Ponder this:

Friday, December 30, 2011

Counting blessings

My coworker's brother has MRSA. It's a horrible horrible illness, causes pain that's off the charts. The patient is receiving a cocktail of antibiotics, his sight might be coming back slowly . . . and so the family waits to see how the recovery will proceed. 
Or not.
Yesterday, Alan said to me, "It's a lesson: Don't sweat the small stuff. And it's all small stuff."

I woke up this morning thinking, "Only three hours of work today and then another long weekend. Then I thought about Alan's brother, and my viewpoint changed. The three hours of work became a little piece of my life instead of a whole hunk of my day that I just had to live/suffer through before I could resume what I want to do when I want to do it. 
I have a little pain . . . my back is stiff . . . but boy! Compared to the pain some people deal with, I'm kickin' up my heels.

There's no doubt that today I am aging, but I sure am more grateful than I was yesterday.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

'T'is The Day!

How much do you know about Christmas? A quiz.
I am unaccustomed to doing so poorly on quizzes that I choose to take for fun. 55%? Come on!

Yesterday the vet gave me a good gift. She pronounced Maxie "not ready to give up yet."
He has a little UTI and some antibiotics to take care of that, and he has some muscle relaxer medication to make his back feel better. He hasn't complained, but he's been walking around hunched up like an inchworm. Medicated, he seems to feel much more comfortable, and he's very nice and quiet: he's sleeping a lot. Maybe it's so very restful to have some relief from what has apparently been ongoing discomfort. Dogs are stoic. Even the ones (Max) who seem like crybabies . . . they're stoic. They bear things that they don't need to bear . . . if only they would tell me!
On Friday night I moved something and a lost tennis ball rolled out; Max was all over it. Not quite up to Fetch, but very happy to see Good Ol' Tennis Ball. And outdoors, he's still prancing like a Saratoga thoroughbred. So the vet's pronouncement was not unexpected, but still very welcome. I guess we'll have him for a while. 
Nice gift.

So here I am, up at 3:00 on Christmas morning, watching my fire in the woodstove, listening to Angus snore next to me. Max never got up out of bed to come downstairs with us . . . he is still a small lump under the blankets upstairs in the bed. MiMau is toasting nicely in her spot in front of the stove. 
Later Husband will fix the prime rib. I'll make whipped potatoes, or maybe twice-baked, and some salad, and we will feast and give the dogs bits of beef, and then we shall all nap at will. 

I have no desserty material, unless I make another chickpea/chocolate cake, which I could whip up in five minutes or so. Honestly, it is an absolutely delectable item, which must be eaten in small portions. Chickpeas are just chockful of fiber. Trust me: I know . . . now, after having eaten two-thirds of the cake in one sitting. I was so annoyed, last Monday night, that I was required to go back to work for a meeting that promised to be long and awful (and turned out to be, in fact, four long hours of tedium and tension) that I scarfed down, in one of my more memorable eating binges, what was left of the cake. I was . . . uncomfortable . . . for three succeeding days and nights. I cannot stress enough how important it is to control one's portion size of that particular delicacy. 
Wow. The memory alone is enough to give me chills.

I hope you all have the kinds of Christmases that you want, whether that's peaceful, exciting, child-wondrous, spiritually rich, or some variation/combination thereof. May you be blessed today in whatever way you wish to be blessed, and may you have the kind of joy that is so evident in this video from the Richmond, Virginia Animal League: Operation Silent Night.
Operation Silent Night
Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Ah. It is 4:30am, it is Saturday, Christmas Eve. I have no evergreen tree in my house. I have no Christmas lights, nothing to indicate that it is The Festive Season. Husband and I will exchange no gifts. And yet, you know...? It feels different here right now. I feel content and at peace.
Nothing has changed. Max is still old and feeble, I'm still fat. It's still gray and dark outdoors.
But still, I feel different.

Somebody asked me yesterday if I believed in God. First, I answered with the Correct AA answer: I believe in my Higher Power. Then I said, raising my arms to indicate the cosmos, "I believe in Something, some Plan." I don't need or care to delve into it any more deeply than that. I'm content for it to be Solstice or The Nativity or whatever.

It feels so good.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ah, Monday. Yet again.

Pay day. That's good, although the thrill is lessened by knowing that the funds were transferred on Friday. Pay day is no longer the Christmas morning that it used to be when I got cash in an envelope. I should just shut up about that and be happy I get a paycheck, shouldn't I?

Weather's supposed to be good today. Right now, it is 24 degrees, and feels like 15. Every time I think of the "feels like" temperature I think of L from Florida scoffing that "If it's _______ degrees, it's  _______  degrees. Never mind what it FEELS like." Easy to say when you live in Florida where the temperature is currently 52 and will top out today in the 70s. How well I remember her shuddering and shivering, wrapped in her coat and an afghan on a balmy October evening when we sat outdoors enjoying an unseasonably warm temperature for the northern hills. "Feels like" ought to get a little more respect from someone who's experienced such an evening. 
Every year the same discussion: She wouldn't be able to stand the northern winter and I wouldn't be able to stand the humidity of a Florida summer. We have finally agreed on that and no longer speak of it.

