Monday, May 21, 2018


That Mystery Achievement does not give up its hold on mind space easily. Perhaps I can replace with another Pretenders song.

Ahhhh ... sweet vacation. On day four of holiday, trying to see if my ticket can be changed so that I can extend my time away. Janet is doing well; she sounds fine.

Many days later.

The Pretenders have not left me. Tattooed Love Boys is a bit harsh for the morning.

Now into May.

Reading about the finer points of deadheading petunias. Yes, it has come to this. And, for all my bullshitting, I bought some vegetables for planting today. I tried to keep it to something reasonable, as in only one shisito pepper, one zucchini, one Thai eggplant. Yes, I did buy a flat of kale, but that's the way it came. I hope to hand some of them off to a local for their cultivation. And the tomatoes, many of which were new varieties, to me, at least, were half off.

I cannot put it off much longer. The gardening must be done.

Later in May.

I've been sick since May 5th. Perhaps being ill should not have precluded the sedentary act of writing, but the will was gone.

Gotta get over the hump. Although we are well over the hump of May. And it has been fairly non-stop June gloom around here. I suppose that goes well with my lingering illness.

I do feel very slightly better today. My sleeping is somewhere near reasonable and the ringing in my ears isn't too bad. I need to resist the temptation to do very much, though.

Last week was the death anniversaries of several people close to me: my father in 2003, Verne in 2008, Carl in 2009, and Stuart in 2015.

This morning, I toggle between Monday, Monday and My Father.

I am not at all sure music can soothe this savage beast.

When the sky is so leaden and gray for so very many days, I feel so flattened. Even the color splash of the neighbor's red and yellow roses, don't help very much. I feel as if I need to drive all the way to sunlight.

The most recent school shooting, the Supreme Court decision to limit worker's rights to sue, the extreme financial difficulty faced by several friends (and me), the health and well-being of close friends, all of these things are with me.

May needs to be over. I signed up for a yoga school pass that was a stretch to afford, only to get sick two days later. I have been once since and it kicked me back into sick. I do feel better today, but not going to risk a class.

Okay, on to other things.


Always too eager for the future, we
Pick up bad habits of expectancy.
Something is always approaching; every day
Till then we say,

Watching from a bluff the tiny, clear,
Sparkling armada of promises draw near.
How slow they are! And how much time they waste,
Refusing to make haste!

Yet still they leave us holding wretched stalks
Of disappointment, for though nothing balks
Each big approach, leaning with brainwork prinked,
Each rope distinct,

Flagged, and the figurehead with golden tits
Arching our way, it never anchors; it's
no sooner present than it turns to past.
Right to the last

We think each one will heave to and unload
All good into our lives, all we are owed
For waiting so devoutly and so long,
But we are wrong:

Only one ship is seeking us, a black-
Sailed unfamiliar, towing at her back
A huge and bridles silence. In her wake
No waters breed or brake.

Philip Larkin, The Less Deceived, Marvell Press


My father always promised us
That we would live in France
We'd go boating on the Seine
And I would learn to dance

We lived in Ohio then
He worked in the mines
On his dreams like boats
We knew we would sail in time

All my sisters soon were gone
To Denver and Cheyenne
Marrying their grownup dreams
The lilacs and the man

I stayed behind the youngest still
Only danced alone
The colors of my father's dreams
Faded without a sound

And I live in Paris now
My children dance and dream
Hearing the ways of a miner's life
In words they've never seen

I sail my memories of home
Like boats across the Seine
And watch the Paris sun
As it sets in my father's eyes again

My father always promised us
That we would live in France
We'd go boating on the Seine
And I would learn to dance
I sail my memories of home
Like boats across the Seine
And watch the Paris sun
As it sets in my father's eyes again

— Judy Collins

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


A musical mash-up — or is it more of a merry-go-round thing? — in my head this morning. Must Have Been The Roses by the Grateful Dead plus Heart of Full of Soul by the Yardbirds plus Rufus Wainwright's version of Hallelujah.

Days later.

Look at me! At the airport so early, I have time to burn. I have already begun my consumption of useless vacation calories with a stupidly expensive not-very-good caffe latte and coffee cake, which is already making me sick. Wheeeeee.

I am on my way to Oakland for a couple of days' parental care respite. This is the first time I have been away from Janet since December. Janet is toughing it out by herself and we will see how that goes. She will enjoy not being dictated to.

