Sunday, February 18, 2018


Still have a bit of The Bird Song floating around my head. All I know she sang a little while and then flew on. 

The week has a left me with residual sadness and ... some kind of weltzschmerz. Another terrorist attack on innocent young people by a crazed white male. 

My nieces are moving along with their lives. We are sad about Carole, but she was so unhappy. I do feel her loss, out there on the edges of my familial consciousness. 

I took a break from this to plant the damned lilac vine! I also started clean-up on the front flower bed. My azalea struggles along, so perhaps I might afford it more attention this year. Next up, the wisteria, but that means pulling out a bunch of tomatoes and more digging.

(Will post more as it grows.)

Before I jumped into Joni at the end of the last post, I found this Kay Ryan poem, but Joni won out with that line ... out of touch with the breakdown of this century. She wrote that in the last third of the last century. It certainly feels like this one is not going any place any good.


The first fear
being drowning, the
ship's first shape
was a raft, which
was hard to unflatten
after that didn't 
happen. It's awkward
to have to do one's
planning in extremis
in the early years—
so hard to hide later:
sleekening the hull,
making things
more gracious.

— Kay Ryan, The Best of It: New and Selected Poems, New York, Grove Press, 2010
Oona feels it is necessary to supervise my reading.

The next morning. 

Sitting here in bed with my coffee and ... lethargy, sadness, sorrow, overwhelmedness ... in French that is submerge and in Catalan it is aclaparat. Now that is damned good word. In Dutch, it's overweldigd which is also pretty great. 

Now, even that small discursion ... evidently discursion is rare — I suppose digression is the more common — cheered me some.

I know what some of this is. I don't like getting ready to go anywhere. I don't even like the going, only the being there. This is just like I am with books: I don't like to start nor finish them, I only like to be reading them. And wow, that just gobsmacked me with all my unbegun (should that be unstarted?) projects. I am a prisoner of inactivity, intentions, and possibilities.

Be that as it may, two friends of mine had big news they wanted to share with me. They are moving from Marin County to Kentucky, just outside of Cincinnati. This encouraged me. I see so few possibilities for life after mom, for hope, for breaking the bonds of this heavy heavy heart. That these friends are uprooting and starting over at this point in their lives just gave me joy and hope. Their courage, their optimism, their fortitude gave me something, even for a time, that I don't get too much: happiness.

They are
sleekening the hull,
making things

more gracious.

And, with I will bid you good-day and see if I can't get those chores done and get to Palm Springs. The limes are coming!

The limes are coming!

Saturday, February 17, 2018


When the days are cool and grey, it is even harder for me to do anything beyond binge-watching something or other. And so it is today. Mom and I have already been out to her macular degeneration doctor and back, so it is not as if the day is completely wasted. I just want to pull up the covers and snuggle, no doubt with Butterscotch sucking up to me for warmth.

However, Mom's lunch people are having a Valentine's lunch somewhere so I suppose I will lug her over there. I think she is asleep right now, my having suggested a bit of shut eye between events.

And on and on and on ...

Waiting for Janet to get out of her CAT scan. I am encouraged because in the last couple of days, her cough cleared up significantly. Given that we both had colds back in January, this could be just a lingering bacterial infection or something. I suppose I will be holding my breath for the next few days anyway.

As I posted on FB, that slew of plants I was telling you about are all in actual dirt and homes of their own. That's unusual for me, but I did manage to get them dealt with. Of course, there is a high possibility of me killing them anyway, but for the moment, we can enjoy them. The cheap bulbs I planted are also doing their magic hopefully. I am stupid enough to think I should run over to the Home Depot that is just across the street to buy a few more good quality bulbs. Then again, if I need to spend some garden time tomorrow, I could just plant my sunflowers and work on weeding.

I know. I know. Giving up the gardening. However. I was stressed today and I did find it relaxing to have my hands in the dirt and shift my focus to repotting rather than worry. And as I did, some problem knots cleared up and a way forward was presented. Oh yeah. I still have the trailing lilac, the wisteria, and the two new roses to relocate so there's a fair amount of work right there.

And! And! And! I saw the first artichoke thistle.

Mom is on her way out of the CT scan, so I will check out for now.

So, in the spirit truth, justice, and the American way, I went to bed around 10:00 when I hit that desperately sleepy moment. I slept reasonably well, without benefit of an audiobook or podcast to lull me to sleep. But lo! if I did not sleep a solid 11 hours, save for Butterscotch's need to make bread on my bare shoulder. However, I am not moving very quickly today. Helas!

And then came coffee. Yum Yum Yum. I likely won't be moving much faster but at least it sets me on a path to enjoying parts of the day.

Saturday again, and dang if there isn't a neighbor mowing a lawn. I can also hear someone's bird bell out in the yard, but I don't see a kitty out there. Besides the tangelos still ripening on the tree, I can see a lot more work to do. I have the water running slowly in the area where I will plant the trailing lilac. Eventually, it is supposed to look like this.