This evening I will have the pleasure of returning to the office to take notes at a meeting between some volunteer board members and a few representatives of the world's largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants. The proposal is to raze and rebuild. This is the second meeting of the parties. The first was long and labored. Our civic volunteers' comments bordered on the rude: late in the evening the man in the suit who wanted to invest in the community thanked the chairman for a single smile.
I can hardly wait to experience a second parley.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday morning: relaxation cds, "Max's issue," and food

Some weeks ago I bought four or five relaxation cds to play next to my head for night-time going to sleep purposes. I don't need things like that in good weather when the windows are open and I can hear the crickets and the katydids and the owls and the wind sighs through the screens and slides its chiffon sleeves across my legs.
~image borrowed/stolen from One Man's Wonder

But now that the windows are closed and the only sounds I can hear are the snores and groans (and mutters and growls) of the poodles I'm finding these cds to be wonderfully soothing. I have quite a variety of sounds . . . windchimes, and one called "Sounds of Nature" that includes a disturbing sound of some insect that sounds like a buzz saw or an old-fashioned hand-cranked airplane propeller: click-click-click-click-wwwhhhhhiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnne, over and over again. My favorite has been the thunderstorm that moves in from the distance; thunderstorms always soothe me straight to sleep. Last night I tried a new one called "Golden Pond." Wonderful. Sounds of oars sloshing in the water, crickets, frogs. It was so comforting that I wanted to stay awake and listen to it, but it put me to sleep anyway. Somewhere I have a hypnosis tape . . . it might have been a stop-smoking hypnosis tape . . . that had new-agey music on it and was very relaxing. 

My hair appointment yesterday was at 10:00am. At 8:30am I left a voicemail for my hairdresser asking her to call and comfirm the time. She called at 9:50am to tell me I was due there in ten minutes, not forty, and could I come at 11:30 instead of coming late for the 10:00? I agreed to that change, and mentally reaadjusted the hair/shopping sequence, muttering to myself about how I could have been there had she called me back earlier. It was my fault, though, for having lost the appointment card. The new one is stuck into my car's dashboard where I will see it every time I check my vehicle's velocity. By the time January 21st comes around the card will have become invisible to me. I need a secretary. Or a parent.

I fear that thes Max Issue is going to become a minefield between Husband and me. He seems to feel that Max's increasing issues are no more objectionable than Angus' cavalier attitude toward similar issues. Max knows what to do and can't do it; Angus knows what to do and chooses not to do it. I know the whole issue is disgusting and in deference to your sensibilities I won't go into more detail. Husband removes himself from the problem, leaves the whole thing to me and then recoils from my scent of parfum d'urine de chien. I have a feeling of No-Can-Win.
The man has his redeeming qualities, however. Last night he prepared a delectable repast of fried shrimp. He made cocktail sauce for his dipping, mine was sour cream and salsa verde
To die for.
That's another difference between Husband and me. A small supper at my hands is leftover baked potato sliced and broiled with cheddar cheese on top; his is breaded shrimp. He's far more willing than I to go out and buy the shrimp and get his fingers all gicky with flour and egg and crumbs, and he makes shrimp dishes while I make peasanty potato-and-cheese dishes. It might have something to do with the cleaner-upper duties and the person responsible for same.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A post . . . just to keep my hand in

It is 4:40am. The snow is flurrying with exactly the same everywhere-but-straight-down motion as in the "clever piece of technology" in the last post. Max is up with me, has been outdoors, is now considering eating his carefully prepared breakfast kibble. And now, he has tasted a few nuggets and declines the rest. His Enacard, hidden inside the dab of butter, got into him; I don't care if he eats more than that.

For a few weeks I have been considering that Max's time with us might be limited to the easily foreseeable future. His kidneys grow more dysfunctional and the symptoms grow more intrusive. If I had not had the mother I had, I might have disposed of Max long ago. I did have that mother, though, with whom I had no choice but to contend, and that bent the twig of my young self in the direction my mature self has grown. That is to say that many many times I fantasized about dealing death to my mother and being free of the tension and emotional pain she caused me, but I didn't do it, and I probably won't put Max down either until he's much sicker than he is. So far as he knows, life is good. He gets lifted up, lifted down, carried outdoors. Only once have I seen him staring into a corner for a few minutes, but he was calm and not frantic or lost. He found his way out. He's doing about as well as lots of old people who walk around taped into their Depends. 
My psychiatrist says, "But there's something wrong with Max."
My friend says, between the lines, "You are a craven wretch who cannot bear to be an adult and take adult decisions about your pets and your personal way of life, and it will take a crisis for you to do what any normal clean-living person would have done months ago."
And Husband says, "He's happy. Outdoors, he runs around interested in things, enjoying himself," and then, "It's too sad. I can't think about it."
When the day comes, it will be Mom who does the deed.
We have an appointment for an examination and blood tests on . . . Christmas eve at 9AM.

