Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!

"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

For old quotes, look here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Holiday Baking Music



I'm gearing up for a full on baking extravaganza, and I like to listen to certain music while I'm rocking around the kitchen.  I thought I'd share.  The music, I mean.  Because I don't know how to upload baked goods.

How're you doing?

Friday, December 7, 2018

Thoughtfetti

Sometimes when I’m out in the world, I put in my earbuds and listen to music.  I have lots of music in my device of devicing, and also Pandora.  Sometimes instead of music, I turn on my Eddie Izard station.  I am rather fond of him.  Don’t tell anyone, but I may have a tiny fan girl crush on him. 

The Eddie Izard station plays quite a few other comedians, and I’m often laughing.

Turns out when one is wandering up and down the aisles of the local grocery store, chuckling and laughing out loud for no discernible reason, one makes other shoppers nervous.  Turn their cart around and go the other way nervous.
~~~~~

I may have mentioned this before, but I tend to drive on the faster side of the speed limit.  Imagine my astonishment when I was toddling along a two lane road at just over what the law allowed and someone decided that I was too slow and should be passed on the left on a blind curve, no passing zone.




They didn’t benefit much from their foolery - they got to the light about 12 seconds before I did.  Yes, I snapped a photo.  Rude and dangerous = public shaming, and they’re lucky they didn’t have a head-on collision because that’s a busy road.
~~~~~
We’ve already had our annual cookie swap, but I still have a lot of baking to do.  I’ll be making snickerdoodles, oatmeal-everything cookies, white trash cookies, and possibly some variety of chocolate/white chocolate bark and crack.  The toffee/chocolate kind, not the legally dubious stuff.  Do you have a holiday cooking/treat tradition?
~~~~~
I’ve never been much for Chia Pets, but I may have to make an exception.

Can you blame me?
~~~~~
Go watch this video - it’s worth it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cUz-zAATNI&feature=share 
~~~~~
How are your holidays shaping up, dear reader?

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving

Here followeth a Casa de Crazy Thanksgiving Day Tradicion:


And a new addition to the tradition:



We hope you have a pleasant, tasty, mellow, comfortable, not-at-all-contentious Thanksgiving day if you are in the USA and an all around good one if not in the USA or not celebr
ating.

Here's the link of you want to view full screen:  Alice's Restaurant  and Thankful

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thankful

I have a few traditions on Thanksgiving. Not many - the menu, recording the Macy's parade so I can watch it and fast-forward through all the crappy pop music, commercials, and talking heads to see the twenty minutes of balloons, floats and high school bands I'm interested in hidden among all that junk  (although I will have to forgo that pleasure, this year, alas, unless Mom remembers to record it for me to peruse at her house another time), and my list of some things for which I am thankful, in no particular order and in no way complete:

The house in which I live
The Evil Genius
Mum
Sprout
Gypsy, K2, Mizz A, Kit, Sam-I-Am, PJ, Mizz Beth, Martha 'n' Milo, Avalon, and all of my friends who put up with me when I am most myself and therefor least likable. They are the net beneath me when I fly and fall
Bread
The scent of leaf loam and woodsmoke in the crisp autumn air
Books, music, and art
Clean, plentiful water
Clean air
Clean clothes
Freedom
Nature and the ways she finds to show me something new of herself every day
Words
Song
Dance
Adversity, that joy is all the sweeter (Okay, okay, the joy is sweet enough, so basta with the adversity for a minute, please)
Every creature and plant that I consume to sustain myself, because without the life I take, I would have no life to live
Love - that it exists at all is a wonder, and I feel blessed to know it in many forms
Chocolate, gift from the Gods (yes, even the perversion called "candy bar") (Mmm...candy bar...)
Honeycrisp Apples
Strong hands
Strong spirit
Strong will
Laughter
Cussed determination not to curl up and die just because life can sometimes be a succession of truly awful, bleak, and desolate days...but sometimes it isn't
The Internet
You

I hope you have a blessed day, and that the things for which you're thankful outweigh the things for which you're not.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all, from us at Casa de Crazy to you out in the Blue Nowhere and beyond.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Counting Down

It is Saturday of Thanksgiving week and there is much happening here at the Casa.

The kids and I are terrorizing the cats...er...tidying up a bit.  Poor Casa de Crazy is a right mess as a result of some serious depression, chaos, and stress (so what's new?), and it WILL BE CLEAN for Thanksgiving.  Or, at least, the parts our guests will see will be clean.  I hope.

This is a somewhat traditional post for me - every year I write a little something about this week, as it is the lead-off to The Silly Season (aka Christmahannukwazakuh) and often one of my busiest here at the Casa.

So, here we go.

Saturday (today) - Bread baking for the dressing, and housekeepery. Oh, lort, the housekeepery.  Also washing all of the dishes, bowls, and platters for Thursday 
since they're the "good" dishes* and sit all year until I pull them out for Thanksgiving.  They're in a cupboard, but still.

Sunday - More housework.  Lort, the housework.  Then there's the laundry.  Oh, lort, the laundry.  There may be more dishes, too, because right now I have to hand wash them all.  Thomas Turkey comes out of the freezer and transitions to the fridge, as does the turkey stock for the dressing and the gravy.

Monday - cleaning, cleaning, more cleaning (I move slowly, the Casa is enormous, and I am not a good housekeeper so when we DO clean, it's a job).  Grocery shopping, because there's nothing like looking for obscure ingredients at the last minute.  Panicking about the butter - is two pounds enough for the day?  Gah!  Making sure the table linens are washed and ready to use and pulling out the "good" flatware**.

Tuesday - Quilt guild (I'm bringing a quilt to baste, hurrah) and veggie chopping.

Wednesday - volunteering 
at the HaHC and then helping Mom set up for the Mistletoe Market, then making mashed turnips and carrots ahead of time and getting the dressing assembled.  Make s key lime pie.

Thursday - 
Turkey goes in to bake.  Dressing goes in to bake.  Green beans are steamed.   Finishing up any last minute cleaning.  Children are shooed outside to frolic.  Friends and family trickle in.  Set the table.  Fill the water pitcher.  Watch TV and baste the turkey.  Make food, food, more food.  Start Dutch apple pie baking and thaw chocolate silk pie thawing (because Marie Callender does pie so well, I'm happy to let her).  Serve.  Eat.  Coma.  Dessert and coffee/tea.  More coma.  Play games.  Pack leftovers to go for guests.  Eat more.  Sleep well.

Friday - Mistletoe Market at the hahc, peddling hand crafted goods.

Saturday - More Mistletoe Market, then teardown and home to wilt.

Sunday - Rest.  Possibly interspersed with napping.

How is your week shaping up?


*These are dishes that Mum and I bought one piece at a time from a grocery store a long, long, looooong time ago.  Service for fourteen including serving dishes, either free or bargain priced with purchase of a certain amount of groceries.  I love them.  Not fancy, but pretty and simple and I like them.

**Not sterling, but some rather lovely and solid stainless steel flatware from the Oneida Company, back when there was a Betty Crocker catalog and we clipped Betty Crocker points from boxes and saved them in a tin on top of the refrigerator.  Service for twelve, and some day I hope to expand it and add more serving pieces and other cutlery, but that'll have to wait a bit because it's a discontinued pattern and getting the pieces I'd like to have will cost a small fortune.  I adore my pattern, bought a few pieces at a time through the mail with little bits o
f cardboard and postage paid.

Just 
a wee side note - I typed and edited this with a malfunctioning keyboard.  Several keys, including the "a" don't work.  To get around the problem, I copied the "a" and pasted whenever I needed it.  Do you know how many words need an "a"?  Me, neither, but it's a lot.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Not the Post I Wanted To Write