It has been in its container for a couple of weeks now, and seems none the worse for it. The lilac likes the location I have chosen, so all systems seem go.

Having trouble (not again!) being motivated to do any of the myriad things I need to. Every where I look is a chore (and whose fault is that? mostly mine).

(I spy Vera out in the yard now, watching butterflies and looking for a sunny spot. And here some Idris from her hiding place.)

Earlier this week, when I was feeling even worse, I washed all my bedding and hung the linens in the sun. I wash the restless nights, tears, worries, and those scary thoughts out. Getting into clean smelling sheets is always something of a comfort and a positive energy generator.

And hell, I can look out and see my carolina jessamyn flowering like crazy right there. It's happy.

I've been listening to various Joni Mitchell albums since I bought that nice British box set. This one was has been on repeat, although I don't quite understand it. Electricity. (Crappy sound quality.)

The Minus is loveless
He talks to the land
And the leaves fall
And the pond over-ices
She don't know the system Plus
She don't understand
She's got all the wrong fuses and splices
She's not going to fix it up
Too easy

The masking tape tangles
It's sticky and black
And the copper
Proud headed Queen Lizzie *
Conducts little charges
That don't get charged back
Well the technical manual's busy
She's not going to fix it up too easy
And she holds out her flashlight
And she shines it on me
She wants me to tell her
What the trouble might be
Well I'm learning
It's peaceful
With a good dog and some trees
Out of touch with the breakdown
Of this century
They're not going to fix it up
Too easy

We once loved together
And we floodlit that time
Input output electricity
But the lines overloaded
And the sparks started flying
And the loose wires
Were lashing out at me
She's not going to fix that up
Too easy
But she holds out her candle
And she shines it in
And she begs him to show her
How to fix it again
While the song that he sang her
To soothe her to sleep
Runs all through her circuits
Like a heartbeat
She's not going to fix it up
Too easy

Thursday, February 15, 2018


"My son had a brief meeting based on the fact that he thought whatever he thought."

Doesn't that sound like a poetry challenge, to write a poem based on those words? Or a logic problem? Or a philosophy problem? Maybe the shitgibbon IS a stable genius, we can't understand. Maybe dogs, with their heightened hearing, can get it.

I started this particular post with those particular words a month ago. Of course, by now, I have no clue what that was all about. 

As sad as I am about my sister's passing, I admit to being even more worried about my mother's cough and the x-ray showing some lung abnormalities. Janet having a significant illness besides old age is not something I had reckoned with. She is so healthy in other ways, that I just never never never imagined the end might be nursing her through cancer or some such thing. Tomorrow, I can call to get her radiology appointment and we can go from there. But, as my dear nieces know, this waiting and wondering thing is so so hard. 

Tolerate the uncertainty. That's what my first therapist, Peggy, said to me. Tolerate the tension of not knowing, not being resolved. 

I have so many "unresolved" issues around me, mostly in the form of chores and unrealized projects. I am just trying to get Monsterwood done as that has a pretty clear end if I just put in the time. And so, back to that for awhile.

Monday Monday ...

Mom's cough seems to be worse, which might, paradoxically, (I think) be a good thing. I don't think lung cancer in an old person would move that fast. Her CT scan is scheduled for Thursday evening. When you are in this position, you think of .... Lost that one. .... oh, you look for reasons for it to be something else. 

It's very isolating to be here alone, dealing with my emotions, her emotions and physicality, and, of course, my own struggles with depression. That I am not drinking anything, eating well, exercising, taking my meds and supplements and still I sink into death-contemplating despair is puzzling and even more depressing to me. 

I am in a bit of a late night cycle again, which makes the mornings tough. Fortunately, our schedule is a bit looser today so I don't need to chase around Mom. Or not that much. 

Butterscotch thinks she is my daemon. Or portable heater. 

This is one of the new rose bushes I bought. (Not a picture of my actual plant.) Now, I am reconsidering planting them here at all as I don't know how long I will be here. I'd probably return them if I could. 

Anyway, I ought to get dressed and get Mom to her lunch. It's very distressing to hear her coughing so much.


It is at the edges
that time thins.
Time which had been
dense and viscous
as amber suspending
intentions like bees
unseizes them. A
humming begins,
apparently coming
from stacks of
put-off things or
just in back. A
racket of claims now,
as time flattens. A
glittering fan of things
competing to happen,
brilliant and urgent
as fish when seas

— Kay Ryan, THE BEST OF IT: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS, New York, Grove Press, 2010

Saturday, February 10, 2018


There are those days when the baby dementors, the ones who come knocking on your door like Jehovah's Witness pretty sure they won't get any converts, are walking down your psychic street and you really aren't sure how to stop them from addressing you. Days when the neighbor's completely legitimate mowing of the lawn, taking less than 15 minutes, seems like hours of water torture at a Philadelphia Eagles' victory celebration. Even the birds singing closer than the mower, the sight of many nasturtiums popping up in the garden, and the view of the filthy white cat sleeping underneath the spicy basil plant do nothing to improve your outlook.

