Saturday, October 29, 2005

Lucky 13 Skeletoons

Teenage Werewolf -- The Cramps

I Walked With A Zombie -- Roky Erickson & The Aliens

Dinner With Drac -- Zacherley

I Put A Spell On You -- Screaming Jay Hawkins

The Brain That Refused To Die -- Slickee Boys

Monsters From The Surf -- Monsters From The Surf

Who Do You Love -- Bo Diddley

Zombie Jamboree -- Eloise Trio

Vampira -- The Misfits

American Psycho -- D12

Frankenstein -- Edgar Winter Group

Creature From The Black Leather Lagoon -- The Cramps

Jack The Ripper -- Screaming Lord Sutch

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Rules of Combat
The Great Escape
And Capitol Hill

Steve McQueen in "The Cooler"

When I worked on Capitol Hill, I had a photograph of Steve McQueen tucked into my bookcase. It was a shot of him from The Great Escape where he is sitting in the "Cooler" with his back against a wall, holding his baseball glove and ball. I suppose the picture was a commentary on my working in a stressful job and feeling trapped. I also kept a defused hand grenade in the same case with a printed copy of The Rules of Combat. My coworker Tim handled military issues in the office, while I handled veteran's issues (among other things), and every year the Pentagon woud send him a book with the latest in every piece of weaponry you could think of from assault weapons to missiles. I called it my "Wish Book," and there were times Tim would pass it over to me so I could peruse a flame thrower to use on a coworker, or a suitable tank for going out into Washington rush hour traffic.

We both loved war films and were always quoting from The Great Escape. "They've found Tom! Open up Dick and Harry!" (the escape tunnels), or Kelly's Heroes, "There you go again with those negative vibes," or our favorite of them all, Patton. When things would get bad around the workplace, I could count on Tim to know to say "Thirty years from now, when you're sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee and he asks you, "What did you do in the great World War II," you won't have to say, "Well...I shoveled shit in Louisiana," or, "Now an army is a team - it lives, eats, sleeps, fights as a team. This individuality stuff is a bunch of crap," or "They're ivory. Only a pimp from a cheap New Orleans whorehouse would carry a pearl-handled pistol" (referring to his pistol grips), or our all-time favorite, "Rommel, you magnificent bastard. I read your book." There were times when all Tim had to say was "Rommel," using George C. Scott's voice, and I would lose it. Patton was always going on about the Carthaginians, and that was another trigger word that would make us laugh. The Rules of Combat came about because we worked with people who would come straight out of college full of piss and vinegar, thinking they were taking on the world, or their coworkers, and they all seemed to love Sun Tzu's The Art of War.

The Rules of Combat

If the enemy is in range, so are you.

Incoming fire has the right of way.

Don't look conspicuous: it draws fire.

The easy way is always mined.

Try to look unimportant, they may be low on ammo.

Professionals are predictable, it's the amateurs that are dangerous.

The enemy invariably attacks on one of two occasions:

when you're ready for them, and when you're not ready for them.

Teamwork is essential: it gives the enemy someone else to shoot at.

If you can't remember, the Claymore is pointed at you. Claymores are labeled "This side toward the enemy" for a reason.

If your attack is going well, you have walked into an ambush.

Don't draw fire, it irritates the people around you.

The only thing more accurate than incoming enemy fire is incoming friendly fire.

When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is "not" our friend.

If it's stupid but works, it isn't stupid.

When in doubt, empty the magazine.

Never share a fox hole with anyone braver than you.

Anything you do can get you shot, including doing nothing.

Make it tough for the enemy to get in and you can't get out.

Mines are equal opportunity weapons.

A Purple Heart just proves you were smart enough to think of a plan, stupid enough to try it, and lucky enough to survive.

Don't ever be the first, don't ever be the last and don't ever volunteer to do anything.

The Quartermaster has only two sizes: too large and too small.

Five second fuses only last three seconds.

It is generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed.

Tracers work both ways.

