Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I call this melted Ricë! It's a screen shot I took during 
our video chat when I was at the beach... 
The first thing that would come back into focus was,
of course, her mouth!
Last night Ricë and I were talking about traveling, and what one thing you could do that would make your traveling 'easy.' I came up with two, of course. The first was the coffee. I need to be able to make coffee in my room or wherever I'm staying. I don't want to have to go to a hotel lobby to get coffee. I want coffee while I'm in my PJs, without having to put on make up. And, yes, dear reader, a trip outside the hotel room would require that I was showered, had my teeth and hair brushed, and had on my make up. But I can't put on my make up if I'm asleep, so I need the coffee right away. 

Most hotels these days - I usually stay at Days Inns - have those little coffee makers with little pods of disgustingly weak coffee. I carry filters and bags of my lovely 50/50 mix of dark French Roast and Midnight Sun. I also carry a French press and a little water heater thingy, in case I stay someplace weird where they don't have a coffee pot. I make enough so that I can have my coffee, get dressed, write a tad in my journal, and then make a bit more before I get on the road.

I also need some way to de-stress when I'm traveling. (Don't even bother suggesting that it would be less stressful if I gave up caffeine. Don't.) I carry a yoga mat and some exercise bands so I can stretch. The problem is that there's usually not enough room to do yoga easily in a hotel. They have refrigerators - not working, but there taking up space anyway - and TVs and stuff. So I guess the yoga matt is more for my mind. I like to walk every day, but that's hard to do at most Days Inns as they're right beside the highway... Not usually a good place to walk. 

I'm going to have to give this whole thing a bit more attention on my next driving trip. I prefer to just get in the car and drive until I'm where I want to be. I stop for gas, and do a bizarre set of movements and stretches while I'm gassing up, but I don't generally stop for anything else... Except if I hit rush hour in a strange city. A couple of years ago, I hit Memphis at rush hour. Traffic was crazy and people were nuts but they were Memphis nuts, not Austin, Texas nuts, so I wasn't in sync with them. I pulled off the road at a huge shopping mall and went inside and got a hair cut, bought some make up and looked at shoes for an hour. By the time I left, traffic was moving fine and I could drive another hour or so to a cheaper Days Inn. The ones near big cities are more expensive.

My mom used to travel with a bottle of Jack Daniels and a couple of real glasses. She had one of those old, plaid thermos bags that had at one time carried two thermi. She would have a thermos of coffee (which she drank from the thermos top) and the bottle of Jack Black with the glasses. When we got to a hotel, my job was to get the ice. Her comfort and relaxation came in the same container.

Smart lady!

Monday, May 10, 2010


I love traveling, but I love being home, too. Such a dilemma!  Home is all the small joys... My favorite coffee - a mix of Equal Exchange coffees that I buy at Wheatsville, my local food co-op. It's a wonderful thing to sit in one's own house with a cat on one's lap and drink a cup of coffee and fiddle on the computer... Check your email, read the NY Times and BBC sites, and contemplate your day.

There's so much to catch up on when you get home, even from a short trip. There's all the mail. Just sorting it - the junk from the stuff that's important - is a PITA. There's laundry to do, so, when I first get back, I feel like I'm just a tad 'behind the beat.' On this last trip, most of that came from getting up at 4 in the morning to leave Chapel Hill and fly home. It totally discombobulates me to get up that early. There's such a huge difference - for me - between getting up at 4 am and getting up at 6 am. I know myself, and the surest way for me to get sick is to have to get up before 6 am and do something stressful, like fly.

Not that flying itself is stressful, but you're so completely NOT in charge of anything once you get to the airport. And the food at airports - other than Austin's airport - just sucks. It's not food; it's some kind of plastic food-like substance that tastes gross and costs big bucks. I usually take my own food. Thank goodness no one's tried to put a bomb in a mango lately! I carry an empty plastic water bottle with me to refill at water fountains. Plus, at RDU, both Terminals 1 & 2 have 2nd Edition Booksellers, a locally-owned second-hand book store. Terminal 1 has the 'big' store; Terminal 2 is more of a kiosk type thing, but still, locally-owned! Used! 