I'm pretty sure I have an appointment for a haircut this morning but I can't find my appointment card. My recollection is that I am to present myself at 10:30am, an awkward time in my Saturday routine. I should be at the supermarket at 10:30, but I don't like to hurry through my early Saturday lazy coffee-drinking time to get to the salon at 9:00am and I don't like to crowd my late morning with appointments. I don't know how much, on a given day, I'll enjoy strolling around the grocery store, examining packages, dreaming up recipes. So I always choose 10:00 or 10:30 for the hair. And I always have this discussion with myself. I think I might have left the card in the console in the car. That's handy, with me here in my nightgown and the car out there in the cold outdoors.

There are things that people say about me, to me, with which I cannot argue but that I do not like.
When someone says, "Poor little Max..." and I say, "What about poor little Mommy?" and the first speaker says, "First, Mommy isn't so little..." I can't honestly take issue with that since it is absolutely true. Compared to almost anyone I know I am . . . the larger of the two. But I think it's a little mean-spirited to say so.
Someone says, "You have a unique relationship with your pets," and I know she means I treat them as if they are humans and not as four-legged servants to my pleasure. It stopped my complaining, and Stopping Complaining is a worthwhile end.
Someone said about one of my last winter's posts that it was clear that I was not a "happy bunny" in the wintertime. No question about that. I determined, after that comment, that I would not post anything that wasn't upbeat, uplifting, smile-worthy. The determination lasted for perhaps two weeks; au fond I am not a Happy Bunny sort of person. The only time of year that I am reliably a happy bunny is early summer, and that only if I am free from the office for several days on end.

Christmas Day rushes hither. I have piles of Christmas gifts in a sack upstairs. Perhaps this weekend I will wrap and mail some. Perhaps I will do that next week or even next month. Husband and I shall have a quiet day with our faces sunk into prime rib (although he tells me it's almost impossible to get prime now and likely it will be choice rib), no revelry, no guests. 
A day of peace. What better?

It has taken about an hour to write this. I'm going back to bed with a bagel and my book. If there's one thing that brings me closer to happy bunnydom than waking up on a Saturday morning, it's having a bonus wakeup on a single Saturday morning!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

For sharing at will

Click on the link below. 
When it opens, drag your mouse across the picture.
It's from an Estonian company!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Snowflakes of the e-kind

Here's something that might use up several hours of otherwise productive time.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Poodle boyz photos

Max, pre-haircut

 Max, post-haircut, aka Popsicle stick creature
I knitted that sweater for the boyz' predecessor; he was a little bit bigger than they are.
The boyz have changed my life such that I have been unable to pursue a similar project 
to create a sweater that would fit either of them.

A very unflattering photo of Max in front, Angus in back
I was practically standing on my head so I wouldn't have to get down on the ground . . . 
I don't get back up so good.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Poodle boyz also aging gratefully

The poodle boyz went for haircuts yesterday. Kim had told me that, in the middle of Max's last two grooms, he had suddenly burst into full cry, and had quite dramatic bladder and bowel events . . . on the grooming table . . . while he spun in circles, apparently horrified at his own behavior. So when I made this appointment, Kim and I discussed at length how best to handle Max's "do" for his maximum comfort in the short and long terms. 
We decided that this time she would avoid the hairdryer since that seemed to be the factor that set him off. It could be his hearing . . . I know it's failing . . . maybe there's a tone in the hairdryer motor that hurts his ears or something. So Max got a very close shave all over, except for his puffy little ears, so that he could air dry. He will be wearing his turtleneck sweater for the next several months, poor thing. But he didn't pee and poop all over the grooming table, and he came home much calmer than he has from the last few appointments. 
We live in a winter environment suitable for Samoyeds, and here I have these two little poodles, one of whom looks now like a creature made out of popsicle sticks, with all his little old man age spots showing through his thin little fuzz.
Max's kidneys have been not good for years and they aren't getting any better. One of the things that happens, the vets says, with "bad kidneys" dogs is that they begin to use up their muscle tissue. I expect Max will grow increasingly thin unto near-transparency as time goes by. But in the meantime, he's eating and drinking (oh boy! is he drinking!) and enjoying his life, so onward we go.

When I went to pick up the dogs, Kim was indoors. I went into her shop, clipped her check to the grooming table so she'd find it easily, and got Max out of his crate. I set him on the floor. I reached for the latch on the crate that held Angus, and heard Kim come in. I turned around to say hi and heard a crash. Angus had jumped out of the crate, the floor of which is about at the level of my collarbone . . . and had landed on the floor. He broke a plastic bin as he passed it in his descent of five times his height to a tile-over-cement floor, but he was none the worse for wear. No limp, no bruising, no cuts. Kim and I both watched him closely for a few minutes but he was gamboling and strutting in his usual fashion. I can't believe it. I think he might be indedoggystructible. Knock wood. 

Husband thinks that the weaker Max grows, the more energy Angus sucks up.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Winter, holiday bigotry, country talk, and other things

I have given in and had the snow tires put on. Much as I would like to believe that the weather will continue as unseasonably warm as it has been, we're bound to get winter sooner or later. The roads are clear and dry now and I can feel my tires' metal studs wearing down as I drive. It almost makes me wish for snow. Almost, but not quite.

