I heard a story the other day about a girl who, being thoroughly wasted, passed out on the couch in an unfamiliar house - to wake with her arm swallowed to the shoulder by an overly ambitious pet python.
When people intersect with drugs, when the safe day-time world is penetrated by heavy-lidded Morlocks on Kronic or Crack, on Krank or Can-D, bizarre complications often ensue – a phenomenon I'm quite certain is news to no reader of this blog. At present, I'm trolling the far oceans of abnormality for the best and most unlikely pharmacological tales as I'm editing a few issues of Whack Magazine - 'Whack' being the official (and mischievously named) 'organ' of Harm Reduction Victoria, the drug-users' advocacy group.
If you have one of these stories (or any interesting drug-related writing - fiction or not) I'd love to see it. Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you dare. I'm also seeking imagery on the same theme. Payment is on publication (etc) and almost - but not quite - at normal commercial rates.
On Friday next week, Polly and her friend Ocean are performing in Snatches at RMIT's Kaleide Theatre . It's just a small piece - but an important (perhaps even critical) continuation of The Goitre Bird Cycle - in which the girls, while innocently fishing beneath a sewage outlet, encounter the baffling Starched Penultipope, and proceed to divest him of a fabulous treasure ...
As for me, life writhes and slithers ... like a tunneling snake of quantum uncertainty. For every tragedy, there is a boon, and though I still have plenty of good reasons to crumple myself like a piece of used tinfoil, other more mysterious, more beautiful and bountiful influences have eased the general havoc of my life.
Take, for example, Henry, the estimable and very musky billy-goat pictured below (with myself and Heronymous Posh, photographed by Suzi Q P Dhol). The pupils of his eyes are disturbing to behold: uncanny, ur-satanic, horizontal rectangles, the like of which I'd never before encountered. What's more, in rutting season, the hairy rump of of every nanny-goat in the paddock is reliably worn to bare hide by this proud, insatiable beast.
nb: the art at the top of the post is by Jenny Gameson.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
I heard a story the other day about a girl who, being thoroughly wasted, passed out on the couch in an unfamiliar house - to wake with her arm swallowed to the shoulder by an overly ambitious pet python.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
On facebook, my old colleague Robert Chuter recently posted some images from a short film of the mid 80’s called ‘Killer Zombies’ made by Zlatco Kasumovic. The prosthetic work, done largely by Vivienne MacGillycuddy, was first class, but for the zombies themselves it was a test of endurance. These are polaroids of a mould of my head being taken.
The process resulted in this souvenir - my old head, wrought in plaster, which I think I’ve shown on this blog before. It still sits in a corner of my office. Like a death mask. Like – as it gathers dust, chips and scrapes – the image of Dorian Grey.
One of the hardest things to throw out ... one’s own head ...
Onto this cast the makeup artists layered up prosthetic devices of ... latex, I think, then painted, textured them etc. Ultimately they wound up looking thus:
Activity on our set, I think in the decaying Herald-Sun building on Flinders St, was curious enough to attract the attention of the press. The following clipping appeared in the early edition of the now defunct Herald. Despite the mistaken spelling, one of my favoured appearances in the written media.
Monday, July 18, 2011
This morning I heard Rob Oakeshott phrase something rather eloquently on the science of Climate Change. To paraphrase, he asked would you take your child to the doctor if they were sick? Wouldn't you be negligent if you did not? If your car was malfunctioning, wouldn't you take it to a mechanic?
This is to say that we rely, sensibly, on experts to inform and advise us on subjects in which we are not conversant.
Why most of Australia - seemingly - wishes to dispute the overwhelming evidence provided by specialist authorities on climate science and economics beggars belief. The well has been poisoned, that is clear. Fearmongers are at large, conspiring with other agents of unreason. I see sallow-faced pamphleteers smacking their thin lips in sordid anticipation. And merchants, pink, corn-fed, redolent of baby powder, lining their wallows with profit ...
All of it working to muddle our heads on this most critical of issues. For all her faults, I feel deeply for Julia Gillard at this moment. She is facing a storm of sheer madness, the outrage of the greedy, the vitriol of the hateful - yet she is refusing to back down. I wish there was more I could do.