My cousin's husband slipped through the veil in the wee hours, when souls are restless and seem most likely to let go of their bodies and wander. 

She has not been silent during his long letting go.  She has shared the sublime, the gut wrenching, snapshots of their whole family's journey through his cancer.  From here, so far away from her, I've been a witness and I've prayed in my way.

Every day, every photograph, the same prayer.  "Oh, you gods of love and family, hope and healing, you gods of miracles and wonders, if ever there was a family that deserved a miracle, this is one.  Find one.  For them.  Good people, strong love, grace, transformation, determination, humor...find them a miracle."  The gods were silent.  There was no miracle.  When I pass through the veil, we will have words.

We don't talk a lot, my cousins and me.  We're kind of scattered, really, geographically, spiritually, philosophically.  Scattered, but how quickly we can coalesce when we want to, need to?  I like to believe there would be sonic booms.  Facebook has been our re-connecting point, and I'm grateful for it.

So.  What can I say about M?  Sadly, foremost is that I didn't know him well at all.  I think we spent a handful of minutes in the same room, long ago.  Never spoke after that.  No enmity, just...distance.  Just...life.  We were strangers, but in a distant, married-to-my-cousin kind of way I loved him.  He loved my cousin.  I love my cousin.  I want happiness...joy...for my family.  He made her happy.  For the sake of that alone, I'd have donned armor and fought dragons for him.

From where I sit, they had a good life, a good love, the kind of thing you can look at and maybe be wistful about.  Nothing is perfect, not even perfect love, but if there is love, and courage, perseverance, laughter, and an understanding that the rough times don't define, that things can be gotten through, wounds can heal...then perfectly flawed is as perfect as perfect gets.  They seemed to have that.

My cousin's strength and grace through the long, treacherous journey through his cancer have been incredible.

I can't write the details, the small things that they did to make each other crazy, to make each other laugh...I don't know about cuddles with their son, time spent with her daughter, or whether they danced around the living room in silly hats or any of the little things that make the larger part of a life.  I saw her photos on FB, her smiles and pride in her family, his struggle and determination to keep on fighting for what seems like a terrible, long time.  Photos of tender connection between the children, hands nesting in each other, smiles, and beneath it...sometimes...pain.  A sense of bone-deep weariness.  Struggle.  Will.  They didn't just give up, they had something worth fighting for.
Tiny glimpses of something marvelous, even towards the end.

He is and will ever be a part of the whole, always in my mind as her husband and father to their son.  Always and forever.

Hail, M.
Hail the traveler.
May your journey to the next world be swift and easy.
May you leave behind all memory of sorrow and pain.
May you carry with you all memory of love, of happiness.
May you be met with joy and fellowship by those who went before you,
And should you one day return to this life, may those who loved you know you again.
Hail, M.
Hail the traveler.

And FUCK!!!  CANCER!!!!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Toss


Every day (I'd say morning, but sometimes it isn't) I get up.

I get up and drag my body through the motions of getting dressed, foraging in the wild of Kitchen de Crazy for something to eat, and expending the enormous amount of effort and energy required to eat it.

After that I...

Well...

That kind of depends.

There's spoon theory, I guess.

That works.

But I think, for me, maybe Dice Theory would be more apropos.

Every day is a toss of the dice.  Roll for skills, or saving throw, or whatever.  Which dice get tossed depend on a number of conditions.  I haven't quantified them, yet. 

There are occasional positive modifiers, pluses to my roll: a good night's sleep, less-to-zero aches and pains, mental health is up, stress is down, etc.

There are negative modifiers, too, and these are more frequent, almost constant:  poor sleep, stress, mental illness, discomfort-to-outright-pain, body going haywire because why wouldn't it?, etc.

These modifiers have to be added/subtracted from my roll.  Basic life functions require a minimum total, and most of the time I have to roll high (not natural-twenty high, but dammit close) just to scrape through.  Anything ambitious like going out into the world, interacting with people, doing more than a minimum washing of dishes in the housework department, even eating something that isn't pre-packaged and probably unhealthy, means I need to roll very high, have few or no minuses and a whole lot of pluses.  It happens, and it's glorious, but it's rare.  I eat a lot of cheese and crackers or pop-tarts on low-roll days.

Every day is a variable.  Some days I don't even have it in me to throw the dice and count the pips (or add the numbers, really, since most of my dice, metaphorical and real, are gaming dice and pips are impractical on a D20).  Many days, there's more than one toss - basic function, going out into the world, taking on a project, deep cleaning a room, taking a shower, combing my hair.  If the total falls below the required number (which is different every time), it's...er...no dice.  If it just makes or is slightly above the minimum, we have liftoff and may even have moderate success.  High rolls and lots of pluses mean it's a go, and it's pleasant and possibly not exhausting, maybe even energizing.

A poor roll doesn't have to mean failure, it just means I'll need to work a lot harder at something that should be easy...but just isn't.  A good roll doesn't guarantee smashing success, but at least it'll be easier to do the things and maybe I won't feel enervated at the end of it.

It's not fully fleshed out, my Dice Theory...I imagine it'll be a lifetime's project.  Still, it kinda works for me, and I'm used to things that kinda-but-maybe-not-completely work.

What'd you roll, today? 

Friday, August 17, 2018

Letting Go

I've been holding on for a long time.

Longer than maybe I should have.  Longer than maybe that most other folks would.  Longer than anyone else thought I could, or should.

Walking along the edge of a cliff, feeling the pull.


For a while I was balanced, poised, steady.  Things got a little...rocky...a little...rough...but I kept walking, kept going.  "Surely the path will smooth out eventually...won't it?" became something of a mantra for me.  I am tenacious (stubborn would be a more accurate description - tenacity seems to be more of a virtue, and I don't really feel virtuous), steadfast, determined to find my way along.  I don't like to give up!

Somewhere along the way, I skidded on some scree.  I teetered, reached for something to hold onto, found nothing but empty air.  Flailed.  Stumbled.  Slid.

And over I went.  Toppled into the sea of sky.

Somehow, before I joined entirely the wheeling denizens of the air with my own graceless, downward flight, I caught hold of an edge.  Only just, scrabbling for better purchase, stone gnawing at my flesh, tearing, tattering.  I sought better purchase, tried to pull myself up.  I was too weak.  My weight, the weight I carried, was too much.  Arms trembling, fingers slipping, I tried to call out for help, but I had no voice.  Perhaps I was too scared, but I like to think I was just too damned tired.  I am certain that some part of me didn't care to hold on any longer.  Why should I?  The damage being done was too much, and holding on hurt.

Eventually, the inevitable - I fell.

It was bad, at first.  Everything seized up and the air rushed past, the rock face blurred, creatures of the sky cast curious glances at my plummeting form.

Fall long enough, far enough, and you relax.  Did you know that?  You sort of accept what's happening, and one can only maintain that adrenaline rush for so long before the fearful becomes the norm.  It wasn't fun, and I kept looking for a rope, a root, something to grab and stop my fall, but there was nothing. 



I'm still falling.  It's a terribly long way down, after all...

...but I think my wings are coming along nicely.

