9/11 again

My posts about 9/11 are now twenty years old. It's hard to think. And that I've had this blog for that long. There are three posts, one from the Pentagon the week of the attacks, one from the World Trade Center site, and one from Shanksville PA, slightly later. There are adults now who weren't born when this happened. It's weird to think that.


You can read them here.
  • Current Music
    the fan rattling away

I've missed so much.

Of all the art from this campaign -- well, there's so much of it that's transcendent, but this one hit me particularly hard. It's beautiful. Not sure if it should end up as an audio drama, as a comic book, or as a little, tiny chapbook.... (Drawing by Rebekka_Guðleifsdóttir)


By Jane-Rebecca Cannarella


The Sunrise and Stabatha

Two dragons lived in a nest at the top of the Provident Mutual Life Insurance Building, curled fire around a burrow of treasure in the dome of an abandoned neoclassical palace. Licks of living flames collecting scoops from every corner, dipping down onto West Philadelphia streets for their thieving. Building a pile from the pilfered glow to use as a pillow on 46th and Market.

They only had one child after generations of trying, a spigot of fire who smoldered like hiccups off a hearth. Their daughter was born during a spring storm, hail in every strand of her black and white fur, eyes yellow just like her parents. A preening princess, the kind of little kitten who only ever wanted to wear her Sunday best; she napped on the stone scales of the dragons. She chased the fireflies who lived in the treasure piles.

Stabatha was a Viking in feline form: a magical dagger of a cat.

***



Drawing by Rebekka_Guðleifsdóttir, you can click to make it larger.


The ghost pepper night of June 2020, the heat was a clumsy tiger pawing the dragons’ daughter into waking. In the stifling warmth of the evening, her stomach rattled like stone soup. And the want for wandering comes from being a beast born from slumbering stone-backed dragons.

Mischief is a lure that calls little cats out of their beds during very hot nights. Stabatha left the dragons, and their treasure, and the dome’s disrepair. Past the graffitied walls with the tags from people she knew as friends, past the corpse of a gazebo with a gutted turret, past the Aldi where she always forgot to bring her quarter for the shopping cart. She walked down the block from a haunted house obscured by a copse of black cherries, trees-of-heaven, oaks, and juneberries. She stopped to smell something interesting at 43rd and Baltimore, which turned out to be a discarded muffin that helped a bit with her hunger.

After touseling crumbs out of whiskers shaped like fishing line, she saw a quail loose in Clark Park looking for its covey. A loom of a voice rustled out of the pastel throat, and Stabatha darted into the grasses chasing the chip chip chip of the bird’s greeting.

She pursued the bird past the Gettysburg Stone, past the chessplayers, and through a meadow-y field where cloaked LARPers fought with foam swords--stopping briefly to hiss a ribbon of smoke at the pretend knights. The quail landed on the statue of Charles Dickens with his niece Nell, a collection in a curiosity shop.

So much stillness at the statue.

The covey: each bird a petal falling from a bouquet among the bronze, feathered flowers of the sky, and Stabatha: the daughter of fire monsters. Forever dressed for a feast with a belly made for volume, Stabatha swallowed each member of the flock whole, holding them in the home of her body.

***
She smoothed the down of her fancy white bib while the brood roosted in the wetness, a mottling collection of Jonahs calling to each other in the body of a whale-cat: chi-ca-go.

Stabatha sat on Charles Dicken and wet her lips.

In the damp of the humidity with a body full of poultry, she fell asleep on the weathered patina that reminded Stabatha so much of the armored flakes of parents’ backs. Eyes hot behind the closed lids, twitching.

***

The sweat of an almost morning woke Stabatha up in the den of Dicken’s lap, and she circled her ears and brightened her eyes to adjust to wakefulness. In the terracotta of a soon-to-be-dawn, Stabatha watched with backyard telescope eyes a moving silhouette, the atmosphere in motion.

A boy in jeans stood atop the back of chestnut gelding with a Sixers flag in one hand, the palm of his other extended to the sky; inhaling and exhaling with the shadowy lights of a day turning into itself. His feet in a climber’s pose, sure and adjusting to the mountain of the horse’s back, the calm that comes with welcoming. Strands of braided gold reached through the air, the universe’s necklaces.

