throwback thursday

Some old doodles I came across today…

Coffee cat © S. D. Stewart

Cat and human © S. D. StewartLaundry day © S. D. Stewart


Mopping the floor © S. D. Stewart


Wave the flag © S. D. Stewart

ghost cats of Delverne

ghost cats of Delverne
from their hilly perches stare
white sentries above

mosquitoes = o quiet moss

It’s possible I saw more mosquitoes than birds during my birding expedition. I probably now have West Nile Virus. They are going to spray stuff from airplanes to kill the mosquitoes where I was looking at birds. Really. I wouldn’t lie about that. Think about not ever going to work again. Just think about it. For one. heart. beat. Fuck. I saw a dead slug on the sidewalk. I can’t take it. Why is it so easy to dislike people without even knowing their faces or their names. And yet. a squashed slug. crushes me. Farley walked right past a cat. Didn’t even see it. I think the cat was mocking him. There were a lot of vultures at Soldiers Delight. Hanging out on the cancer towers. Airing their wings and such before kettling up. It’s a vulture’s world out there. So many dead things to feast on. Because life is too much of everything. And so things are always dying and being replaced. And if you’re a vulture…well, I don’t feel the need to explain any further. There are too many people. And there are too many things. Too many people things and too many thing-people. The other night I dreamed I was living in an outdoor camp in a forest. I was part of a team. Our job was to watch over the forest, to help people traveling through it and to keep poachers out. We slept outside in little beds and watched informational films that helped us do our jobs better. How is this relevant? Let me put on my Jungian hat and pontificate. I guess maybe I want to help people instead of rot at a desk all day? Maybe not a job, per se, but something. Why not. Jung said many of his patients were successful middle-aged people who suddenly realized their lives were empty and meaningless. Hooray. Nothing changes throughout modern history, does it. It. just. gets. worse. But what does ‘successful’ mean in this context. I suspect it means the opposite of what I consider success. I am not interested in ‘social standing’. I am not interested in ‘moving up the ladder’. Of course that kind of success is going to make your life feel empty and meaningless. Of course it is. I hate your filthy money and everything. it. stands. for. I just want my time. That is all. Why is it so difficult. It seems like it belongs to me. But actually right now it largely belongs to a mammoth financial institution by way of a prominent American university by way of the United States Government by way of taxes paid by my friends and neighbors and complete strangers. So, in a way their time belongs to me, but not really because I give it to a big faceless bank, which means the people ‘moving up the ladder’ own it all. And their lives are empty and meaningless because of it. If they just stopped the process by which they are taking our time, I think we’d all be better off.

Where’s my cave. I have some paintings to make. They tell a very different story.

And yet…at work the ghost of Edouard Levé was haunting my mailbox. So there is that.

possible kalopsic casualty

Last night I swam in a sea of almost-sleep, drifting in and out of almost-lucid dreams, all of which evaporated upon waking. It was the fan, I think. The fan instead of the A/C. What was I thinking. The Siren song of dropping humidity dripped its sugar-sweet serum into my ear holes. Damn you Weather Sirens. It is Wednesday now. My bird-of-the-day calendar displays a sleek Green Kingfisher. I replaced the bulb above my office plant. We are getting new green carpet; it smells bad and looks like it was torn out of some swinger’s 1960s basement rec room. I cringe at the thought of it creeping in all molester-like into my personal office space. My feet will never be the same. Violation! Violation. I am listening to the liferaft again. So help me, I cannot help myself. Do you know what I mean. Do you. Do you really know. I attended a meeting this morning. I was 9 minutes late on account of I was waiting for the coffee to stop brewing. Also my coworker and I were busy trash-talking the last 4 years of our professional lives. I am back to drinking too much coffee again. But I drink the special tea after lunch to try and repair the damage. It appears to work, but maybe not since there was the almost-sleep and that is a heavy consideration. I am eating my lunch now and not smoking a cigar. But I bet that guy is. I’ll bet he is. The liferaft has segued into the bedside table. That is where I keep the 5 books I am currently reading, most of them Kafka-related. But there is Jung, too. And Tessimond. All of my dear friends stacked in a pile within easy reach. With my Moleskine. Sigh. Last night while out walking Farley we saw a cat. It was not a metaphorical cat that might or might not be in a box, dead or alive. It was a real cat and Farley was interested. He stared under the car long after the cat had run back across the street. I want a cat so bad. Nearby to where I live a train went off the tracks in the dead of night. Two college girls were up on the bridge tweeting photos and they were buried under a mountain of coal. They died. I’d like to think this exposes the ills of social media, but I’m not sure. I feel bad about this. That’s why I listen to the liferaft so much. It makes the sounds that I feel inside most of the time. I am perhaps a blurred model of myself. I walk outside and brush my hand against the lavender blooms and surreptitiously sniff. Hey, it’s that guy who is always sniffing his hand. Yes, that is me. I enjoy touching things in nature that look soft. I find them irresistible. I find much of what is around me irresistible. The rest of it can fall off the planet for all I care. The Internet ruined my concentration. I enjoy chasing rabbits of information down their hidey holes. That is really what I do. Often. Sometimes I pass on what I find to others. Sandy Berman taught me that. He is a good man. We used to write letters back and forth. I was an over-excited new library school student. Now I just search for stuff on the Web. My idealism is easily trod upon into a gross paste that I plan to smear on the molester carpet when it arrives leering and panting outside my office door. What you don’t know is that I was just outside touching the lavender. Literally. Between that one sentence and the next. What do you think about that. My hand smells so fucking good right now. Outside there was a truck with bins on the side dispensing free energy bars. The orbs and their blobs were shoving their fleshy flaccid fingers in those bins so fast. But they are healthy nutrition bars. Ha! That is a fucking good trick! I feel so alive today. It made me walk fast. Surf the mania. I am 100% alive and 100% dead ALL THE TIME. I am petting the cat and its back is arched. I’m an out-of-the-box solution, suckers.