~~~~~

Someone and I are no more.  We...I...have reached the point where there's no reconciling our differences.  Although I didn't want to, I found myself feeling compelled to call the police a few nights ago, pushed by his drinking, his anger, his verbal and psychological abuse of me, of the kids.  I'd asked him to move out some time ago, to give us some space and time to breathe, collect ourselves, patch up the worst of the damage and see if we could rebuild.

He didn't.

And then things broke down entirely, and I was dialing the phone with a stomach full of dread, a heart full of hurt, a head echoing with hateful, blaming, goading words and the sound of fists pounding on the glass shower door while I tried to wash my hair.  Enough. Was. Enough.

I will not be the supply for a narcissist any more.

He will not remove himself from this house, despite having been asked and asked, so I will be forced to begin legal proceedings.  I don't like this.  I feel that I must, though, because what happens to me makes no difference to me, but my kids?  Are another story entirely.

I did the thing I dreaded, never quite believing what I was doing even in the moment.

Here's hoping I finish building my wings before I go splat.

Monday, August 13, 2018

People Soundtrack

Music.

It's a large part of me, of how I feel and express, create and connect.

You've likely heard about the concept of a personal sound track, like in the movies but for your life - songs that are indelibly embedded with memories of places, times, emotions.  Songs that unfailingly remind you of your moments.

I have those songs.

I find that I've got a track within the track, too,



It's my People Soundtrack.

I'm feeling...things...and decided that I'd like to share some of my people with you.


John Watson


John was a dear young man.  I'd never heard this song  before his memorial.  It's sweet, and lovely, and when I hear it I always say "Hello, John Watson" and smile a little.  I miss him so.

Matt from PHP

He's married and has at least one child, now, but I knew him when he was sweet, painfully young, and attending a social group of which I was also a member.  He recorded a version of The Moldau for me when he learned that I adore it.  I believe that he is still sweet, if not quite so young (the years, they do fly).

Gypsy (not her real name, but excepting those passed through the veil or already public in persona, I don't tend to use given appellations)

One of my dearest friends, Gypsy.  Before kids and life and whatnot, we spent a lot more time together.  She played this lush song for me and my French brain struggled to translate to English, but whether I understand every word or not (and there's a lot of "not", these days, but thank goodness for translating programs and my hazy memory of youthful French), I enjoy it.

K2

Sister of my heart, Godmother to my son, one of the dearest people in my life, this is but one of the many songs I found through her.  Decadent, dark chocolate song...

E

He's married to K2, and he's one of the very few people with whom I will discuss politics.  He's also one of my favorite tech wizards, and I appreciate how often he doesn't make me feel like an idiot.

Mizz R Green

Dear woman, Godmother to my daughter, we've shared a love for another that has brought us joy, pain, laughter, and commiseration.  With her I've learned lessons about polyamoury, some easy, some difficult.  She brought me this song during some dark days.

Manx

I've listened to s LOT of Neil Diamond in my lifetime, but until Manx did a karaoke version of this, I'd never heard it!  Now, when I listen to it, I think of my friend singing at the Starwood radio station by the road, waiting for others to come do some karaoke in the summer sun.