I woke up too early as I transposed the time of departure. I probably got up too early anyway. I did have Butterscotch purring loudly and making a lot of enthusiastic bread on my arm. She'd be great in a bakery. In other Butterscotch news ...

... a digression here...

I did something big and significant in my life last week. I decided to end my participation in a project I had been working on for 12 years. I will likely write more about it at another time, but this was a traumatic event that caused plenty of tears and breast-beating. Coincidentally or not, I also went to four yoga classes in a week. After not having done any significant practice since about 2005, I was amazed at my dexterity and flexibility. Lots of hip and heart-opening, backbends and baby inversions.

Part of my superstitious ritual is to wash my sheets and dry them in the sunshine to get some psychic freshness. I did so on Monday, and woke up on Tuesday to a crisp linens. At my head was Butterscotch sweetly, deeply sleeping. Then I gave her a little stroke, whereupon she woke and started a puking process in my face on my clean sheets. I did manage to get her on to the floor, but I did find this cosmically hilarious.

Monday night's yoga class was intense for me. I have muscle aches in places I had forgotten I had muscles. I am still achy today. Still, I think yoga practice is a good direction for me to pursue along with swimming, so if I can find the money I will continue.

Now, here's a weird one in the music land. I still have Wake-Up Sad as a lower level in my consciousness, but as I walk around the airport, I hear Kansas City in my head. Maybe I am going to Oakland City and that's the connection.

I also snagged a good copy of the first Pretenders album. Damn Jackson, that is one hell of a good piece of music. I listened to it three times in a row, beginning to end, blasting it as I drove to LAX to pick up Kim. Brilliant art. Mystery Achievement

As I haven't any poetry with me on this trip, we will have to settle for song lyrics.

Mystery achievement 
Don't breathe down my neck no 
I got no trophies on display 
I sign them away 
I mean what the heck 
All of your promises 
Don't fill me with pride no 
I just wanna get out on the floor 
And do the Cuban slide, slide, slide, slide

But every day, every nighttime I find 
Mystery achievement 
You're on my mind 
And every day, every nighttime I feel 
Mystery achievement you're so unreal

Mystery achievement 
Where's my sandy beach? Yeah 
I had my dreams like everybody else 
But they're out of reach 
I said right out of reach 
I could ignore you 
Your demands are unending 
I got no tears on my ice cream but you know me 
I love pretending

But every day, every nighttime I find 
Mystery achievement 
You're on my mind 
And every day, every nighttime I feel 
Mystery achievement you're so unreal

In thrift store land, I scored some excellent mid-century modern tables for KMH for the low low price of $18.00.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018


The song in my head (certainly not in my heart) is so bad. cursing you with it would be an outright sin. It's a beautiful day here. I am about to get dressed and go spend a bit of birthday money on a Dark Star Lilac that is supposed to do well in Southern California. And then maybe I will get to it and get that wisteria into the ground as I have mostly pulled up the tomato plant where I plan to put the wisteria.

In other gardening news, the fragrant roses, although still not in their permanent home, are about to bloom. I am trying to decide if I can stand to pull out the popcorn cassia and put the fig tree there, in the corner.  You can just see it, the yellow flowers, to the far left there. The fig tree is pricey, so I really have to decide it I want it.

Day later. So far, no fig tree. I went to one of my favorite nurseries and only bought what I had on hold and one other thing. That was pretty big for me.

Monday has been hectic. Janet had a neurology appointment at 9:15, which I had forgotten had been changed to next Monday. All that hustling in vain. Then, off to the gym to get that out of the way. Errands while Janet was in the gym and after. My bed isn't made, the dishes aren't done, there is a pile of books on the table that had to be cleaned due to cats acting out and pissing on them.

I am taking just a moment to sit on the couch, which I rarely do.Vera has joined me. Kayla the dog is not barking. I can hear airplanes, high and in the distance, and the chirping of birds.

I need to get over to my gym and exercise.

I am reading a book I highly recommend, Straying by Molly McCloskey. The NYT review doesn't really do the book justice, as it is about so much more than the plot outline. I didn't get into it immediately and almost returned it to the library unread. Glad I didn't.

Oh, wow. Many many days later.

I think I forgot to take my meds last night, which means that I didn't sleep very well. I also woke up early. Waking up early is good, but, in my ever-quest to justify and rationalize, I also need some energy. After two cups of espresso, I think I could go back to sleep about now, but Janet and I are headed for haircuts. Hopefully, there is a nap and then productivity in my future.