foregone conclusions foreclosed on

In the morning I ride my bike with reckless abandon. It is my time, sometimes my only time. Today I met a friend. These things happen, on occasion. We talked as we rode downtown together. Without a bike I’d be lost. When I step off the pedals, the next 8 hours blur past. [Sit and click. Sit and click. Clatter of keyboard.] My friend must leave again. Plans did not materialize. Alternate plans were made. But he must leave to complete them. It’s sad. He was glad to be back. And now he must go. It’s not easy to uproot and grow roots somewhere else. These things take time. I know. Sometimes you get lucky and it’s easier, but sometimes the soil is dead and grey. I hope he may return someday, though I may be gone if he does. I hope I’m gone. This city wears me down. My roots are dry and withered.

The other day Em Ell and I met a cat. He was outside our back door with a long-ago torn ear. He was small, grey and white with a narrow face and yellow eyes. A friendly cat. He rubbed on my legs and rolled on his back. I gave him food and water but he did not want them, at least not while we still stood there. He just wanted a little attention, like so many of us do.

I respect the subtlety of cats. It’s now been 8 months since cancer took my cat. It feels like much longer. Perhaps because I had lived for so long before her death with cats in my life. Now there are none underfoot and I miss them. A cat’s affection is a reward, something earned, not given out lightly. That warm, soft weight in your lap soothes much pain. And a litter box is such a tiny cross to bear in return. Maybe one day I’ll be lucky enough to feel that weight again.

Outside is grey and raindrops fall. Inside I too am grey. Though I can’t rightly say why.

hypothesis: mitt romney is a cat

Given that 2% of Americans think Mitt Romney’s first name is Mittens,

And that my childhood cat’s name was Mittens,

And that Mitt Romney’s first name is actually Willard,

And that my neighbor’s cat’s name is Willard,

I conclude that Mitt Romney is a cat.

There are two possible explanations for why he does not resemble a cat during public appearances. Either he is (1) a shape-shifter or (2) a cat in a man suit.

Please do not challenge me on this. I don’t want to hear it. Have a good day now.


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.

R.I.P. Fiznit, July 1996 – July 31, 2011

Fiznit, the Super Cat

Yesterday evening Em El and I made the decision to release Fiznit from the bonds of her cancer. On Friday she had received chemotherapy, but did not seem to be responding to the treatment. Two and a half weeks earlier she had undergone surgery to remove one of her front legs and her spleen, both of which were riddled with cancer. She had been recovering well until early last week when she stopped eating and began getting sick to her stomach. A blood test revealed that mast cells had returned in force. The chemo she received on Friday was her last option for a solid recovery. Unfortunately the cancer was too strong, and with the sensitive guidance of Fiznit’s internist, we chose to relieve her suffering for good.

We like to think that Fiznit is now reunited with her beloved brother Scratchy, her constant companion from birth until age 11, when he died suddenly of a heart attack. I like to picture them ecstatically rolling around together in a sunny celestial catnip patch of the richest shade of green.