Mr. Grey (nothing near his real name, but it's the name he used when we met, and not, it's nothing to do with that awful book...as far as I know)

He didn't introduce me to this song, but I heard it just after we met and it struck me as sweet, and he's rather sweet, and somehow it stuck.  I'm rather fond of both Mr. Grey AND this song.  The video never fails to bring a smile to my face.  Lort, but how I wish I could dance!

Donna Donnovan

I am comfortable using her name because she is fairly public - she founded and is part of Appalachian Pagan Ministry, and they to good work.  She used this song for a video she did for the APM, and it stuck in my head.  I say hello to her whenever I hear it.  She is John Watson's mother, and I love her.

There are so many more, but I think it wise to stop here before a too-long blog becomes too-longer.

How about you?  Any songs that bring your people to mind?

Saturday, August 11, 2018

In Which I Hit the Kitchen, But Not In A Violent Kind of Way (Unless You're A Chicken)

Awake for hours in the middle of the night?  Physical pain?  Depression?  Relationship disintegrated?  Bad dreams? Ayuh.

What to do, what to doooo...


Cook, of course, after running a couple of errands.  I wanted chicken soup, but decided that I wanted more than one chicken carcass for the stock, so I bought a whole, cooked chicken at the market.  Which meant I wanted to do something with the meat since I didn’t need it for the soup.

Rosemary chicken salad with cranberries, it is!

 Purple onion, celery, and dried cranberries with salt (Some day I'll tell you about my salt mix.  I adore it.), freshly ground black pepper, and rosemary, getting happy in the bowl.

Chicken - since I wanted the bones for the stock but already had plenty of meat, I used everything this dear bird had to offer.  A couple of generous dollops of mayo and it was ready to get all riled up.

 I'm going to let it sit and think about life, the Universe, and everything for a while, let all those flavors mingle like they were at a cocktail party, only without the cocktails or spiffy duds.

One of the reasons I went out into the world today was to get a new jar to hold the Chex Mix (not according to their recipe) I made last night.  I have my beloved giant pickle jars, usually, but the're all in use right now and who couldn't use another nifty, pretty glass jar? 

Score, and at 75% off, to boot!

Pretty...
Yes, I washed it before filling it with all that buttery, crunchy goodness.

Meanwhile, the stock is on the stove, slowly coming up to a simmer.  I'm still feeling pretty rotten inside my head, so I'm going to go lie down and see if I can sleep away some of the grump.  If I can't, I suspect there will be more shenanigans in Kitchen de Crazy, probably dark chocolate chip brownie type ones, possibly accompanied by vanilla-mocha buttercream frosting (or icing, I'm not picky).

How's your weekend shaping up?

Sunday, July 29, 2018

So. Much. Nope.

Holy wow.  It's almost August?  How is it almost August?  I mean, I know how it's almost August, in theory, because time and dates and winged something and whatnot, but how the hell is it almost August???

Where have I been?  What have I been doing?  It was just June, just yesterday, really, just June, and now it's suddenly almost August?

My house is a mess.

How's that new?  It's not, really, I'm just thinking that it can't be almost August and my house is still the same mess it was in May.  At the very least, there should be a whole new mess, but this?  This is the same mess.  That candy cane was on the floor before I left for my father's memorial in June.  Why is it still there?  Why haven't I picked it up?

The glue on the dining table is the same glue, flecked with the same glitter, as it was in May.  Those sharp little Play-Dough shards are still scattered about the floor, months after they forgot what it is to be soft, yielding, pliable.

I've been here.  Haven't I been here?  I mean, I've been hither, thither, and yon, but also I have been here, in this house.  It's not like I've been held captive at some remote location, I have been here!  As much as I'm "here", anyway, because some days, a lot of days, I am not as here as I may seem to be because I can look really, really here but be far, far away behind my eyes.  But still, here, or "here", or whatever, how is it almost August and I'm still feeling the sweet, melancholy tug of June, the sense of "I'm not prepared for summer" still strong where "Hurrah, Autumn's coming" should be.

It is possible that I shattered a little in April, and the cracked, crazed pieces are still falling down, tinkling on the floor and crunching under foot and I'm not quite all the way caught up with myself, but I'm almost never quite all the way caught up with myself.  Hell, I'm usually so far behind me I can't see my ass in the distance, even with binoculars and wishful thinking!

I am filled with nope.  So.  Much.  Nope.  Acres, gallons, miles of nope.  It's everywhere, it gets all over everything, it's sticky and pernicious, like moon dust but less clean-up-able and way less precious and collectible and rare.  It's clogged up my thinking bits, so that music and writing and laundry and cleaning and people and everything are all lost and muddled up, and I'm lonely in a desperate kind of untouchable way, but that's so common, I'm used to it, like a cricket chirping quietly in the garage that sometimes I hear and sometimes I don't but it's always there, chirping, and it doesn't much matter any more.

That much nope.

I'd tell you I'll do better today, tomorrow, next week, but I don't know if that's true.  I kind of half-heartedly hope that I'll do better sometime sooner rather than later, but honestly, I'm in the middle of a massive nope storm, so I'm just going to keep ducking and covering and wondering how it got to be when it is when it was just when it was.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day