Almost a week later.

The promised pleasure of a nap is nearly overwhelming. It is so quiet, even the freeway noise is insignificant. There is a sweet breeze which cause the nasturtiums to bop and sway. From my desk here, all looks luxe, calme, et volupte in the garden there. If I turn my head a bit, the dirt and weeds come to the fore, and thence disrupting the delicious syrup of momentary delusional denial. Idris's bird bell tinkles as she chases butterflies.

Leonard Cohen (among others no doubt) has some wise words about showing up to write every day. That was my original impetus for this blog. I find it very difficult. Writing a bit a day is achievable, but the other things that go into a posting take more time.

A camellia from Descanso Gardens.

Wake Up Sad. Today's song is likely unknown to most of you. Except for Charlie S and maybe Wendy, I would bet most of you have never heard of The Wild Colonials. I've been up for hours, so it wasn't what I woke up to, it has just been a refrain all day. (Lyrics at the very end, should any of you be intrigued.)

I need to get to the gym and then get Janet to hers. No napping for me, although only I would be the wiser, knowing that I had not achieved much of anything today.


A tree is lightly connected
to its blossoms.
For a tree it is
a pleasant sensation
to be stripped
of what's white and winsome.
If a big wind comes,
any nascent interest in fruit
scatters. This is so different
from humans, for whom
what is un-set matters
so oddly—as though
only what is lost held possibility.

— Kay Ryan, The Best of It: New and Selected Poems, New York, Grove Press, 2010.

A pretty from Descanso Gardens. I think it is a river lily, California native.


Don't tell me you can't help it
You're old enough to know the score
Why'd you need the love so much
If they fall, you hate the touch
What's the problem in your soul
Leaves a gaping deep black hole
Why'd you need so much attention?
You hate it when I try to mention
How it's something not to play with
Don't pretend there's just a little
Don't tell me you can't help it
You're old enough to know the score
You know one day you'll wake up sad
You know one day you'll wake up sad
You know one day you'll wake up sad
Don't tell me you can't help it
You're old enough to know the score
When you can't destroy their will
Keep on fighting 'til you kill
Call me so good call me weak
Do anything to hear you speak
Why'd you pick the easy way?
Never believe a thing you say
Have to wonder deep inside
What it is you try to hide
Don't tell me you can't help it
You're old enough to know the score
You know one day you'll wake up sad
You know one day you'll wake up sad
So don't tell me that you love me

Thursday, March 29, 2018


This one will be a quick check in, just in case you were wondering if I had such an awful birthday breakdown that I was speechless.

I had a better than okay birthday. Janet did not know it was my birthday, as she has a hard time with dates in general these days. I chose to not remind her until very late. First time in my life and probably hers that she didn't remember.

KMH and I went on a bit of a thrifting excursion to great effect and hauled some nice items, not too many. These vintage vases were the best of the lot and they are mighty fine. These were funded by a sweet gift from CB and JH. There were other gifts, cards, and many wishes, so thank you to every one who connected with me.

I feel quite weighted down, as if I am swimming upstream but mostly drowning. I am pretty sure I get in my own way, but I lack the perspective to really turn it around. Today, on the stationary bike, I desperately wanted to stop before my goal time. I was antsy and miserable. I did my 60 minutes. I have to look hard to see that I have made any progress.

Maybe I am just in need of a break. And I will get that break in two weeks when I go up to Oakland (another birthday present). Meanwhile, it is day by day, hour by hour, bird by bird.


One strong squirt
of will and the world
fills with direction.
All roads go Roman.
The path not taken
is not kept open.
There is suddenly
a rational waterworks
system. Things are done
as no indecisive person
could do them. Still
there is a population
that likes mistakes and
indecision, guarding
atavisms and anatomical
sports, the hips of snakes,
the wings of the horse.
They do not argue that
this is useful. They
make no mention of the
gene pool. They just
like to think about
these things. They
make them comfortable.

— Kay Ryan, The Best of It: New and Selected, New York, Grove Press, 2010

Monday, March 26, 2018


First poppies after the rain.
You all know it, but it bears repeating: it is some sort of heaven to listen to a soft rain in the night. I was in a lovely chat with a friend, doing some riffing and ripping on Dylan. Way leads on to way as it does when you are in the zone. I stumbled on a Grateful Dead version of Visions of Johanna which caused me to look up the lyrics. (Here's an excellent Dylan version.)