Sometimes Tim would grab the hand grenade (defused, of course) and pretend to pull the pin and lob it deeper into the office. The funny thing is, the Congressman liked to sit back in my area, and I'm sure he saw all of these things, but he never commented on them. Well...maybe the grenade, but he loved it as everyone did. Ultimately I gave it away as a birthday present to one of my agency liasions that had admired it, and he told me it was always a conversation piece in his office.

Tim was a fantastic driver and had owned many racy sports cars, including a Lotus Elan. He told me driving that car was was like sliding into an envelope. The pedals were so narrow, he had to drive shoeless to have better control. One day, during a lunch hour, we played hooky and took a sports car for a test drive. It was wonderful having Tim at the wheel with his mastery of cars (not that I'm a slouch in that department), and feeling the wind blow all the cobwebs out. We had another fun thing to do for "cobwebs." We'd drive out to Gravelly Point by National Airport and hit the spot in the grass where the planes come in at their lowest, sometimes just 100 feet over your head. We'd lie on our backs and take in the rush of it all: the sheer power of the plane and it's force. The planes were so low, you could actually count the rivets on the underbelly. It's one of those great things about D.C. you won't find in the guide books. D.C. Park and Bike Guide - National Airport

Emma Peel

Tim's nickname for me was "Emma" after Emma Peel in The Avengers. I will have to write about all of the nicknames I've acquired over time, but Tim was the only one to ever call me Emma. A great coworker, and a great guy. He died two years ago, much too young, and I do miss him.

Emma Peel and her Lotus Elan

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Welcome New Blogger: Narcissistic Nihilism

My friend Drew has started a blog today, and I wanted to welcome him to blog-o-sphere. He can be read at:

Narcissistic Nihilism

It was Drew who gave me this photograph, that I am still trying to think of something to do with it:

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Silly Sea Birds
...And Losing My Marbles

We have a mixed relationship with seagulls. Some rhapsodize how " dreams may possess you, no voices can blame you for sun on your wings," while for others of us they are flying rats. When you live in isolation with these birds, they get to know you and your own habits and patterns while you witness theirs. Every morning when I am up and stirring about, they fly reconaissance past the wall of glass, coming in slow and low to see what's for breakfast. Usually it's oatmeal, half a bagel, or yogurt, which is of little interest to them. I've discovered seagulls have their likes and dislikes, yet you wouldn't think it possible the way they eat. Unlike the communal crow who will call others of his troop when food is located, even holding off eating until the others have joined him, the seagull is all about swoop, grab and gulp. I've seen them eat all manner of things: a carcass from roasted chicken, leftover pizza and popcorn. Their true desire, however, are for those rare mornings when I make French toast or waffles with honey. This is Poseidon passion food. I've seen them go into a frenzy over sweetened, eggy bread. I've wanted to say at times, "I am not making crepes for you winged beggars."

Path on the Cape Cod Canal

The Cape Cod Canal cuts in from the sea, effectively
breaking off what was called a peninsula and now forms a truer island. Along the length of the canal from it's entrance to the Sagamore Bridge, which is the chief means of crossing onto the Cape from land, there is a paved walkway which is taken over by walkers, bicyclists, rollerbladders, and birds. The sea birds have learned to use the sidewalk as a tool. You can see them diving into the water for their meal, then they will fly inland, hover over the pavement and drop their catch. They have learned through practice and time that the hardness of the surface will shatter open the quahog shell and save them the labor of prying with their beaks. Authorities having to deal with this shellfish detritus have tried everything to unlearn the birds, even an attempt to try alarm them by painting the shape of a man with arms upraised in white outlines on the black tarmac. The birds are not dissuaded, and they continue to drop and feed.

One time, in a pique of whimsy, I bought a box of D
unkin' Donuts on the last day and threw out donuts for them. One bird was so pleased with his booty, he strutted around with the donut in his mouth in front of fellow gulls, turning his head to the left, then right, to show off his treasure. Once I am gone, they know it's a long winter of sand crabs and clams to come.

I'm not without my own quirks. One autumn when I was on a stretch of sandy beach, watching an old man methodically move along with his mine sweeping metal detector, it came to me to start burying coins under the sand. We all seek potential treasure whether in Powerball or pennies. I realized it would give him such pleasure to hear his sweeper beeping while he took his walk and that it was more about the moment when the meter starts to click and the anticipation of what might be there. Beachcombing is much more than discovering what the sea has washed up. It is returning to a childlike fascination with the found object.

