Tuesday, September 24, 2013

We do the dance upon the plain...

Today we proudly (a little too proudly) present the sequel to last month's Sizzling Cicada Spectacle: THE BODACIOUS BUMBLEEBEE BONANZA.

So I was out in the meadow beneath the power lines today and caught a couple of bumblebees in the act. I'm no entomologist, but I know the bigger one is definitely a female (a future queen), while the smaller is definitely a male (who just buzzes off and dies now). And I'm learning that insects, despite their speedy busybody bustling around, seem to be really slow when it comes to mating (as it were). I had to wait a few minutes before the wind died down enough for a clear and unobstructed shot, and the bees hardly budged in the meantime.

But after the second or third snap (hey, when will I ever get a chance to take another picture like this?), the female exercised her queenly instinct and ducked away from the paparazzo's lens. When she took off, however, she carried the male with her, dangling from her thorax. They landed a few feet away and resumed their royal reproductive duties like nothing had happened. (Is resumed the right word? As far as I could tell, they were never interrupted.)

From a mammalian perspective, it seems peculiar and comical, but it makes perfect sense! When you're a small, squishable, easily-stirred creature who requires several minutes to give and receive gametes, you'll have a better chance of success if, when necessary, you're able to relocate to a safer position without putting the transaction on hold. Critters like us, enabled by our superior powers of perception and cognition to recognize a secure place and time from the onset, had less reason to develop coitus on the go capabilities over the course of our species' evolution. But can you imagine if we shared this ability with our fuzzy and buzzy brothers and sisters?!


No, I won't type what I'm thinking, but it might involve my lady friend and a game of miniature golf.

"Now take me to the next hole, my dear! Hahahaha!"


"Wait! Come back! You have my scorecard!"

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Another milemarker.

I turn thirty today. Thirty is the most unnervingly introspective birthday I've had yet.

Sure, sure -- age is just a number, but digits are as prone to Sapir-Whorf as any agglutination of letters. Once the two in the tens column tumbles into a three, it's never coming back. After ten years of calling yourself a twenty-something, you're suddenly not anymore; and when one of the attributes by which your identity is defined changes, your identity can't help but change with it. It's hard not to look at this as the crossing of a threshold.

No speeches today. No resolutions, no admissions of regret, no hopeful prognostications. Instead, a poem by Kenneth Koch:

To My Twenties
Kenneth Koch (1925 - 2002)

How lucky that I ran into you
When everything was possible
For my legs and arms, and with hope in my heart
And so happy to see any woman

O woman! O my twentieth year!
Basking in you, you
Oasis from both growing and decay
Fantastic unheard of nine- or ten-year oasis
A palm tree, hey! And then another
And another
—and water!
I’m still very impressed by you. Whither,
Midst falling decades, have you gone? Oh in what lucky fellow,
Unsure of himself, upset, and unemployable
For the moment in any case, do you live now?
From my window I drop a nickel
By mistake. With
You I race down to get it
But I find there on
The street instead, a good friend,
 N, who says to me
Kenneth do you have a minute?
And I say yes! I am in my twenties!
I have plenty of time! In you I marry,
In you I first go to France; I make my best friends
In you, and a few enemies. I
Write a lot and am living all the time
And thinking about living. I loved to frequent you
After my teens and before my thirties.
You three together in a bar
I always preferred you because you were midmost
Most lustrous apparently strongest
Although now that I look back on you
What part have you played?
You never, ever, were stingy.
What you gave me you gave whole
But as for telling
Me how best to use it
You weren’t a genius at that.
Twenties, my soul
Is yours for the asking
You know that, if you ever come back.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Early Autumn Abeyance

My contract at the Quaker center is up. As of last Friday I am unemployed and I'm kind of delighted. There's time now! I can finalize novel #2 and get to work on novel #3! I can finish those three or four short stories I have in the freezer! Maybe I'll do more Sisyphus comics! Perhaps I'll even get around to that MOTHER 3 writeup!

The situation isn't without its drawbacks, though. Sacrifices will have to be made. Tobacco, for instance. The longer I go without buying cigarettes, the longer the money pile will last, and the longer I can go without having to get another job. The prospect of attacking such a big stack of writing projects without the aid of nicotine isn't just daunting; it's really rather terrifying. But it must be so.

oh god i give myself another two hours before cracking

There's another thing I'd like to try abstaining from. Some years ago I called myself an information addict, and said it with some measure of pride. Now it's less of a boast than an admission of a problem. I'm rather compulsive in my Internet use: sitting down, punching in a URL without thinking, and then reloading the page every fifteen minutes in case of an update has become something I just do, even though I hardly get any pleasure out of it at this point.

So! I just installed a Firefox add-on that lets me block websites. You see where this is going, yes? I'm cutting myself off from my usual cyberspace haunts for a month. I'm not entirely severing myself from cyberspace -- just from the places I visit most frequently, and probably most unnecessarily.

Blogger.com will be one of sites I restrict myself from visiting. Needless to say, it won't be updated until early October at the earliest. (If I happen to draw any comics between now and then, they'll appear on the comics page.) I'll still be checking my email because I can't totally disappear, so drop me a line at beechleavesold at gmail if you'd like to say hi.

Now. There is much to do.