Ain't it just like the night to play tricks when you're tryin' to be so quiet?
We sit here stranded, though we're all doin' our best to deny it
And Louise holds a handful of rain, temptin' you to defy it
Lights flicker from the opposite loft
In this room the heat pipes just cough
The country music station plays soft
But there's nothing, really nothing to turn off
Just Louise and her lover so entwined
And these visions of Johanna that conquer my mind ...

Talk about yutori ... music is all about being inside of a mood or a place and taking the time to look around.

Later on Friday.

It pains me to tear out producing tomato vines, but they have been in there for two years at least. I need to start fresh if I am going to have tomatoes at all. I have volunteer tomatoes and tomatillos already. And then there are these poppies popping.

Sunny Saturday, espresso in the making.

9:00 am is my wake up time. The lights went out earlier than usual, more on the 10:30 side than the midnight slide. The alarm went off at what seemed like 5, but was probably 7:30, and just back to sleep I went. I have, however, walked the perimeter, checking for plant action (Iceland poppies blooming) and spent a few minutes tearing out more of the tomato plants. There are a lot of vines to pull.

It's cold and overcast outside. I am still in my jammies and under the covers reading and snorkeling around the internet. Janet has yet to get out of bed, but is still breathing and snoring. Butterscotch is making bread in the quilts. She would probably like some petting, but my hands are otherwise occupied.

Reading Sex Object. This comment had some resonance for me.

"My father—so smart as a boy that he skipped seventh grade—had wanted to go to the school [Stuyvesant High in lower Manhattan]. But at thirteen years old he got caught stealing a car and a guidance counselor told him he was no longer eligible to take the entry test. This was a lie that shaped the rest of his young life..."

I read about UC Santa Cruz in the Life Magazine issue after the one featuring the killings at Kent State. Although I had become fairly disenchanted with the entirety of high school and had stopped anything resembling college prep, I decided this was the school for me. I immediately began to go to junior college to make up for the classes I had missed in regular high school. 

I went to my guidance counselor to borrow the university catalog. He informed me that I had to return it the next day as it was impossible that I would attend UCSC. 

I got in with a full scholarship.

Between my father not wanting me to go and providing no help or support of any kind, and a guidance counselor telling me to not even dream or aspire, I wonder where, besides my single-mindedness at the time, I managed to go there.

Encouragement matters.

Later Saturday, no longer Sunny.

One reason I don't like the weekends is that Janet is home all day. All she does, no matter what I do or so, is sleep and watch people barking on the television. I don't know how folks can stand to watch the news, as the energy level is always pitched to hysterical drama and doom. So, for someone as challenged with focus as I am, and always thinking napping can be good, having Janet suck the energy out of a place is even more unpleasant. I need to come up with better strategies.

I did get a bit of weeding done. So much sawgrass, so many mallow plants and dandelions that the poppies and cosmos are struggling in one area. Now, after having cleaned the bathtub, I am determined to re-organize the bathroom cabinet and finish cleaning the bathroom. Janet is in bed again, after having been awake for about two hours.

Now Monday.

Tomorrow is my birthday. Last year, I was so depressed on my birthday I am not sure that I fully got dressed and out of bed. I cried a lot. I was thoroughly disconsolate. Not sure how I am going to be tomorrow. I wasn't really thinking about it. Peter is taking me to dinner somewhere. But I think I can feel the pit just a little off the road I am on. We shall see.


It seems like you could  but
you can't go back and pull
the roots and runners and replant.
It's all too deep for that.
You've overprized intention,
have mistaken any bent you're given
for control. You thought you chose
the bean and chose the soil.
You even thought you abandoned
one or two gardens. But those things
keep growing where we put them—
if we put them at all.
A certain kind of Eden holds us thrall.
Even the one vine that tendrils out alone
in time turns on its own impulse,
twisting back down its upward course
a strong and then a stronger rope
the greenest saddest strongest
kind of hope.

— Kay Ryan, The Best of It: New and Selected Poems, New York, Grove Press, 2010

And here is one of my overprized intentions: refinishing.

Friday, March 23, 2018


Very rarely do you hear anyone say they write things down and feel worse. It’s an act that helps you, preserves you, energizes you in the very doing of it.
— Naomi Shib Nye, from an Interview on On Being

I don't listen to podcasts these days, being too taken up with a few books. Would that I had known how to get audiobooks from the library in the worst days of my depression and insomnia. At the very least, the nights would have felt shorter. I hadn't listened to the On Being podcast in quite a while, but tuned in last night for some reason. That particular quote feels extra relevant given my last post.

