in which witness is borne: birds, politics, fiction and critical art theory

An Occasional Series

Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Winter Story Series Part 1 (part 2 is now up. Read it.. I make no apology for the sudden shift in content. It is winter. Stories are needed.

by Mariya Strauss

the Girl kicks a piece of asphalt and it skitters a long way down the alley. the garage doors and fences lining the alley blot out the dim light from the setting sun and cast one blended shadow over the pavement where she walks.

Earlier she had eaten a pear in the kitchen and gone upstairs to practice her trumpet. Its bell vibrated to her touch, cold and dry against the blue crushed velvet interior of its case. She puffed her cheeks out methodically, puckering and wetting her lips to limber them up. The Girl spoke softly to herself. "I gotta learn this piece, I gotta learn it." She assembled the instrument quickly, looking over the scattered sheets of music which lay on her dresser, and selected two particular sheets which together made up the short Haydn trumpet solo. She lifted the trumpet, her lips and tongue furiously working in anticipation, and her shoulders relaxed...
In the alley, she carelessly meanders from side to side, weaving exaggeratedly, drunkenly between the garages. The weaving takes on its own bored rhythm. Sometimes to spice it up a little she kicks a rock, watching its path as it reacts to each tiny jolt from the uneven pavement. Darker and darker grow the shadows of the houses and wooden fences. It seems to her that no cars have passed through for a long time. She stops at one fence, an old wooden back gate with vines of morning glory (although the flowers aren't blooming now, it isn't morning, but she fingers them idly anyway) poking through, and feeble dandelions sprouting from beneath. As she looks,something glossy and papery glints at her from under the fence.
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Thanksgiving Kestrel

Friday, November 25, 2005
Driving up to Morton Grove to visit uncle L, we were nearly sideswiped by an AMERICAN KESTREL as we exited the highway. I observed that it was a chilly day to be a raptor--most of its potential meals might be underground or sheltered someplace cozy.
Being sheltered someplace cozy is basically all I desire right now, and can't take for granted any longer now that winter is upon us in the frozen north. The cold and unrelenting gray have descended, along with a nasty upper respiratory infection, and both kitties are finally on the upswing from their respective illnesses. Stella and I found ourselves locked in a battle of wills when i tried to force open her jaws to take a pill--she finally opened her mouth on her own to take it, poor sweetie! As if she wanted to tell me, I'm your friend, all you need to do is ask!
I am considering doing a winter story series in this space. Self-publishing is so dang easy and it's tempting to use my blog as a testing ground for my fiction during times when birding slows. What do you, dear readers, think?
7:24 AM :: 2 comments ::

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cobblestone days, asthma nights

Monday, November 21, 2005
going to the country remains a seductive journey for me, but when I actually go in the fall or spring or summer I invariably have the wind sucked out of my sails (quite literally) by asthma. This weekend was no exception.
Athens, Ohio is a joy to visit, with meandering cobblestone alleys, hilltop cemeteries with big blowzy pine trees, and a healthy undercurrent of anarchist collectivism (The Wire, , Casa Nueva). I recommend the seasonal blackberry chipotle salsa at Casa! mmmmmm.
But nighttime brought on the wheezes, with the chest-tightening tension of wondering when the next breath would come. Ernie's noble donation of a clinical massage helped, but at the birthday party that night I passed the point of no return that asthmatics everywhere dread.
Fortunately I had the presence of mind to call S. and ask for advice. He had none, other than to second my hope that there might still be a few molecules of albuterol left in my 3-year old inhaler. I hung up and turned to see another partygoer, who said: "I didn't mean to eavesdrop, but are you having an asthma attack? I'm asthmatic, and I can go get you an inhaler if you need one." And so my guardian angel at the party saved us all from a needless trip to the ER. yay!
Two other bits of wildlife-related news from this past weekend: On Friday night, after I'd arrived in Columbus and while Ernie was driving us back to Athens in the darkness of the highway bypass, I am disgusted to report that we ran over a dead deer at 65mph. EEEEEWWW! The rest of the weekend of relaxation was punctuated by trips to the auto shop and car wash, which, oddly, provided us with one of the more entertaining and satisfying moments of the weekend, in which we were able to pressure-wash the blood and guts off the bumper and down the drains. mmmmm....deer guts.
And finally, from Libbywiz we have this frightening tidbit:
Mantis Eats Hummingbird!
I don't know about you, but the Praying Mantis now gets my vote for SMLTBOIO (Species Most Likely To Become Our Insect Overlords).
2:54 PM :: 1 comments ::