I, for some misbegotten fancy, decided that I was sleepy enough to tough it out without benefit of medication. And I did sleep, just not deeply. I didn't have anxiety dreams as much as uneasy ones. I woke up often. And then the day is overcast and cool. Might be partly that SAD thing.

Not drinking (35 days), not binge-eating or anything, getting three hours of exercise a week (no swimming, though, the pool is closed until the beginning of MAY! I will be starting all over to get back into swimming shape!). I made my health insurance deadline. I have been doing a bit of gardening every day (mostly clean-up). I'm even making progress with the belonging reduction. Why do I just want to sit and watch all eight seasons of The Gilmore Girls, a show that I don't even wholly approve of? (I could be watching the French movies I paid for!)

Maybe it is just that part of the cycle. I don't think I have complained much of depression of late. And  it isn't really full-on depression, just a season of the down. I have stopped reading much of the news as I just, as they say, I just can't.

Pervading sense of loss. And disappointment. Life, the parade (not Trump's), travel, adventure (did I want that),  I would like to recapture some sense of possible opportunity.

My sister still lingers, at least of this writing. I came across this silly rattan cat purse thing (these people say it is worth $500). Carole had one that was a monkey. She had painted it white. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I wish I could share this with her. She would get a real kick out of it. Funny how some small moments with people still blaze.

Since I have been on a steady exercise/sobriety/low food intake regime for about six weeks, maybe I should get crazy and have some pizza.

A couple of hours and a lot of sorrow later.

A week or ago, I noticed the remnants of a funeral arrangements out by the trash next door. I finally happened to see one of the neighbors, Gus, and asked him if there had been a recent loss in the family. He said that his wife, also named Sally, had lost her younger brother recently. Her older brother had died five years ago.

Sally and I ran into one another at the trash cans this afternoon. I expressed my condolences and spoke to her of Carl's passing and how hard that had been, and continues to be. We hugged and cried. Not exactly a light encounter out by the trash.

Then, my mom went to take a nap. I was sitting here, as ever, trying to write. My mom wanders in without her glasses and says something along the lines that the doctor called while I was out and that they told her to go to the hospital.


Well, it is Saturday and unlikely that they called today as I haven't been any farther away than the aforementioned trash cans. I somehow thought to call the doctor's office to see if I could get any more information, even given the weekend. Fortunately, they did have someone there to look at her chart. She has had a cough for quite awhile now so they gave her a chest x-ray. They saw something and have requisitioned at CT scan. Nodules ...

So, now I am sitting with this, trying to get a read on the awfulness of it all and the relentless cool and grey out there. And then my brother David calls to tell me that my sister has passed away.

I don't even think a DiFara pizza could help me at this point. My niece who has also not been eating or drinking due to health reasons during all this time her mother was passing away still had the humor to share a food and alcohol fantasy with me.  Pitcher of margaritas and nachos.  No.  Tequila and ceviche.  Or amazing Chardonnay and linguine with clams.  All things that would help right now

I agree with that. I might settle for pizza and maybe a gin and tonic.

Three slices and several hours later.

The gin and tonic doesn't even appeal all that much. I want to crawl into a ball and descend deep into unconsciousness. I can't tease out all the parts of my sorrow. It's a rather free form depth here.

After posting a word about this on FB, I received many sweet sweet condolence notes.

One FB acquaintance, a Princeton lit professor, offered me this poem when I asked.


He would declare and could himself believe
That the birds there in all the garden round
From having heard the daylong voice of Eve
Had added to their own an oversound,
Her tone of meaning but without the words.
Admittedly an eloquence so soft
Could only have an influence on birds
When call or laughter carried it aloft.
Be that as may be, she was in their song.
Moreover her voice upon their voices crossed
Had now persisted in the woods so long
That probably it would never be lost.
Never again would birds' song be the same
And to do that to birds was why she came.

— Robert Frost

Which also reminds me of the Hunter-Garcia song for Janis. (Forgive them, for they sing off key.)


All I know is something like a bird within her sang
All I know she sang a little while and then flew on
Tell me all that you know
I'll show you
Snow and rain
If you hear that same sweet song again, will you know why?
Anyone who sings a tune so sweet is passing by
Laugh in the sunshine
Sing, cry in the dark
Fly through the night
Don't cry now
Don't you cry
Don't you cry any more
La da da da
Sleep in the stars
Don't you cry
Dry your eyes on the wind
La da da da da da

All I know is something like a bird within her sang
All I know she sang a little while and then flew on
Tell me all that you know
I'll show you
Snow and rain