A few years ago, I decided it would be fun to toss marbles back into the sea while I take my strolls. I went to a local market and found a tray that displayed 500 or 1,000 marbles of varied sizes and styles: cat's eyes, ghosts, agies, shooters and alleys. The largest marble in the collection, sometimes called the moon marble, is black irridescence, and I always held onto that one for last. As Tibetans tie their hopes and prayers to pieces of paper that flutter in the wind, I would wish, hope and pray with each lobbed bit of glass into the water. I had a fantasy that it would be nice if the marble could work it's way back to shore, with the movement of the tide and some nice hot summer day a child walking on the beach, bent over in search of treasure, could find one washed back up amidst the rocks and shells of the shoreline.

This is not French toast...and it's cold...and where's the honey?


My beautiful ship

O my memory

Have we sailed far enough

In waters vile to drink

Have we sailed far enough

From the beautiful dawn

To the sad evening


Cape Cod Bay

When you live in rooms that stand at the end of land, you can sense that you are floating into nothingness at times. You turn from the room to the sea for too long, and you are suspended in the sky and adrift. At other moments, you turn your back on the sea and retreat into your shell like those creatures you find on the rocks and sand. Walls become your second skin, and the space that you inhabit is indistinguishable. You are sheltered from vacuity.
The wind coming at you from the sea speaks of places unseen and unknown. You look for mental paths to return you to your life and the things you should be doing. You mind becomes a bridge built from driftwood and scraps of sea salvage and everything remains fraught with meaning: the book lying bent on it's spine, the glass reflecting sunlight on the counter. Staring off into objects, you think back: shared moments of happiness and sorrow, and your joys and regrets bob like buoys.

...a flooded road, Scorton Creek.

Is this what life is finally all about? The imperative to go forward and the varied paths, some flooded with misreadings? Solitude seeks answers. Walt Whitman said, "To me the converging objects of the universe perpetually flow. All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means...I think I will do nothing for a long time, but listen and acrue what I hear unto myself." Introspection can lead you to deeper levels of memory, and you can easily sink, wondering if you will ever surface again. We remain in each other's memories...for as long as we chose to. For those we have lost-- we know they won't be swimming to shore, shaking away time, joining us with where we have gone on in our lives.

Ultimately, we can never truly know others. At best, we guess. We are condemned to being these isolated islands of self. What remains important is to keep trying to break through, even though we know we can't. Tonight, I watched clouds pushing against the sky and setting sun, pushing their heads against the darkening sky. I turned my face back to the land hoping the way will be smooth: trying to remain true on course and keep from taking false steps again.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Co-inky Dink...Or Not?

I was on the computer last night, dropping comments around the D.C. blogger's pages, when a friend sent me an instant message. He had just returned from a bad date and wanted to know if he could talk through it with "his girls." His girls would be my friend Laura and myself. I rounded her up, and we went into a chat room to listen. I'll call him "George," since the woman he dated said he reminded her of a buffed up version of George Chakiris in West Side Story.

I should say that George definitely falls in my range of what I define as a "guy" guy. He does all the normal things you expect of a man, and there are no quirky little shadows. We were watching the Redskins game on Sunday, and he was yelling at the television during the game, something a "guy" guy does. He's the lucky owner of shared season tickets, so half of the time he's yelling at the Skins live, but on those off weeks, he makes do by yelling at the t.v. During the first quarter, Clinton Portis was getting yelled at a lot on blown plays. I kept hearing "Fuck you, Portis, you fucking suck." This went on until Portis finally did something right, then George said, "We love Portis." I added, "...for the moment." Another talent George possesses that I marvel at is that he can predict the next play before it happens. I told him on Sunday that I had fond memories of my father and brother yelling at the television during sports games. Laura said her brothers and father did the same. Someone needs to add that habit to their potential date's "pro's and con's" list. Last night, while we were waiting for Laura to join us, George told me "Fuck the tuck rule."

