peak monarch migration

I found this one and a few others fueling up across the street just now. Higher than usual numbers are traveling south through the eastern U.S., and apparently avoiding the dry Midwest on their way to Mexico. Let’s hope they make it, despite an even longer trip.

© 2012 S. D. Stewart

pictures of you

© 2012 S. D. Stewart

Attachment fantasy.

© 2012 S. D. Stewart

What’s underneath.

© 2012 S. D. Stewart

Forest confection.

© 2012 S. D. Stewart

Broken bones.

© 2012 S. D. Stewart

Bear urinal.

© 2012 S. D. Stewart

Self-portrait.

review: bill callahan ‘apocalypse’ film tour

Bill Callahan showed up in my city last night with a filmmaker named Hanly Banks, who had filmed Bill on his Apocalypse tour last summer and made a documentary about it. They showed the film outside on a giant inflatable screen that looked like a moonbounce. This was behind an art gallery in the heart of the city. Trees grew out of the surrounding abandoned buildings. Literally out of the walls. Given time and an absence of interference, nature always trumps concrete and brick. Think how beautiful that could be. A local brewery served beer. I was there with my friends. After the movie, Hanly Banks answered awkward audience questions, such as “Did Bill’s laid-back nature help offset the mundane aspects of touring?” And “Do you feel that how you captured Bill’s personality in the film is how he really is in person?” Not that I’m one to talk. I sometimes obsess in a similar manner over writers, just not so unabashedly. I cultivate my obsessions secretly. Jung would likely not approve.

I’d never been to the art gallery before and when I looked it up on the internet the map made it unclear which side of the street it was on. When I arrived in the vicinity, I crossed the street to the other side, thinking it was over there because of the grassy lot that looked appealing for movie-watching. Then I turned around and looked across the street and saw Bill Callahan moving around inside a storefront. Bingo.

After the film, Bill played a few songs. He joked that he’d been hoping for more screen time in the film. He also mentioned a strange object he’d seen in the sky a few minutes before, like a fixed light, but with a body is what he said. It was probably Foxtrot, I thought to myself. After his third song, he said good night. People kept yelling for an encore, but I knew he wouldn’t be back. Five bucks for a film and three songs was a good deal. I was content.

The film made me think about how many non-zomblobbies there are in this country, doing their things, just trying to make their way in the world. It lifted the bleak veil a bit and let me peek through to the golden light. But then there was everyone with their devices, so frantic to capture this moment as it was occurring. Why can’t they just sit back and enjoy the show. Why with the constant recording of everything that happens around them. When you watch it later, you think, “there i am with my device, recording that guy on stage and updating my status to reflect how much fun i am having.” [Note to self: stop thinking about this]

But the golden light, remember the golden light. And now these intoxicating scents fill the space around me. I drowse into a trance of sensual overload…Labradford’s feedback washes onto the shore of a delicate lack of sleep, coming rain foretold in the shaking cottonwood leaves, rare essential oils pungent and desirous unravel me…and I am gone, like Rumi, on a visit to the elsewhere from whence my soul comes. Or…maybe I’m only going downstairs…

a philalethe and a panmnesiac walk into a bar

Scripturient fugues scrape at this summer torment, as I sit saccadic in my seat, genuflecting to twin telescreens, the slim dark overlords of these waking hours. Glistering dreams spawn from stem and cortex under cloak of darkness; if not coaxed out quick, consciousness crucifies them upon the day’s brutal y-axis.

Late at night I hail the sidewalk slugs, grown fat on summer’s bounty, no longer convening, but navigating solo in their slow deliberate way, yearning perhaps for a more saltigrade life. I try to lead Farley’s falling paws away from their soft yielding bodies, but theirs is forever a doomed existence in this urban setting. I can only do so much.

Revulsion spawns in less innocent corners, as I perceive the proboscis of humanity probing at inappropriate places. Get thee away, proboscis! See how your callous actions rub salt in your own wounds, spinning on until one day you’ll all lie screaming, salted strips of dried-out flesh stretched on a burning hot bed of asphalt. Or something…ahem.

Never mind, it’s time to molt this dacrygelotic husk. It’s time to cram these junked-out hours in a dirty suitcase and hurl it in the harbor. The air is like bathwater and I will yet swim in it, for I have no choice. And yet the psithurism of the autumnal approach beckons. I still hear it, muted and steam-wrapped as it is.

new arrival

Just heard my first cicada of the year! Summer has officially started. Just in case the blistering heat around here hadn’t already tipped everyone off.

When does fall start again?

slug convention

The other night while out walking Farley I came upon a slug convention on the sidewalk. Needless to say I was delighted. There were three slugs in attendance, fanned out in positions facing each other. What were they discussing? Based on their relaxed posture, I theorized that this was more of a social gathering than a formal proceeding of one of their professional associations. Perhaps the slugs were reviewing their plans for the evening. Undoubtedly those plans would involve incessant oozing across the surface of my front porch, as evidenced by the many shiny crisscrossing trails present there each morning. Farley showed no interest in the slugs, likely due to their lack of movement. And even if they had been moving I suspect their slowness would’ve bored him. He has no appreciation for the subtleties of motion. The slug life is no life for him.

sf trip: day one

I arrived in San Francisco on a Sunday afternoon, having gained three hours. My boss (hereafter referred to as DD) and I trekked over Nob Hill, through Chinatown, and up Telegraph Hill. Here’s a cable car coming down Powell Street. I didn’t ride on one, thus missing out on a quintessential San Francisco experience. I don’t feel too bad about that.

