The Curious Caterpillar and the Very Hungry Cat

The curious caterpillar crept across the kitchen floor.

The sleepy man turned on the coffee machine.

The very hungry cat meowed at the man.

Meow. Meow. Meow.

I just fed you, said the man.

The very hungry cat looked at something on the floor.

The very hungry cat played with it a little, as cats do.

What the hell’re you playing with? said the man.

Don’t eat that, he said.

The man squinted because his eyes weren’t focused yet. It was still early.

The man bent over and tried to pick up what the very hungry cat was playing with.

It looked like green felt, to his bleary eyes.

But it felt like a warm piece of fat.

Yuck, said the man.

Meow. Meow. Meow, said the very hungry cat.

Frickin’ caterpillar come from, said the man.

Go ahead and eat it, said the man.

The end.

The Gauntlet

sunrise01131008The day has a weird liminal feeling to it. Grey and quiet, except for a lawnmower, crows, traffic and pedestrians, like the soundtrack to a National Geographic documentary on urban corvids.

Odin tries his wife’s number but she doesn’t answer.

He walks down the street, past a line of crows. They just stand there watching him: the old black one with white feathers, three grey ones. More keep showing up.

Odin wonders has he overdone the crow thing.

He follows a little old woman with a tiny little dog on a leash. What is it with old people and little pets, he wonders. They can never, like, stay out all night drinking or anything. Sorry, I have to get back to the little dog! And they are the ones with all the time for adventures like that, and then they go tie themselves down.

He turns a corner and a sleek black crow swoops down from the other direction and follows him to the store, hopping from car to car.

Odin’s phone rings. It’s his wife.

The day has a weird feeling to it, says his wife.

Weird and grey and in-between, agrees Odin.

He tells her about the crow gauntlet because she always laughs at his crow stories.

He holds her up to his ear and talks to her all the way through the store.

I picked out a ham-and-cheese sub for the crows, he says.

Which ones?

All of them.

I’m getting cottage cheese now, he says.

He hangs up before paying the cashier.

He feeds all the crows he can find on his way back to the office. They eat the whole sandwich, except he eats the parts with pickles, as they don’t like pickles.

It’s like a day hidden between other days, he had said to his wife.

She agreed.


wetplate collodion photograph of flower wreath.

Dried flower wreath, full sun, f5.6, 8 seconds. Old workhorse collodion.

Today’s wet plate

tess05102014Tess, partial shade, f 5.6, 6 seconds, old workhorse collodion, black aluminum plate. The scratch is from a momentary catastrophic loss of coordination in my dinky dark box while putting plate into silver nitrate bath. The original plate is otherwise clean, I think the white specks etc are from the scanner.

I also did my first glass plate today, a portrait of my wife. It turned out reasonably well. Collodion lifting a little here and there around the edges, not sure why, maybe insufficient cleaning of glass before pouring.

Fly fishing in Austria

Man and woman standing in creek, both wearing waders, holding fishing poles.

Woman: Oh, he’s a big fella.

Man: Where? Oh, he’s big.

The big fella swims deep, nosing the gravel of the creek bed with singular concentration.

Most of the time, that’s his whole world: gravel.

Man: What’s he looking for?

Woman: Periwinkles? May-flies?

Gravel, gravel, gravel. Rarely, something shiny or something bright catches the big fella’s eye and he leaves the creek bed and swims to the surface and there’s a small splash and a dragonfly disappears, or sometimes a lure of chrome or polished brass.

Incomplete list of shiny things that have caught the big fella’s attention:

  • The phrase “better to stay silent and be thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt” (as a child);
  • The idea of going through life without leaving any footprints (as an older child);
  • Young woman in blue shirt eating a banana in a cafeteria (back in college);
  • Falling stars;
  • Heat lightning;
  • Fireflies;
  • Certain people;
  • The phrase, “as you live your days so do you live your life” (somewhat recently);
  • The phrase, “your problem is you think you have time” (more recently)

Man: Where’d he go?

Woman: Into that shady pool, I think.



The secret of happiness: WWASPD?

Part of being happy is doing things that make you happy.

Part of being happy is avoiding doing things that make you unhappy. This second class of things include stupid things.

By definition.

Both of these skills can be helped with the WWASPD method.

Like yesterday. There is this guy. He is driving home and there is a bottleneck where the road from Vienna goes into the Vienna Woods. The road is lined with old homes and goes from two-lane to one-lane for a block. Each end of the bottleneck has an electric sign that lights up red when there is oncoming traffic.

The sign is black so the guy goes. He meets two oncoming cars. Either the sign is not working or they ran the red light.

But since there are several oncoming cars now, he backs up and lets them pass.

The sign is black so he goes.

He meets a big, fat Audi driven by a guy about 60 with a chihuahua. They stop and look at each other. There are no cars behind the Audi, but a line of cars quickly forms behind our guy. Two things are possible: the Audi ran a red or the light is broken.

They wait like this for a couple minutes. Then the Audi begins to honk.

Cars behind our guy honk back.

What Would A Smart Person Do? thinks the guy.

The situation is out of his hands, he realizes. He can relax. The problem will solve itself, somehow.

So he relaxes while the honking goes on. It’s a nice evening and in the distance the Vienna Woods are just beginning to change color.

Eventually the Audi driver gets out of his car. Our guy rolls down his window. The Audi driver yells at him. Our guy doesn’t even try to explain his theory about the light; he just says, I’m kinda boxed in here as you can see. You’ll have to talk to the guys behind me.

The Audi driver goes and yells at the other guys. They all seem to be, as our guy noticed earlier, burly young construction workers, and they yell back. The Audi driver eventually backs up and lets everyone pass.

And they all go on their way, happily, except for maybe the Audi driver.

The secret of happiness

There is this guy. His wife made roast beef.

The guy carved it, with the carving knife, slicing it as thinly as he could, and the family ate it.

The roast beef was really good. The guy’s wife was really good at cooking beef. Her steaks were also fantastic.

The next day, the guy looked at leftover roast beef in the fridge. It was beautiful. It had that brown-grey layer around the edge, and the healthy pink center.

It was really beautiful. He ate a slice, even though he had just eaten cereal for breakfat, and the roast beef was delicious.

It made him happy.

This is the secret of happiness, thought the guy: roast beef.

Roast beef is the secret of happiness.

His wife made him roast beef, and the roast beef made him happy. You cannot make someone happy directly. But you can make them roast beef, and the roast beef will make them happy.

Even now, a couple days later, he’s still happy.

That’s the secret.

If you’re a vegetarian, I’m sorry.