George was at a local watering hole. I asked him, "upscale, or dive." "Dive," he said. Sitting at the bar, to his left, was an elderly man. On his right was another guy, and to that guy's right were two women. The younger guy (not the geezer) was talking to the two women as George arrived. The man made a comment to George about a football game on the television above the bar, and when he got to talking to him, he realized he used to play against him at pickup football games. They swapped "how is so and so stories" for a bit. George said, "I wasn't really in the mood to talk...I was pissed that the bar was playing music during the game." "Communists," I said. He joined the group of the man and two women, and they wound up talking at the bar for three hours. He said, "She was definitely showing the signs: hand on arm, compliments, etc." At some point she asked him if he wanted to listen to someone who sounded like Alison Krauss. He said to us, "I was game, so the four of us headed back to her place, but before we left the bartender was giving her a hard time about picking me up." "Orgy time," Laura replied. Laura and I had to divert him at this point to ponder what kind of a woman would ask a man if he wants to listen to some chick who sounds like Alison Krauss. She did other weird things, as well, like played her saxophone for him. I I missing something?

We asked what she looked like, and George stated, "She had a young Liz Taylor-Lynda Carter thing going." I commented, "you mean like Black Irish: dark hair, blue eyes, fair complexion?" "EXACTLY!," he said. He went on to say that things were "pretty cool" at her house. He couldn't remember the name of the singer she was playing, but he wasn't too impressed. Regarding bar girl, I said, "Does she sit and scream "Fuck you Portis at her tel
evision? I think not." He laughed and said, "The evening ended nicely, and "No, I didn't close the deal." Laura said, "Good. We can't have you being slutty." Bar girl asked him to call her later, so when they finally talked, they decided to hook up yesterday and met again at the same watering hole. I'm guessing he was at something like the Grog and Tankard in Glover Park, but he didn't say. Laura and I went off on a tangent about football, and Laura pointed an arrow back to her screenname and typed, "guy guy." I said, "We are guy girls, Lau."

George went on with what he called "pertinent information." The girl had just broken up with her "artsy" boyfriend who had majored in theatre lighting. Laura said, "That's a hard major. I bet he pulled all nighters." I snorted.
He said, "Okay. Back to tonight...", but we couldn't let it go. "Can you imagine", I asked, "Theatre lighting is my major?" Laura shot back, "I'd think you'd learn everything there is to know about theatre lighting in three credits." "Two," I quipped, "with one credit for lab." George said, "I love my girls. Group hug." He pulled us back into the story by saying the girl had started pondering if his family would like her or not. This is what I mean about some of her weird ways: Alison Krauss, saxophone playing and "what would your family think of me?" On a first date?

George continued, despite our interruptions. "We're sitting in the bar and out of the blue, her old boyfriend walks in." I stopped him and asked, "Did she set you up for this for some jealousy thing? He just "happened" to walk in?" "Yes, Cubie," he said. "Stringy long hair, smoker's
face...I didn't consider him competition." "Not when you look like George Chakiris," I shot back. He went on. " about a buzz kill." I raised my hand. "Yes, child?", he asked. My question was, "Is this one of her regular watering holes where she and her ex-boyfriend hung out?" He said, "I didn't gather that." I replied, "Rotten in Denmark time." George observed how her demeanor was with him, so he went off to the bathroom, and when he got back he told her he was going to call it an evening. She walked him to the outside of the bar and as he put it, "handed me a line about wishing that it was the ex-boyfriend that was leaving." George simply said "good night" to her and left.

Laura asked, "Can you tell if a person is sincere or not? Do you have a gut feeling about this girl and what her motives were?" He said, "My gut right now is based on circumstances and her reaction, but my instinct is that I was being used, that it was too improbable to be a coincidence." Laura said, "Well...that's what a coincidence is: an improbable occurrence." We all laughed at that, but we agreed the odds were not in her favor on this one. She said to him, "You're probably not going to call me back, are you?" I told her to go fuck herself." Laura screamed, "GEORGE!" He said, "I felt like saying that, but I only said good night." We asked who chose their meeting place, and he told us she did. Laura told him that in the future he needed to pre-clear his dates with us, and he said, "It sure would have helped in this case." Laura said, "Even if this was co-inky dink (which none of us believe it was), I really think she is on a major rebound, which is not good news either." My take was that she set him up to make her "ex" jealous and try to get back with him. We wound things up. It was getting late. So. What do you think? Co-inky dink...or not?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

What's It Worth, Mary?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

What's It Worth, Mary?

