Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Last Dandelion

Autumn dandelion in dried grasses.

My meadow will fall to the scythe (okay, the bush-hog) on Friday. Thanks to the glorious Asheville autumn, I’ve been able to wander around and enjoy the multifarious grasses and the last gasps of efflorescence before the cutting begins.

A Year Ago: Postcard From Here

Still life with dried flowers.The enforced interiority of bad weather is settling upon us…
[read more]

Lessons My Cat Has Taught Me: Number 2—Explore!

Cat peering out of a bookshelf.

There’s a long bloody line carved into my right cheek, from my upper lip to my jaw, a couple of puncture wounds on my hands, and a few shallower scratches on my chest. It looks like I lost a duel with a posse of miniature knights or something. This rather extensive epidermal defacement was the product of a little adventure Loki and I had this afternoon in my backyard.

Loki is an explorer. As a kitten in his very first day in my home, he methodically inspected every single corner, every nook and cranny that he could finagle his little kitty body into. And with each growth spurt, as new surfaces and locations have become accessible, he is relentless about striving to investigate them.

Loki is bound and determined to cover every single square inch of his local territory. There simply is no stopping him. And the harder it is to get to, the more interesting it is. He prefers the caves, the corners, the heights, the reaches. He boldly goes where no kitten has gone before.

This poses some challenges for me. There are some places I don’t want him to go, for my own reasons—mostly convenience and sanitation related. There are some places he shouldn’t go, because it’s unsafe for him. Ninety percent of the time times I say “NO!” to him fall under these two categories (the other ten percent involves furniture shredding and ankle biting).

When we’re outside (he in his harness and leash), I mostly let him explore to his heart’s content. I restrain him from going into the street, climbing the fence, or venturing into super-thick underbrush, but that’s about it.

And so it was that we found ourselves in the far corner of my lot, where there’s a scrubby tree, some wood remnants, and the fence shared with a neighbor’s back yard. Where two friendly but excitable dogs reside.

After some initial posturing on both sides, the dogs got more worked up and started barking in earnest. The next thing I know, Loki is eight feet up the tree, tail fat as my forearm, yowling in terror. I can just about reach him, and so I try to pull him down into my arms to carry him away from this confrontation.

Soft cuddly kitten is instantly transformed into a whirling, hissing bandsaw of claws and teeth and muscle that wants nothing more than to flee from both me and the clamoring canines. Now Loki is TWELVE feet up the tree, wedged between a slender branch and an even slenderer bunch of twigs, and clearly out of his tiny kitty brain with fear.

Thank god the neighbor comes out and calms the dogs down, calling them away from the fence. Otherwise I don’t think I’d have been able to retrieve Loki at all. As it is, I find myself balanced precariously in a fork of the tree, reaching out to firmly grab a cat who DOES NOT WISH TO GO ANYWHERE and thus has dialed up his personal gravitational field so that he weighs three times as much as normal. He is also perfectly stiff and rigid.

I managed to extricate him from the unstable tangle of tree in which he had ensconced himself. And lowered him so that he could scramble down my thigh to safety. I clambered down myself, then scooped him up and brought him back near the house. With no fuss whatsoever he headed straight to the door and we went inside (getting him to go in is usually a slightly more involved—often involuntary—process).

I subsequently spent a few fun minutes with soap and water, rubbing alcohol, and neosporin. As I write this post, Loki is curled up in the curve of my knee, clearly recovering from an excess of excitement.

There’s a reason for the adage about cats and curiosity. Exploration is not without its risks. When you get yourself in a predicament, it’s great if there’s someone who loves you nearby—somebody that can help you when you’re too frazzled to help yourself. Someone who won’t flinch or desert you when you lash out in fear, who will persist with your best interests at heart even at that moment when you may not be able to trust them. Someone who’s willing to be wounded to make sure you’re safe.

But exploration has its own joys, to which an awareness of risk only adds spice. I don’t want Loki to stop exploring, it’s too much a part of his feline nature. He loves to follow his furry nose into every kind of crevice. Not only is he having all kinds of fun, it’s usually pretty entertaining for me to watch as well. While I can’t protect him from every peril, I can and do try to keep him from the worst kinds of danger.

And isn’t that what we hope our loved ones (or our diety) will do for us, too?

A Year Ago: Braid

Intertwined vine trunks.So, everyone is bracing for the Frankenstorm…
[read more]

Coming Soon

Graffitied building, Asheville, NC

Or, you know, not.