Austin's airport, for those of you who have not been lucky enough to fly into Austin, has no chain food places. Or bookstores. It's real food. It may not be healthy food - it's still BBQ, ice cream, Mexican and pizza - but it's actual food cooked by real people. And the bookstore is our local, independent BookPeople.

This year I'm making a real effort NOT to buy anymore bottles of water, and to carry a reusable coffee cup with me so I don't have to use another plastic/styrofoam/paper cup. I have one in my car, but remembering to take it into a coffee place is difficult. 

And I haven't even tried to get one through airport security. Maybe next time.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

At the beach

Old Baldy, the oldest lighthouse in NC.  Not a working lighthouse, but still cool.
May and October are the best times to go to the beach, I think. It's not too hot yet, and it's before the kids get out from school, so it's relatively uncrowded. I'm on Bald Head Island, the southern barrier beach in NC, where Cape Fear is. To the east is the Atlantic, to the west (more or less) is the Cape Fear River. In between is a barrier island with a beach on one side and tidal marshes on the other. I like the marshes.

There are birds here. Big birds! Egrets, ibis, herons. There used to be a lot of clapper rails, but I haven't heard any in the last couple of years. I never saw one of them; they just kind of hung out in the reeds and made noise when you went by in a kayak.
Ibis Lake. No ibises (ibii?) here, but lots of egrets.
The vegetation looks a lot like my part of Texas. Texas is a big damn state, so it does NOT look like the vegetation out where Ricë is, which would be no damn vegetation. The only thing they have in profusion here that we don't in my part of TX are pine trees. The live oaks and palmettos and various palms all look familiar.

I think the air here is the most delicious air in the world. It's sweet and tangy. I ride around on a bike taking big gulps of it. Riding a bike here is good because it's mostly flat, the island, and almost anyone can ride. There's an old coaster bike in the garage that works mostly. One pedal is a little wonky - it's set in to the crankarm at an angle, so your knee moves in an ellipse as you pedal - but no one goes very fast here. On the island, only emergency services, Island services, and contractors can drive cars and trucks. The rest of us get around on electric golf carts and bikes and by foot! That's partly why the air is so heavenly, I do believe.
The view from the porch. The creek at high tide.
One of my sisters brought kayaks, small ones, so we've been able to take to the creek and paddle about and float. I love being on the water. I actually love paddling.

We're here to scatter my Dad's ashes. I know, it's illegal, but we're not letting a little thing like that stop us! We scattered some in the Atlantic, and dolphins came and swam offshore. The day before yesterday, it rained all day. Just before sunset, the clouds opened a gap up in the west, allowing the day's pent-up sunshine to flood through with it's warm red light, and turn the tops of the marsh reeds to a stunning red. 

We all ran to look and then saw the rainbow. No! Two rainbows, the inner one complete, starting on Middle Island across from us, and ending somewhere off Cape Fear in the Atlantic. I got some ashes and headed out in a kayak to a place in the creek where I could see the Village of Bald Head and Old Baldy, NC's oldest standing lighthouse (it's not the real lighthouse anymore for the ship channel; I think that's the Oak Island Light, but it's cool looking). I dribbled the ashes in the water, looking at the clouds, golden on the bottom, ragged and dark on the tops, the Village backlit in a wash of gold light. 

Dad would've loved it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Gimp Leg Winnie the Peach Wilson... or something

My friend, Nancy, sent me this. I love the blues and was playing some on my guitar just last night. It's funny because I was listening to Larry Monroe's Blue Monday last night, during his Hound Dog Taylor set and thinking similar thoughts. And for all you people who don't live in Austin, you can listen to KUT online. We've got some fabulous music shows! They've even got an iPhone app.

--submitted by Charles Johnston

1. Most Blues begin with: "Woke up this morning...."

2. "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the Blues, unless you stick something nasty in the next line like, "I got a good woman, with the meanest face in town."