Meanwhile, back at Charterstone....

For new readers, an explanation:

I've been spoofing the cartoon strip of Mary Worth for some time now. In the real strip, she took in her alcoholic friend, Rita, who then proceeded to trash Mary's house and life. I thought it might be funny if Mary tried to pimp her friend out into her staid community. You'll have to go back into the archives to pick up the story line, but the last entry was on September 5th, which you will find in the archives, and earlier entries during August, 2005.

Note: The Blogathon continues. I'm up to the letter "J."

Monday, October 10, 2005

Blog-A-Thon Part II &
Here The Bride Doesn't Come

I'm still working through my blogathon (see previous entry). I've worked my way through all of the other category listings with the exception of "D.C. Lives," and I'm up to the letter "G"- #314, in that grouping. I will be so glad when I hit ZippyLand which is the last blogsite and I'm done. Patrick Thibodeau of DC Blogs, whose list I am working from, was kind enough to give this silliness a mention in his blog last night: DC Blogs.

In the goes on. I was out getting a p
edicure on Saturday morning, joining a group who have standing appointments, so I got to hear the local gossip and catch up on news. One of the ladies asked my manicurist how her cousin's wedding had gone. The manicurist was supposed to be a bridesmaid in that wedding. From what I could pick up, she had gone to extra expense with her dress because it needed additional tailoring in the bust area: a few small tucks, but to the tune of $90.00. When asked about the wedding, my manicurist said rather curtly "It was called off," and when asked why she reported, "personal reasons."

As the people shifted about in the shop and I had a little more private time with her, I queried, "I don't mean to pry, but do you mind my asking why the wedding was ended?" She said, "I don't mind talking about it. I just didn't want to be talking to the crowd. My cousin found her fiancé with another woman." What happened was, the groom-to-be told his intended that he was going to his third bachelor party, and she thought that sounded "off."

Time has changed customs. I know someone that had eight bridal showers last year.
One of my friends had ten wedding cakes (if I got the number wrong, she'll be correcting me since she reads this), but it was the most amazing thing. The cakes came down in a curved tier effect, and each was a different flavor. Her now husband told me well in advance of the wedding, "...and I'm going to taste every one of them." Apparently, the cousin's groom had another tasting in mind.

The bride started checking the groom's e-mails and found a reservation for a local hotel. She called her girlfriend saying she needed moral support and off they went that night to wait in the dark hotel parking lot. Not too long after, here came the groom, with another woman in tow. They got out of the car, walking hand and hand toward the hotel, and the bride walked up and screamed at the woman, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH MY FUTURE HUSBAND? WE ARE GETTING MARRIED IN TWO WEEKS!" She hauled off and bitch slapped the groom as hard as she could. The girl was swearing she had no idea, and that he had never told her that he was getting married. The upshot was that the girlfriend and the bride wound up swapping telephone numbers in the parking lot. Later, they got together and started piecing his story together to follow his string of lies.

The bride and groom had been living together prior to the wedding, and just after this night she didn't return home right away. Neither did he. She finally did go back, and when he came through the door, she started pounding him around the head again. My manicurist said, "He just stood there and took it." The bottom line in this charming tale is that the manicurist had just moved into a new place herself, and now the cousin wants to come and move in with her--until June. I asked her how she felt about that, and she made a face, then said, "I don't really have a choice. She helped me out during a bad spell in my own past, so the way I see it, I owe her one." Here's the kicker. The loving groom? He's trying to win back his bride.

