Thursday, April 26, 2007

Her Left Foot

No Cristy Brown here. Just a cat. My cat George. She came in from her early morning jaunt outside with a left hind foot dragging. Broken? Snakebit? Sprained? Worrisome because it was obvious to ignore and worrisome because I had $1.65 in checking. Did I mention I wrote a bad check for $56.00 at the vets???? This is the reality at the end o' the month for me here at DogPatch.

Ah. Well. Circumstances rolled in and allowed me to cover the debt with a few tuppence overboard. Not enough to entertain a bottle of wine, salad and a steak on an evening out, mind you. But one of the three post mentioned were to be had and uncorked.

Two shots for infection and inflamation. Aggravation at having to upset her on the jaunt. A smile from Dr. Marks. I would like to bill the despot cat next door for her med bills, or his owners who pay little enough attention to him that he feels he has to fight for rights here at Dogpatch. He beats the paen shit out of George on my very doorstep in his bid for dominance and I can only scare him away with insults and threats. I don't want to do physical harm you see. I'm not that kind of person.
I feed strays. Coons. Possums. Let outs on the roads for people who haven't heard that there is an ASPCA.
So. George endures shots of antibiotics, antinflamatories, and the bastard cat sashays across the fenceline. I am hoping that when the Vadamparampil's build their home on the lot between his and mine, the interloper will view the intercession as a foreign country and stay home.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Signed papers at the County Courthouse today. I'd rather have a root canal. Parking. Really? Is there anyplace that will allow a citizen due justice and the ability to get to IT without paying astronomical parking, a walk of a thousand leagues, or a convoluted journey three blocks over and one East? No.

My miasma started in 1996 when I was a struggling single mother of one trying to make ends meet in any fashion I could. I did arts and crafts shows. I worked a 9 to 5. I read cards. Let me explain. I displayed 90 percent extraordinaire fashions coupled with fabric art items. It was a good mix encouraged by my friend, Carol Gray.

I had just missed a sale that would have meant the difference between a pair of shoes and grocery money for the week for my still growing son. A man popped into my booth and offered me an out - accept credit cards, do it online and smile all the way to the bank. Trouble was, the company he represented had their heritage in the carpetbaggers of the post Civil War diaspora.

They leased me a machine that did not work, refused to fix it and sued me when I threatened to discontinue payments. I had a lien put against my old house.

Fast forward to last year - 2006. I'm trying to settle some realty issues and the lien comes up. I go online and find that the buggers are the worst of the worst! Their M.O. - to scoop in the stupid, sue their arses seven states away and then register a lien, knowing that the majority of the gullible will realize that money is of the essence.

Arrive the State Attorneys General from several states - the same embattled foes of today - who say that the company LEASECOMM has and had practiced unfair business miens. They were nasty and at fault. You can find the RICO findings online. I'm too tired to give them. So.

I disputed the lien. Filed for a Motion to Dismiss, and had to go to the Courthouse to sign papers. I call back Monday. I fought traffic. I got a parking spot. I'm hopefull.

On the way home, I passed one of those skeletons of businesses that open on a bad corner with high hopes. No one came. You know what I'm talking here. There are places on the Earth that no one needs to develop, put money into, dream and hope or strive. There are places that just need to be left fallow.

They can be fantasmagorically interesting in their decor. They can have money dumped into them from whatever source. There can be kleig lights and promotion campaigns and people putting flyers all over the city. But. Whatever starts there dies. And withers. No matter the involment or the enthusiasm.

I've seen these spots in many cities in every state of the Union (and some foreign) that I've visited. They are dead. Decapitated. gone from the cellular on down. I don't know what it would take to ennervate these spots. Maybe there's not enough energy on the face of the Earth. Maybe they are born dead.
So, Sign your papers and struggle with the nomenclature of law, the buggaboos and aggravati0ons of somehting else. But never bet on a dead horse that grows on a lot where weeds struggle. You know the ones.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Spring Fever

I have it. Both ways - figuratively and literally.

Went to see sweet old Dr. Torro Friday. He clucked and fussed and gave me a Z-Pack for my rampant throat infection and earache, along with the Sea Spray to rinse out my swollen sinus cavities. I've had a fever off and on over the weekend. Now I just feel like dick with fatigue and what the medicoes euphemistically term 'malaise'.

Malaise. Sounds like something to put on a sandwich between two slices of bread. Or something that could be cured with penicillan. Or the first part of a phrase which reads, 'Zee arse doesn't feel like moving off this couch.' But I did.

I went and snipped, and pulled Spanish Moss, and dead branches, and spoke to my front door plants who haven't seen much of me for at least a year. Depression and health have kept me indoors like a mole, or one of those recluses that live their entire life in a home with Reynolds Wrap over the windows and looking with fear from a peephole at the insanity of the world outside.