When I was very young and lived on the way out country dirt road, we would always speak of the paved road at the bottom of the hill as "the state road." I wouldn't have been able to think of the route number off the top of my head, but recognized it when somebody else identified it that way. The reminder was Club 29, a bar with a pretty-colored neon sign that I passed every day on the school bus. As I recall, it was almost next door to the Catholic church. In hamlets, that's the way things are: everything is cheek by jowl with everything else.

Now once again I live on a way out country dirt road and my travel is mostly on or near or across two-lane paved state routes. The roads have names, but the names change as you travel along from hamlet to hamlet, so in conversation, everybody uses the route numbers to identify locations. "Up (or down) 145...", "...over on 443," "Down 30...", "Y'go over 7, up 145 to 10, follow 10 to 162, turn on 165..." Maybe somebody should devise a game, something between Bingo and Uncle Wiggily, just for the local denizens . . . sales of it could be a fund raiser for flood relief.

Somebody sent me an email two days ago with a link to an evil little song discouraging Christmas shopping in non-Christian establishments. The issues I have with the song are many. I deplore the Us and/versus Them premise, but the thing that really pisses me off is that the lyrics indicate a certain willful ignorance. The last lines of the song, "Now let's see, if not for Christ's nativity . . . " there would be no Christmas tree, no dolls and trains that Santa brings, no mistletoe, no this, no that, etc. 
I am no religious scholar, but I'm pretty sure that Christianity made use of existing traditions  as it moved up into and around Europe. I love Christmas lights' colors as much as I loved that neon Club 29 sign . . . but I think pretty flashing Christmas lights out in the snow don't necessarily have a lot to do with the sacred birth of Messiah. So if I'm going out to buy multi-color lights to celebrate the Savior's birth I guess, if I wanted to, I could buy them from a Jew or a Muslim or whoever offers the best price, and not have my eternal salvation suffer from the transaction.
You know . . . what if your Christmas lights aren't actually "out in the snow"? The people who live where there isn't snow in December had better be a little watchful about their celebration habits, or the American Christian Life United folks might be knocking on their doors.

To tell the truth, the first thing that set me off, as I watched the youtube video, was the line that included, "...tryna sell..." 
Is that shorthand for "trying to"?
Whenever you want to raise the rabble, the first step seems to be to dumb it down reeeallll good, so that those who are ruled by emotion rather than any intellectual discipline can say, "They're jes' like us'ns!"

We will now return you to your regular winter holiday celebration programming, whatever it may be.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Seven Good Things in no particular order

  1. Lying in bed and having a small poodle nestle his warm body against one's slightly arthritic lower back.
  2. Finally clearing up a pile of things dropped in one spot for moving elsewhere "later." I have an antique student desk at the foot of the stairway. It's in a little nook and the perfect place to drop things for later travel upstairs. Except that things seem to grow roots there. Yesterday I bestirred myself to clear out the whole mess.
  3. Listening to a Great Horned Owl calling out there in the dark.
  4. Being in the middle of a book that wants me to come back to it.
  5. Seeing all three animals cavorting and exercising their instincts. All of us outdoors. In complete comfort. In late November.
  6. Knowing that I need not go out among the maddened Shoppers who are armed with pepper spray and worse.
  7. Sitting and conversing with Husband about news stories or acquaintances or the tractor. Such comfort.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Post-Thanksgiving Saturday

A fairly recent phenomenon: I often wake myself up talking to my dream companions. Husband told me the other morning he could hear me singing in my sleep. He didn't recognize the melody, he said, "but it was tuneful," a choice of words that made me laugh. As I poured my coffee and fed the dogs I had Helen Reddy singing Delta Dawn rattling around in my head. I never cared much for that song; it's hard to believe that, in my sleep, having no one but myself to please, I would choose to sing it.

Thanksgiving Day
A smaller group this year than on any holiday in recent years, but what a combo. Husband invited friend Joe, I invited friend Barb. They'd never met and I had a great deal of fun watching them preen for each other. 
Barb brought her dog Moby with her and Angus, who, you will recall, loves new friends, did his best to drive his guest mad with attention. Moby is an elderly, gentlemanly dog, however, and finally, after increasingly stern admonitions, made it clear that he preferred to watch undistracted for falling food. Angus stood back, tail all a-twitchet, quivering with happiness, but . . . back.
Food holidays belong to Husband and he is always extremely ambitious with his array of menu items. It's a family tradition that something gets forgotten. Usually it's the bread or rolls; this year it was the cranberry sauce. Practically treasonous, isn't it, to forget the cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving? But there it is,  still sitting virginally untouched in the fridge. 
I put away almost more food than we put out. We really have to talk about downsizing his offerings. He thinks maybe it's time to begin dining out on Thanksgiving. Fine with me. I'll be days cleaning and putting away every dish and cooking pan and utensil we own. And that was for four people.
By the time we got to dessert . . . two pies, a two-layer carrot cake, and cookies . . . I was nearly passing out from food overload. Most of the sweets are still nearly intact and I happily nibble between dishwasher loads. 

