backlash from the hurricane sent plenty of it this way. Pattering on and off for days. Competing with our conversations and sometimes, believe it or not, our sleep.

Moths clung to the eaves and fluttered like wet leaves against the windows, looking for shelter.

But my most unusual find was a butterfly at nite, flapping weakly at the base of my front door, bedraggled in a spider web, its one antennae twisted, sticky and fused to a front leg until it became one, sending it wheeling in helpless, directionless, flightless circles.

i’ve seen this dark butterfly in the day – first time this season and one i haven’t been able to identify yet. Smoky, scalloped wings with irridescent green-blue powder. When the wings are closed they present bright orange dots.

i took it into the house and it was so tired it sat in my palm as i took a small pair of razor sharp tweezers and separated the leg from the antennae. it sat quite still, opening and closing its wings slowly like a breath, a slow pulse, a heartbeat. Then it waggled its antennae together, angling out as if communicating or tuning in and discovered it could fly.

. . . in my house.

the cats watched it beat towards the bright torchiere lamp in the living room and i quietly dicsouraged their chase. i caught it and went out side where it sat still in my hand for a few minutes and took flight again, resting against a high window until morning. As soon as the sun warmed things – it was off again to meet the day.

i always wondered where such delicate things could hide while the rain and wind tore through the flowers and trees. They hide under things – leaves and awnings with their wings clapped up tightly, waiting it out. Sometimes they are tattered to bits of confetti like all those tiny dances of death i see in the road beating furiously across stretches of two-lane country roads only to be tossed into the updrafts of passing trucks and cars, creased into radiator grills, dashed against hot pavement. You wouldn’t believe how many of them i see. How easily i pick them out from fallen leaves, newspaper, fast food bags, litter.

How many scraps of wings i find and save . . .

Today Zoey and i were driving to take in some lunch and photos in Annapolis. We stopped the car 20 yards out of the driveway and rescued an Eastern Painted turtle crawling directly in the path of the road. i held it gently by the midsection of its shell and began carrying it to a safe field. It quickly struggled and kicked against me as if to swim away, scratching the palms of my hands with meaty claws – cool and strong. But we saved it from the possible cars or the wash of storm quickly approaching.

Funny how the creatures most flitting, fast and delicate and even those lumbering, slow and sturdy in seemingly impenetrable shells – each are fragile in their own way.

There is always something larger than yourself, different and differently abled.

And we all need a safe place to rest out of the storm . . .