Category Archives: al-Zill


Blood.  Puss.  Missing hair.

More than that, though.  Much more.

Sometimes unable to walk correctly.  Rapid movement, like running or leaping, even more dangerous, haphazard, shaky.

I watch him closely.  He lives on my patio now, or near it, and has for more than week, so watching is easy.

It’s also painful.

The wound on his head is deep, severe, a gash through to the skull.  Maybe deeper than that, I think, if the symptoms are any indication.

And another on the back of his neck.  The hair seems intent on remaining absent, a spot of bare skin with an equal on the other side, a perfect match for something attacking and choosing that spot for carnage.

But the head wound bothers me most.

When he tries to run, it’s all scrambling and slipping.

When he walks…sometimes…it’s all falling and stumbling.

Ear torn from the attack, I’m sure, as it appeared at the same time as the other wounds.


But he remains sweeter than honey, wrapping himself around my legs at every opportunity, rubbing against me like sandpaper in a woodworker’s hand, always eager for affection.

Still, the worry remains.

I first thought he had rubbed against wet paint, what with the smear of color across his head.  Only after a bit of time did I realize it was a sign of infection, puss rubbed across his ear and eye, a beige indication of the wound I had not yet learned to appreciate.

And that voice.  Raspy, child-like, a whisper from a being capable of so much more.  A worrisome reminder of something taken from this predator.


Yet so full of love, so full of affection.

And confidence.

He pranced through the bedroom door one night as though he lived here.  Perhaps he already does.

But followed me he did, a confident master sure of his universal superiority.

Still, the worry remains.  Worry for the wounded, for the signs of what is amiss, for the apparent harm to which this beautiful creature has succumbed.

No room in the inn, though, no room at all.  Not financially, for certain, and emotionally…  Well, I lament my own inability.

Lament being the operative term, however, for doing anything less might indicate I lacked the bandwidth to care for another.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Perhaps that’s the problem.  This poor soul, this wounded beast…how needful its path, how obvious its desire, how lacking its existence.

I have the means and will.  I simply lack the financial ability, not to mention the living arrangements.

So I care for the wounded by the only means available.

That doesn’t seem enough.



This morning’s walk at White Rock Lake entailed a photographic experiment for me.  With clear skies and bright sunlight, I decided to put the UV and polarization filters on the camera for the entire walk.  Albeit a few images taken in partly to mostly shadowed environments would have been well served without them, mostly the experiment succeeded in teaching me more about these two filters, how to use them together, and what conditions do and don’t warrant them.

While tinkering with the camera before I left, however, I regrettably switched the ISO control back to automatic.  Many photos which otherwise would have been spectacular have been rendered useless because too high an ISO setting resulted in significant image noise.  Some of those will still work when reduced in size, but many had to be deleted.

I’m angry at myself.

I began the day continuing my image migration to Flickr for those posts impacted by this latest Zooomr snafu.  After uploading almost 40 pictures and editing the appropriate posts, I realized I still had to process another 162 photographs and edit another 50 entries.  And all because Zooomr fouled up the latest migration, the same thing they did with the Mark III upgrade six months ago which resulted in an utter disaster followed by a continuing fiasco of broken or missing functionality.

I’m angry at Zooomr.

Chris Clarke has posted some heartfelt and emotionally tumultuous reminiscences about Zeke, his dog who died a year ago.  His beautiful letters remind me of those who have come before, those who have been lost to time, those like Derek and Henry…and a great many others.

I’m angry at death.

I wished nothing more than to make reality by now my move from urban Dallas to rural East Texas, nearer the family farm, surrounded by nature and the pastoral life that beckons to me, far away from city dwelling which now vexes me to the core.  Yet I am only a few steps closer to that relocation because of tighter finances, a shriveling economy that has limited greatly the jobs available, and a crippling lack of minutes for even life’s necessities, let alone wants.

I’m angry at time.

Dreamdarkers has languished in near limbo for months for too tight a work schedule that steals more than it gives.  Setting aside that it pays the bills, more and more this company demands sacrifice after sacrifice while offering nothing in return.  I see people working five or six hours per day on a regular basis, people who undoubtedly make the same or more money as I do, and I wonder how they can do so little while I do so much—all while betraying that which matters to me most.

I’m angry at my job.

I saw an article recently that a major salmon line has collapsed to utter nonexistence.  Numbering only a tiny fraction of what they were last year, let alone a few years ago, and with the number of young at only 5% of what they should be from year to year, king salmon appear to be the latest casualty of overfishing, pollution, diversion of fresh water, and climate change.  To put that list more succinctly, this species has been pushed to the brink of extinction over the course of five years by one thing: people.

