Frog Whoopie

The garden right at the beginning of a rainstorm. The frogs are singing, and I sing them a silly little song.

These are mostly cricket frogs – I think they’re Blanchard’s Cricket Frog, but it’s tricky to tell one little jumping warty critter from another. We also have Rio Grande Chirping Frogs and Gulf Coast Toads, but I don’t hear their songs in this video.

Paper… would taste better.

This is Paper Mulberry, Broussonetia payprifera. They are a weedy species here in north Texas. They rarely get the right conditions for fruiting, so you see these huge groves of them with lots of leaves, but no fruits.

This is the second time I’ve seen fruit, in the decades I’ve been looking at the trees. The other thing is, they go from green fuzz balls, to falling off the tree, very quickly. So I’ve never had one in my mouth before.

The orange tips are almost worth eating. They are mildly sweet. The pips have a slight crunch. They do not remind me of any other fruit except for blue crown passion flower, which is well known for its insipidity. If you can imagine a raspberry, with zero raspberry flavor whatsoever… like, hold your nose and eat a raspberry – it’s very slightly sweet, with almost no acid tang, and no “fruit taste.”

The yellow parts are.. technically edible. Slightly tastier than corn cobs. The whole thing looks like something that belongs in a science fiction movie.

I dance.

I dance.

I have danced to country-western music since I was a kid. I learned first when my mom and dad took lessons; I remember them coming home from classes when I was probably seven, Dad in a pearl-snap shirt and Mom with her hair bouffed up pretty and her Mary Kay makeup on. Mom taught me what they learned, twirling around the living room carpet. Yeah, big surprise: I’m gay.

I learned all over again, when I was in high school – before the first real boy-girl dance, when we would be allowed to dance touching friends and strangers (but only boys touching girls, of course, this was a very conservative suburb north of Houston, Texas… and, pretty much only white-boys-touching-white-girls, brown-boys-touching-brown-girls. There weren’t many people with any kind of melanin in our school, and they were very strongly separated. Weird-like-me kids ended up most of the time in the bucket with the miscellaneous.) I couldn’t, like, JAM dance like the cool kids… I couldn’t just let go and flow with music and shake my groove thing… but I learned that I could do a pretty decent job with practiced, rhythmic, “real” dancing. Two-step. Waltz. Jitterbug. Even the weird ones like Schottische and Cotton Eyed Joe – both of which we DID at our school dances. I had a little cadre of friends who went to a class, and we learned to do things like jitterbug flips. It was awesome. Death drops. Flip kicks. We were FANCY. I mean… people have bought me drinks. I get on other people’s cell phone videos. I’m not trying to say I think I’m the best on the floor – I’m probably in the top ten these days, but some songs, I’m putting on the main show at the RoundUp, for at least some of the audience.

And I love the fact that… the RoundUp is the BEST bar in the world for the dancing that I do. There is no universe in which I’m among the best country-Western dancing dudes. I’ve seen them. I respect both their artistry and their athleticism. They come to the RoundUp sometimes; I know some of them. BUT. The thing is… some of the time, like for the couple who was there from Minnesota tonight, and thought this was the most awesome thing they’ve ever seen, and OMG, their friends won’t believe it when they see their Facebook post… I was the hot cowboy dancer who did all those spins, and then talked to them. I was the best dancer on the stage, for them, for that night. I was playing the role of Platonic Cowboy. My joy in my dancing, and the beauty of my partner as he whipped around through pivot-spins like his feet had ball bearings, was so contagious, the one guy kept putting his hand over his open mouth. And I would pull up in front of them and show shit off, because it’s just fun to do tricks for an appreciative audience. And, I need to remember that I need to nourish the Dancer, as well as the Weaver, the Writer, the Teacher, and all the rest of the crew in my head. There is a combination of two, actually… there’s the Dancer, who feels the rhythm in his body and moves to the music, and there’s the Showman, who lives in the moment of displaying art and creation for others, who eats adulation and revels in applause. And very often, when I dance, I also teach.

Then, when I got to college, I started doing Renaissance and Medieval dance, then Folk dance, then some classes in Ballroom… I never went hard-core into any of them in particular, but I was part of a small ensemble that danced for events in Renaissance costume, and I had a regular partner, and dance was a big part of my life. I started going out to the gay bars as soon as it was legal; even before I could go inside, I would stroll down the Houston gayborhood streets after going to Renaissance dance practice, my doublet and hose and hat with its tall feather and my partner in her long swishing skirts, looking like refugees from a Shakespeare play. The guys coming in and out of the gay bars would gawk at us, and I would gawk back – their costumes of leather harnesses, cowboy hats, boots, tight jeans, silk shirts… whatever costume fitted each bar we walked by, fascinated and terrified me. We promenaded like we were in the Ren Faire parade; “Any lady on the left; isn’t a lady” – my right hand held up, palm downward, so that her left lay perched atop it like a resting butterfly, nodding and making courtesies to the crowd as we walked. Then, once I turned 21, she and I would go out and dance the nights away at the Brazos River Bottom, whirling and whipping and twisting and stomping until we were both lathered in sweat. She could Death Drop; she could Flip Kick. She could paddle-spin until her circle skirts, which she sewed herself just for dancing, flew out like a saw-blade, clearing a swath through the dance floor as I ruffled the whirling edge with my hands. I learned to pack a spare shirt, so that I could change halfway through; they were both crusty with salt stains by morning. I danced a LOT. Usually three nights a week.

There’s a difference in the way guys flirt and cruise in these places; it is both more frankly physical, and more mannered and polite, than a more cruisy bar like the Eagle. You can dance, and have an intensely sexy dance, with a partner – and the song ends, you break, go your own way, adjusting your hardon in your jeans sometimes, and you’re not expected to follow through. You asked for a dance; you got a dance. Now, of course, you could certainly negotiate more… but there is this delicious respect for enjoying a hot sexy dance for its own sake, that I love. There’s also an entire culture of the guys who dance; the way you watch a dancer to see not only how he dances, but whether he leads, follows, or does both; whether he dances with multiple guys; whether he does different speeds of dance. There is a crowd of the Guys Who Dance, and they keep up with one another. Just like a guy will give the “gay glance,” when he sees a hot stranger, scanning up and down to see if his intended target is cute and well hung and fit… I’m usually looking for brains and boots. Does he have rhythm, and enough smarts to count to four? Is he properly equipped to dance? These days, a lot of the dance regulars forego the boots, which makes it a bit more confusing, but still, you can tell who’s here to dance and who’s here to fuck around. I’m looking at the way a guy stands. The way he balances. Whether he moves parts of his body with the music. If he nods his head or mouths the lyrics to the music. If his feet tap, or his hips twitch. In short, I’m watching to see if he’s dancing while he’s standing still. Most dancers do.

Thank you Jason, for taking this bit of me dancing with Yoshi!

DFW Fiber Fest

Howdy to my YARN friends!

I’m going to be teaching at DFW Fiber Fest in September. One class on Basics of Tablet Weaving, one class on three decorative techniques (Diagonals, Double Face, Brocade) and then a three-hour intensive on working with and designing Double-Face.