The day was one of those miraculous ones we have in Florida where the humidity forgets to roll in coating everything with hot, soggy moisture. It was balmy with the wind coming off the canal cooling the breeze. It was my first foray out. I'd hoped to go out a bit today but found my constitutioned cooled by the fatigue I'm feeling on my chest like a weight. My paranoid and hypochondriac side is whispering 'pneumonia', while my inner child yells, 'bullshit'.

I suppose I'll just have to give in to the fact that I cannot recoup the way that I did in my younger years. That means 'Yeild' just like the sign says, not 'Give Up' like I want to yell at those intersection hesitators who fear to enter that merge lane like a virgin holding onto her panties. Get out there and live, for hell's sake!

But before I give in, I think I'll go out and water the begonias and the daturas.
(The image above is by silk artist Leondard Thompson. His works just ripples with sensuality.)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Goodbye Mary Jane, Goodbye Heart

I’m changing the title of Rick Nelson’s song. Get over it.

You know the color of sun reflecting on water (fresh) about 6:30 on a June late afternoon? Yeah. That color. Goldy yellow. Imagine that color on near one hundred plus pounds of being, drenched in sun – nay, baking in it, sniffling the wind, guarding from terror that appears at the front door in the guise of a Zorro masked. A four-legged marauder or ratty tailed invader can’t get past her pest control at the door. Now. Amp it up to joy.

Joy at being able to go balls-out-to nothing, running with the wind at the park, loving the water so much that you have your own swimming pool where daily dips are de rigueur, in which you don’t so much swim as wallow in the cool – a necessity and nicety all wrapped into one – where you see your ancestry plying the currents before you in your mind’s eye.

Imagine that your Beginning Mother visits you ever so often in a benevolent sort of way, that you never lose sight of your roots, you know wherefrom you sprang. You great her with glee before she comes to the door. Think of loving. Think of routines so rota that they become ritual – cleaning out the cans before they go into the recycle bin, saying hello to Mr. Frogel next door, keeping the neigborhood dogs in check, paying special attention to the members of your extended family that you keep in your grace and help steer with your presence. You are, after all, a Rock.

Be reminded that you too have a child – wrinkled, wary, and foreign, a love child of mixed Continents. She is not to blame for the admix of a foreign daddy and further Eastern mother in her birth. She had no say in her begetting, her getting here. You just know that you love her as your own, your cub, and your offspring not gotten by pain, but by a red-haired woman, who absconded with her from a condemned life to bring her safely to you. Home. Like a loaf of bread tucked up under the arm and close to the heart. Home.

Blessed with many mothers, it was the wisest of these that let you know that this small outcast was your own. Not by heart, not by birth, does one become a Mother. It is in the doing of the thing. She told you that.

You waited for us to be to home from our jaunts. You collected us all together- the tawny haired woman who hugged you and gave you unbridled rides in the convertible, the doting and caring mothers who saw that your aging aches and pains were answered, the man next door that showed up in the nick of time as if called. All of us. You went on to check out the territory for all the rest, as always, our guide. Our greeter.

So. I will never forget your young and hopeful face that appeared at my door those fourteen or so years hence. I will never regret that I handed you over to two good and righteous and loving friends who had been on the lookout for you to come and came to retrieve you with biscuits and collars and without a doubt when I called and told them that I had their dog.

Goodbye, Mary Jane, Janie Marie, and all the other loving names that we’ve given you, lo, these years. I will miss your driveway greetings and the smiles you always had for me. We will ALL miss you.

May there be fields to run in, squirrels to chase, and no arthritis or strokes in heaven.

(Note: Janie was a huge and majestic Golden Labrador who found her way to my door almost fifteen years ago. I took her in and networked her to her new parents – Tary and Karole Peace. We spent yesterday and last night mourning her passing. If you don’t understand the bond between human and animal, go away. There’s no hope for you in the backlog of humanity.)

Sunday, April 01, 2007


I was ten years old the first time I saw God. This huge canal I live on was then just a creek that meandered for six or so miles draining into the Alafia River, then into Cockroach Bay which shelters fish nurseries and scallop beds.

I spent many hours there in defiance of my mother who extolled the dangers of those wild woods . She warned me about escaped prisoners who sometimes ran from the county jail downstream and hid there amid the palmettos. To her mind, those men were more to fear than the gators and snakes that she had come upon there when she defied her mother to go visit the creek in her youth.

Never saw any escaped prisoners. Me and the neighborhood kids once saw a body floating down under the train trestle when we'd gone down there to swim. We found out later that it was a drunk that stumbled into the creek and drowned out behind the Six Mile Creek tavern upstream. But nothing live ever appeared moving on two feet with steely eyes the color of stones bent on murder and mayhem to a child . So I continued to go. Mostly by myself.

