Galveston Weekend - 2016 - Day 1

At some point in my life I looked around and thought about the fact that I have never visited New Orleans LA or Galveston TX, or any other places that are near my home. I’ve been to Costa Rica, several parts of Mexico, Los Angeles, Chicago and NYC. But, things that are three hours from my home my entire adult life have escaped me. So, a couple of years ago I decided to right this wrong. There was a trip to NOLA two years ago, and now I am on a weekend trip to Galveston. This trip, though, is not without digressions. There was an International Gem & Jewelry show in Houston that was the catalyst for the whole thing.

But first, one of my cats, Raku, developed shpilkes in her genecktekazoiks. So, she got to come along with us so that we can giver her the antibiotics and pain medication. Her operation is scheduled for this Wednesday. She’s a beautiful creature, and like most extraordinarily beautiful creatures she is high maintenance. She has already cost me more than my other two cats combined and one of them has 10 years on her.

We dropped Raku off at a friend’s house in Houston and proceeded to the International Gem & Jewelry show. There were a lot of vendors of gems and beads, but we only saw one person who was selling cabochons. Many quality artisans seem to have abandoned this once-incredible event leaving perfume vendors and other questionably related types, and there were a lot of empty spaces. It’s unfortunate, but that is the way things go. An event will build up and reach its apex, and then slowly deteriorate until it is reborn somewhere else. So, was it worth it to pay to park and then walk through blazing heat to get into the convention center? I suppose it depends on your perspective. Nameless wasn’t terribly inspired by much of what he saw, but he did get some very nice things. A wonderful man named Wu was selling pearls and Nameless bought some - Tahitian South Sea pearls, not freshwater pearls. Wu was probably the most pleasant person we saw. We don’t generally encounter a lot of terribly friendly people, but as long as they know their gems and display a certain amount of passion about it, I’m happy. There were two or three people who felt passion about what they were selling, about gems and the lapidary art of cutting and presenting them.

What does a gem and stone show look like?

Some of what Nameless came home with. He had a couple of smaller turquoise and Australian boulder opals that would have been difficult to photograph on the fly.

Tahitian South Sea Pearls with Jasper in the background and Labradorite beads

Labradorite, and two Jaspers

We left the show with our purchases and went to Genesis Art Glass Studio where we had left Raku in the care of Nameless' friend. He has a cat named Richella, who was named after a dear friend of ours who passed away quite a few years ago now. Raku is also named after her, but I chose the name of Richella's art, rather than using her given name. Richella was with us when I first visited this Gem & Jewelry show here in Houston. I wonder if she was with us this time. I didn't see any dragon flies. Maybe she sat this one out. Maybe she's waiting for us to find where the real stone dealers are playing these days. I think about that as we get on the road to Galveston. That sounds like a good quest - to find the stone dealers. She certainly had a passion for gems and stones. She reminds me of Barbra Streisand in What's Up, Doc?

Howard: What? Oh no, no you see I'm a musicologist. I was just testing this specimen for inherent tonal qualities. I have this theory about early man's musical relationship to igneous rock formations. But I guess you're not really interested in igneous rock formations.
Judy: Not as much as I am in the sedimentary or metamorphic rock categories. I mean, I can take your igneous rocks or leave 'em. I relate primarily to micas, quartz, feldspar. You can keep your Pyroxenes, magnetites and coarse grained plutonics as far as I'm concerned.
Howard: I forgot why I came in here.
Judy: Headache.

Onward we drove at speeds varying from 5 MPH to 70 MPH, depending on the highway at any given moment. Quite a few people heading to Galveston this weekend in mid-June. We got to the house/bungalow, turned the AC on and promptly left for the grocery store to pick up some provisions while the place cooled down. A friend owns a house here that she lets to her friends for a small fee and it works out wonderfully from what I can tell. We got Raku situated and decided that we were starving out of our minds.

Seawall Drive is rather a bright, shiny place. Lot’s of lights, restaurants and that sort of thing. There’s even a boardwalk of sorts that’s just ablaze with lights, and what looks like a Ferris wheel, but doesn’t seem to actually turn. I think we’ll explore that this evening. We’ll also go back to Gaido’s, because I wasn’t in the mood to enjoy an expensive meal. I was tired. We ended up at a Mexican restaurant and I had a fruity alcoholic drink and grilled fish tacos that were divine. We may have had Baskin Robbins for dessert.