Friday, October 07, 2005


I wasn't going to reveal this until I had finished, but I was outed in comments this morning by "I-66" in his blog, Yeah, So I'm... Earlier this week, I decided to take on a little project of working through every Washington, D.C. blog mentioned in Patrick Thibodeau's blog, DC Blogs. Patrick, aka "KOB," is a well-known figure in the Washington blogging community and it's chief supporter in terms of highlighting the writings of close to 450 people. I told KOB of my plans on Sunday. At the time I made a rather grandiose proclamation that I would do all of the blogs in a 24-hour blogathon. Patrick said, "Are you sure you can manage that?" Well...he knew, didn't he? DC Blogs

I started at midnight on Tuesday night, and whenever I had a spare minute during Wednesday I was hitting the sites by groupings. I didn't stick to KOB's blog ordering as I had initially hoped, because I had to keep making breaks for other things going on in my life. By midnight Wednesday I had actually gotten to my last grou
p, and the biggest: DC Lives. Patrick has that broken down into alphabetical groups, and I started with A. Here it is Friday, and I'm only in the B's. However...I should be done within a day, and I have to say it's proved a fascinating glimpse into the D.C. blogging world.

What you might think the most difficult--dreaming up something to say on 450 blogs, isn't the hard part at all. What is difficult is working with everyone's security codes. There are only a few, luckily, where I was asked to register before I could even comment: the Mayor's blog being one of them. One I wasn't able to enter at
all without an owner-assigned password. For the ones who use's word verification-- "Curses," uttered in a Snidley Whiplash voice. On the system I use, every time I stumble on word verification, I have to go over to Firefox's server and enter your blog name, which often doesn't match your blog's given name, and take it from there. Many more steps for me, and it's really been slowing me down.

Initially I was just going to make my comment and depart, but a friend suggested I also leave "Washington Cube Was Here," followed by the num
ber I had worked up to, for example #220. Until I-66 mentioned it this morning, not one person has emailed me and said "Just what is that all about?" Equally appalling, in it's way, is that I've heard back from less than ten of you. Of that group, some kindly wanted to link and some had nice things to say about my blog. It left me wondering if people even watch their blogs, and if so, upon seeing a name not familiar to them, do they bother to go check on that person to see what they are about? Apparently not.

In the past several days I've written about knitting, dogs, insurance, politics, baseball, neighborhoods, cooking, photography, painting, movies,
architecture, hockey, football, and interior decorating, to name a few. I've written to Singapore, Moscow, Bangalore, and Manila. Oh yeah, and relationships, relationships, relationships. Some sadly query in their own blogs if anyone is even reading their words, or are they writing to the void. I've read about illnesses, deaths, accidents, and traumas. The quality of the blogs varies, of course, but they've all proven intriguing to realize how many people are compelled to share their thoughts with the world.

If I could say one thing to the blogging community it would be this: Go outside your blogging box. Check and see what other people are writing about
. You might be surprised. Don't see "knitting," and think "NEXT!" Any group bound by a category might surprise you. Since I've been there, I can tell you, the given subject is not all that they are writing about. Read the community blogs to get an intimate glimpse into a neighborhood you might not know. And leave comments. I've often wondered myself if I am reaching anyone when I write. I already know I will continue to write, regardless of the comments, but it is nice to hear back from people. I've seen blogs this past week that are slobbering in their slavish praise of the author. Do you people delete the negative? I have to wonder. I discovered one writer who wants to give up, because of the anonymous negative comments being left on her site. She isn't, by the way...just taking a breather.

During my blogathon I left town on my usual trip to Cape Cod in the fall. I'll be here until just before Thanksgiving. I don't really anticipate writing much about the Cape, this being my first blog year here, but we'll see. The picture that I found on Google which I use on my blog profile was chosen because it is very akin to the view I have when I'm here, and it captures the mindset I have of writing out into the void of other bloggers and the internet. I know you're out there people. Keep writing. Keep sharing. Keep
exploring...and I'll get back to my "B's." I know I can do this.

