Sunday, October 22, 2017

                               Thirteen to Seventeen Spiders

urface water is the background of the photo, meaning the camera is pointing downward. Illuminated is the immediate ongoing work of 13 to 17 spiders, that I could see, who were busily and quickly working in one extended area on a series of interconnected webs, each spider in its own particular smaller area.

They came from and went in various directions, usually separately, but sometimes one would intersect with another. Then there'd be a momentary delay while they determined who would proceed first. It appeared friendly enough but a bit hasty so as not to interrupt the flow of work.

All of the spiders were in motion except for a larger one or two, and you can see these fairly easily. It is unknown why they remained motionless. My speculation is they are alphas. Or maybe they were just resting. The others appear as blurs in the photo. Overall it was a hubbub of activity.

I'd like to understand how the blueprint for something like this operates and from where it originates. Everything seems random and chaotic though apparently has purpose if not meaning. Yet in the end it's a perfect, or perfect enough, construction for its purpose.

It feels familiar though, but I can't quite put my finger on why. Can you? All I really know about it all is that if disturbed the web will be rebuilt again in one configuration or another, either in the same place or nearby. Hardy little critters these spiders, though mysterious as the night is long, which is a prime time for their web-building by the way.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

                        TIGER SUNNING THIS MORNING, 8 OCTOBER 2017

This morning during the 7 a.m. pre-dawn, a coyote suddenly began howling down the creek forty yards away.  The loud howls pierced the quiet stillness, and Tiger and I rose from the bed and ran to the front door.  He wanted to go outside with me and see, hear, and smell for himself, eager to further clarify the coyote's scent, the better to avoid one.

Tiger is a shrewd learner partly because he is a brave survivor of Austin's lean tough streets and partly because he craves information as do most cats.  When he had first come to live with us, he gradually became acclimated to the woods by means of a leash.  Soon after graduating to being unleashed, one day he actually charged a big deer which ran off at first but then stopped and turned its head around to see who exactly was chasing him.

Tiger kept approaching but quickly halted when he saw Doe had quit running and was turning to face him and now stared at him.  Then Doe, her head lowered, began slowly moving toward Tiger, and he reluctantly and only gradually began to retreat.  He doesn't charge deer these days but still will give them clear passage only reluctantly.  He definitely knows to act on new information learned.

This morning, despite Tiger having wanted to better learn Coyote's scent and because urban coyotes specialize in cornering even brave shrewd cats, I kept him indoors while I went out onto the deck and later back porch to loudly vent my displeasure at Coyote's proximity. I was grateful Coyote howled though.

I now know to delay my cats going outdoors today and for the next day or two, and got to show coyote how passionately I would defend my friends if the situation called for it.  I threw about a dozen big rocks in its direction, and in the quiet  they resoundingly thunked off of Oak trunks and crashed through the brush.  I thrashed about the underbrush gorilla-like, much in character and to my pleasure, and yelled like a growling baritone banshee.  I kept up all three activities for almost a minute and did a second and then third much briefer rendition of them.  I think Coyote got the clear message that there's a volatile unbalanced individual in the area.

I thoroughly enjoy the theatrics.  It's something I get to do from time to time.  I do an extremely milder version every day when I first let my cats outside for the half day they get to be out. There's no thrashing gorilla or rock-throwing daily, but the brief daily yelling and clapping is cathartic.  That there may not be a coyote within earshot doesn't deter me in the least, especially lately.

In the last month there's been a coyote outside my cabin at 8 a.m., one a couple weeks later at 5 p.m., and then another that night.  This one today at 7 a.m. was the fourth appearance.  That's more known appearances in such a short time span than I've noted in the twenty years I've lived here.

Extra due diligence is required now, and I'll have to limit cat outings and monitor them more closely while they're out.  I'm sure Grace and our neighbors already think I'm obsessed.  If that's true, that my over-the-top caution has become obsession and not just habit or practice, then I'm fine with it.  I can think of many trivial obsessions belonging to other people, and those 'habits' pass for normal these days.  At least mine is for a good reason.  I can live with that.  I just see it as raising the standard of care.

After all, I did chase off one coyote a few years ago that had already procured a neighbor's cat who did survive but whose head was already stuck in canine jaws by the time it first called out for help.  I only knew what to do and could jump into action so immediately because I'd practiced the scenario in my head dozens of times through the years, even learning how to triangulate the sounds of my own cats wandering around the woods and to eliminate any reluctance I might have naturally had to unleash my inner gorilla and stare down the coyote while screaming, waving my arms in the air, and running full speed in its direction.  Luckily it peeled away at the very last second and vanished, leaving neighbor cat only stunned and with cuts and a dislocated jaw.  Otherwise I would have had to kick Coyote and fight it until it ran away, and that's the one thing you can't really prepare yourself for.