3. The Blues is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes... sort of: "Got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Yes, I got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher, and she weigh 500 pound."

4. The Blues is not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch--ain't no way out.

5. Blues cars: Chevys, Fords, Cadillacs and broken-down trucks. Blues don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or Sport Utility Vehicles. Most Blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet aircraft and state-sponsored motor pools ain't even in the running. Walkin' plays a major part in the blues lifestyle. So does "fixin' to die."

6. Teenagers can't sing the Blues. They ain't fixin' to die yet. Adults sing the Blues. In Blues, "adulthood" means being old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis.

7. Blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or any place in Canada. Hard times in Minneapolis or Seattle is probably just clinical depression. Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City are still the best places to have the Blues. You cannot have the blues in any place that don't get rain.

8. A man with male pattern baldness ain't the blues. A woman with male pattern baldness is. Breaking your leg 'cause you were skiing is not the blues. Breaking your leg 'cause a alligator be chomping on it is.

9. You can't have no Blues in a office or a shopping mall. The lighting is wrong. Go outside to the parking lot or sit by the dumpster.

10. Good places for the Blues:
a. highway
b. jailhouse
c. empty bed
d. bottom of a whiskey glass

Bad places for the Blues:
a. Nordstrom's
b. gallery openings
c. Ivy League institutions
d. golf courses

11. No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, 'less you happen to be a old ethnic person, and you slept in it.

12. Do you have the right to sing the Blues? Yes, if:
a. you older than dirt
b. you blind
c. you shot a man in Memphis
d. you can't be satisfied

No, if:
a. you have all your teeth
b. you were once blind but now can see
c. the man in Memphis lived
d. you have a 401K or trust fund

13. Blues is not a matter of color. It's a matter of bad luck. Tiger Woods cannot sing the blues. Sonny Liston could. Ugly white people also got a leg up on the blues.

14. If you ask for water and your darlin' give you gasoline, it's the Blues. Other acceptable Blues beverages are:
a. cheap wine
b. whiskey or bourbon
c. muddy water
d. nasty black coffee

The following are NOT Blues beverages:
a. Perrier
b. Chardonnay
c. Snapple
d. Slim Fast

15. If death occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's a Blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is another Blues way to die. So are the electric chair, substance abuse and dying lonely on a broken-down cot. You can't have a Blues death if you die during a tennis match or while getting liposuction.

16. Some Blues names for women:
a. Sadie
b. Big Mama
c. Bessie
d. Fat River Dumpling

17. Some Blues names for men:
a. Joe
b. Willie
c. Little Willie
d. Big Willie

18. Persons with names like Michelle, Amber, Jennifer, Debbie, and Heather can't sing the Blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.

19. Make your own Blues name Starter Kit:
a. name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, etc.)
b. first name (see above) plus name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, etc.)
c. last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.)
For example: Blind Lime Jefferson, Jakeleg Lemon Johnson or Cripple Kiwi Fillmore, etc. (Well, maybe not "Kiwi.")

20. I don't care how tragic your life: if you own a computer, you cannot sing the blues.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Art with a capital 'A'...

That's me! Taken by Ricë!

Another FABulous day here in Austin. My friends Ricë and Earl came to town today and we walked down to the Art Festival on Cesar Chavez. It was a sunny warm day, but with enough of a breeze that it wasn't overwhelming. We ate Amy's ice cream and wandered around and looked at everything, but, then probably most of you know that since Ricë tweeted about every two minutes. Lots of people stopped to talk to Ricë because she's so, ummm, unusual and colorful looking. Earl was pretty colorful, too. Me? Drab!

I was planning to work on my new journal today, but I didn't get much done on that. After we walked around every booth at the Art thing, we went over to Congress and had flights of wine and cheese at Cork & Co. It was quite delicious, but triply so because of the company. Ricë had a flight called "It's complicated," and I had one of all Cabs, and Earl had some that were fairly sweet, but all nicely balanced with the cheeses. Fortunately we walked back up SoCo to get home. A guy offered to sell us some vagina necklaces. We weren't really sure where on your vagina you'd put a necklace, and didn't really want to ask, so we just said "No, thank you!" We did have to stop and get a cupcake at Hey Cupcake on the way home...

