I arose early enough to get to the office at a reasonable hour.
Work went fairly swimmingly, and I was out by one thirty.
A quick cafeteria meal at Furr's, during which I read in our local alternative, the Dallas Observer, about local self-publishing authors who use "print on demand" services. The article made the point that this mode of publication requires the writer to do his or her own marketing. Somehow, I thought this was the whole point, but the author of the article thought it a new revelation. In the future, we will none of us be famous for fifteen minutes, but our books will be available on amazon.com.
I managed to get an MCLE compliance thing done, and then headed to the Garland branch library near my office. I returned three books, renewed two others, and settled up the fines for the interim time in which I was not in a state of current library check-out. I figure that even with fines, libraries are cheaper than buying books. I stopped by an estate sale in a tiny brick ranch house, where I bought for 50 cents a group of stationery and for 2 dollars a fancy nut tin with Chinese painted images on it which was designed in NY and made in England about which I had Antiques Roadshow fantasy but which in fact I will no doubt sell on ebay for about what I paid for it. The stationery included little cards of "falls under Wailea", which looked almost exactly like something my late Grandmother might have had, though she had never been to Hawaii, and I thought of riding in her blue Cadillac Calais amid overpowering 1940s era perfume and being given a dollar to buy "cowboys and indians".
As I headed off towards home, I noticed once again the little sign with the binoculars on it, the "international symbol" for "wildlife viewing". I went down the road a piece, and saw the Garland Woodland Basin Nature Preserve, to which I'd never been before, though it is less than five minutes from my office. I parked in the lot, near the woodland trail. Then I noticed that the trail had a sign "closed for repairs". There is something about the natural world being closed for repairs I find entirely apt, and yet it was still frustrating. Fortunately, another trail
lead by the little river-like bit of some broad bit of river or swamp like waterway which bordered the park. I crossed under willows, past three fisherpeople, and on down the heavily weeded trail.
At one point, I saw velvet ants. Velvet ants look like giant ants, but they are wasps. They are simply beautiful, generally being wingless, with a look of red or purple plush velvet. They look like something out of a fantasy book about ants. They could be stars in Disney films. In fact, I believe that a boy's coming of age is not particularly tied to a personal intimate experience, to a bar mitzvah, or to any of the other commonly cited touchstones. In my childhood, the day on which I became a man
was the day I tried to pick up a velvet ant, under the mistaken belief that it was, well, an ant. The velvet ant, apparently miffed at being picked up, seemed to squirm ant-like in my fingers. Then, with a quick motion that I saw in slow motion, just like in a Sam Peckinpah violent movie, the velvet ant uncovered a hitherto undiscovered stinger, just like a giant thumb tack of maturation substance, and piked my thumb with it. The resulting pain ushered me from callow youth to clueless adulthood far better than any Summer of 42 scenario could ever have done. I learned that all that is velvet is not really velvet. I howled with a sensation that was definitely a coming of age, certainly a much different howl than a young man in a movie gets to experience, and perhaps a rude awakening as well. Today, though, I saw the velvet ants for the professors of Experience that they are, and left their lesson for others to learn. I just admired their incredible red bodies, so colorful, so cinematic. A few even had wings, which I thought velvet ants never had, so I must read up on my wasp lore to figure out when velvet ants have and then don't have wings.
For some reason, the narrow trail surrounded by plush weeds was alive with butterflies. I saw sagebrush and monarchs and sulphurs. Sadly, fisherpeople had strewn the way with empty bait cartons, beer cans and the like. People make such a mess of things sometimes. The stream was gorgeous, though, almost swamp-like. I kept looking for mangroves and gators, but we are too far north and all I saw was a single small snake swimming across the way. I carefully dodged the liberal quantities of poison ivy and poison oak along the trail ("leaves of three, stay away from me"). I had a really nice walk, after which two of the fisherpeople allowed as how the idyllic setting did not lead to idyllic fishing.
They seemed unimpressed that I'd seen so many gorgeous butterflies.
I stopped for gasoline at a Chevron which was playing a wonderful
Natalie Merchant song I don't know, and I thought how she is aging oh-so-graciously since those early 10,000 Maniac days when their concerts involved a lot of Ms. Merchant stopping up one ear by the monitor to try to check her pitch (which was comforting, because it is the only way I can ever check my own pitch), as well as complaining as vociferously as any non-smoker can about the travesty of singing in hazes of clove cigarettes. In fairness to her, it probably is a travesty. I'm one of those very straight edge people (excluding single days matter of the heart, in which I might instead be described as "lacking edge"), but I love the smell of clove cigarettes. It is really too bad they have pneumosomething or other spores in them. But for a non-smoker, I still "get" travesty.
Suddenly, mid-reverie, a robotic female voice interrupted the song to tell me that Chevron wanted me to drive carefully because they cared about me, and I thought to myself if they really cared for me, they wouldn't interrupt good songs with robotic, if probably human, voices burbling on about my safety belt.
After I took a nap, my wife suggested we beat the crowds with an early dinner at San Miguel, the wonderful Tex/Mex place up in McKinney. We made it there in time not to have to wait. I have a fondness for mariachi music, but I did wonder how many times in Tex/Mex restaurants the song "Guadalajara" has played--a million, perhaps. I also wondered at how I only know the portion of the lyric about how Guadalajara is on el plano or el llano or something like that. I could use a trip to Guadalajara about now, to the Plaza de los Mariachis, where my wife could drink Tres Equis and I could drink Orangina, and mariachi would flow freely as wine. We'd go to the mezzanine of the Ballet Folklorico on Sunday, and watch the Dance of the Old Men, wooden shoes clanking away. Life is probably a Mexican mariachi movie about a grand Ballet Folklorico, but I just don't speak quite enough Spanish to get the story down right.
We went to McKinney's Towne Lake Park, where an immature heron was fishing in the lake, like a student at a modern dance class, stretching in the weeds. We discussed how we should rent a pedal boat sometime, but I find that discussing such a rental is far more effective as recreation in some ways than actually renting one. After we circled the lake, liberated from despair by a cool breeze, we stopped by the next door movie theater. We had decided to see what was about to start next, and go to the least distasteful choice.
We tend to avoid opening weekends, but to our surprise, tickets were readily available for a showing of the new Austin Powers movie. I won't discuss the movie much, other than to say it was a good if feather-light watch. The popcorn was good. Nothing was as cinematic as the velvet ants, though. Mike Myers should check into velvet ants for the next sequel. Then we came home, where I discovered that the second nervousness.org member accepted my offer to exchange a scrapbook of photos, bad art and poetry for anything odd and wonderful. I will have to get a second scrapbook--I have tons of photos worth pasting into a book in my photo box, and will write and MS Paint the needful remaining items.
I am happy that I was productive. Tomorrow I want to finish the music mixing, get scottm's CD off for duplication, mail off a couple of things I've promised to mail but have not (got 3 such mailed off today), and finish reading Rebecca and perhaps Paloma. Oh, and see a beautiful stretch of Texas prairie right out of a movie. I am never at home in a film so much as when I am out in the wild, and nature is "like" a film.