That more or less ended day one. We were tired. Very tired. We put sheets on the beds; Nameless was watching a show on television, wishing he could change the station. I’m no help in that arena, but I do believe that the batteries were dead on the remote control. I have no intention of regressing to my childhood and being the television station changer, and I wouldn’t know how on today’s TV’s anyway. So, I read for a bit and tried to sleep. Sleep is not always easy when I’m not in my own bed and when I don’t have cats around me. Raku was in her crate, having decided that her litter box is, indeed, a box and therefore a place to sleep. Whatever, it’s vacation.

Clarice's Original Mother

In 1988 Thomas Harris published a novel titled

The Silence of the Lambs

, which was a sequel to his earlier

Red Dragon

. In 1991


was made into a movie and was a major success, both in the box office and critical acclaim. With Anthony Hopkins and Jody Foster one would expect that – particularly with Hopkins.

In 2003 a struggling artist named Richella was working in her studio. She rented a large warehouse space – 5,000 square feet or so. She had a cat named Fitzgerald with whom she traveled across the country to art festivals. Fitzgerald was a very large orange tabby, and he was very comfortable on the road. He kept her company while she worked all hours of the night on her pottery, her miniature collectibles fired with a Raku technique.

Richella was a very good friend of mine and I feel that she was troubled sometimes. She told us that she needed the amount of space she had in order to be able to work, due to claustrophobia. So, she worked alone in her studio surrounded by her pretty things and in the company of her cat who enjoyed nothing more than being her entire world.

At some point, though, another tabby peeked in the garage door of the studio. She gave the new cat some food and put it back outside. But, the cat came back, as cats are wont to. She took the cat in to get it fixed and if you've noticed a lack of gender-specific pronouns in this paragraph there's a reason for it. She couldn't tell if it was a boy or a girl. She thought girl, so she named her Buttercup. The vet told her it was a boy, so the name was changed to Butternut. When the vet discovered that the cat was pregnant, he used deductive reasoning to establish that she was, indeed, a she. Thus, the name Butterbean was given and finalized.

This caused a bit of an upset in Fitzgerald's life. He only had room in his heart for one woman and that woman was Richella. He could see no reason for the presence of this other cat in their life, regardless of what gender she was before she was neutered. Butterbean was street savvy and could kick any cat's ass that got in her way, so there was a bit of tension as the two got to know each other. (In all honestly, Fitzgerald never got over the betrayal.) But, the ball was rolling and there is no stopping the course of fate.

I think that it can be said without too much argument that Richella was in an unlucky phase in her life with regards to romance. She had a boyfriend at one point around this time. He wasn't much to write home about, so I tried not to pay attention. But, any person has a space in their heart for another human being and sometimes we let somebody into that space whether or not they are truly worth it. It's difficult to say what would have been appropriate for Richella. She loved the movie

The Silence of the Lambs

and all of the prequels/sequels. She also read all of the books. One might not think too much about that, except that she found it to be the most remarkable love story she had ever seen. It touched her in a place that had never been touched before. For those who haven't heard of it, the two main characters in SOTL are Hannibal and Clarice. Hannibal is a brilliant psychiatrist, and he also happens to be a cannibalistic murderer. Clarice works for the FBI and is sent to enlist Hannibal's assistance in stopping another serial killer. Thus begins their strange relationship.

So, when yet a third cat showed up to Richella's studio and it was clear that she wasn't going to go away, this new black cat was named in honor of Richella's favorite protagonist, Clarice. Clarice, the cat, was a timid little thing at the time, and Butterbean was quite the fighter. Butterbean was generally locked in Richella's bedroom, but occasionally the door was left a crack open and Clarice would sneak in to see what was in there (because what cat can leave a closed door alone?) She had her little black butt handed to her on more than one occasion that way.

There has always been something a little different about Clarice. Some cats are nervy or skittish, and that's natural. Clarice, though, has always wanted attention; she was just always a little put off by being touched – even when she requested it. She lived her life among other cats a bit like that. She wasn't certain that she wanted to be there, but there didn't seem to be anywhere else to be, so she abided. Asserting herself had only caused physical harm, so she meekly asked for attention, even though she didn't particularly like it. She spent a great deal of time lying quietly, trying to blend into the background until her need for affection overcame her distaste for it.