The weather is unbelievable. When have we ever had such a stretch of sunny, near-sixty-degree days in November? I adore it; I am out walking more now than I was when it was Official Good Weather time. 
Yesterday I thought I had lost my camera. I looked upstairs and down, in all the places where I put things so I won't forget where they are. It was in none of those places. Aha! There it was, among the Keurig cups on the kitchen counter! Who would not have looked there first? I'm just relieved to have it back again. I thought the gremlins (or that goddamn Jim D---- . . . a story for another time) had taken it. 

Late on Thursday evening I was once again reading about the benefits of apple cider vinegar. One site advised that if you drink water all day long, it's as well to add a splash of vinegar at every fill-up rather than add two teaspoons in one "dose." I tried the "adding a splash at every fill-up" yesterday. I do not recommend it. I needed a Pepcid at bedtime, which altogether defeats the purpose of the vinegar.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Damn the peppers!

Who needs peppers for clearing out the sinuses? The fresh horseradish in Husband's shrimp cocktail sauce did the trick.
I have the sensation!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Clearing out the sinuses

The week before last, Husband went to New Jersey and brought back a head cold. He stayed home and slept for half the week. On just the day he announced that he was feeling better, I began to sniffle, and took a day and a half off from work to tip over into sleep. Our household has, for the last couple of weeks, been a house of sleeping shifts.
This New Jersey cold seems relatively painless. It knocked out each of us for seventy-two hours and now sits quietly in our sinuses, not dripping, not hurting, just there. It did not sneak down into my bronchi and morph into a chest cold. You can't imagine how grateful I am for that favor.
Over the weekend I made a pot of chili con carne. I wanted it very very spicy hot. I bought fresh jalapeno peppers and chopped up several of them, making sure to throw in every seed. It fell short of my hopes. It was very tasty chili but it did not sear the linings of my sinuses, making it necessary for me to hold a paper towel at my nostrils while I ate. 
Sunday evening I baked russet potatoes for supper with a little buffet of various toppings, one of which was chopped fresh jalapeno pepper. With the seeds. Delicious. But still not paper-towel-at-the-nostrils material.
Perhaps what I need is to stuff the peppers with potato and eat that.

A friend recommends Ponaris, which for some reason I keep remembering as Peloponnesus. I'm not sure I wouldn't prefer to keep experimenting with food.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

News flash: Bad things happen to children

I was sixteen. My sister was away at college. 
My mother had started going to meetings of Parents Without Partners. My sister and I were pleased with that development. Mom had never been a joiner, and it was a relief to know that she was getting out and about with people. It was a great improvement over her sitting at the diningroom table drinking and playing solitaire. I didn't know what the point of the organization was, but it was, apparently, a sort of dating service.
So Mom met this man and she went on a date with him. I think he came to the door to be introduced to me and they left. I watched television and went to bed. I woke up to hear some clumsy noises on the stairs . . . giggling and tripping. The man had brought my very drunk mother home, got her upstairs and poured her into bed. She passed out and he went downstairs. I stayed in bed for a few minutes, but I didn't like the idea that he was downstairs alone in our house. So I got up, in my little flowered jersey nightgown, and I went downstairs.
The lights were on. He was sitting on our couch. I perched on the edge of a chair. I wanted him to go. I didn't want him to be hanging around. We didn't have anything that he would steal, but I didn't like him there unsupervised in our home at midnight. 
He and I conversed. I think I got him a cup of coffee. He glossed over the drunk mother part: Your mom had a little too much to drink. I said that that was not an infrequent occurrence. He noticed my high school picture on a side table.
"Is that you?"
I nodded.
"Do you know what I see in that face? ...in that chin?"
"I see . . . determination."
I liked that observation. I felt flattered. I probably made one of those noncommittal indecisive head and shoulder motions that sixteen-year-olds are wont to make.
"May I kiss you?" he asked me.
I thought for a minute. I didn't know how to say no, or indeed, why I should. A kiss isn't a terrible thing in and of itself. "Okay," I said. 
So, anyway, he kissed me. On the lips. It was a pretty chaste kiss. He didn't lean me over or mash his mouth into mine, but it lasted longer than I felt comfortable with, and he was all trembly. It was creepy, and I withdrew and said I thought he'd better go.
He thanked me and, shortly after, got up and left.
I locked the door and went back to bed.
I didn't tell my mother. Mom couldn't handle troubling news.

A year or so before, I hadn't told her that the assistant manager at the cafeteria where I worked after school had taken me into the walk in cooler, his regular choice of trysting places. What with the surprise of it all, the short notice, the nerves, our meeting was just a lot of writhing and sweating, no actual sexual activity, but our few minutes' absence from the rest of the closing crew was noted. His old girlfriend, an older woman of seventeen, was jealous. I was fifteen and flattered. 
He was forty-two.

When I was fourteen I was sure I was pregnant. At breakfast one morning I broke down in tears and shared that fear with my mother. "That isn't possible," she said. "You haven't done anything that would make you pregnant. Do you know what happens to make you pregnant?"
It was 1965. What world did she think I was living in?
She stood up and hugged me. She was shaking. She pressed her hand against my body and said, "There's nothing in there. There's nothing in there." A few days later I knew that I was not pregnant. 
That was all we said about that. 