Ricë and Earl photographing me photographing them on Congress...

Next were the trips to Whole Foods and Central Market so Ricë could get genmaicha tea and vegetables and cheeses and stuff. They were playing a cool mix of sixties stuff - Beatles and MoTown - that had me dancing the mango mambo in the aisles. Ricë was dancing, too. As we were checking out the security guy, a DPS agent asked Earl if he had it (us) under control. "Got any handcuffs?" Earl asked.

"Oh, a DATE," the guy said.


So maybe tomorrow I'll finish the journal.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Elmer Day!

I show Ben Franklin my journal.
He shows me the Declaration of Independence.
Fair trade, I think.

I am in Austin again after being wined and dined and made much of. I went to Franklin College, in Franklin, IN, my grandfather, Elmer Davis's alma mater, for an awards ceremony. This is the 100th anniversary of his graduation from Franklin and they occasionally give an award to an alum who has distinguished himself in the field of Journalism. Joe McConnell was the honoree. It's not an annual thing, by any means, but every now and then the college chooses to honor someone, and, since this year was the centenary of Elmer's graduation, Franklin invited me and my step-mom to come and be honored, too.

It all had a rather ridiculous aspect to it. No one knows who my grandfather is/was anymore. No one. If you're over eighty and can remember anything, you might think his name was familiar, but how many people is that? And among young people? My generation? No one. I have met only two people my age who knew who knew who my grandfather was in my whole life: both were in radio. 

So to go somewhere, and have people pick you up in a limo, to have college students tell you they are honored to shake your hand, to have a whole fraternity of young men wear caps with your grandfather's name emblazoned on them and give you an award just for being the progeny of a now-unknown man, well, you begin to think you're stuck in some kind of movie, like The Truman Show, or you have slipped into some alternate reality. 

Admittedly, Franklin College, with 1000 students, is a small alternate reality. It's a truly beautiful, tiny liberal arts college in a lovely tiny town in the middle of Indiana. It could be used as a movie set for a turn of the century movie... The last century, of course. There were dogwoods, redbuds, lilacs, violets all still abloom, making the campus even more beautiful.

For all its tinyness, it has a journalism school, not a school of communications, like the august university in my home town, with its emphasis on broadcast media. No, this is a real 'J' school, with the emphasis on writing and the critical thought it brings with it. Yes, Franklin has a broadcast studio, and a radio station, and video and audio editing capabilities, all up to date with the latest equipment. And they have a public relations department, because, I found out, that is what a lot of J majors go into. But it all begins with writing. (The college president, Jay Moseley, and I had a chat about the importance, not only of 'writing,' but of handwriting during the honors dinner.)

The college is named for Ben Franklin and there are statues of him all over. One statue gets repainted frequently by students. 
Here Ben is, painted pink, with a silver metallic bra, 
for breast cancer awareness.

Ginger and I stayed at the lovely Alumni house, and ate lunch at the student union, which had a wonderful peanut butter and jelly sandwich station: six kinds of bread, bagels, butter, cream cheese, peanut butter and two kinds of jelly! They had regular food too, including a great salad bar.

 Seniors Whitney and Isaac with Prof. Ray Begovich
on the porch of the Alumni House.

I find it very hard to return to reality. No limos, no one knowing who my grandfather is or why he was important, and, sadly, no pb&j bar.


Friday, March 19, 2010

SXSW kicks my butt

Ooof. What can I say? I had too much fun yesterday. It's a damn good thing I got as much exercise as I did, or I'd really be hurting! 

It's SXSW here in Austin, the huge music/film/web fest that's been going on for almost 30 years. It started out as a way to promote local bands, but now they bring bands in from all over and have big concerts of well-known acts. If you like music or film, it's a heck of a lot of fun.