I’m angry at humanity.

al-Zill has camped on my patio for the last week.  I finally put a cat carrier on the patio, including a towel inside it, so he’d have a place to sleep and rest away from the unrelenting wind and chilly temperatures of late.  In turn, he’s become my best friend, greeting me almost every time I go outside, crying to me with that raspy voice of his that sounds more like a weeping child than a feline, rubbing against my legs with a wrenching consistency, and otherwise becoming a family member by proxy.  I can’t adopt him, at least not now, and I couldn’t even care for him if something happened.  And it did, for I’ve attempted to care for a major wound on his head which appeared a few weeks ago.  He’s left blood on the towel…if that tells you anything.  I give him food and water, and as much affection as I can, yet my very being tells me I must do more.

I’m angry at my heart.

Our economy has tanked while politicians spend millions on campaigns and billions on unjust wars.  More and more people are jobless, too many die from hunger or disease or violence or any number of anthropogenic means, yet the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, patricians gain more control while plebeians suffer increasing torment, and all the while our elected officials look the other way because the whole process brings them their thirty pieces of silver.

I’m angry at the U.S. government.

Truth be told, I could go on ad nauseam, for every direction I look provides yet another target for my wrath.  The world is going to hell in a handbasket, the environment is falling apart around us, life in all its forms is being pushed to the brink of extinction, litter clogs the streets and creeks, pollution colors the air strange hues of unnatural, ailments never before seen pop up around the globe, the power pendulum continually swings further in favor of those already in power—and those with money, what should be done gets ignored for what must be done to survive day to day, and all the while I suffer in a putrid pool of ire.

I need a stiff drink…

My heart hears you

A form dark and true, I recognize him even before I see him, a shadow skulking about the patio, a whisper in the dark that shows me his presence only when light reflects in his eyes.

Then his voice.  There’s something about the raspy, weak, child-like voice, something powerful and wonderful, yet something equally heartbreaking and lamentable.  He speaks.

The sound floats upon cold air like a plea for love, a begging for that which he knows so rarely.

I kneel and pet him.  He soaks it up like a sponge does water.

All the while he talks.  Cries, really, for that better describes his voice than anything else.

They all have distinguishable vocal sounds, yes, and his no less than any other.

Trembling and broken, a melodramatic hint that touches the right heartstrings, he talks.  Each word a question, each question an appeal.

To them I have no answer save no.

What he needs I cannot give except in the darkness of the night.

As each of The Kids approaches this window or that window, he runs to greet them, speaks to them in a language only they understand, affectionately rubs against the glass in salutation, asks them for a spot in their home.

A warm corner will do.  Not much is needed.  A spot of water, a bit of kibble.  It’s only for one night, one cold night when the wind relents not for a single moment, when the stars offer no embrace from a cloudy sky.

They look on unable to give what is needed, unable to offer that for which he yearns.

Then he returns to me, The Shadow in a night full of shadows, a hint of predator full of love and need.

All the while his voice scratches my soul.

When spent and weeping for another life I cannot save, I leave him to his meal.

Instead of eating, he cries at the door.  And cries.

Light reflected inward does nothing to hide his presence.  He is al-Zill, the Shadow, and his presence goes where he wills it despite my best effort to block it from my mind.

There, next to me at the patio door, he sings a woeful song, a piercing tune of desire for things I cannot provide.  Simply can’t.  Six is more than enough.  So I keep telling myself.  Far too much in this place and time…

A scramble, a brief slide of claws upon concrete, then more sounds.

The food bowl tumbling over.  Loud crunching.  More pushing and shoving of the bowl.

I look again through the glass and see a raccoon, a large male at least three times al-Zill’s size.

And the cat moves to the bedroom door where he continues his entreaty.

Only now he’s cornered, caught between what he wants most and what he cannot face.

I go to him, to the patio, and I try to scare away the raccoon.

Perhaps because I have little intent to harm or perhaps because his size and age give him more strength of will than I anticipate, the raccoon challenges me, challenges the cat, remains in place at the bowl.

Now mad, however, for I do not relent.

That low hiss of such creatures, the throttled exhalation of deep air caught between the neck and mouth, and he rears up and gets louder.

Too much commotion and al-Zill takes to higher ground, a quick leap to the top of the fence, a movement so silent as to epitomize his name.  Then he’s gone.

And I face the raccoon.

I let the cool wind give rise to my arms in a motion slower than time.  And I become bigger than life.