.....Washington Cube Was Here. #226

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Birds Of A Feather

For a time I was feeding birds in my yard, until I realized that the urban rat population was also benefitting from my largesse. As the feed drew the birds, the birds drew the hawks. One symptom of our growing, disrupted ecotone is the reappearance of Peregrine falcons and other birds of prey in cities. They love perching on building cornices, watching for their pigeon dinners. I saw a Peregrine perched on a steel guardrail on the Beltway once, staring with his piercing gaze down into a gully behind him. They aren't large birds, but they know how to get the job done. I also have witnessed a larger hawk being chased by two crows to get him out of their territory, and I admired the crow's braveness for taking on such a dangerous bird.

What are you looking at?

One day I was sitting in my back yard, and I stared at a corner that had dried pampas grass. It didn't look right. When I focused more intently into the grass, I saw a Regalis hawk blended in and staring me down. He was two feet tall seated, and he had a very cold, hooded stare aimed back at me. I remembered a story my Cape Cod "mother" told me about walking in the woods where hawks nest. She said to always carry branches to wave above your head, because if you inadvertently walked too close to a nesting area, the hawk would swoop down on you. She is always giving me good advice about the nature of bees, foxes, coyotes and other things I encounter on the Cape. The Regalis is well named. All hawks have a rather imperious nature to their features, but the Regalis is one of the largest hawks that exist in North America. They average 25-inches long with a 56-inch wingspan. To be accurate, I was meeting Ferrugenous Bueto Regalis Accipitriade. Ferrugenous means rusty colored and refers to the bird's plummage which is a mixture of cream and rust. Bueto is Latin used to define the larger species of hawks or falcons. Regalis is Latin for royal or kingly and is only used to define the largest of the Buetos. Accipitriade is Latin for hawk. With a mouthful of a name like that, he had the right to look down his beak at me. I stared him down. I realized later how foolish I was, because he could have read that as a sign of aggression and gone on the attack.

Bill and Coo

I am no fan of the lowly pigeon, but they do have their fascinations. I've had enough in my yard in the past to have their seen their mating dance. The male approaches the female and nods his head several times, puffs himself up really large then he starts spinning in tight circles next to her. Then he spreads out his tail feathers and starts dragging them on the ground. "I'm big, and I'm twirling, and I'm a low rider." Usually the female ignores him and keeps on eating. Playing hard to get. You half expect to hear the male pigeons saying to each other, "What is with these chicks and their games?" The real ritual begins where she moves away from him, he follows, shift, follow all across the yard until they both start bobbing up and down, he jumps precariously onto her back, blink and the act is completed (and yes, I've seen pigeons mate...shaking head at self and sighing). Badda bing badda boom, then it's back to the grub. I've even discovered in writing this piece that pigeons have their own Viagra. It's called Zuchform and is a supplementary feed to ensure good breeding with pigeons. Hard to believe, isn't it? As if we didn't have enough of them.

Have you ever seen a hawk kill it's prey? It is swift, and it is brutal. One day, in the hard sunlight of early Spring, I was watching the birds feed and saw a hawk's shadow pass over the yard with his full wing spang reflected. It was like seeing the shadow of a stealth jet. The pigeons panicked and flew off in one grouping, the hawk swooped low, grabbed a pigeon in mid-flight and all of the pigeon's feathers flew out from the shock of the attack. When the feathers fall, they make a large ring. I used to find a lot of feather rings in my yard for a while, and I would know what had happened. On one occasion, within the ring of feathers, I found a span of pigeon wings with the bared bone of the breast. I suppose this is on my mind lately because I had the equivalent of all of my feather's fall out this weekend and it brought the hawk to mind.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Ito! The Rolls! We're Going To Annapolis

Yesterday was spent in Annapolis with my friend, Tammy. The original plan had been for us to wander around town, do a little shopping, and visit Metropolitan, a new restaurant with lovely al fresco dining. Our plans were diverted when Tammy took over the watching of her nieces, so I got to take her two little charges under my wings and become Auntie Cubie for the day. I met up with Kate (age 7) and her sister Halley (age 11) while they were getting their hair cut. Kate sat next to me in the salon with her American Girl doll, Abigail, and plotting out our day, as she saw it. "You'll sit in the back seat with me, and we'll do different hair styles for Abigail. See? I've got her hair brush, hair ornaments and book to show us how. Do you know how to braid?" I assured her I did know how to plait hair and that we could make Abigail look quite glamorous.