My neigborhood, SoCo, is chock-a-block with alternative venues. They're not part of the official SXSW, and do tend to feature local bands. The San Jose Motel, Güerro's and a bunch of little shops have music. The vendors that usually only appear on weekends are set up, but best of all the streets are filled with people. Cool people. People wearing wonderful clothing! People with foreign accents! I swear I saw Xeni Jardin at an event yesterday! I even drew a picture of her in my journal because her outfit was so cool. I bought drinks for a singer. I talked to a journalist in a bar. OK, it was really a restaurant that serves drinks. (OK, OK, it was Manuel's!)

It's something like $495 to get a badge to get into all the featured things, but you can troll the streets for places that don't require badges and there are a lot of outdoor concerts to keep the natives from getting too restless. They get restless because they're stuck in the fucking traffic. Half the streets downtown are closed off for this event, and the other half seem to have one lane closed for road construction. Now whose brilliant idea was that? (The construction, I mean.)

So. The cats are getting fed late. My feet hurt from all that walking. My head feels strangely OK, considering.

And I still have another two days to go!

I will survive.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Post-Babylonian Pediment

Post-Babylonian Artifact is a term my friend Brad Massengill came up with years and years and years ago. I have, in my 'collection,' a couple of Brad's PBAs, and am now happily making my own.

After eleven years of living in this lovely little house, I am finally getting around to putting up the trim. Why, you may wonder, has it taken me eleven years to get around to doing this? The truth is that I have paid for this to be done twice, and it never got done. Other things got done instead; there were some misunderstandings about what could be done for how much, and, well, it came down to me having to do it myself... Which meant I needed the tools to do it... And then I cut my hand off with the table saw... (No, no, not quite... It just seemed that way.) (There's a post about that somewhere here.)

So, finally, having overcome my reluctance to use the table saw again, I finished the floor, which meant I could do the trim. Then I decided I wanted to do the beadboard, which meant more trim, and then I had a vision... A vision of things sitting on top of the doors. Carved things. Suns. Moons. Stars. Hearts. Hands. All sorts of visions filled my head. Unfortunately, I don't carve and I'm not about to start trying. I do, however, have a jig saw, and thought perhaps I could create the thing I had seen with it.

It's a pediment. I'm not sure why something that goes on top of something is called a 'pediment.' It seems to me that a pediment should be at the foot of something,  but what do I know?

Somehow the whole Post-Babylonian thing is much in my mind these days. I have been reading with sheer and utter delight the Thursday Next series by Jason Fforde. It's a series of alternate reality detective novels set in a England in the mid-eighties where literature is much, much more important than it is in the generally accepted reality of 02010. (This blog is and always will be Y10K compliant.) (Unless I forget.) Don't bother if you're not into books or alternate reality or silliness. The books are sort of a cross between Philip K Dick and Brazil but in a literary vein. I loved PK in college, especially Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Ubik.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The sport of my mad mother...

Michael Nunley and me...

Looking through an old photo album today, I came across photos from my high school play, the one I 'acted' in. The one I helped with, Henry V, was a much better play, but I only helped with makeup and costumes on that one. I can remember speeches from Henry V - the ones my friend, Nancy Lee, as Chorus had - but none from TSOMMM. I don't think I did a very good job of remembering them at the time, come to think of it. As I recall, it wasn't the best play in the world, but I love these costumes... And the make up!
Wendy, John Samford, Phyllis Wheeler (at bottom), Joyce Fischer at left.

Don't we all look like vicious thugs? The costumes were made out of fake fur and were very hot, as I remember. As I recall there was a lot of snarling in the play. And here is one of my favorite photos from the play. It wasn't at the time, but somehow the image is oddly reminiscent of a more recent one. At least I didn't have to stand on a box and worry about electrodes being attached to my genitals...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Last night I went to the visitation of an old friend of mine. Let's call him George. He was in the Optimist Club with me, and was my mentor, so there was no way I could get out of going.

I'm not big on visitations, you know, where you view the deceased. I don't think it's a Unitarian thing, at least I never remember one as a kid. We're more the 'burn 'em and urn 'em' types.