So I guess my point is that probably most kids have experiences that we would all be scandalized to know about. Adults have probably been hitting on kids for as long as there have been adults and kids. I don't think it's particularly healthy or recommended as a way for people to live, but it happens. Adults don't always have the best interests of children at heart, just the way no human always has the best interests of any other human at heart. Adults are not always trustworthy with children, just the way people, in general, are not always trustworthy, period.
I think it's too bad that adults are afraid to touch children who need a hug. Maybe if kids could get hugs when they want them, they wouldn't be so ready to take them from people who shouldn't give them.
It is Sunday at 4:37am and I am awake and growing drowsy. One of the reasons I love to get up in the wee hours is the fuzzy foggy fading that precedes my return to bed and the floating return to sleep. Ah, going back to sleep is one of my life's great pleasures. 
One morning I toddled back to my pillows with chilly toes. I arranged myself among my pillows, pulled the covers up to my ears, made sure my nose was well out into the air. My drift off to sleep was plagued by those cold toes. "I wish I'd fall asleep!" I thought. "My feet always warm up when I fall asleep." 
My consciousness had nearly gone away when a wave of warmth rolled over me from shoulders to feet. It felt just like a bolt of warm cloth moving down my body, enshrouding me in pure deep comfort. It felt so good that I smiled into my pillow, there all by myself, and the thought came to me: "I bet this is how it feels when you die."
Wouldn't it be just something, and not the least bit surprising, to find out that dying feels good?

I read something long ago that pointed out that the human body is designed to enjoy everything that it has to do. The functions required for ongoing life feel good. Eating, sleeping, digestive functions . . . they all feel good. It would make sense that dying would feel good. Not the getting ready to die: I don't mean that. I mean the final moment . . . the giving up of life. 
Maybe it feels good.
Maybe in the last seconds, there is a flash of, "What was I so scared of?"

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday evening

It's so nice to have people reading my ramblings and thinking, "Oh, me too!" It is nice, isn't it? Or does it indicate that I never have an original thought? That idea bothers me far less than it would have when I was younger. Especially now that I've reached nearly the middle of Sarum. Believe me: Excepting the occasional interpersonal kindness there is nothing any one of us can do that will amount to a hill of beans a hundred years from now. The things that take up so much of our thought . . . wars, standing stones, wildly successful careers or the lack thereof . . . well, perhaps not standing stones, since I hardly ever think about them . . .  in a hundred years nobody will even know what any of it was about.

It's been an incredibly mild and warm weekend, and I've spent a good deal of time outdoors. 
This afternoon I went around and picked up every one of the solar lights that I put out at the beginning of the Warm Time. About a quarter of the things have stopped working. Maybe the solar batteries have worn out or maybe there isn't enough sun these days to charge them. I put all but two of them into the cardboard box in which they arrived, and put the box in the barn. It was dark enough inside the box that almost all of them began to glow. I closed the flaps so that the light wouldn't escape enough to creep me out should I go out there after dark. The two that I did not put away are on either side of the front door. I like the way they look, and now that it's dark by 5:00pm they'll give me a clue where the house is when I get home from work.

In response to comments:

  • School taxes are just another kind of property tax . . . a percentage of the value (as judged by the town assessor and his board) of one's home. School tax bills are sent out by the school district or by the school district's agent (a bank) and the funds  are for use by the school district, as distinct from regular old property taxes which pay for everything else.
  • Those pictures are House-And-Barn. One property, two buildings. Three if you count the little garden shed . . . the red thing in the pictures with the poodles.
  • We have the boyz trimmed in the very most practical and comfortable cuts we can get. Angus gets close-cropped because he's chubby and has silky hair that grows into mats; Max's body grows weekly thinner and he needs extra wool to help keep him from being shivery. So they both look round and roly-poly, but only one of them is. I had to trim Max's bangs yesterday because they were getting so long that they were irritating his eyes. Now he looks like an opossum. It isn't his best look, but he's more comfortable.
  • Where neighbors are close enough to wander across a property line, there would be fences. Here where we hardly see a neighbor from one month to the next, and then only as we wave happily . . . they enjoying their morning walk while my vehicle careens down the hill past them on my way to work . . . we leave it to big fields to provide insulation.

It's Sunday evening.
Eight workdays until the Thanksgiving holiday.
Let the countdown begin.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Random thoughts early on a Saturday morning

I am horrified and incensed at the number of people who seem intelligent and engaged with the world who do not vote. 
I know somebody who was running for local office (she lost) and her list of eligible voters revealed that an alarming number of people are not even registered to vote, and that many registered voters never vote. I just can't believe it. With all the brouhaha that goes on about politics . . . everybody I meet seems to have an opinion and why wouldn't they all since opinions are like that other thing that everybody has . . . and a lot of these yahoos don't step foot into their local polling places. 

Woolly bear caterpillars are apparently more of a weather predictor than I ever imagined. I used to work with a man who knew how to read them, or said he did. He would look at one and say, "See? It's going to be an early winter!"
And I'd look and say, "Hunh!"
I don't remember if the following winter turned out to be early or not.
I can't remember two months ago. 
I just remember that I love the light and warm months and I'm sleepy in the dark and cold months and that's how I go on. I might as well be a prehistoric woman. 
Except that I vote. 
Every time.