The masked invader retreats, all hisses and snarls.  At the fence he challenges me again, pushes in toward me with a final lunge.

My arms still floating on restless winds, I lift my foot at him, a motion to block his path as much as to put an impenetrable object between his advance and my person.

He flees.

But the damage already is done.

Protective parenting

With all the recent talk—and even some photos—of the northern mockingbird parents in the tree outside my patio, I wanted to share something far less depressing than has been the story of their offspring.  Too many losses, I say, and too many tears.

So let us then turn our attention to the more entertaining side of mockingbirds.

You know Larenti visits often.  She now spends a great deal of time on my patio.

Surprisingly, I’ve discovered al-Zill also finds the veranda a great place to rest and relax, not to mention to grab a bite to eat.

A few days ago when I stepped outside, I found this most recent feline discovery enjoying a midday meal as Larenti lounged in the intermittent sunshine that dappled the concrete floor each time the clouds broke.

I snapped a few photos of the pair (to be shown later).  As I stood there, however, someone else came into the picture.

It was one of the mockingbird parents.

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not surprising to have one or both birds launch an assault on any feline visitor.  For that matter, they yell at me and threaten me with their aerial acrobatics, so a cat certainly should expect a challenge.

The moment the bird instigated the encounter with al-Zill, the cat stepped away from the food, walked to a position near the fence, and lay down in such an uncaring manner as to insult the winged parent with complete disregard.

That’s when I switched the camera to video mode, aimed, and began shooting.

Keep in mind I was on the opposite side of the patio and didn’t have enough time to really zoom in.  I didn’t want to miss any of the verbal abuse being heralded at the felines—especially al-Zill.

Nevertheless, you can see how brave the mockingbirds are.  Remember they hit me in the head several times while making runs at Vazra before I rescued him, and he was sitting on the fence when that happened.  A cat on the ground is a safer bet when you keep your distance and throw nothing more damaging than avian insults.

Oh, and the cats weren’t one bit impressed.

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

The last week to ten days has offered a new sight ’round the xenogere wildlife sanctuary.

al-Zill grabbing a bite to eat on the patio (194_9431)

That’s al-Zill, a new cat who’s been showing up often to enjoy a free meal (or several).

As for the name, al-Zill is Arabic and means “the Shadow.”  I felt it appropriate given this feline’s color and skittish personality, both of which help make the predator quite sneaky and oft times unseen.

But al-Zill was not alone while trying to enjoy some breakfast.

al-Zill grabbing a bite to eat while Larenti watches (194_9432)

That’s Larenti crouched in front of me as she watches al-Zill eat.

It should be said that Larenti has essentially claimed the patio as her own.  She’s here every day, she spends most of her time lounging about, she greets me almost every time I go outside regardless of the time, and she’s grown quite accustomed to me.  She trusts me quite a bit—but not completely.  The way she reacts sometimes, I’m fairly confident she was abused.  But more on that later…

al-Zill and Larenti aren’t exactly friends, but neither are they enemies.  They tolerate each other to a great degree and have only scuffled once or twice when one surprised the other.  Not to be unexpected with unfamiliar cats, I’d say.

Despite Larenti’s watchful eye, however, al-Zill went right on with his meal (and I’m assuming it’s a male, although I could be terribly wrong as I’ve not been able to get a close look).

al-Zill grabbing a bite to eat on the patio (194_9433)

And as he ate, Larenti edged closer and closer.

al-Zill trying to eat while Larenti sneaks closer and closer (194_9435)

It was as if she thought she really was sneaking up on him.  Considering I saw every one of his surreptitious glances as she moved in, I knew otherwise.

Finally, though, she got close enough to interrupt the meal.  Either that or he’d had enough for breakfast.

al-Zill trying to eat while Larenti edges ever nearer (194_9446)

With her continuing to get closer and closer, he finally stood and walked away.  She didn’t follow.

al-Zill leaving the patio and food (194_9448)

That space in the fence in front of him is where I accidentally put my foot through the wood slats.  I had been leaning against the fence and had my foot propped up in one of the small spaces.  Unbeknownst to me, both the wood and the nails had long since become weak with age and weather.  The moment I shifted my weight and put a little too much force on that leg, my foot went right through the fence and took the corner of the structure with it.


[on a side note, I’ve not seen Aethon, Chira, Clance or Henko in a few months; I worry about all of them and hope they’re doing well; Psiwa, on the other hand, continues to visit; in fact, he was here when I arrived home from work today; I stood quietly on the patio as he gobbled up some kibble for his evening meal]