In her looking, Stabatha could swear she saw the Milky Way’s eternity in the height of the moment while the darkness of night fell away like a heavy mantle--the same as the ones actors wore during twilighted evenings in that very same park who spoke words that sounded like words but not quite.

The flag rippled: small waves adjoining the distance between landlock and the sea. Peeking bright light crawled gently out of a dark socket, the exact kind of riches her parents’ loved to steal.

The earth moves the most in the morning, and the boy and the horse stood surefooted against the spinning, bringing the sun to rise. And only Stabatha with her throat full of game was there to see how the sun comes to her seat in the sky above Philadelphia, brought to her place in the heavens by a boy in jersey standing on a horse, Sixers flag in hand.

***

Horsemanship against the cement and cinder of buildings and sprigs of spicebushes; the day was carried to the city by the magic of a child atop a horse. After his task was completed, the boy on the gelding left the park for the sleep that comes with the silence of stables. Flag sailing out behind them.


***

So much flying in and all around her, Stabatha trotted back to 46th street. Past the apartments piped like cakes with pink and green, past the ghosts going back to sleep in the cemetery, past the trucks coming in overflowing with produce to park on 43rd street.


In the canopy of the dome, her parents greeted her back, anxious to hear where she’d been. Their lizard heads crossed like a heart, twined like pretzels. Yellow eyes met yellow eyes. And Stabatha, the story of how the sun rises above their burnished home--another golden glow for her parents to desire--was alive in her body.

Jittery with myth, Stabatha had a plan to steal the sun from the morning conjurer to keep their vault golden and warm like an electric blanket. How she would scare the boy’s horse to distract him from his magic, and then her parents could capture the golden disk of day.

Another treasure for them to take for pillow and pile.

Instead, when Stabatha opened her mouth to trill her tale, devious schemes for the fire family, squills and squawks escaped. Every time she parted her lips: a screech. The dragon parents shook their head at the pips while Stabatha put her paw to her neck and felt the interrupting companions; no throat clearing could push them out. A meal awry, alive within her.

The covey of quails in Stabatha’s roosted throat spoke from the hollow: chip chip chip.

Chip chip chip. Chip chip chip


Loud and pure-tuned the noise continued while the sun shone on each of the dragons’ scales.
  • Current Music
    the fan rattling away

thanks

I'm grateful to Jesse Nicole who wrote this essay about experiencing homelessness with cats in honor of Stabatha. You can follow Jesse on Twitter here.



By Jesse Nicole

You can know that you are going to lose one of your best friends, but I don't think you can ever be fully prepared for when it actually happens. Don't worry, this may be a bittersweet story, but i'd like to think that it is still, in its own way, a happy one.

I had 3 kitties- all rescues from when they were babies. Missy, the eldest, died very suddenly when she was 15 years old. I was devastated and shocked, but when I looked back at the events of that day, I realized that although I did not get to say goodbye to her, per se, she had, in fact, said goodbye to me, in her very unique, Missy-esque way, and I will always be grateful for that.
After having just Missy and I for a while, Frankie came along. He was no more than 3 weeks old, and abandoned. I had to bottle feed him and I was not sure he was going to make it, but I was determined to try and save this tiny boobieman. I think It was really the other way around.

Maybe a year later, Whisper showed up on my doorstep, maybe 6 weeks old. Welcome to the family, tiny, quiet void kitteh!...Oh, but she did not stay quiet for long at all!

These furbabies were (are) my best buds and a huge part of my life. I have had multiple surgeries, and they ALWAYS knew where they could and couldn't step/jump/nuzzle on my body when I got home. They were always so gentle, my little feline nurses!

I became homeless in December of 2019 and am SO thankful that I had friends who were able to take Frankie and Whisper in together til I finally found a place for the 3 of us to live. That took close to a years, and I was miserable without them, but happy that they were safe and well- loved by their aunties!
I have type one diabetes, and I called Frankie my "feline CGM" (Continuous Glucose Monitor) because he would alert me to a crashing blood sugar before my actual CGM device would. I don't know how he did it, but he did. without fail, and right up through his ending days. I am convinced that he was trying to teach Whisper to do the same, because she doesn't do it as regularly, but she does do it. It's quite amazing, really...