© 2012 S. D. Stewart, Cable car cresting Powell Street into Lower Nob Hill, San Francisco, California

I found this interesting ivy-colored building on the edge of Chinatown. The street was otherwise devoid of greenery.

© 2012 S. D. Stewart, Ivy-covered house in Chinatown, San Francisco, California

We walked down Broadway where a man who may or may not have been schizophrenic made threats to anyone who met his roving gaze. I looked elsewhere and turned the corner to find City Lights Bookstore. I did not buy anything, although the selection was impressive. I prefer used bookstores. Still, this store is an important part of U.S. literary history so I figured it would be worth popping in for a visit.

© 2012 S. D. Stewart, City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco, California

From the bookstore we walked up Telegraph Hill, where I found a Lesser Goldfinch feeding in some exotic tree I’d never seen before. Here’s a view of San Francisco Bay from the hill. DD was likely cursing me on the inside at this point. Little did she know how many more hills still stood between us and the hotel!

© 2012 S. D. Stewart, San Francisco Bay as seen from Telegraph Hill

We finished the day at Millenium, where I had the Maple-Black Pepper Glazed Smoked Tempeh, with olive oil mashed potatoes & horseradish, sauteed spring onion, asparagus & baby carrots, Dijon-dill cashew cream, grilled lemon, parsley & radish salad. It looked like this:

© 2012 S. D. Stewart, Maple-Black Pepper Glazed Smoked Tempeh at Millenium Restaurant, San Francisco, California

Dessert was Chocolate Almond Midnight: almond cashew crust, mocha chocolate filling, raspberry sauce, white chocolate mousse.

By then, the three hours I’d stolen earlier began to feel missing so I crashed for the night, a sleepy and satisfied vegan traveler.

Next time:  Vegan donuts at the waterfront, Western Gulls vs. The Crab, a stroll through Chinatown, and the only photo I was allowed to take at the Mechanics’ Institute Library.

texas trip

Unfortunately, Em El and I were sick with colds during part of our time in Texas, she for longer than me. They were not debilitating colds, but they were an inconvenience (and still are, as we continue to slog along through their end times). We still soaked up plenty of family time, and I even picked up three (!) new life birds, all within the Dallas city limits. Important lesson: never underestimate the value of urban birding! At White Rock Lake, I found an American White Pelican snoozing on a log and a flock of Franklin’s Gulls gathering overhead. These birds were just passing through during migration. The next day I observed a couple of Harris’s Sparrows feeding on seed outside the fantastic Trinity River Audubon Center. This bird is a winter resident in north Texas. None of these birds are easy to find in Maryland, as they are nonresidents and only rarely vagrant in the northeast U.S. during migration.

Other than occasional birding and lots of chilling with the family, Texas involved a lot of eating. Of course we had to sample the best of what the Dallas area has in the way of vegan fare! These included the always delicious Spiral Diner; the newly spruced-up under new ownership 100% vegan Asian buffet, Veggie Garden; a new one for me, Kalachandjis (Dallas’ longest serving vegetarian restaurant, which begs the question of why they never brought me here before!); and a new one for everyone, D’Vegan (specializing in vegan Vietnamese cuisine- soooo good). We also ate plenty of Mexican food naturally, including vegan migas from a new place in Dallas.

Here are a few photos. I took less than I thought. I blame the sickness. Or maybe I was just trying to live these moments, not document them.

The first few are from Trinity River Audubon Center. The wildflowers are Texas Paintbrush (Castilleja indivisa).

© 2012 S. D. Stewart, Trinity River Audubon Center, Dallas, TX

© 2012 S. D. Stewart, Texas Paintbrush, Trinity River Audubon Center, Dallas, TX

© 2012 S. D. Stewart, Trinity River Audubon Center, Dallas, TX

Sign on the wall at Veggie Garden Restaurant in Richardson, TX:

© 2012 S. D. Stewart, Sign at Veggie Garden Restaurant, Richardson, TX

Maneki Neko (“Beckoning Cat”) statue at D’Vegan Restaurant in Dallas, TX:

© 2012 S. D. Stewart, Maneki Neko, D'Vegan Restaurant, Dallas, TX

the other day

The other day was sitting on a rock outcropping with AR, gazing down on a river and across at leafless beech trees and listening to long lonely trains rolling to the city, a late osprey charging after them as if to hitch a ride, its cry wilder than anything we have to offer. The other day was also another acceptance and feeding chickadees from my hand. Even in this overly manufactured living space nature offers us redemption from our countless sins against it. I am grateful.

bobcat

In the woods I came upon a young bobcat stalking a rabbit.

My arrival on the scene gave the rabbit the window it needed to escape.

The bobcat rose from its crouch, turned and stared me down before slinking off into the woods.

When I got home a mouse was living in my stove.

Outside a mockingbird splashed luxuriantly in the bird bath.

The orange cat next door was hungry.

I am feeling here and there, but mostly there.

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