Both of my cat homies came to me as outdoor cats and know the risks and also know how to protect themselves.  So I know they strongly prefer to take the risk to spend at least parts of days outdoors.  They'd like to be out in the evenings too, and even Neighbor Cat goes outdoors again almost as if nothing had ever happened to him.   Hopefully all of their experiences and awarenesses and my ability to keep them safer than if they had no one monitoring them, plus continued good luck, will suffice.  I pray so now, in my nonchalant assertive gorilla way.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

                                                     An Amygdalan-American


His spending wasn't sustainable, from everything known about him. He apparently couldn't quit gambling or spending like he had been doing. He likely would have eventually needed loans at highly usurious rates from a criminal source. He may have almost gone broke before he started that borrowing. Eventually he had to start paying it back and couldn't do it. Stuck in a financial and emotional bind for which he could imagine no other exit, he formulated a plan as grandiose as his spending and lifestyle had been.

He sent his girlfriend overseas so he could get her to safety and out of the way and sent her what was remaining of his former wealth. He may have told her it was necessary to do it that way for financial or tax reasons. He may have hidden the bulk of his weaponry in storage, like on the cop shows, without her knowing he had guns beyond the excess he had in his home. If she had suspected something like the massacre would happen, she should be held culpable as well, with a very high burden of proof.

His grief at losing his life as he knew it was beyond enormous, yet he couldn't process it like a regular person might through depression and counseling. He felt too pressured by time and circumstances to approach it that way. His ego wouldn't allow it either. He was used to being treated with immense deference, and he had come to think of himself as extremely special and deserving of his special treatment over and above his gambling habits.

His resentment against life and the people in general in it, people having good times right under his nose in casinos and elsewhere while he suffered silently and ragefully, had spun way out of control under the extreme pressure-cooker forces he himself had created. So he would show everyone what suffering really felt like, on an unheard of scale outside of war. It was war to him. He lost. However, he couldn't go quietly, nor alone. The world would feel his unique outsized presence one last time. It was the only way to assuage his bloated and warped ego.

In the end, it's only another American Gun Story, springing directly from the frigid steel heartlessness and callousness of many Americans' unconscious obsession with guns, which is not a self-defense urge but ultimately, on a national-sized scale, a projection of fear and especially racial animus in a majority-white country awash in begrudging unrecognized guilt about its treatment of minority races of people at home and around the world.

Score another savage victory for the negatively dopamined Amygdalan-Americans who embrace with a fondness and devotion better intended for love and friendship the most paranoid delusional understanding possible of the second amendment, from its fallen self-serving interpretation to its legislated and court-ordered expression of misuse.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


Tiger takes a visit to the veterinarian's office very seriously. He's not sure he can trust the doctor completely to not do something painful or detrimental. He's always hugely relieved to leave the office, and on the drive home his relief is palpable. Also, he lost 1.5 pounds, which is the first time he's weighed less than 23 pounds since I accidentally fattened him up after adopting him from the 12th Street and North Lamar Boulevard area near downtown Austin, an area that contains bountiful Shoal Creek, a diner, a veterinary office, Pease Park, and an acupuncture clinic outside of which he was fed breakfast and dinner and had his battle wounds treated with Chinese herbs and ointments. We celebrated his successful vet visit today by letting him walk around the car interior and look out the windows on the way home. He did very well, venturing only into the front passenger seat and the back seat and learning how to balance himself in traffic. I've always wanted one of my cats to drive around with me like my dogs Star and Mir did. I knew a man whose cat, not in its carrying case, drove with him when he moved from California to Texas. Now that's livin' the dream! The man was a safe driver, and, well, everybody's lucky to get where they're going safely, cat, dog, or human. In the case of visits to the vet, everyone is terrifically relieved and grateful when the current visit ends in a return trip home for all.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

                                           NO STATIC AT ALL.  NONE.  EVER.

Half of Steely Dan died, Walter Becker, guitar-composer genius. Their albums are the only band's I can still get completely and ecstatically caught up in till oh wow would you look at that beautiful sunrise. I'll always be grateful for that too. No static at all, love. None. Hey Nineteen.

When I was "just a singer in a rock and roll band" in Memphis in 1975, our drummer had previously been a tour drummer for The Box Tops. That was actually one of our selling points, along with our original songs that had gotten the attention of a famous producer there. Our drummer was also my roommate for a while, and Tom eventually quit our band because most of its members preferred chasing groupies and shooting speed into their ankles to working hard enough to take advantage of our free studio recording time and unmatchable free expertise and guidance from a producer and engineer named Ron Capone who helped build Stax Records, Hot Buttered Soul Studio, and Ardent studios. He recorded and remixed Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Booker T & the MGs, Rufus Thomas, Isaac Hayes (Ron did "Shaft!"), and many others. My band also backed some of Ron's other rising star prospects on demos in the studio, once with Steve Cropper, guitarist for Booker T & the MGs and for the Blues Brothers.

