Category Archives: Photography

Nighttime Drama: A Winged Quaker Home Invasion??

We had been thinking that our cat, Her Excellency Katherine (informally “Kitty”), was slowing down in her work of capture and bringing in prey. She has snagged mice, rats, voles, various birds, and even baby snakes.

Many of these captives have escaped alive, partly because Kitty is a good hunter but a clumsy killer, and often due to the skilled intervention by the Fair Wendy. She has become increasingly expert at steering the creatures out an open door, or snaring them in a red colander, clapping a cloth over it and taking them outside. The maneuvers are perhaps inelegant, but effective. I’ve even snatched up a few wriggling black snake hatchlings & tossed them into the garden.

Monday night though, Kitty burst in with something very much alive, quite eager to resist, bird-sized and winged. As it flapped above and around us, Kitty chased it through the kitchen & living room, and we two-legged residents sprang into action.

Perched on a coat, it was 3-4 inches long, as big as some birds.

Wendy grabbed her magic colander, and I followed, camera in hand.  When the prey landed on a coat hanging on a rack, I got a clear shot: it was a large moth, mostly gray.

Gray and determined. Soon it was back outside, leaving Kitty to wonder how another of the snacks she hoped to parade for us and maybe share, had somehow eluded her grasp. But as she calmed down, my attention turned to identifying the moth, the first such creature she had presented.

The Fair yet dauntless Wendy, magic colander in hand, prepares to make her moth-saving move.

Google helped, as did sites such as preserving-butterflies.org; and Moths of North Carolina. Their photos and taxonomies soon brought both similarity and a plain surprise:

Hello — meet the Quaker Moths.

No, I’m not making this up; and I had no earthly idea. In England, they’re mostly called Common Quakers, which I admit, frankly rubbed me the wrong way. But those are found mainly across the pond. In North America, more, er, common is the Distinct Quaker moth.  Indeed. Here is a list of the Quaker moths confirmed as sighted just in our own Durham County (there are 99 more, counties that is, in North Carolina).

Hmm. Gray Quaker moth? Intractable Quaker moth? If they were reincarnated upright with two legs, I’d say I distinctly recall being   on committees with them, or at least their karmic namesakes.

Was the moth that Kitty brought in one of those?

I’m not entirely sure. Bordered Gothics are another suspect, but they’re evidently not found in the USA.

If any reader is a moth aficionado and can help nail down this ID, we’d be grateful.

Personally, among non-bird flying things, I’m partial to butterflies; moths have often had a spectral, otherworldly aspect. But even with all the flowers in our now wild yard, butterflies have been very scarce this summer. And this particular visitation wasn’t expected by either us, or for that matter, the moth.

Similar, but “Not from ‘round here.”

If I were a fantasy writer, I’d now be spinning a plot about Quakers being snared by some shapeshifter wizard and turned into oversized moths, then conscripted into a bizarre crusade against the Border Gothics, which will turn out badly for all (a sort of Lepidopteral Game of furry Thrones), unless they can be rescued and returned to their normal form as flitting committee-goers.

Hmmmm. Needs some work. But it’s hardly less weird than what the cat dragged in.

Eighteen Years & Counting

Eighteen years ago yesterday (or maybe it was today; dates get fuzzy), we had a fire in the attic at Quaker House: very old wiring got overloaded.

When the firefighters arrived that night in late January 2004, one fire was out. But another one was about to start.

We were lucky, though. Our friend Sean Crane was visiting, and he raced up the attic stairs with a fire extinguisher. By the time the engines got there, it was pretty much just smoke.

But it was a scare. I was relieved to fall asleep late that night, still in the house, seemingly safe.

Wendy working on a banner for a big peace rally in March 2004. This was part of our courting ritual.

There was another visitor in the guest room: Wendy Michener, who had joined the Quaker House board a few months earlier.  She had been doing anti-Iraq war activism for a year and more, and had visited several times.

There had been some intriguing vibes gathering around that, and maybe the fire was a kind of signal. When I came into the room, her eyes popped open and she reached out her hand.

Wendy, 2017. Did I mention her hair?

I took it, slid under the covers, and we’ve been an item since. Eighteen years today, give or take some calendar/memory slippage.

For another year, she was in a small apartment in Raleigh, and I went up & down Highway 401 frequently.