Anyway, we discovered that Frankie had a mass on his left hind paw and he was losing some weight right before he came back to stay with me. The vet said it was time, but I could tell that it wasn't and we got a 2nd opinion. He definitely still had life left in him, and I am forever grateful for that time.
We were told in September that it was time, and he was with us til early April... but at this point, we were fully in pandemic mode. Even when I brought him to the vet for a check-up, I wasn't able to be there to hold and comfort him. How could I take him to "say goodbye" and not be able to hold him, to rock him, to cry my eyes out? Not possible.

Thankfully, I was granted the opportunity to have a home visit for this, so I was able to be right there with him, and talk to him and tell him that I love him and thank him for being the best boy in the world. I am forever grateful for this. I know that not eveyone has the chance to say goodbye, and I am glad that I got to- because Frankie would have been 18 a couple of weeks ago, so really it was almost half of my entire life that I had him...that we had each other.

Now it is just me and Whisper against the world. Whisper is almost 17 and she definitely spent time being confused and wondering where her brother went. Sometimes i feel like he is still here with us, by the way she acts... she is such a good girl. She is such a weirdo and I love her. We are still in this pandemic at the time of this writing, and I have no idea when it will end, but I am super grateful for my purry, noisy, little floofy girl.
Losing our fuzzy family members is never easy, but once you can get past the sorrow and pain (and that can take a while, and THAT IS OKAY, NOBODY CAN TELL YOU HOW LONG TO GRIEVE) then you can start focusing on the good times, the funny things, the silliness, the smiles, the funny noises they made- any number of things that your sorrow made you cry about... now you can smile again.
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    grateful grateful

thanks

What if Maggie Fox and Charles Dickens teamed up to fight ghosts?

I found myself thinking that a couple of weeks ago when I did photos for the new Hedgerow Theatre production of "The Haunting" by Hugh Janes. It's based on some plays of Charles Dickens and I thought "well, why not do the photos like they were done at the time Dickens was alive?" and then "Why not do them as though they're the very photos that inspired Dickens to write these stories?" -- so, with way more backstory than is ever necessary, I set about to do that.

You can see the rest and buy prints of the photos here, which offsets the cost of Hedgerow having to pay me to do them. This allows me to work with smaller theaters with smaller budgets.

They look like this.....





Ghosts! you may Clickenzee to Embiggen!







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    Peter Murphy: Crystal Wrists

Mike Resnick

I was sorry to hear of the passing of Science Fiction titan Mike Resnick. He was one of the first really famous writers who said "yes" when I wanted to photograph people in the places that they wrote. This isn't where he wrote, but it was next to it. I was always interested in seeing everybody's collection of Hugo's too, obviously. He had a beautiful library and a really nice house out in the woods. He was nice to me although he really had no reason to be. His daughter, Laura, who's also a novelist, was very nice to me too and I'm glad to still know her.





Click here to see this image larger






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Today was the last Roswell Day, but that's fine.

Roswell has left the building.

But don't be sad. This is still a very happy story.

This morning Roswell had a very swift downturn and she was purring and with us when she died, thirteen and a half years after she showed up on the back porch, filthy and with her eyes swollen shut. Over the years she was a thing that absorbed, amplified, and radiated unconditional love, and I'll miss her. I'm only sad for selfish reasons and I'm only sad a little bit. Mostly I'm grateful -- not so much for the time we had together -- but rather the time we had together knowing that the clock was running out. I'm so grateful that we had the time to live those days as though each one was the last. And I'm glad for how much she was able to impact other people's lives for the better in the time she had.

All in all there were 379 Roswell Days, each one the best day of her life filled with love and attention and, occasionally, food. I don't feel the need to memorialize her because I did that a year ago when I thought she was going to die.