Photo found here and copied entirely without permission but not without respect.
For a history of this day, go here. Or here. Or here. In a nutshell, Memorial Day is for remembering the fallen.  Perhaps one day, we won't have any new graves to decorate. Until then, I remember and (as best I can) I honor.
~~~~~
In Flanders Fields by John McCrea

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.  Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from flailing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Scratch That

Spring has been making an effort, and seems finally to have overcome winter for dominance of the weather.  The days are longer, things have bloomed or are blooming, the popcorn tree has exploded pink petals all over our yard, and the iris are early with their enthusiastic coloring of the front bed - usually they don't burst open until May or June.

The blueberry bushes are heavy with green berries that will tease me for months with their slow ripening.

The Bradford Pear trees are long past their horrid flowering stench.

It's still cool enough at night for a blanket, but warm enough in the daytime hours to allow for shorts if one is so inclined.

Everywhere, life is...lifing.  And everywhere, everywhere, everywhere, things are pollinating.

Ah, pollen.  Wonderful stuff.  If you're a plant.

For a human with allergies, pollen is a special kind of hell.

Lort, but my eyes itch.  I mean, ITCH!  You know, the kind of itch that feels like it'd only be satisfied with a cheese grater?  My eyes itch that way.  Also, my scalp.  I look like one of those old Head and Shoulders advertisements, always scratching.  Gah!!!  My face itches.  My arms.  My legs.  Inside my ears, even!

The world is an odd sort of yellowish-green.  My driveway looks like aliens sneezed all over it.  Puddles are rimmed with bright yellow ribbons, and you can track how quickly they evaporate by the concentric pollen outlines left behind.  The outdoor cats are all the same color, and when they sneeze or move, they poof out pollen-y clouds.

It's a real effort not to scratch.  It won't do any good - short of remaining under water until summer takes his turn on the seasonal wheel, there's no avoiding pollen.  
Allergy medications aren't reliable, and they're expensive, so I just have to endure. And shower frequently (I guess that's an upside for anyone hanging out with me, but my water bill gets outrageous this time of year).

Anyway, it builds character having to unglue my eyes every morning, right?  Right???

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Employment Opportunity?

From time to time (read: almost every dang day), I find myself stroking my chin thoughtfully (or, more likely, in pensive confusion over the Universe and its shenanigans).  As the years have fallen behind me, I've noticed a disturbing trend.
Wiry little hairs.

Wiry little hairs on my chin.

Dark wiry little hairs on my chin.

Now, what with being a witch and all, I suppose I should expect a few hairs and warts.  Aren't we supposed to have hairy warts?  Or moles?  Or...something?

Being distinctly lacking in green-hued skin and warts, I feel as though I'm coming up aces in the hairs department.

There are two or three (Or a million, who's counting?) pernicious little buggers that love to mock me, lurking in curled anticipation of my wandering fingers and springing forth to tease my fingertips with derisive laughter at my dismay.

Evil things, I loathe them.

As soon as I detect the telltale feeling of steel wool sprouting from my flesh, I begin to tug at them, desperate to pull them out and send them down the sink in a swirling death spiral, or at least cast them to the floor with a triumphant smile.

The hairs resist.

They are rooted deeply, at least three or four feet in, and my too-short fingernails aren't sufficient for the job.  Eventually I resort to the Tweezers of Tweezering Doom (TM, patent pending) and the Terribly Bright Spotlighting Flashlight of Brilliance (also TM, patent pending), shining said light under my chin and highlighting the horrors of time, weight loss, and hairy hellions.

I must be careful with my approach - come at them from the wrong angle and they slip free, and sometimes they manage to get a bit of skin in the tweezers as they dodge.  Ouch!  Sometimes I manage to get them square in the sweet spot of tweezery vengeance, but they simply let their upper part shear off, remaining a tiny black stump too short to grasp but long enough for me to see and feel for days, weeks even, as I wait for them to grow out again.

Sometimes I'll get on with nothing more than slightly longer than usual fingernails and determination, and then?  I want to hold it aloft and parade around the house to be admired with wonder and awe.  Alas, no one really cares, or can even really see the itty-bitty black curl, smaller than a 10 point comma, resting on my fingertip.

Sigh.

I could let them grow, multiply, takeover.  I hear there's good money in being a bearded lady, these days.

My vanity, however, says "Nay!", and so I stroke, and pluck, and cuss, and pluck, and occasionally feel sorry for myself and the swiftly dwindling remains of my scant femininity.

I'll let you know when I hit the freak show circuit.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Dad


I wrote this on Thursday, but I didn't want to publish it until there was time for people to find out via means other than my blog.  Not that the folks who'd want to know read my blog, but I do try to be considerate.  This will be messy, but I'm disinclined to "fix" it.  I'm writing from the heart, and my heart is notoriously untidy under the best of circumstances.

Also, this is lengthy.
~~~~~

My Dad died last night.  This morning.  Just after Midnight.

I was not expecting that.

Well, I kinda knew it was more possible than not, since last week, but still.

I was hoping.

Last week I found out he was in the hospital.  My Uncle B was coming home from Costa Rica.  My stepmother S was on her way back from Sri Lanka.  I though Dad was in Sri Lanka with her.  I don't know why he wasn't, but I'm guessing he really wasn't feeling well or he wouldn't have missed that trip.

While I didn't know much at that time, I knew that for those two to drop their respective trips and come back to the US, things were probably dire.

I managed to talk to him on the phone for about a minute.  He was tired, in pain, couldn't even hold the phone for very long.  I told him I love him.  Several times.

He had surgery, and chemo, because cancer was the root cause of all of this.  Fuck.  Cancer.

He was in pain.  My Daddy was in pain.  He wanted to go  home.  To be done.  He went into hospice care and two days later passed through the veil.

No more pain.  No more cancer.  No more Daddy.

Let me tell you about my father.

He was almost 79, I think.  He and my mom married in 1968.  My brother was born in 1969.  I came along in 1972.  When I was too young to remember, he and Mom parted ways.

I remember occasional gifts in the mail, at holidays or maybe a birthday.  I remember knowing that other kids had fathers, and one day making the connection that this stranger who sometimes came around was my father, that "Dad" meant him, and that while other children had someone at home by that name, I did not.

For a while, that was okay, because it was our normal.  You can't miss what you never had.  Mom never let anyone speak badly of him in front of us kids.  Whatever went wrong, it was between them.  Thanks, Mom.

For a while, I wondered why Daddy didn't want me.  I guess I wondered why he didn't want us, because there was my brother, too, but mostly I wondered why he didn't want me.  What was wrong with me?  What did I do wrong?  Why didn't I hear from him on my birthday, so often gone unremarked by my paternal parent?  Little girls want their Daddies.  That is our first relationship with a male, and it's what we model all future relationships on.  I didn't know that, of course, being still in the single digits in age, but later...