I don’t understand much about women,  but followed one hint I’d picked up somewhere, from an astute if politically incorrect dude, namely: “Chicks dig flowers.”

So I started  bringing her the small sprays a nearby market offered for $2.50 a pop. (I’m still bringing them, tho inflation and aspiration has raised the price.)

Then in early 2005 she got a message that she should move to Fayetteville, to pursue her career as an architect.

I was way glad to have her there, but dubious about her job prospects. Yet her intuition turned out to be right: she soon found work, and still had many occasions for peace actions as well.

I put this Pennsylvania Dutch Good Luck hex sign up when we moved in. So far, it’s working.

Come late 2012, I stumbled on my 70th birthday, and it was time to “retire.” The Durham housing market was still at the bottom, I found this little place and got a deal.

(Now the gentrifiers are sending me letters offering three times what I paid; to which I say, not just “No,” but “Hell, no!” God willing, when they take me outta here, it will be straight to the great beyond.)

The latest book, a collection of speeches from a fine, departed gay Liberal Quaker.

But in the meantime, I keep busy, churning out books, stirring the occasional pot, taking pills and doting on my nearby progeny. The pandemic has been an international disaster, but hasn’t crimped my routine that much.

A sunny day, the open door, and a crossword puzzle.

Meanwhile, Wendy is building a busy architecture practice.

And now it’s been eighteen years. I have many blessings. Wendy’s companionship has been at the top.

Hoping for many more of these fresh bouquets . . . .
Great-granddaughters Ava and Scarlett. Maybe America DOES have a future.

Arthur Fink: Quaker Photographer, 74

Friend Arthur Fink, who told acquaintances he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, has passed away. The obituary below is borrowed from the Portland Maine Press-Herald:

Noted Peaks Island photographer
Arthur J. Fink dies at 74

Arthur Fink, at work. Or making art. Or maybe doing both.

He had an enduring connection to the Bates Dance Festival, where he served as resident photographer from 2005 through 2017.

Updated April 26 2021
By Dennis Hoey Staff Writer

Arthur Fink, photographed in December 2016. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Arthur J. Fink, a noted Peaks Island photographer who maintained a longtime connection to the Bates Dance Festival in Lewiston, died last week. He was 74.

Fink died Wednesday, April 21, , but no other details were provided in a notice posted on the Jones, Rich & Barnes funeral home website. Fink revealed in a Facebook post last month that he had received a “likely diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.”

On his website, Mei Selvage, research director at Gartner Inc.; information technology executive in enterprise information management, said “Arthur Fink is a multi-talented person with fabulous creativity and heart-warming compassion. His talents, and his dedication to foster creativity and to nurture creative communities, are well known in Maine. He is a creative photographer, a highly experienced IT consultant, a visionary who wants technology to be simple and usable, and somebody who serves for-profit and non-profit organizations alike by asking incisive and helpful questions.”

News about his death spread quickly in the arts community, with friends and acquaintances posting messages and fond memories of him on social media. Continue reading Arthur Fink: Quaker Photographer, 74

A Visit to Debbie’s House

This is a Megabus, seen from the upper deck pretty far back. It’s heading from Fayetteville, NC to Durham NC, just after dark Saturday December 7, 2019. This ride finished up a long and full day for me.

The day started with a chilly sunny gathering at the cemetery of the VA hospital in Fayetteville.  I joined in with nine other stalwarts huddled around the grave marker for Beryl Mitchell, for the 12th in a series of annual outdoor gatherings.

Beryl Mitchell, has been here since 1974. That December she was murdered by her Army Green Beret husband on Fort Bragg, and she lay here in an unmarked grave until 2007. (More about Beryl Mitchell & her tragic end  here.

Christine Horne, at Quaker House

That autumn, Beryl’s daughter, Christine Horne, called me at Quaker House in Fayetteville, asking for help with planning a proper memorial for her mother, including the placement of a formal marker. In turn, I asked for help from the kick-butt feminists of the Fayetteville Chapter of National Organization for Women, and we did help. They are a remarkable group, and have been for decades, (They were social justice warriors long before SJW was cool.)

At the conclusion of the memorial, a group of us gathered at the new marker with a wreath and released a bunch of lavender helium balloons.