A Year Ago: Limboville


Tree, Carrier Park, Asheville, NC

I feel like I’m treading water at the moment. So much to do and barely enough time to cover the basics. It seems ridiculous to be yearning for a vacation given my current work and money situation, yet that’s what I’d really, really like.

Just to step away for a week (and not because I’m sick), y’know?

Two Years Ago: Unobtainable

Bodie Light, Outer Banks, NCThis was the last picture I took on the Outer Banks…
[read more]

Lexington St. Textures

Surfaces on Lexington Street, Asheville, NC

Yummy urban surfaces and gorgeous weathered colors in downtown Asheville.

A Year Ago: Diminuendo

Mirrored sky and landscape in pond.I find myself cautiously optimistic…
[read more]


Undeveloped riverside property at Carrier Park, Asheville, NC

Some days, every little thing—no matter how mundane or derelict—is kissed with glory. I suppose a cloudless sky and warming sun don’t hurt, or the air like sweet wine, or the companionship of a dear one.

I cherish those days when all I see is beauty, effortlessly, wherever I look, because there are so many when I can’t manage it hardly at all.

A Year Ago: Purpleness

Purple berries, green leaves.Straight out of the camera (iPhone, no less), this eye-bending Pop Art juxtaposition…
[read more]

Lessons My Cat Has Taught Me: Number 1—It’s A Good Thing You Didn’t Have Kids

Selfie with kitten.

I’ve been sick for the last several days and have been spending most of my time in bed. Very not exciting. Since there aren’t any new photographs to post, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts about being in a relationship with my kitten Loki.

Yes, it’s a relationship. One that is already teaching me a lot.

Lesson 1: It’s a good thing I never had children.

Loki has shown me that not only do I not have the patience of a saint, I have hardly any patience at all. It doesn’t take much to get me really irritated; and, let’s face it, kittens are constantly doing irritating things.

I dread to think the emotional scars I would have left on a small child with the language I use when I get aggravated with the kitten. I call him names. I cast aspersions on his intelligence, his ability to listen. I threaten him with excommunication. I curse like a sailor. I say things like:

“Don’t make me come over there!”
“What part of ‘no!’ don’t you understand?”

…basically, every evil, no-good bit of parenting language ever. And there’s a remarkable amount of yelling.

I am relieved that, at least, I do not resort to corporal punishment or the withholding of nourishment.

But let’s face it, there’s no more reasoning with a kitten than with an infant or a young toddler. All you can do is try to entertain them, keep them out of trouble, make sure they get enough to eat, and give them some affection. You’ve gotta be patient with them, because they have a really limited toolset and most of what they do they do by instinct.

As with babies, it’s a good thing kittens are cute as heck, because otherwise their survival rate would drop radically. The thing of it is, I’m one of those people who don’t think babies are all that cute. Good thing I never had one, right?

Which is worse: changing diapers or cleaning a litter box (and the misses) endlessly? Being woken by a crying baby or a crying kitten?

If I can barely cope with the responsibility of looking out for a mostly self-sufficient furchild, I would surely have gone batshit crazy under the burden of caring for a baby human. As it is, I chafe at the notion that I can no longer stay out all hours or pick up and travel at the drop of a hat.

And yet. Literally as I’m writing this, Loki has climbed into my lap, settled in, and lifted his pointy little face to mine for cheek rubs and kisses. He is purring and the warmth from his soft little muscly body is spreading all the way to my heart.

A Year Ago: Dream Lotus

Lotus and pads, Biltmore Estate, Asheville, NCA girl can dream, can’t she?…
[read more]


Coffee cup and cast iron table.

The trees of heaven are being extirpated today. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Pour me another cup of coffee.

A Year Ago: Fire in the Sky

Sunset, Asheville, NCGoing down in a blaze of glory…
[read more]

Mantis Dance

Duo-tone praying mantis on painted wood.

Loki was going bananas at the other end of the porch. I assumed it was just another stink-bug freak-out.

But no.

Very large praying mantis right by the front door. Huge. Warping-the-spacetime-continuum-sized big. Also probably the most elegantly colored specimen I’ve ever seen.

Still. Too large for my taste.

(BTW, another iPhone picture.)

A Year Ago: Farewell to the Chancery

Apartment building, Washington, DCHome for 19 good years…
[read more]