Over time, he reconnected with us.  Largely thanks to S, my stepmother, who shook some sense into him.  I always liked S, even when I was an angsty teenage shit visiting for the summer.  She taught me some things about relationships, probably without knowing she did it - about speaking your mind, voicing what's right even if it's not popular, about sticking to your guns.  Also she taught me that there's no such thing as a seagull.  No, there isn't.  Really.  There are Herring Gulls, Laughing Gulls, Blackback Gulls...but no Sea Gulls.  Anyway.

Dad was a boatman.  He belonged on the water.  He was happy as a skipper, whether the vessel was large or small.  He was good at it.  I loved being on the water with him.  I didn't know until a few years ago that he was in the US Army for a bit.  He grew "Portuguese Peppers" in the woods once, which I often felt bad about because they never seemed to fruit, and he was a good gardener.  When I was a bit older, I found out that "Portuguese Pepper" was code for a different kind of plant.  Hint:  it wasn't actually a pepper.

I'm pretty sure he's been on every continent.

He was wicked smart, funny, and all around a decent fellow.  I admired him, I liked him, I loved him.

Here are some memories I have:

Sitting on his lap in a truck.  He let me steer.  We were at the top of a big hill.  I was very young.  It was awesome.

Eating those jellied fruit slice candies, the kind all covered in big sugar crystals.  Or was it the mint leaves?  He shared them with me.  I liked to nibble the sugar off of them.

Spending a small eternity (or probably a week or two) on his sail boat, the Osprey, "helping" him and S with netting and banding birds somewhere off the New England coast.  Jumping off the boat to swim.  Eating cereal out of those wee boxes, using them as bowls.  This is when I learned that I do not like powdered milk, reconstituted or not.  I do like jumping off of boats and paddling about in the ocean.  Also, salt water doesn't foam up when you shampoo with it.

Summer days on Martha's Vineyard, stretching out into forever.  Taking the John boat down to the beach.  Learning to catch crabs with a pig's foot.  Refusing to pluck ducks that he'd hunted.  His wizardlike ability to find arrow heads on the shore of the pond.  Being a little grossed out when he'd pull an oyster out of the water, open it, and slurp it down.  Wishing he would teach me to drive a stick shift.

Bird banding on Penikese, riding back to the Vineyard on the bow of the boat,  feeling the waves burst against the hull and spray me.  Stiff with salt, going to a store by the dock and getting lobsters for dinner.  The party after, people laughing and talking and eating and scaring the tar out of me with fireworks.

Him asking me if we should or should not pick up a hitchhiker.  They're common on the Vineyard.  I don't think I ever told him to pass one by.

Riding in the bed of the truck, up on the side, wind making a mess of my hair while he drove.

Helping him change a wheel bearing on his truck.  Learning to drive a lawn mower and cutting the grass in the field.  Learning how to prime and start the motor on the John boat.  Going to the huge garden and digging potatoes, picking vegetables to cook for dinner.  Making pretty salads for Dad and S to take to a party or for our own meal.  Peeing on the poison ivy.

Osprey and Scrimshaw, two of his boats that I loved.

Fried clams at the Menemsha Bite.

When I got married, we decided to have a Renfest kind of theme for the clothing.  Dad and S were game.  It was marvelous.  They danced at the reception and I loved seeing them together.

Telling him that he was my favorite crusty old fart, getting a laugh for that.

Our holiday phone calls.  We rarely spoke or visited each other, but I tried always to call on Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We might not talk for the rest of the year, but on those days, we caught up.

Talking to him about addiction, about dealing with, loving, an addict.  It was one of the most adult conversations we ever had, and he never made me feel stupid about it all.  The conversation about mental illness, my mental illness.  His striving to understand, and loving me regardless.

Spending Thanksgiving with him and S on the Vineyard when the Evil Genius was just shy of two.  Ohmuhgoodness, that sausage-brandied apricot dressing!  He and S asked me to make the cranberry sauce.  I'd never done that unless it meant opening a can.  They trusted me to make it right.  Pretty sure I did.

His voice.  My brother sounds just like him.  It will be eerie, now, talking to him.

No matter how angry, bitter, disappointed, disillusioned, or hurt I was about who we were to each other, how we were with each other, what we did or didn't have...I loved him.  Whatever he thought of me, he never made me feel bad for being...me.  Strange, silly, sometimes stupid, sometimes a bit too optimistic and too little realistic daughter, once I realized that his absence in my childhood wasn't about me, it was about him living his life, a life that simply didn't involve kids because it was too much, too out there in the world, too alien to him...I got over myself and realized that I could love him and it was okay.  And love him I have and will continue to do.

Hail, Flip.  Hail the traveler.
May your journey through the veil and into the next life be an easy one.
May you leave behind all memory of pain, sorrow, anger, and loss.
May you carry with you all memory of happiness and love.
May you be met with joy and fellowship by those who went before you, and should you return to this life once more may we who knew and loved you do so again.

I will miss you, Daddy.  I will miss knowing that you were somewhere on this old Earth, knocking about, birding, sailing, raising a little hell, exploring, loving life.

Hail, Flip.  Hail the traveler.

Dammit, Daddy.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Black Dog


I'm not afraid of the black dog.

Harbinger. 

Death Omen.

I'm not afraid of the black dog.

Shadow beast.

Fell beast.

I'm not afraid of the black dog.

There's no ghost dog scares me,

No.

I'm not afraid of the black dog.

It's the humans, the real, the living,

put the fear into me.

I'm not afraid of the black dog.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Dreaming of Dragons

I have been told, at various times, that discussing or blogging about dreams is...boring.

Ah, well, I have never made claims or pretensions to being non-boring.

My nighttime sleep has been restless, often shallow, and rather unsatisfying.  This lack of sleepage has me napping more than usual in the afternoon.  Yes, I am spoiled.  These afternoon naps are long and I tend to sleep hard, once I sleep. 

In sleeping, I chance to dream.

Lately, the dreams have been vivid, disjointed, and especially peculiar.  I know dreams are usually odd, but these have sent the weird-shit-o-meter into the red zone.