Science is science. It is method not opinion. The science that gives us life-saving drugs, microwave ovens, iphones, sophisticated crash-restraints, plastic, podiatry, GPS systems, X-ray machines, Predator drones and Zhu Zhu pets is the very same science that has been advising us, firmly, for decades, to act on climate change.
The scientist observes, measures, experiments and records. He or she examines the data, shares it with other scientists, and may draw conclusions. An hypothesis may result. The process is then repeated as many times as necessary. If there is sufficient evidence, a theory may be presented to the scientific community. The theory is then subject to review by peers and, if it is a good one, may be published in a journal.
But, no matter how much evidence accrues to back it up, it will only ever remain a theory - for in science nothing is certain. Will the sun rise tomorrow? It is not certain. Just very very likely.
This is the scientific (or empirical) method. It has brought us from the dark ages of fear and superstition to unparalleled levels of civilisation.
If we ask ‘do you believe in climate change’ we are asking ‘do you believe in science’.
Do you believe in science?
Saturday, July 16, 2011
With the last of the light, we drove to Thompson’s Dam, that vast body of water which supplies most of Melbourne’s water. Particularly during the drought, one was repeatedly shown evidence of its declining volume in newspapers and TV. The slopes of dark broken rock and the installation’s various towers and structures were therefore instantly familiar - none more so than the exposed strata along its shore, which, if the lake was not merely 42 per cent full, would not be visible at all.
But there were also the looming, crowded forests - the overwhelming verdancy of nature, everpresent and pure; ferns swarming the sides of the winding roads - ferns which, I am told, need centuries to become so large. Above all, there were the rolling columns of mist - for it was very cold - settling over the surface of the water, propagating among the ancient gums, attenuated in some areas, congested in others; obeying the inscrutable physics of the invisible winds. At any point we could have become characters in The Shining or The Evil Dead, or, perhaps most disturbing of all, that recent adaptation of Steven King’s The Mist.
Of course my eyes were drawn, as always, to the little things. The marginal things. Here are some photos. Taken in the rain.
Friday, July 15, 2011
I was in the country yesterday. East Gippsland. With Polly, her friend Y and Y’s dad. There was a surprising coincidence that day [the meat of which was reported on the evening news and in the following morning’s papers]
On Wednesday, in Frankston [Melbourne] a woman, who was a Greens party member, had been invited to a community meeting on the Carbon Tax to be hosted by Tony Abbott. But it wasn’t really a community meeting. It was stacked with like-minded Abbottites.
Lately, in these days of divisive politics - of politicians so desperate for a vote, they will play carelessly, amorally, with issues so sensitive they could potentially crack open our society (consider the link between the refugee scare and the shameful Cronulla riots) - in these days, extremists, cranks, and fringe elements with dangerous potential have begun to believe that their degraded, ignorant views are suddenly acceptable in general society. Think of Lord Christopher Monckton and his Nazi wall-hanging. Think of Abbott caught sermonising before a banner reading 'The Witch is a Bitch' (or some such).
The meeting proved a perilous environment for a solitary Green. She stood out amongst the conservatively dressed faithful, simply because she looked colourful and a little interesting. She was given the microphone and made a very simple statement - that she voted green and approved the Carbon Tax. You may have seen it on the telly.
She was not only booed down, but threatened and literally chased from the venue. Frightened, weeping, she was informed by one liberal that, if he had his way, people like her would be lynched in the village square. ‘You’re not part of this community,’ spat one attendee (although she actually lived in the neighbouring suburb). Mysteriously, she was asked if she possessed a compost bin. A media pack followed her, perhaps sensing a developing story, perhaps fearing for her safety, since the police overseeing events had retreated without explanation. (Later, media elements did ask if she would like to speak out over her treatment, but she declined.)
A ghastly thing, no? Angry Australians, unable to distinguish truth from lies, or else bigoted, small-hearted and greedy, shouting each other down over supermarket checkouts, casting ad hominem attacks at our leaders - as if this was Bizarro World and such outbursts somehow constituted viable arguments - or else repeating the insufferable drivel they'd read in the Herald Sun, as if it were some universal book of wisdom.
The coincidence? The hapless Greenie was the mum of Polly’s friend. We four were watching telly, alone in a big cold room, deep in the country, eating our dinner - and suddenly there was mum: crying, leaning into a lamp-post as a form of support, desperately calling for help over her phone while Abbott’s bullies harassed and threatened her. And as the media filmed.