So in the first Comment below is a link highlighting the wide-open door opportunity my band had lucked into and eventually fucked-up our way out of. Part of me still is still pining away for what could have been. I also knew it would be my best chance ever to never work an honest job in my life and still make a good living, at least until the next best chance soon showed itself and I started writing copy on staff with ad agencies.

Anyhoo, drummer/roommate Tom joined a jazz rock band called Phase Two, which featured two incredibly talented women singers. They were the cream of Memphis bands at the time, playing the most sophisticated rock and popular music brilliantly. They played a lot of Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks and Steely Dan, just to name two. Their gigs lasted until well after most other bands' gigs were over, and many Memphis musicians would come to these late Phase Two shows to drink a spell and just really lay back and enjoy the reliably magical dynamic professionalism likely out of reach for most of us. For instance, I wasn't nearly as good a singer as either Phase Two singer. And Steely Dan was their specialty, and the two singers were very much up to that challenge as were their own supporting musicians. So, Steely Dan, Steely Dan, Steely Dan, the measure of popular music for many Memphis musicians and elsewhere during The Dan's early era. No frigging static at all. Just pick an album of theirs, any album. Then DO IT AGAIN.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Houston Area and Middle Coastal Texans and Upward, Get Ready

Remembering driving along on a sweltering end-of-summer day with a crowded all-lanes mass migration of all manner of utility vehicles on I-10 on the far northern outskirts of my birthplace New Orleans, as immediately post Katrina as possible, heading zealously undeterred as far as we'd be allowed to go into the drowned City That Care Forgot, all craving to help, to make something amazing happen, my own little red Subaru wagon full of pet supplies, and me with directions to the main shelter in Gonzales and driving with tears flowing so very moved and proud to be alongside 100's and 100's of repair trucks of all kinds, big companies and independent craftsmen, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, truck after truck pulling their personal generators on wheels or in the pickup truck beds, trucks with cranes on them, big cement mixer trucks, pickups with a small mixer in the back, and many marked Humane Society vans and SUV's from states coast to coast, and riding alongside also one wild-maned tall skinny bespectacled hippie nerd in jeans and a t-shirt in a big gray old-style tall stepvan without any doors on either side such that you could see his whole long-legged scarecrow frame working the steering wheel and the pedals with eyes on the road ahead and with his long hair blowing back in the wind, and on the side of the stepvan were big handpainted letters saying 'Internet Services', as idiosyncratic and entreprenurial a sight as anyone might ever see, and gloriously he and I must have passed each other four or five times on the drive, beginning near Lake Charles, and each time I saw him - this techie Ichabod Crane to the rescue - having thought I'd seen the last of him each time, I would begin to laugh and then cry alternatingly and sometimes at the same time. Such is who we are, countless individuals, of all ages and colors and backgrounds and status and no doubt religions and other assorted affiliations and schools of thought or no thought at all but to get the job done no matter what was needed, for whomever needed it, with thought for the whole of us, for us, because we are each other's keepers after all, and here was the living proof all around you. Houston area and upper coastal Texans, get ready, god on Earth is coming to help.

Saturday, August 26, 2017


About a dozen daddy-long-legs, who live on and under the covered deck and feed around the porch light and in adjacent trees, are congregating inches from my front door, waiting for the chance to rush inside the cabin away from the unfamiliar and unnerving tropical storm-strength winds. Likely from birth, they have known the deck as their tenable and even comfortable home and fear being blown into the unknown by the gusts.

Yes they are aware of their body weight relative to the wind strength they feel. They are sentient and well-grounded in who they are and in the practical issues around their physicality. They know when they're hungry and thirsty, when it's night and day, and when it's hot, tepid, cool and cold, and that they're somehow related to their fellow daddy-long-legs.

I don't know if they dream or what they dream about if they do, but I don't seriously doubt that they do, and if they do I don't doubt at all that they dream of a strange alternative life on and around their deck and its adjacent trees and that they awake from their dreams a bit unclearly with a combined sense of the strange and familiar.

I very gently brush them aside as I begin to try and enter the cabin.  They scurry back and reclaim lost ground.  One more quick dainty cleansing and I slip inside without the door crushing any.  Their chances of survival on the deck are greater than their odds of slipping by ferocious napping cats suddenly awakening and eluding the oblivious late-night dark-room steps of the giant door-opening oaf.

They simply instead need to hide behind and under the tarp-covered naugahyde sofa some wannabe hillbilly placed on the deck, at least until the storm successfully negotiates the atmospheric effect of the earth's rotation and moves itself out of daddy long legs range.  I decide to let them learn this for themselves, the daddy long legs, that is.


                               Thirteen to Seventeen Spiders S urface water is the background of the photo, meaning the camera is pointin...