A friend of mine, years ago, told a bunch of mutual friends that I had not repaid a small debt to her. I had repaid the debt, not an hour, not a half hour, after having incurred it. You know . . . that slander bothers me so much that I think about it in the middle of the night. When I learned of it, it was a long time after the event . . . so long that I didn't know what in the world she was talking about. By the time I remembered, so much more time had elapsed that it seems small of me to be so bothered by it. Let it go, I tell myself, but here I am.

Husband traveled for a good part of last week. I loved it. I made noise in the middle of the night, I ate odd combinations of food, I slept and rose at odd (even odder than usual) hours. Right up until he drove in the driveway I was thinking how nice it would be to have a husband who paid the bills and dropped in once every week or so. The minute he was home, the air felt more comfortable, colors seemed to have more depth, my body felt more comfortable. Everything got . . . right . . . and I hadn't even known I was off kilter.

There is a slight coating of snow on the stone wall, on the picnic table in the front yard. It's supposed to be a sunny Saturday, so it will go away. And Sunday's forecast is "mostly sunny," so that's good. And then the whole week falls apart into gray wet mush. I need to get my snow tires on before the gray wet mush becomes white fluffy mush.

I am reading Sarum and enjoying it. It is so long that it might be the last book I ever read. And the print in the 1100+ page paperback is so small that I might lose my sight before the last page. But it's a story that rolls right along. It reminds me of a social studies book I had when I was in fourth grade. It was about the Piedmont region of the US and was narrated by the children of a family who lived there. My sister ridiculed it: "My social studies books are history books, not storybooks like that one!" I'll bet I remember more about the contents of my "storybook" than she does of her dry old histories of which she was so proud. I do just fine learning my history from stories: nearly all of what I know of World War II is from having read The Winds of War.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I am restored.

The beautiful and sunny weekend restored me.
Angus and Max poodled around among the fruit trees.
You can just see Angus' little sprout of a tail at the left among the shrub branches.

Angus is subject to sudden bursts of joyful Run Back To Mom energy.

Max realized that now he was down there all by himself . . . 

. . . and trudged back up the lawn.

The wood man dropped off two cords of firewood. 
We're all set for this winter and next; this represents future warmth and security.
Two more loads will come before winter sets in for real.

Husband called Neighbor Farmer: "Does your kid want to stack some wood?"
The young man, in his early teens and therefore eager to establish himself as strong and able, 
will be along this week to stack all that. 
Farm kids are the best.

Husband puttered with other things. 
I wandered up the field and took pictures.

I hardly ever go up in that direction. It certainly offers a different perspective.
It makes us look like Little House on the Prairie folk.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Weekend. At last.

I have written lyrical, pretty prosey posts. This is not one of those.
I am so glad it's the weekend I could plotz.

For most of the week . . . no, for all of the week, I wrestled with one of the cops' "times used" in order to get it right for reimbursement from the workers compensation insurer. He got his finger broken while subduing an evildoer on June 13, and came back to work on September 8. What with hours used from accumulated Comp time, Holiday time, Personal time, Vacation time, Sick time, and 36 hours one week and 44 hours the next week to make several two-week, eighty-hour pay periods, the project just about drove me around the bend. It's about as done now as I can get it. If I have to go back at it again on Monday I might have to cry or vomit or just get up and come home. Or go to the bus station and wait for the next Greyhound no matter where it's going.
My right eyelid is red and puffy.  Just the lid, not the eyeball. I believe it is the fault of my makeup or my facial cleanser having gotten into my eye. This happened before and it healed itself in a few days.  At that time I determined not to use the cleanser around my eyes and not to overdo the makeup too close to the lash line. I broke both of those rules and the next day? You guessed it. I went to work yesterday with my Quasimodo eye and no makeup, hoping somebody would say, "You look sick and should go home immediately." No one did. No one even noticed or mentioned it until I was walking out the door at 4:30. 
Did I mention I'm glad it's the weekend?

On the way home I stopped at the bank, withdrew funds to pay the school tax and put the check in the mail. It is due on Monday: perfect timing. Then I stopped and picked up a greasy delicious pepperoni and onion pizza for supper. At this rate, what care I about the numbers of my cholesterol and my bathroom scale? It is the weekend and it is all mine. Mine, mine . . . all mine. I even believe that the sun might shine. If I die before Monday, at least I will be current with my school taxes.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Winter begins

People in the Northeast always say, 
"I live here because I like the change of seasons."

Looking up the driveway October 10, 2011

Looking up the driveway October 27, 2011

I think, however, that winter could wait a little while longer to begin.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

John Chancellor Makes Me Cry

In addition to avoiding celebrity bios, I'm really not much into non-fiction in general: so much of what I have sampled has been dry and completely without artistic imagery. But I have enjoyed every Anne Rivers Siddons book I've ever read . . . which is to say, all of them except her newest, Burnt Mountain, so I tried her very first published book (of essays), John Chancellor Makes Me Cry. And loved it. I laughed out loud and found phrases and descriptions worthy of underlining on nearly every page. I liked that in a couple of the essays, ARS revealed some pretty disagreeable aspects of her own personality; it isn't everybody who'd do that.