(Earlier, in the car going East, on a very patchy phone line, Y's father had been worried by suggestions that she ‘had been attacked’. His seven year old had overheard, as they do, and asked repeatedly who had attacked whom, until she accepted the truth of her father's ignorance.)
The sweet mystified innocent did not understand the details of the situation confronting her on TV, but could see well enough that her mother was weeping and that people, their faces made ugly and frightening by anger, were plainly upsetting her. I wondered if she thought the footage was live ...
The expression on her face was moving. Even heartbreaking. Her incomprehension was telling in a way that soared over the venal behaviour of the adults on screen. She did not cry, but immediately went to her father’s knee, and pushed her way into his arms.
He consoled her: Mum was alright now, she’d been a hero, had done the right thing - but had run into some bad people who, thankfully, were gone now....
But they’re not gone. Instead they’re recruiting. And for what? votes? money? hate? To find some way of justifying the righteousness of shitting in our communal beds? That expression - that expression on the face of a child with a lily-white soul - pointed right to the heart of it for me: not just to the shameful culture beginning to dominate our public discourse, but to something deeper, something worse.
Monday, July 11, 2011
Slowly, with certainty, day by day, I’m emerging from the woes of the past 27 months. I still have plenty to agonise over as I flail in my bed at night, but it’s of a far different order than what has gone before.
All that remains of the legal fiasco is a three-weekly visit to an unpleasant office in Oakleigh, where doors snap shut with the finality of jail cells. But after the many trials and tribulations of the recent past, I can take that n my stride.
Some time before the final hearing, with the help of toxic pharmaceuticals, I began a fresh assault on my liver complaint. (see ~my intimate blood borne saboteur.) The first few months were, as expected, nasty and debilitating. Anaemia. Neutropenia. Dysphoria. Then, around week twelve, they began to slacken off, almost to a level that was bearable. I was off-colour but I could manage the odd life activity. About this time that I even went to the Rainbow Serpent festival.
But, with the inevitability of death, a seed took root in my lungs. I began to cough, and to produce a lurid green sputum. Fevers came, seemingly at random and I took to my bed. For five weeks I was scarcely able to drag myself to the kitchen - although, every few days, I shambled around the block in a dark bulky overcoat, usually at night, to forestall any pooling of phlegm in my lungs. As my immune system was suppressed by the HCV drugs, I had little defence against the infection. Despite the heavy duty antibiotics I had been prescribed, the condition grew worse. I was getting just a little scared. I’d never been quite so sick.
Then my viral load results were unblinded. (I was on a clinical trial for a drug by Bristol Myers Squibb) From a starting point of 13 million evil bits per ml, it was reduced to 275. But, frustratingly, two weeks later, it was 500 plus. At this point, I ceased medications. Once again, on my fourth attempt, I faced failure, And this time I had been just a little concerned that they might kill me.
I decided to wait for some of the new remedies come on line - what doctors like to refer to as the ‘small molecule’ drugs. Telaprevir and Boceprevir are examples. There are nearly a hundred being researched (see hcvdrugs.com) and one day, in the not so distant future, I pray there’ll be regimens without such crippling side-effects.
So I lay back down, played video games and waited to get better.
Now it’s three or four weeks later and I’m waking up into the world. I’m exercising again. I’m brushing the dust off affairs that have not been touched in two and a half years. My garden is tugging at me, and I dream as I pluck the hated oxalis from the flower beds. I’m thinking about my house, how I might rid it of the teetering towers of books. Within the next few weeks I’ll be gnawing happily on my various, long neglected writing projects.
And the deadly spores ... even with binoculars I cannot see their dark, roiling, semi-sentient clouds on the horizon. I am even toying with the notion of breaking my long and bitter relationship with spasmo-nemigron.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Last night, after catching the final train home from a dreamy night at Cherry watching Steve Kilbey and Ricky Maymi's enigmatic tribute to the mysterious David Neal (in addition to a beautiful set from some unnamed Triffid remnants and a session of ab-zen counseling over liqueur coffee) my sleep was profound and my spirit rose through the upper airs into the realms of the firmament. Here, to my deepest consternation, I witnessed the consumption of a pleasant green world by a Peripatetic Insile (a species of ravenous space-faring gastropod).