There were a lot of other folks from our club there and we stood around and told stories about George and the things he had done. He was the resident pessimist in the club, and as such, will be sorely missed. At a certain point I went over to one of George's sons to offer my condolences. He's a nice man, and we chatted briefly, and then I guess he assumed I would want to view his dad, and so he sort of shooed me into the viewing room. I didn't want to duck out, so I walked up to the casket and looked.

George looked very, umm, well, dead, which was to be expected, I suppose. Normally the people in coffins look a bit more like waxed fruit and I guess that's what I was expecting, so it was a bit of a shock. There was another man also viewing George just to my left. He turned to me, stuck out his hand and said "Hullo, I'm Alan H. How did you know George?" (The names here have been changed a bit... Perhaps.) I said that we were in the same club. He told me that he and his parents had rented some property from George over on 6th Street. "My parents were So and So H. and Such and Such H. Did you know them?" he asked. I allowed as how the names sounded familiar. His father, he told me, was a famous physicist. "Ahh," I said, having no idea why the name was familiar but that wasn't it.

He said that, in their decline, his parents had lived in a nursing home. They had died in 2000 within five months of one another! George used to come visit them. There was a 95-year-old woman in the nursing home named Laverne, which is only odd because George's wife is/was named Laverne. One day Alan asked George if he wanted to meet 95-year-old Laverne. "There's only one Laverne in my life," George told him.

The whole time we were having this long and somewhat bizarre conversation I pretty much had to stare at George. The very dead George in his coffin. It was either that or stare at Alan, and, frankly, I didn't want to encourage him. I wanted to run. Finally I had the brains to look to the other side and saw a long line of people waiting for their chance to view George. A very long line of polite people, people unwilling to interrupt the tete a tete that Alan and I were earnestly having in front of the coffin. And I knew one of the people in the line, another Optimist, and could turn to Alan and say "Dear me, I see a friend I must go say "Hullo!" to, " and dash off.

It was only when I'd entirely escaped the funeral home and was driving home that it occurred to me that the reason the name 'H.' sounded familiar was that this very same man had buttonholed me at Laverne's funeral five years ago, where we'd had a very similar conversation.

Friday, March 5, 2010

dream images

Pages 92-93, Through a Glass Darkly

Sometimes images come to me in dreams, as both of these did this week. The one on the right came first, and the one at the lower left, second. They're both mixed media: watercolor crayons (Caran d'Ache Neocolor II), watercolors, including metallic ones, gloss medium, and varnish. 

There's some marginalia, too. The bindery got in a lovely little book of hours, written out and illuminated in Paris in the 1470s. The calligraphy is gorgeous. The illuminations are gorgeous. The marginalia is gorgeous. The page size is about 5x7", and the text area is really tiny, maybe 3x4," so there are BIG margins. The illustration on this page is about double the size of the one in the text. I'm using cheesy gold pens; the book's pages are, of course, gilded. Oh, it is a thing of beauty! 

Thursday, February 11, 2010

new images

Image from Through a Glass Darkly, pages 78-79

Here are two images from my journal, a jaguar and Abner. This is me messing around with photo transfers, gold leaf and crayons. You can't really see the gold leaf, but it's there, in the eyes.

I put a lot of goopy stuff on the page, shoot, I don't know what all... Light modeling paste among other things.

small joys...

Spotiswode, on the stove...

Shit. You just cannot be excited - about the weather, anyway - when it's 37 when you wake up and the high expected is 38, AND the fucking bouncy stuff is bouncing off the frozen grass in your back yard... Alternating with freezing raindrops... They're not actually freezing, they just feel that way when they slide down the back of your neck when you're out feeding cats. Nope. Just not very exciting weather.

It's a good thing I'm working on the beadboard panels today for the house, because flinging paint around IS exciting. And I'm mostly flinging around red and yellow paint, so it's primarily exciting. The baseboard trim is mostly done. It's not nailed in because I don't have a nail gun, but I'll borrow one soon. For now it's in place and looks like it's been put up and gives me a feeling of small joy and accomplishment every time I walk in the house. I'd take a picture but it's nothing really, a truly small joy. 