There were small springs and pools surrounded with Louisiana irises, elephant ears big enough to use as an umbrella when brief, angry summer storms came up. Paths wound their way around stands of palmetto and water oaks, the sand sparkled in the sun from quartz or mica flecks like diamonds beckoning you on. Huge woody liana vines were a favored pastime to play a wannabe Tarzan. One of my favorite trees was a huge magnolia growing formally in the midst of all the gangly oaks. I loved the glossy leaves and would fashion a crown out of the dinner plate sized blossoms. I sniffed in the heady fragrance of them until my face was yellow with pollen and I was almost drugged from the rich smell.

Sometimes, I would just sit on the banks of the stream watching fish or making stick villages on the sandy paths. I knew how to pull young palmetto shoots to chew off the tender pink-white flesh on the root end and there were huckleberrys and fox grapes aplenty. Whenever things at home got out of control, I sought the comfort of that swamp.

My sister Lynda and me once went to cross the creek at Masaro's cattle crossing - normally just shin deep. But there'd been a hurricane three days before and we were swept away by the clawing current that had undercut the sandy bottom. We swan diagonally to the bank, catching a branch and then quickly letting go when the current occupant - a cotton mouth mocassin - objected with a hiss. We finally made the other side at a steep curve in the creek path, me pulling Lynn out of the water behind me.

She laughed the whole escapade through. I was a bit more sober for my three years on her and knew that we had been very lucky not to have been pulled into a gator hole or an undertow. I'd had my share of stupid living playing chicken on the train trestle that spanned the creek as it blew a frantic warning to my skinny, small form. I would dive into the waters when I could feel the rails vibrate and see the dust snake up from the heavy ties sitting on their bed of quartz rip-rap. I only did it a couple of times. News of a neighborhood boy who lost a leg while trying to jump onto a box car and ride down to his road somehow sunk home. I used to wonder if they ever found the rest of his leg and what they did with it.

Crossing Masaro's Dairy pasture was another wag at danger. If you timed it just right, you could cut off a good bit of leg work by cutting through the back corner. You had to ease yourself through the strands of barb wire and mind you didn't tear your shirt or your skin, both of which assured a march to the switch tree in the back yard. Mr. Masaro kept Brahma bulls in his herd for beef and they policed the pasture with a vigor to be admired by any Green Beret unit looking on any intruder as a threat to their territory and dominance over the few heifers peaceably grazing .

The trick was to time it so that the bulls were on the other side of the big pasture with their asses to you. You had to get through the barb wire fence on the quick and silent, high tail it the long block to the other fence, then skinny your way through that one before you were spotted. I once spent a miserable afternoon in a live oak with Brahma's grazing and farting below until their simple cow minds wandered them off to the far side of the pasture and it was safe to shinny down the tree and out through the fence to home again.

It was on one of these successful shortcuts that I saw Him. I was slowly and silently picking my way through the late morning sun along my favorite path. On both sides, palmetto fans waved in the dappled sun filtering through Spanish Moss beards in the trees above. He came out of a palmetto stand on the path before me, all dusky gold and brown and shining. His eyes glowed like amber. A long, pink tongue panted out his rhythm between sparkling white teeth that looked about a foot long.

He was a big cat, fully grown, sleek and fat. We both stood stock still, regarding each other. Six steps would have carried me to him, so close I could smell the musky fur, but I was still, quiet. I do not remember being afraid. I remember being in a place of awe. The wind stopped. The trees and branches absolutely fixed. The air danced with an energy I've seen so very few times since. I don't know how long we stood looking at each other, but it seemed like forever and a second.

A blink, then two, he just melted into the palmetto stand across the path from me and didn't move a branch or crack a twig under His big feet. After all, I was nothing to concern Himself over. Aware that something very special had happened to me, I felt privaledged. Knowing it was special and had not happened to very many people, I knew I could tell no one. I was also positive that despite my knowing that I'd spent a moment in utter holiness and divinity, an ass whipping would have awaited the disclosure and would surely have spoiled that moment.

I became obsessed with religion, God, divinity, the spiritual path. Sometimes my reading was uplifting. Other times, it was dark and morose. Mostly, religion was confusing.

I asked to go to the Methodist church next to my elementary school with Patty Brian and was allowed. I found disappointment there when I would here the message of brotherhood extolled at the pulpit and the petty sniping and gosip aimed at a poor family from my neighborhood. I went a second time to be sure that this confusion of Christian message, Hades behavior was indeed not a fluke and quit.

I am also saddened that such a majestic creature should be in the twilight of their lives with diminishing numbers hovering around 100 of them. Texas cougars have been introduced into the gene pool in hopes of replenishing the species. The offspring are lighter in color and much smaller than the big male I remember. Maybe it is because I was so small and thin.

Over the years, this sacred and special moment when I was indeed in the presence of something both graceful and divine has become incorporated into my spirituality. I don't think I've ever told the tale whole to anyone. It is my miracle, my introduction to sacredness. Now you have it. Trying to explain how and why I was so affected at such an early age would also somehow sadden the colors of it. Perhaps it will recall your first discovery of something sacred outside of yourself. So I'll leave it to you.

The art above is by Edward Bierly and can be puchased from the National Wildlife Federation.