For one thing, they're recurring.  I have dreams that have followed me since childhood, but they don't usually happen night (or nap) after night (or nap) like these do.

I've been dreaming of flight, and of dragons, of flying with dragons.  One dream takes place in an abandoned world, once crowded with life but now frozen and empty.  I am myself, utterly, imperfectly human.  Flying low to the ground, dragons high above, snow covering the landscape, I swoop beneath drooping tree branches, scoop up the snow and let it trickle through my fingers, never melting, just a fine white powder swirling in the wind of my passage.  I skim over a lake, dip my fingers into the water, watch droplets fall from my fingertips and glint in bright grey light as they tumble back down.

The dragons are white, and they glitter as they circle above me, silent and watchful.  Guards?  guardians?  I'm not sure, and in the dream I don't care.

It's a chill, clear, quiet dream.

Then there's the other dream.

Flying again, this time between two enormous creatures.  One is a hot, burnished bronze color, the other the crazed, cracked, black and crimson of a lava field.  They dwarf me, and I'm no small thing.  I am a dragon, too, color unknown to me.  The sky in which we fly is burning but it has always been so, always will be so.  What a world we live in, breathing air that tastes of metal and scorched things, ash and embers, dry and dry and dry.  Even the oceans are thick and bubbling spans of red heat.  What we know of water, pure, clean water, is only legend.  Life is usually short, sharp, fierce.  We exult in our strength, our wings sweeping through the blazing sky; we own the wind.

This is a hot, thirsty, roaring dream.

Several nights/days I've watched these scenes unfold and fade into waking.  Not being one for interpreting such things, I simply view them like movies and wonder what the point is and whether something will change, if I'll move on to other scenes, other stories, or keep replaying these until whatever my mind is trying to tell me becomes clear.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Oh Kathryn, Our Kathryn

One week ago this afternoon, the world became a little more shadowed as a brilliant soul passed through the veil.

Kathryn Ann Fernquist Hinds.

She was a shiny person.  I never had a moment with her that wasn't brilliant.  Her smile, laugh, wit, intelligence, and vision made life a finer thing.

I didn't get to know her for very long, and we met because her husband Arthur is a musician (a damned fine one) and we used to play some of the same gigs.  Honestly, I can't remember when I met either of them.  They've just...always been there.  Arthur and Kathryn.  Kathryn and Arthur.  

For the last few years we've been neighbors at PSG, one of the events I regularly attend.  I liked listening to their banter and they tolerated my occasional interjections.  They shared space, let me feed them, Kathryn let me fuss over her and we shared water.  Seeing her in the audience when we played together for Bardapalooza was a treat.  She truly shared in the music in a way that was rare and beautiful.

Some relationships defy the odds, defy  definition or explanation.  Some relationships are just so...perfectly imperfect?  Imperfectly perfect?  So damned marvelous that when we see them, we can't help saying "There.  That's what is could be, what it should be, what I want it to be..." 

Those relationships are rare.  Arthur and Kathryn had what I aspire to.  Oh the laughter, the love...how it enveloped them, and everyone nearby.  They shared unstintingly.

I always told her that I adore her, that she is one of my favorite people.  She was.  Is.  Will likely always be.

Her heart, her magnificent, wise, kind, compassionate, fragile, dysfunctional heart, it couldn't survive the surgery she needed to keep it ticking.

One less drumming, thrumming beat echoing in the ether.  One less laugh reverberating in the circle.

I find myself wondering why, in a world full of horrid people, full of cruel, selfish, ugly-souled assholes, why did we have to lose one of the best people I have ever known?

It isn't right.  

Oh, Arthur.

If I who didn't know her nearly enough can hurt so...oh...I can't even touch imagining how those who knew her long and well must feel.

Me, I feel robbed of something precious.  

She belonged to a community vast and varied, and the hole she leaves is immeasurable.
I posted this on Facebook when I found out:


Hail Kathryn.

Your light will long linger.

I will carry you with me always, and when I shine I will shine with you, sending your light outward. You are one of the best people I’ve known in my lifetime, and I’m better for the knowing.

May your journey to the other side be peaceful and easy. May you leave behind all memory of pain, sorrow, and suffering. May you carry with you all memories of love and laughter. May you be met with joy and fellowship by those who went before you, and when you return to the circle, may we who loved you know you once more.

I raise a glass and toast you, feisty, kind, shiny, wise, compassionate, creative, encouraging, goddess of a woman.

Hail Kathryn. Hail the traveler
.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Thoughtfetti

The world lost a bright soul, a shiny person, earlier this week.  I'm still reeling, and I didn't have the honor of knowing her as well or as long as some others.  I cannot imagine the sense of bewilderment and loss that her family is feeling.  Right now, that's all I have in me to write about her.  There will be more in a few days.
~~~~~

It's February.  Cue the ominous music (dunh, dunh, duuunnnnhhh).  If I can make it through there's March after, and things are looking up for March.  Well, up-ish.

The month started in a hole, and it's getting deeper.

I'm going to get through February a week at a time.  And each week?  A day at a time.  Days will be cut into confetti-sized pieces and sprinkled everywhere.  I'll clean up the mess in August or never, whichever comes latest.
~~~~~
I thought the beginning of the week would drag on in an endless drone, a litany of death and sorrow.  It did, but now the week is nearly done and I have a date on Saturday to look forward to.  Not a date date, like with a fellow.  A date with Mizz A.  We're leaving my beloved spawns at home and going out for a few hours.  We both could use some cheering up.
~~~~~
Next week, I have a tentative date with K2.  We're hopefully going to have our combined birthday dinner, just the two of us.

Then there's a lunch date with my Mom two weeks on from that.
~~~~~
In between times, I am working on some sewing and quilting projects.
~~~~~
Distractions, people, I needs 'em.  Positive distractions, I should say.
~~~~~
Later in the month I'm doing a craft show with my mother.  We have fun, and it gets us out of our respective houses/ruts.  I like helping her set up.  We're both taking part in a soup cooking thing as well, on the same weekend.  I didn't say I was distracting myself with anything earth shattering.
~~~~~
The depression has been particularly bad, this winter.  It seems like I say that every year, and it's like my brain takes it as a challenge to make it worst next time around.  I mean, it's always here, it never really goes away, but some winter, it just piles on like tons of stones, and every winter I pick up the stones, put them in my basket, and plod along.  Maybe it's not getting any worse.  Maybe it's just that I have more stones in the basket and I'm not as strong as I used to be.

I'll make it up the mountain, all the same.
~~~~~
If I make the mistake of saying, or even thinking, that it's not so bad right now, it's like my brain think I've challenged it.  Can't win for losing.  Oy.
~~~~~
My house phone, a land line if you can believe that anyone still has one, is sort of fritzy.  The phone doesn't ring, but the answering machine still works.  I guess the battery in the handset gave up, and it won't charge.  Anyway, sometimes a voice will just float out into Casa de Crazy, mostly selling something or telling me I really ought to pay my bills, you know, on time, and every now and then it catches me off guard and I wonder how the hell someone got in the house.  Good times.
~~~~~
I have been re-listening to Eddie Izzard's audio book of his autobiography.  I very much enjoy it.  He's intelligent, which is sexy, and he's funny, which is also sexy.  In addition to his book, I've been listening to a Pandora station I created named - wait for it - Eddie Izzard.