The next morning Polly removed a tennis ball from our new pond (a sunken claw-foot bath) turned it over and discovered this peculiar long-tailed slug-like larvum.
Friday, July 8, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
This morning on the ABC News Breakfast show, Mal Brough presented us an old chestnut which seems to be coming back into its own : why should Australia lead the world in reducing its carbon emissions (and why should we bother, as we're such a small polluter on the global scale). When Barry Jones responded, I was hoping he'd give the right answer. It would be good to hear the right answer clearly articulated on the airwaves, just once.
By my book, he did pretty well. Among the developed nations, Australia is the world's largest per capita producer of greenhouse gases. While most of the world subsists on trotters and belly pork, we are living high on the hog. Plainly, this places a moral burden upon us, more so than any other nation, to curb our negative influence on the environment. For their own reasons - largely selfish - many conservatives and the much of the business sector do not subscribe to this thinking - but most of us, I feel, would agree that ethically speaking we have an obligation.
Thus Barry Jones replied, adding that Australia has been a world leader in the past and is perfectly capable of being so again.
It is an position of integrity and right. Though certainly nothing Australia does in isolation with its emissions will curb the global pollution problem, it can act to secure the future by influencing the world at large. Australia – unlike the USA - is in no position to strongarm, but it is sufficiently large that its actions are noticed. It can pave the way that others may follow.
As well as the high-minded moral argument, I would not have complained if Barry Jones couched his response in more selfish terms. People are afraid of the coming change. They are confused by the clamouring voices, raised against each other, crying contradictory predictions and positions. And it is the way that when danger looms, humans look to their own.
If the current generation of Australians wish to provide a rosy future for their children and grandchildren, they can act personally but to little overall effect. Yet if they act as one to reduce their emissions, establishing new standards and new economic mechanisms, then they are lighting a beacon for other nations, who might act in turn - until sufficient of us are united in the cause to positively influence the future of the planet.
Yesterday, more importantly, while scraping up some mulch for my potted anemones I unearthed what I thought to be some old, partially digested plastic daisies. On closer inspection, I discovered they were ripe earth stars, their 'stomach-shaped sacs' bursting with spores. I've trawled for about half an hour, but can't identify the species, though the family is certainly Geastrum. Over my many decades of turning the earth in Mt Waverley, I have never before encountered earth stars.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
The Lyrebird Lounge is a tiny place, a shop front, but its size possibly had a bit to do with how wonderful the atmosphere became. Andrew had to sit on a couch with keyboard resting on his lap. I had to vocalise over an antique Galaga console. It was reminiscent of the old Exford Hotel, or perhaps the 475 Club from days of yore.
These latter-day shows by The Ears - without intending to overblow our personal trumpets - have, as they say, been pumping. And seething. And surging. If I didn’t have these accursed Hep C drugs in my system, sponging up my native energy before I’ve even generated it, I think I’d be inclined to put a good deal more time into the band. It’s fun to be a strange, thirty-year old, resuscitated, anachronistic musical artefact with a tightening death-grip on life. But you try bellowing to an audience for an hour with the twin, lead-filled panniers of interferon and ribavirin depending from your shoulders. Mind you, that’s just me; the rest of the band were steaming, and my work - if you could call something so thoroughly enjoyable ‘work’ - was probably okay, despite my reduced physical state. Mick’s girlfriend recorded most of the songs on a handheld gadget, and we watched the results today. Pretty amusing stuff. And all very exciting. I’ll edit some down and upload it to You Tube, if I’m able. And we’ll try to get some more shows organised. Hopefully, we’ll be playing at the Day at the Green in August - but I have the taste. I want something sooner.
I should also mention Josh Lord’s acidic, political, canvas-slash-poster-art which was on show a few doors down at The Bower. Very street. Very punk. Very distinctive voice. And the wonderful Ovals too, who also played at The Lyrebird. A bevy of courteous and bearded young men with a profound interest in the progressive rock of last century. They rang bells, tickled memories from my early teens; echoes of songs I couldn’t possibly have identified after the passage of so much time. Shades of King Crimson, Procul Harem, Mid Pink Floyd, ELP ... Gus, if you’re reading this, take note. There is simply so much music, so many styles, genres, attitudes ... not all can emerge from the vaults at once, to live again, but in observing The Ovals I was delighted to find this particular musical school resurrected and (naturally) given a new coat of paint.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
It’s taken a few weeks for my black internal weather to disperse - but disperse it appears to be doing. The long long ordeal by law is petering out via an endless series of interviews with agents of Correctional Services Victoria, and no longer do I prepare myself mentally, late at night, for jail.