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the snow flies again

Wednesday, November 16, 2005
winter has arrived on the prairie. flurries of worries and flakes are swirling outside. i still haven't been birding since my last posting but am reading the observations of others--it's owl season at last! Also waterfowl are plentiful along the lakeshore, with SURF SCOTERS and WHITE WINGED SCOTERS showing up at various harbors in the past 48 hours. I keep scanning the shrubbery and low trees on Northwestern's campus, but all I seem to get are starlings and a bunch of freaked-out robins.
I'll be heading to southeastern Ohio this weekend to celebrate my birthday in style with my friend E. (She's in training to become a massage therapist. Can you say freebies?)
Am gravitating more and more these days toward the world of print, rather than merely virtual, publishing. Advice, tips, crushingly personal criticisms are all welcome. (Actually, strike that last, would you? No CPCs.)
1:51 PM :: 0 comments ::

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assistant sleepers, homegrown wildlife etc.

Sunday, November 13, 2005
I guess I'm on a bit of a birding hiatus, since I haven't gotten out to bird in a while. So I'll briefly note here the forces which have intervened to keep me and my field glasses apart these past few weeks:
1. Ear mites. Harriet Tubman woke me up one day moaning piteously and rubbing her ears on every angular surface in the house, so I've been faithfully antagonizing her morning and night by cradling her in one arm and sticking a dropperful of medicine into her ear with the other. A satisfying gob of poo-colored gunk comes out with every treatment, so I'm happy. Also, with the colder weather the cats are sleeping with us more. S. calls them the Assistant Sleepers.
2.Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season One.
3.A short story I wrote last week about a little girl who plays the trumpet and gets into a bit of mischief with a porno magazine she trashpicked in the alley...oh, dear. That didn't come out sounding very good. But it is! I like it, anyway. Shades of Kafka? Oh, never mind.
4.Dealing with our cell phones. Any of you dear readers who are considering getting a Cingular Wireless phone, DON'T! They are an irresponsible, greedier-than-usual phone company, which is saying something since the one we had to switch to is Verizon, which wanted $200 for our phones unless we agreed to sign a 2 year contract which would have cost us a bundle more altogether. Anyway, Cingular shut us off when we refused to pay the insane $691 they thought we owed them. To make matters worse, S agrees with them, so I may be all alone in my dispute which I intend to argue before whoever will listen, be they the Supreme Court or the Better Business Bureau, or whoever.
4.Go Fug Yourself. Just go.
8:02 PM :: 1 comments ::

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juncos fleeing the scene of destruction

Wednesday, November 09, 2005
I had two JUNCOS this morning on Northwestern's Evanston campus, which were evidently flushed from their hideout by the onslaught of noise generated by two ginormous trucks and a hand-held concrete grinder being wielded by renovators at one of the buildings. This was maybe 8:15 am. Poor birds. Poor college dorm dwellers. But I'm sure you were all grateful to be awakened in time for class, right?
And why was I at work so early, you might ask? Money trouble, etc etc blah blah blah, figured I could get some brownie points with the boss for showing up a few minutes early down in the mines. Er, library.
But the server we use to temporarily shelve our files, which we then remove once we are at another computer station, and which thus allows the eager student workers on the scanning project to continue painting the roses red by cleaning up images that are so crappy they should never have been part of an archival collection in the first place, is down.
So here I am, back with you, beloved migrateblog readers.
Please take a moment to visit some of the updated links on this blog. Worth it! Especially Bookslut, which is like literary nicotine for me. Thanks!
9:11 AM :: 1 comments ::

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