I seem to be in Book Review mode lately, so this is my recommendation for today:
I believe it's out of print, so a used book store or eBay, or, of course, the library, is the way to get it.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

"Me" by Katharine Hepburn

Floridagirl said she was disappointed with it.
I was too. I kept reading and reading and waiting for some revelation of . . . something. The most touching part was, I think, the last chapter wherein KH wrote about Spencer Tracy dying. It was touching, but not exactly revelatory.
I might have enjoyed it more if I'd read it while it was new, while KH was still alive, while I still revered her. There is no question that the writing is her voice, her cadence, her style.
The fault is mine for waiting so long to read it.

I don't read many celebrity autobiographies. They always seem to wilt into a listing of what famous people were where when. In my squirrel-like gathering of used books I picked up Beverly and now I'm afraid to read it.
Beverly: An Autobiography

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sometimes, dreams mean absolutely nothing.

I had a dream that I met the Obamas at my office. 
They were seated in theater seats watching some performance while I stood next to them running a postage meter. 
Michelle was beautiful and I stared at her. She smiled back, friendly. I leaned over and whispered, "Can I ask you a question?" 
"Sure," she said. 
"How many pairs of false eyelashes are you wearing?" 
She burst into guffaws. "Twelve!!!!"

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sleep, dream, cat, book, and a good deed

It is October: the Dark Time is closing in. I have begun to indulge my seasonal urge to go to bed very early, knowing that I'll have that first sleep/second sleep break at about this hour. Last night I was in bed by 7:30, ostensibly to read a recently-bought book that I've wanted to read since its 1992 publication.  (When the flood rendered the local library unworkable, I began again to scurry about snatching up used books at ridiculously low prices. I gather the library has reopened now, and I need to return the four books that I've been holding onto since their late August due date. Not only is it a matter of conscience, but the librarian is no longer so taken up with refurbing the building, the shelves, the plumbing and heating systems and the computers, that she cannot take a moment to email an overdue notice. I hadn't wanted to take them back and add to her burden, you see, so I just kept them here . . . but she's onto me. The fines should amount to a generous donation to the rebuilding fund.) Anyway, the book I'm reading is Katharine Hepburn's "Me." I love the Katharine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy movies and general mystique, but it's taking Kate a long time to get to Spencer. I think we're almost there now. I read a few pages, in which she repeats many times how well she and Mr. (Louis B./Metro-Goldwyn-) Mayer like each other, and when I got to where she's just made her first movie with Spencer, "Woman of the Year," I was satisfied that we'd be getting to the good stuff soon, and turned out the light.

At midnight *ping!* eyes wide open. The pleasant fuzzy, warm, sinking-back-to-sleep feeling receded like the tide going out. Fifteen minutes later I thought about having a lovely toasted  bagel, so I turned on the light and sat up on the edge of the bed. The dark makes perfect mirrors of the unshaded bedroom windows. I looked at my reflection in the black window and thought, "Oh good God, I look like that toy!" 
I spent an uncomfortably long minute at my image, finally thought, "Well, if I'm that far gone, one more middle-of-the-night bagel won't make much difference," got up and bumbled down the stairs. 

What woke me up was a dream. Naturally. It was something about updating a framed photograph at work. All the previous photographs were still in the frame so that it made a sort of historical archive, and the new one, a picture of a young woman, was to go in front of all of the old ones. I had the job all done, was ready to hang it back on the lobby wall, when somebody came in and asked what I was doing. I took it all apart to illustrate the history contained within the photo frame, and dropped the entire collection of pictures on the floor . . . and could not find the newest photo that was supposed to be displayed. I continued to look, with no success, so I woke up instead. If my dreams take me to another dimension, people there with whom I interact must be continually surprised at my disappearance when stressed. "She was here a minute ago . . . where'd she go?!?!"

When I got home last night, there was a black cat crouched in the sunny, wind-blown tall grass along the driveway. I stopped the car and we looked at each other. I opened the window on his side of the car and said softly, "Kittykittykitty?" He looked at me. Thinking to myself, "What are you doing???" I got out of the car with a plan to approach him, knowing that if I touched him I'd have crossed a line which should not be crossed. Fortunately for me, for MiMau and the rest of the household, as soon as he saw that I was coming to him, he turned and ran away as fast as ever I have seen a cat run. He's a pretty cat with emerald eyes. A little ratty, as you might expect. He's living a wild life, not the Best of All Possible Worlds life that fluffy soft MiMau leads. Apparently he prefers it to human companionship and care. Husband said, when I told him the story, that he'd seen the same cat as he came home. The cat was three quarters of a mile away. Big territory: good for him!
10/22/2011 ~ Early this afternoon I saw the little cat again, even farther from here. Between the two sightings is a nice barn full of warm cows, so I think I will not worry about the little cat during the cold winter. 

I can afford this little mid-sleep break tonight because I need not rise early for work. I'm taking a vacation day to ferry a friend to and from her colonoscopy. A Good Deed . . . and a day off from work to begin the weekend.