The other trial, the drug trial, continues ... and, at week twelve, I should know soon if it’s had any significant effect on my viral load; but until then I remain nauseous, gasping for breath and generally deenergised. Heaven knows how I’ll cope tomorrow night. Singing demands a lot of that exact kind of energy I’m lacking at the moment, but we’ll see.
I can think of nothing better than an Ears shows to celebrate the termination of my primary difficulty. Perhaps we’ll do something a bit more significant soon, but for now, tomorrow night at the Lyrebird Lounge, probably at 10.00pm, will have to do. The Ovals are playing at 9ish, if you’re interested, after Josh Lord’s exhibition opening down the street at The Bower.
What’s more, we’ll be playing a new song: The Cupboard Moth ...
I bred a cupboard moth
At some excessive cost
Because it fills my nightly chalice ...
A few doors down the street, there’s an elderly gentleman who breeds native trees. I’ve acquired a great many from him over the years, but have had no luck getting them to survive. Lately, however, fortunes in the garden have changed - even to the point of our new indigenous vegetation luring strange new life forms to the property ...
Thursday, March 24, 2011
A monstrous bellowing of gratitude. To those many many friends, who have supported me over the past two years. Those who put up their hand for the Ears Reunion at The Corner ... Those who vouched for my character, gave of their time ... Those whose sympathetic, compassionate words buttressed my spirit against the fear and uncertainty ...
And all those others.
Two years and twenty three hours, exactly ...
Since that dreadful incident ...
And an honorable judge of the County Court saw fit to refuse the OPP's request of a custodial sentence - in favour of a punishment more befitting the error of illegitimate backyard gardening.
Technically: a two year Community Based Order. I know I can live with that.
The dark clouds that have dogged me throughout this experience are just beginning to disperse. It's going to take time, I suspect, for the reality of such good, good news to sink in. Perhaps, by tomorrow morning, the skies will be clear.
Amen to that, at last.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
For better or for worse, I’ve enrolled myself in the trial of a new drug which may be a potent HCV inhibitor. It’s a triple therapy: as well as the study drug, I’m on the standard-of-care - peg-interferon and ribavirin: a toxic cocktail which tends to cause anaemia, flu-like symptoms and a genocide of the neutrophils, those fundamental elements of the innate immune system which are seen most often as a constituent of pus.
I’m desperate to shrug off the virus. It’s not killing me yet. For a fifty year old my liver’s in pretty good shape - according to the painful biopsy I had a few weeks ago. And my level of ALT (an indicator of inflammation) is within the normal range. However I’ve had the accursed invaders for upwards of a quarter of a century and there are rather a lot of them: at last count nine million viroids per millilitre of blood. The moment age begins to weary me, to weaken me, I fear they will grasp the opportunity to scour me from the surface of the planet - like a fastidious girlfriend with a box of tissues, scrupulously seeing to a clumsy boyfriend’s spilled red wine
Weird simile, I know. I’ll trust my subconscious and leave it there. Oh, and I was stung by a bee the other day. The hottest of those recent days. In Bruce Butler’s pool. A bee, of all things. There I was, lounging peaceably in one of Bruce’s vast and colourful collection of floatation devices when, lo, the underside of my upper-arm descended upon a bee. When did this last happen? Was I six? Younger perhaps? Of course, even a painful incident like this will not undermine my love and admiration for bees. The creature was acting purely out of instinct. I know that. Though I admit to taking a soupçon of pleasure in what must have been a painful, extended demise.
Polly, however, was out of the pool in a flash, pale as a sheet, trembling in the corner furthest from the water, demanding that we leave immediately. She is terrified of bees. And wasps. Snakes too, I think. (About a fortnight ago, I was walking with her and her friend Megan by Scotchman’s Creek when I spied what I believe to be a tiger snake side-winding across the path. I was a child when I last saw a snake down there.)
