Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Coyote Man

Sitting at my table, with the windows wide, I hear my neighbor talking to the coyote, who has suddenly appeared in her backyard. "Come here, come here, my beautiful boy!" she murmurs. But I don't believe her; it's not a boy and she knows it. The coyote started coming around a few years ago, after her husband died, looking for handouts. I never thought about it before, but of course! It makes perfect sense. The coyote isn't a boy, it's her husband. 

My neighbor used to feed the wild animals at the edge of the forest during the war. As a young girl, she left bread crumbs behind, when the family was forced to flee as refugees. Here, on the edge of the city, she feeds the coyote, skunks, possums, stray cats, raccoons. She feeds three fat crows perched on top of her garage, carrying on like the Marx Brothers. They hop around, cawing ceaselessly, then down to the ground next to the bowl of cat food and chase the cats away. These crows are as big as dogs; the cats don’t stand a chance. 

At first i thought my neighbor must be feeding all the animals cat food, but the more I observe her, the more I think it's real meat. Tonight, for instance, i could swear she fed the coyote a steak, specifically a rib-eye. Her husband used to love those steaks.

After dinner, my neighbor comes out with a mat and places it on the grass. Come here, come here, she begs her husband and pats the mat. I think she's going to lie down, but she steps away. I turn my back and when i look again the coyote's lying on the mat licking its paws, giving my neighbor moon eyes, following her with his gaze around the yard. They're bonded to each other in a very deep way, these two. This man and wife.

At 7pm, the lights go out, another brownout up here on the city's edge. An hour goes by, it grows dark, I can't see a thing. Then as my eyes adjust, I see some shadowy figures take shape next door. The skunk that comes around this time of night, and the coyote a little off to the side, dancing around each other. Coyote sits still and watches the skunk freak out, with its tail straight up in the air. Skunk keeps one eye on the coyote and one on the food bowl. I’ve seen this dance before, the coyote letting the skunk come and go, not at all interested.

Perhaps the coyote has already forgotten his wild ways, although, if it’s true he's my neighbor's husband, he’ll rip your throat out faster than a surprised skunk can spray, faster than crows can caw, faster than a coyote can turn into a man and back again. I wouldn’t call that exactly tame. You can never be sure with wild animals.

Sketch for new show
(click to see full)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


"I wasn't doing any work that day, just catching up on my foot-dangling."

And so, Raymond Chandler's 1936 short story "Goldfish" begins. Marvelous! Who admits to foot-dangling? We're all in such a rush. And rushing around, doing all the things we need to do, does seem to be our MO these days? How to do everything we want to do in a given day, week, life? While running late yesterday, I made a list of how to economize on essential tasks, and not waste any more time.

1) Brush teeth while doing exercises. Comb hair while meditating (optional).

2) Save putting on clothes and shoes until you're driving; tie shoelaces while stopped at red lights, slip on pants upon reaching destination.

3) Don't bother to use articles while writing, such as "the," "a" or "an." Abbreviate words: abt, ard, btw, prob, tmrw, def, mtg, and abrvte.

4) Save New Yorker articles for cross-country flights. Make sure you go East at least twice a year so you can read the long ones.

5) Wash face once a day; clothes once a month; sheets only when standing (them standing, not you).

6) Facebook. A terrible time-suck. Decide strategy on how to proceed: peek, scroll, blurred focus, pin-point, or actually take time to read? NPR. Same. Does one really need to listen to stories about silver spoons or Moscato wine more than once?

NPR story on Moscato wine, 
appearing right after the defeat of the Voting Rights Act.
NPR, is this all you had? Really?

7) Do things you want to do, eliminate everything else (if you figure out how to do this, let me know).

8) Decide which political cause(s) need your attention: Guantanamo? Texas justice? (Last week, Texas executed its 500th death row inmate.) Florida? NSA? (According to Assange on Snowden, our government is listening in more than Nixon.) Egypt? Rest of Africa? Civil Rights? Education? The list goes on and on. What to fight? There isn't enough time. I just want to do my art! By the way, have you noticed how "art" contains the word "RAT!?"

9) Forget politics, try punching bag.

10) Write blog only when you have something to say!
Sally, Charlotte (with Monkey Doodle) and Janice

This summer I'm taking a printmaking class at Art Center—above, my first photographic print!—and getting ready for another art show. Although my blogging has slowed down considerably, The Rat's Nest will still be here to announce new work, make lists, report on neighbor (coming up), the occasional philosophical blather, and sometimes, like today, just for old time's sake—not a waste.