It has a number of other comedians as well, and they have all, so far, kept me in stitches while I stitch (because I listen while I sew, get it?).


I highly recommend making making an Eddie Izzard station on Pandora, or finding a list of his clips on the YouTube.  You may even forget it's February for a minute!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Lean



This morning I woke up weepy, and it hasn't let up.  Every damned thing makes my eyes leak.

I wish I had someone to lean on.

I mean, I have people to lean on, really terrific people who love me and put up with all of my bullshit on a daily basis.

But as wonderful as these good people are, they're not next to me in the small hours when the night is heavy, pressing down on me, stealing my breath and churning my thoughts into a froth of misery.

I wish I had someone to physically lean on.  A shoulder on which to rest my head for a minute when I'm worn out and feel like I can't pick up my basket of stones and carry them one. Step. More.

I'm tired of feeling alone.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Isabelle

Strange days.

Mum called me this evening to let me know that my grandmother passed through the veil at the beginning of the year.

Oddly, Isabelle (known to me as Mimi) has been on my mind of late.  I've been thinking about her, and dreaming about the house that I grew up in, where she and my grandfather lived for most of my young life.  I have been wondering where, and how, she was.

She wasn't kin by blood, but rather by marriage, wed to my grandfather for...umm...a long damn time.

After Papa died, Mimi returned to France and despite my efforts I lost touch with her.  She left our part of the family behind, and it seemed to me like she never looked back.  She moved, moved again, and I never got her new address.  I suppose I could have made more effort - there was a trust, there were lawyers who knew where she was - but why?  She made it clear through her absence and silence that she wasn't interested.  That hurt.  I had to let go.

Still, from time to time I would look for her online, a quick browsing of Google searches giving me nothing.  Last night, Mum found an obituary.

Mum and I talked about her sometimes, she relating news that had filtered to us months or even years after Mimi had come to the US for some reason, or perhaps whispers of where Mimi was living in France, me wondering if she was happy, if she felt loved and was content.  She wondered, once, whether Mimi was even alive.  I told her she'd know when the woman passed - the trustees would be in touch.  We laughed ruefully about that.  As it turns out, no one got in touch.  Mum found the obituary and talked to my aunt, who made some calls and found out what was what.  Without the curiosity and the drive to find out, who knows when we'd have learned of it?

She never told us when she was coming over the pond, and in fact seems to have instructed people who were in the know to NOT tell us.

She lived through the Nazi occupation of France.  She married, came to the US, found that her husband had lied to her about his circumstances and she left him (righteously, IMO), made a life for herself.  She was a terrific cook when she wanted to be.  She taught me to endure and even enjoy all kinds of foods I'd otherwise not have eaten.  From her I learned how to make vinaigrette dressing.  Until I was about 6, I spoke with her in French as easily as English. I can still read and sing in French, although I don't speak it very well any more and my understanding is weak at best.  Google translate has to do a lot of the work for me, these days.

Because of her, I learned exquisite table manners - I can, if pressed, still recall which utensil is for what and I have fond memories of high tea with her.  I still have the eggshell China teacups we used for such occasions. 

She drove like a maniac, but I would sleep in the car without fear.  She hated flying and would take pills and ride the Concord to minimize the horror.

In the evening, she and Papa would watch the news in their living room, and I would sit with her, leaning on her, and she would stroke my head.  She taught me how to pour and appreciate wine.  I can eat just about anything with a knife and fork thanks to her.  At Christmas she would let me set up the nativity scene.

She said horrible things to me with the best of intentions, never knowing how she devastated me.  Some of the the shadow demons with which I do battle sprang from her.

I wasn't much connected to her French family, but I adored one of her nieces (Christine) and found the rest tolerable.

She was a staunch friend and ally to those she loved and believed in.  She was opinionated and acerbic.  Her anger was terrible, her approval rare, her favor much sought after.  No one wanted to be left in the dark, arctic chill of her bad side.
She stuck with my grandfather through his end, and that was no small thing.  I believe that she loved him, and he loved her, even when they didn't see eye to eye (which happened a LOT).  She was relentless in making sure he was well taken care of.  A bulldog on his behalf.  It must have been exhausting.

She wasn't terribly interested in church when I was little, but she was Catholic and became more so as she aged.  I hope her God saw the good in her and let her in to his halls.  There are those who would say she deserved a place in Hell, but I don't think so.  I think she knew enough of Hell here in her earthly life. 

One of the last things I said to her was that she had hurt me, deeply, but that I loved her, and that nothing would change that love.  I meant it then, and ever after.

I hope she remembered that.

There's so much more that I could say, but she was too complex to encapsulate in a blog.

Rest in peace, Isabelle, Mimi, grandmother, force of nature.  Rest in peace.