Just to finish up on the subject of bees ... Robert - as I have explained previously - cannot stop himself feeding the surly, obese, ill-humoured local population of brush-tailed possums. He built a beautiful possum box for them to inhabit - put it atop the shed in the hope they would cease forcing up the tiles and sleeping in the roof. Robert knows the ways of these possums. Intimately. He can tell them apart as they come for their nightly serving of putrid bananas. They seem to trust him too; he alone is allowed to stroke the fur of the matriarch’s offspring peeking from her pouch ...
Unfortunately, before the possums even noticed Robert’s labour of love, a swarm of honey-bees appeared and automatically made it their home. They became a fixture in the yard. During the Winter, for a time, the hive disappeared and shortly after we found pieces of depleted honeycomb amongst the dried leaves and the dust beneath the box. With Spring the bees returned, and they remain there now ...
I would love to steal a little of their honey... but I dare not risk it.
But back to the point ... this is my fourth attempt to flush the (stubborn genotype 1a) virus from my system. The first was a a monotherapy: interferon-alpha on its own (I responded, but barely). The second was trial of something called Rebif: interferon-beta, typically used for MS patients (The injections hurt like hell, I felt like shit and it did nothing). Then came the double-therapy - still in use - interferon-a and ribavirin (my viral load dropped from 10,000,000 to 1200, but then, like the Borg, the virus adapted and resumed its deadly replication).
Each of these attempts have excised more than six months from my life. It’s simply impossible for me to operate as usual while on these drugs. I’m not myself. I’m reduced, functioning at a minimum.
It’s a gamble: surrender these swathes of time in the hope that, later in life, I will avoid cirrhosis, or liver cancer - or else take a chance and let the virus do its evil work. Always a hard choice. And Polly must be considered. I don’t want to be sickly and weak when the time comes to wield an axe - or machete, or shotgun - when suitors come a-calling ...
I have benefited from the treatments. The most recent, though technically a failure, has caused my liver to show signs of improvement - despite my viral load careering back up to nine million.
This time round, at three weeks in (I’ve just had my fourth weekly injection of interferon-a) the side effects have been milder than I recall. The initial fortnight was bad - I might have had a poisonous creeping ague caught from some queasy, debilitated swine - but since then I’ve been normalising. There is the anaemia of course. It gets in the way of the exercise I rely on to bind my body and soul. But if this is the worst of it - this and the fatigue and the fogginess and the low-mood - then I will plough through the twenty-one weeks remaining with ease.
Perhaps the virus is already gone? The new drug - BMS 790052, which directly attacks a protein necessary for HCV replication (NS5A) - is supposed to work very rapidly. Perhaps I’m feeling better because I’ve cast it out at last. My dark passenger, as Dexter might put it. My intimate blood-borne saboteur.
Or perhaps I’m one of the unlucky ten percent who, instead of the new drug, are receiving a placebo?
Thursday, January 20, 2011
This is a sad and compelling something, encountered by Polly on our driveway.
"I don't know what it is," she said. "But if I look at it again, I'll vomit."
In a night or two I will have finished reading her Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree trilogy. Next will be Arabel's Raven.
Down at the Grey Creek, since the rain, there is a super-abundance of dragonflies and their smaller cousins the damselflies. In my experience, there have never been so many. They are hovering, flashing bolts of iridescence, almost surreal in their variety, like echoes from J G Ballard’s The Crystal World. They are hypnotic, suggestive of fairy tales, and cousins to the butterflies in that they bring fanciful unexpected colour to the world. At times, as I sit observing them, I feel a shimmer of magic, glimpses of another world briefly seen and then gone.
I’ve set about cataloguing them. Thus far, among the damsel flies, blue ringtails are by far the most common, tails striped with sky blue and black. There are common flatwings, a dark metallic green with a lightning bolt on the thorax, and tiny prismatic aurora ringtails. The most populous dragonfly is the tiger-striped tau emerald with its bold green face. There are blue skimmers. And red wandering perchers.
I’m beginning to see variations in their behaviour. Their mode of flight and their habits can be used to identify them, but I’m not quite an oder yet. Oder? Oding is the habit of dragonfly watching. Many of them flit by too fast for my eye to track (They are among the fastest insects) and few stay still long enough for a photo, but I lucked out with this common flatwing ...
and this wondrous spider, which I’ve been unable to identify. Perhaps, if there is an arachnophile reading this, he or she may be so good as to shine a light on my ignorance ...?