On top of that, it's Thursday, the day Mi Madres has tortilla soup. The special is a huge bowl of tortilla soup and a beef taco, which I always get to go. They have good hot sauce. Today is a perfect soup day. Plus, I have a cat on my lap, one who looks up at me every now and again with a look that says - to me - "I absolutely positively adore you." It probably more accurately is saying "When are you going to feed us our warm cat food?" but everyone needs their little illusions to get by.

From that, you can infer that the cats are in the house today, or in and out, as they choose. It's too cold on the porch to leave them there all day, although some of them like it. That, too, is lovely, if you like cats.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Abner goes away


I had to have one of my favorite cats, Abner, put to sleep today. He's been diabetic for about 3 years and was having a lot of bad days recently, days where he wouldn't eat. But he would purr for me, and talk to me. Saturday was a bad day, and, if the vet had been open, I would've taken him in and had him put to sleep. As it was, I went out and lay down in the grass in the backyard next to him and talked to him. It was a beautiful day. No rain. Warmish and a blue sky with nary a cloud. Yesterday he perked up and ate some of my special food for him: canned salmon (people salmon) pureed with water. I had a heating pad and blanket rigged for him and made sure he was sleeping there. Went out a couple of times in the night and moved the other cats so he would have the prime spot. But sometime this morning he got down off the bedding and snagged his claw in it. He couldn't get it loose and lay on the deck in the rain until I found him. I don't know how long it was, but, in his condition, any time was too long. He meowed several times when I picked him up, and I took it to mean that he knew it was time and wanted me to know. I put him back on the heating pad and wrapped him in blankets and fed everyone and called the vet and off we went in the rain.

I had to wait almost an hour at the vets. I didn't want to wait inside with the other animals and cheeriness, so I sat outside on a bench with him, cradling him and talking. The sun came out and I held him so that it shone on him. I called jc and put him on speakerphone so he could talk to Abner and tell him how much he meant to him. And then they came and got me and we did it and it was over.

It was the right thing. I know that.

Abner was one of those cats who establish a mind communication with you. I've only had a couple in my life that I felt that way about. I could tell Abner, who lived on the front porch, to 'bring' me another cat, a standoffish one, and Abner would siddle up to him or her and head butt them and start working them over towards me, rubbing his head against theirs, but looking up at me every so often to make sure I knew they were coming.

So I'll miss him very very much. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New stuff

Pages 46-47 of Through a Glass Darkly
I had been meaning to write about how I bind the split boards books, but somehow that hasn't happened yet, so I thought I'd show you some of my recent pages.

I went to NC just after xmas. I had to go to Barnes and Noble to buy a gift certificate for my sister-in-law, and, of course, I got sucked in by the bargain books. (I always do, I always do...) This time it was The Tudor Chronicles by Susan Doran for only $19.98! t's a coffee table book with lots of pics that goes year by year through the reigns of the various Tudors. There are a lot of cool examples of calligraphy, but, most excitingly, this is the time of the Northern Renaissance, and there are a lot of Hans Holbein the Younger's portraits illustrating the book.

Just seeing them put me on a Hans Holbein kick, so when I got home I had to get a couple of books on him from the library and one on the Wars of the Roses, which preceded the Tudors. It's the most amazing thing. The pictures of all the kings before Henry VII (the first Tudor) are caricature-ish stick figure Gothic things...  And then blam! Along comes the fine, realistic portraits by Hans Holbein!

I decided I wanted to do a portrait like one of Hans Holbein's. And who would be a better person for me to do a portrait of than my Dad? There are only a couple of problems here. One) I can't draw portraits. Two) I can't paint like Hans Holbein. But I'm not going to let little things like that stop me...

Here's another image. This one came to me in a dream. It wasn't part of the dream story, it was just there. It lingered when I woke up, so I decided to put it in my journal.

Speaking of dream images, here's a detail from the first image, another one that came to me while I was dreaming but not part of a story. It's a cat's eye on a pedestal. Does it mean something? Who knows?