It’s poignant how when you live with an animal for so long, their passing represents more than just the departure of a dear friend and family member. Both Scratchy and Fiznit were with me for much of my adult life up to this point. Now that Fiznit is gone, I feel like an entire era has ended. We often think of the closure of time periods in our lives as marked by events like graduations, leaving jobs, moving to new places, and sadly, the ending of relationships. But often our companion animals are a constant in our lives over the course of the opening and closing of many such time periods. Sometimes they are one of the few or even the only constant. They provide us with comfort, stability, and a warm familiarity that may otherwise be lacking.

I personally have experienced much pain and joy throughout the lives of both Fiznit and Scratchy. They were always there to remind me of the good times, though, and help keep me from dwelling on the bad. I can’t help feeling now, beyond just grief at Fiznit’s death, a deeper ache at the severing of this living tie to my past. She was with me through so much, and her departure leaves a hole of such depth that it may not ever completely close.

Fiznit was a special cat, very much an individualist.  Although she lived for a long time in the shadow of her larger-than-life brother, after he died she stepped forward and really came into her own. She became much more outgoing and  seemed to relish her life as the only cat (and pet) in the household. Although we talked about trying to find a companion for her, we felt that ultimately Fiznit wanted things to stay as they were. After all, no cat could ever replace Scratchy and she probably knew that.

Fiznit won over all the staff at the excellent referral clinic where she spent much of her final week. Her fighting spirit and persistent sass even when she was feeling down heartened those who were caring for her. We all know how horrible cancer can be, though, and in the end we felt we had no choice but to step in and help her surrender what had become a losing battle. Although we will continue grieving for some time to come, we also feel relief that her suffering has now ended.  Rest in peace, little Fizz. You will always be loved.

reverse weekend

This week I’m experimenting with the old “reverse weekend” concept. This is when you only work two days and take the rest of the days off, instead of vice versa. In my case, I’m currently finishing up a four-day weekend, gritting my teeth in anticipation of the next two days of work, before I sail off into a five-day weekend. It’s pretty exciting stuff. Mostly it just makes me realize that I’d be perfectly happy never going to work.

In other news, I came home from birding today to find a dead bird in my living room. WTF?? It was a Chimney Swift and it was lying right on the mat in front of the door. I have no idea how this bird got in the house, given that our fireplace is sealed shut with brick. Of course, it’s not unheard of for chimney swifts to pop down a chimney and end up in someone’s house. I mean, they LIVE in chimneys, or rather they build their nests there. Most everything else they do on the wing. But unless this one can pass through brick, I am mystified as to its presence in the house. Given that it’s highly unlikely that the bird came in the house on its own, I am forced to pin the blame on our neighbors’ cat, a known bird killer, and frequenter of our front porch. He has also been known to shove his paw through our mail slot, and so it would not be that great a leap to consider the theory that he shoved this bird through the mail slot. I mean, he does like us quite a bit, and spends at least as much time in our yard as in our neighbors’ yard. So perhaps he just wanted to give us a thank you gift. If it wasn’t so horrific it would be sweet. It’s times like this when you really wish your pets could talk. I am sure that Fiznit would have a lot to say about this dead bird. But she refused to comment.

Anyway, I have a local connection who traffics in dead birds, so I’m donating it to the Smithsonian.

the wind empties your eyes

Peer through the doorway to see the yellow light fall across the bed, cat curled up within the warmth of its rays. Recharging on solitude, or maybe just reverting back to it. Unfamiliar pangs of hunger appear after two days of illness. Mind is a mess of directionless chatter. Soon there will be work again, a sinking back down into the morass.

Daydream of the cloistered life: a seat in front of this window, a view onto this rooftop tableau. The players: a mockingbird and a pair of cardinals. The drama focuses on a small pool of water at the roof’s edge. Herky-jerky movements like puppets as each actor attempts to take a drink. Have you ever watched a mockingbird tip its head back and swallow? It is truly a sight to behold. A couple of juncos show up as stand-ins, filling out the stage with their sprightly steps.

My attention in life ever shrinking to smaller details, my eyes wandering farther the larger the concepts grow, my ability to feign interest sinking like an anchor into cold black water. The rooftops, the treetops, they catch and hold me, leave me breathless. A new shoot poking out from an aloe’s center stuns me. And always the music to sink into at times like this, a warm aural bath that clears the mind and calms the nerves. It doesn’t ask, only gives, already knowing how you need to feel.

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