In the past year, she's had people come from Scotland, from California, from Florida, from Canada, from Oregon, from Kentucky, and from just down the street to say hello and goodbye and make her feel special. She survived life on the streets, meningitis, diabetes, asthma, and cancer. She was a very lucky cat who stretched all of those nine lives as far as possible.




One of the first photos of Roswell after she came in, July of 2006.
You may clickenzee to EmCuten


How to be a better Cat Dat

I spent a lot of time in her last year wondering how I could do better by her and these are what I'm left with.

1) (most important) Never be mad at anything just because it loves you. When claws go into your leg, when someone wakes you up by sitting on your head, when someone wants to be picked up, when someone follows you around mewping or claws your nose at 5 am, don't get impatient, don't shout, don't push. Remember that's all they have to say they want to be with you.

2) Never leave a meow or a tap unanswered. If you can't reach out and touch them right away because you're carrying dishes, answer with your words and follow up with a touch when you can.

3) All requests for petting must be answered with petting. This is meows, leg rubbing, lap sitting.

4) The minimum amount of time for petting is 10 seconds. Count to ten. Don't scritch & go. There will be some day you'd give a lot for ten more seconds. Enjoy it now.

5) Always make space and recognize when she wants to be with you. When you're on the sofa, or in the comfy chair, or at the computer; make space. I put a chair next to my computer chair for Roswell to sit in, it's pushed right up next to mine so we touch. If she climbs up on the keyboard, I put her on the chair. She's happy enough.

6) Always be thinking "Can I make her happier? Can I make her life better?" She's a cat. She can't do stuff on her own, like open cans or turn on the Youtube Birds Eating Seeds channel. Sometimes you need to intervene.

7) Never use your size or fear to get what you want. Don't chase her away from something -- a table, a dish, a door, -- rather give her a reason to come to you. You should always be the thing of love, never the thing of fear.

8) When it's time to go, it's time to go. Don't linger on the last decision because you can't imagine life without them. Imagine instead their life without pain.

Remembering Roswell

On the anniversary of her cancer diagnosis we threw her a party which we called Day of Gluttony, Night of 1000 Cans where we invited some of her friends to come over, bring their favorite foods, and celebrate by eating. Roswell got to eat as many cans as she wanted and we livestreamed the whole thing. Six hundred people tuned in to watch.

I think this is a great way to remember her. You can watch it here. It's the best party I've ever been to.





If you want to do something to memorialize her and you can, adopt or foster a cat. If you can't do that, you can click here to donate to City Kitties the group that helped her when she was a kitten. If you can't do that -- make every day a Happy Roswell Day for a person or animal in your life. You can also get some Roswell art from M.C. Matz and think of her every morning while you drink coffee.

Have a Roswell Life everyone.

Thanks for being a part of our lives. If you have a favorite Roswell story or an idea about how people can do good in the world, let us know in the comments.



Hayley Rosenblum videotaped Roswell eating some nori earlier this year.





Typical day in the life of Roswell. You may clickenzee to EmCuten







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Updates

Roswell seems to be doing ok, almost a year out from her diagnosis. So yaay. trillianstars just finished starring in Tartouff at Hedgerow and has some time off. This Saturday, November 9th, we're party of the marathon reading of Moby Dick at the Independence Seaport Museum. Trillian and I are reading chapter 17, The Ramadan, we start at 5:00 I think. Maybe we'll see you there.
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    accomplished accomplished

Just stuff

Things have been tooling along pretty well. Roswell is still with us -- fat and happy and doesn't seem to know she has cancer. So we're taking every day as it comes and celebrating each moment we get together.

Couple of book projects in the works mostly all of which are at places in development where they're out of my hands right now, so I don't really know what to do with myself.

I did go see Babymetal and they were awesome.

Apart from that, not much to report.




Clickenzee to EmMetalen!












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    babymetal: karate

September 11th will come every year forever.

My posts about 9/11 are now ninteen years old. It's hard to think. And that I've had this blog for that long. There are three posts, one from the Pentagon the week of the attacks, one from the World Trade Center site, and one from Shanksville PA, slightly later. I think the thing I wonder most now, after all this, is if you could ask those hijackers now, "do you think you made things better?" What would they say?


You can read them here.