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; 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.