Years later, she has come into her own, living in our home now. (This is the same Clarice that I recently


about – our cat who has diabetes now.) She sits on her corner of the kitchen table and proudly announces that she is in need of attention. It is my job to pick her up (yes, she allows me to pick her up now!) and pet her and coo to her and tell her what a beautiful kitty she is. I have to pet the back of her head, rub her whiskers and this must go on for at least five minutes. She uses her front paws on my arm to perch up and receive her due. She closes her eyes and imagines a life without so much heartache; lets herself forget how far she's come and just live in the moment with me.

And, then it's time to put her down and we both go about our business.

A sketch of Richella demonstrating her art

Pieces of my art


The other night I was sleeping. I had been reading and then got too sleepy for that, so I rolled over, turned off the lamp and that act woke me up just a little bit, so I settled in under my covers and relished how wonderful it was to be in bed when I'm tired and sleepy and wanting really to continue conscious for a while so that I could appreciate how wonderful it feels, but without realizing it I was drifting off to the pleasant thoughts of security and peace.

Then I was reminded that I own cats. The scream from the other room followed by, and overlapped by, the crash of something breaking on the tile floor jerked me awake and upright in bed at the same time. I've grown accustomed to them screaming at the cats outside the window after I'm in bed, but that is not generally accompanied by the sound of breakage. So, I got up and ran into the other room, because after all I do have neighbors upstairs and if I can hear every step they take I'm certain that they can hear my cats screaming at the tops of their feline voices and destroying everything I own. The thing was, the crashing and breaking kept going. It wasn't just one thing falling to the ground, it was a series of crashes. One of the cats came running past me into my bedroom with a plastic grocery bag following behind her as if it were chasing her the hell out of its territory.

In my room the cat (Raku) was under the bed, of course, so I had to pull it away from the wall to get at her, just to make sure she wasn't being strangled by the handles of the bag. I was only able to hold her long enough to get the bag off of her leg and make sure she was not dying, then she squirmed out of my hands and back under the bed. Then I had to find the other two and make sure they were okay. Carmela, the special cat, was watching with her crossed eyes huge in dismayed interest, standing – not sitting – with her nose in the air, looking around to see what was going on. Anastasia wasn't so easy to find, and honestly I don't remember where I did find her. But, she was fine and so it must have been only Raku who was having issues.

This is where it gets very confusing. I have no idea how all of this happened, even after I figured out what did happen.

My next job was to see what had broken. It was pottery, not glass. Good, less danger of sharp things to cut my feet. Then I just had to pray that it was from an artist who was still alive. (My cats have a fondness for breaking things that I can't replace.) I picked up the shards and collected them in my hand. They started on the other side of the living room and continued all the way to my bedroom, and there had been a couple of pieces in the bag that I freed Raku from. I recognized the art and the glazes, but it was late and I had been woken up and I couldn't figure out who it was. I was convinced that they had gotten into the closet and into a box and broken a Richella, but as I looked at it I realized that it – at least – wasn't one of hers.

Little by little I began to place the glaze with Michael Obranovich, a Dallas artist. It's from his Obsidian collection. I have a set of his plates and two coffee cups (had two coffee cups) and a few casseroles. I LOVE them. I could tell from the pieces of handle and the curve of the others parts that it was one of my coffee cups, though I could not for the life of me figure out how it got to a place that it could be broken. I'm certain that I did not leave it lying around in a plastic grocery bag. If it had been on the kitchen counter, how did the majority of the broken remains end up three feet away in front of the spare bathroom? I can tell why there was a trail of pieces across the room and why I kept hearing crashes. The cup was in the bag and as she ran it kept crashing against the tile floor, startling her even more. The bag was shredded and pieces were falling out as she ran. She must have screamed because the bag was attached to her and she couldn't get it off. But, where was the bag (I don't leave them around because cats can strangle themselves with them) and where was the cup and how did the cup get inside the bag?

Even having slept and looked at the situation from an awake state of mind I cannot figure it out. But, here are the pieces, next to its partner – still intact.

I'll write more later. Until then I remain,

Yours truly,


P.S. If you would like to see Michael Obranovich's work you can visit his website here.