Kate and Abigail in front of pink oleander

Honest to God, on our drive to the restaurant, the children were saying "Are we there yet?" Halley is the serious one. Bookish, a natural athlete, and she takes everything you say to heart. I drew her out on her passions of penguins, origami and anime. Kate is very girly and loves clothes, makeup, dolls, and theatrics. The last time I saw Kate she approached me with a large shawl, and I had to wrap and rewrap her into different styles, so she could then go and admire the results in a mirror while she played out her varying "looks." I've known both girls for some time now, and it's interesting to see their relationship to one other. Halley is very much the responsible older sister who tolerates her sister's penchant for drama. Kate demands your constant attention as her audience, but with great charm. While in the backseat, I consulted Kate as to the hairstyles she wanted for Abigail, while telling Tammy and Halley how I had given off playing with dolls at a very young age. Six? Halley proudly announced that she had given them up at age two. I said to Tammy, "...and this is my punishment for giving up on them so early." I gave Abigail her plaits, and Kate said, "You did that really fast." I told her, "I don't do everything fast," and Tammy shot me a look in the rearview mirror.

While we were giving our orders, Kate (who also has excellent reading skills) noted the specials and asked the waitress what the martini of the day was. It was peach, and Kate said, "I'll have that." It reminded me so much of the comedic novel Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis when through Mame's teachings her young nephew learns how to mix a "mean little martini with the memory of vermouth." Kate had very specific ideas on how she wished her salad to be prepared and which rolls she would and would not eat. I've seen such bad behaviors over time in varying restaurants observing other people's children running between tables unattended, and it was such a joy to sit with two articulate children and hear their viewpoints and reasonings.

The cover of my copy of the 1955 Auntie Mame

After dinner, we visited a Barnes & Noble where I was physically hauled through the store looking for Kate's books. We chose four for her and again, it was pl
easurable to share an undersized stool while she flipped through each book weighing it's pro's and con's in terms of interest to her. A little toddler came up to us and kept trying to pick up Kate's books and put them in his mouth. She shot him such a look of disapproval, I had to laugh, but she didn't speak up to stop him. She waited for his mother to control him. She was more interested in making sure I knew what she already had and what she needed in the Junie B books. I saw one Academy Plebe walk by me with his arm full of books, and I admit I did think "cute." Later, a friend said to me, "What did he look like," and I couldn't provide much detail. I said, "How much could I take in when I had a seven-year old tugging on my arm and pulling me along?" As a treat, I bought Halley a book that teaches you how to draw anime figures as well as a 2006 18-month calendar with penguins, issued by the World Wildlife Fund.

She had seen March of the Penguins, and she told me how sad it made her to see the penguins under attack and dying, but she has a scientific mind, and she understands nature and is acceptant of the order of things. We talked about Antarctica, her desire for a new computer, and sumi-e, the art of Japanese calligraphy. I told Halley I had always wanted to go to Antarctica someday. She said, "But there's nothing there. It's just cold and empty." I said, "Yes, but maybe the interest is in seeing if you can withstand those conditions and survive. There is also the contemplation of void and nothingness at being at the extreme of the earth in deserts." She paused and said, "I can see that." I have a sumi-e paint set myself, so I had Halley explain to Tammy what it is and how it works: how you make your own ink and use bamboo brushes. She gave such detail about the dragons carved on the ink blocks and how you prepare ink. She never fails to amaze me. Tammy paid me a compliment later when she said that I was like honey to the children and that I drew them to me. I'm rarely around children, so for me, the feeling was mutual. I love being around them and really listening to them.

The Naval Academy seen from a pier

Annapolis is a town where you cannot escape the water and the boats. There are boats dry docked where you park your car, there are boats next to the windows where you eat, and there are all of those beautiful young Naval Academy Plebes in their whites. I drove home on Route 50, sated with my day and remembering Auntie Mame's famous quote, "Life is a banquet--and most poor suckers are starving." I also remembed a quote from her author, Patrick Dennis (Edward Everett Tanner), "I always start writing with a clean piece of paper and a dirty mind."

Auntie Cubie's delicious little cocktail
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