The whole experience, while very solemn at one level, was also exhilarating for us all. And we decided that those of us who could, would regather there yearly and remember Beryl, and the many other victims of domestic violence against women, both generally and especially in connection with the military.

I missed this meetup the last two years, and was determined to be there this time. It was a bigger deal for me to get there now, due to health problems which prevent me from driving, along with the general complications of life. But I made it. (That’s me holding the round NOW sign.)

Also there, with other old friends it was wonderful to see again, was my particular buddy Debbie. (She’s in the middle, in the black tee shirt with the peace sign, and the windblown hair. It was cold.)

From the cemetery we went to a leisurely lunch, and then Debbie took me to her house to chill for awhile until the Durham bus was due. On the way, though, she made a detour to a friend’s place where  an acquaintance had rescued a possum with pups, and asked Debbie to add it to a menagerie in her mini-wildlife preserve/backyard, which she was glad to do.

Debbie has lived on the outskirts of Fayetteville for decades, on a sprawling lot with many trees, with her husband Chuck (that’s Chuck Liebers, not to be confused with Chuck Fager). They’ve raised several kids there, who are all out of the house now.

Debbie is relieved to have the children elsewhere, but she’s hardly finishing raising things . Besides a flock of chickens, a couple of dogs, cats here & there), there’s now the brood of possums (their preferred cuisine, even the little ones, she tells me, is raw chicken wings, of which they eat every bit).

Debbie has also raised considerable hell hereabouts: domestic violence is but one of her many issues. We’ve already seen her concern about domestic violence, and there’s lots more; we’ll mention a couple presently.

Indeed, one appeared not long after my arrival, when I looked up at a TV screen as we settled in what she calls the Daddy Shack, and saw this brand new report:

I thought at first I might be hallucinating, but others (and my camera) confirmed that it  was for real.

Well, with politics out of the bag, and those of us remaining confirmed liberals, I also showed them this new ad, the first “Liz-mas Carol,” which is rapidly going viral, and, regardless of candidate preference, I think is hilarious:

In fact, by Saturday night, there was a second “Lizmas Carol” up, which you can see here  to the tune of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” if you want additional guffaws.  (Speaking of Saturday Night, the highly paid SNL crew will be very hard-pressed to produce more laughs in its cold open than 45 and the Lizmas Carolers did today, likely both for free. UPDATE: They flunked.)

Anyway, if there was any doubt, finding a new occupant for the White House is tops on Debbie’s agenda; there’s no getting around it, but we won’t dwell on it here.

As the clock swept toward time to go, I strolled around Debbie’s back yard to get ready.  And I kept seeing very interesting stuff.  Like this sign & shrine, with its cat-headed Buddha turning his back on a ringing endorsement of science. Debbie used to be a churchgoer, but she quit a few years back, and says she feels “much more spiritual” now.

Debbie’s place is something of a hoarder’s stronghold, but one which includes a developed, if freewheeling sense of design. The camera came out again when I spied an old wringer washer posing amid a copse of bamboo, it joined the lineup.

When I turned, Debbie’s board fence was revealed to be home for a display for loads of more or less antique tools.

Then a section of the back wall . . .

. . . caught my eye, as it had been made another shrine of sorts, melding sun gods with a slogan tree.

There was lots more, but no more time; Megabus called. I’m sorry I missed the sign at the end of the driveway advertising eggs for $3 a dozen hard-gathered from Debbie’s pampered poultry flock. I need to ride the bus back soon and get another array of photos. I puttered over these most of the way back on the bus, shown here passing under the neon bridge that marks entry to downtown Durham . . . .

. . .  All this kaleidoscope seemed to flow together naturally somehow, a day beginning with death, segueing into conviviality, which showed up politics as having crazy comedic aspects, and down-home art all around. Hope your weekend turns out as well.

The Art of Fearlessness! Many Events Planned – Including on May 27 at Spring Friends Meeting NC

Saturday May 27 at Spring Friends Meeting in Snow Camp NC (Details below).

It’s a “campaign” of Quaker events linked by a common theme, under the umbrella of the Fellowship of Quakers In the Arts:

Here are some visuals from local “fearlessness” events . . .

Kalamazoo, Michigan was on it . . .

Continue reading The Art of Fearlessness! Many Events Planned – Including on May 27 at Spring Friends Meeting NC