"I just came back from Japan a month ago, and in every classroom, I would just write on the board, "You are living in a poem." And then I would write other things just relating to whatever we were doing in that class. But I found the students very intrigued by discussing that. "What do you mean, we're living in a poem?" Or, "When? All the time, or just when someone talks about poetry?" And I'd say, "No, when you think, when you're in a very quiet place, when you're remembering, when you are savoring an image, when you're allowing your mind calmly to leap from one thought to another — that's a poem. That's what a poem does.

And they liked that. And a girl, in fact, wrote me a note in Yokohama on the day that I was leaving her school that has come to be the most significant note any student has written me in years. She said, "Well, here in Japan we have a concept called 'yutori,' and it is spaciousness. It is a kind of living with spaciousness. For example, it's leaving early enough to get somewhere so that you know you're going to arrive early, so when you get there, you have time to look around." Or — and then she gave all these different definitions of what yutori was, to her. But one of the was: "After you read a poem, just knowing you can hold it — you can be in that space of the poem, and it can hold you in its space, and you don't have to explain it. You don't have to paraphrase it. You just hold it, and it allows you to see it differently."

After the intensity and sorrow of yesterday, it is likely no surprise that I have a dirge in my head this morning. Brokedown Palace.

Yesterday, Tuesday, was somewhat better. The day was largely taken up with renting a truck with a lift to pick up the washer and dryer, now sitting at the side of the house. We found some other odds and ends left in the trash and what now. You know how that goes: by the end of the move you hate everything, can't see value in anything, and just don't care.

Janet is already sucked into the tv as I can hear some old movie on TCM blaring through the house. My father got addicted to History Channel and it always sounded like WW2 around here.

The sky is that yellow-grey before the rain. I picked some freesia. The iceland poppies are cropping up. I don't think they make good cut flowers, though. A lot of rain is forecast, so perhaps I will be able to do some weeding on the weekend. (I say that every week, don't I?)

Think I will go to the gym instead of yelling at Janet.

Today I am sad about the extinction of the white rhino. And that another white man is terrorizing blacks but it doesn't get called terrorism as it should. And an unarmed black man was blasted with 20 shots in his grandmother's backyard. I just don't think the perspective is as it should be.

When I think about all the Facebook scandal, I can't help but ask could be expected from a company with a privileged, immature, unschooled, inexperienced, uncompassionate (there is not a good word for this), unsympathetic, entitled white guy and his similar friends at the helm. We are just soylent green to him, in some form or other.

I can smell, faintly, the freesia that I picked and is now on my dresser (probably awaiting knocking over by Scotch).

"But no one wants to listen to our sad stories unless they are smoothed over with a joke or a nice melody. And even then, not always. No one wants to hear a woman talking or writing about pain in a way that suggests that it doesn't end. With out a pat solution, silver lining, or happy ending we're just complainers—downers who don't realize how good we actually we have it.

Men's pain and existential angst are the stuff of myth and legends and narrative that shape everything we do, but women's pain is a backdrop—a plot development to push the story along to push the story along for the real protagonists. Disrupting that story means we're needy or selfish, or worst of all, man-haters—as if after all men have done to women over the ages the mere act of not liking them for it is most offensive.

Yes, we love the good men in our lives and sometimes, oftentimes, the bad ones too—but that we're not in full revolution against the lot of them is pretty amazing when you consider this truth: men get to rape and kill women and still come home to a dinner cooked by one."

— Jessica Valenti, Sex Object

I have started or started to finish a bunch of new books. Sex Object is a more interesting read in this post-Weinsteinian #me too universe. What Valenti was saying two years ago, and what seemed transgressive to the world at large seems prescient now.

The main reason I read Orhan Pamuk's Snow, at long last, was that I found it on CD in the library at a moment of desperation. I really really liked it. And so when I saw a nice, $1.00 copy of My Name Is Red, I thought I might have a shot at actually getting through it this time. Turns out in the first couple of pages that it is funny and thoughtful.

But, are they truly waiting? I can't even be sure of that. Maybe they've gotten used to my absence—how dismal! For here, on the other side, one gets the feeling that one's former life persists. Before my birth there was infinite time, and after my death, inexhaustible time. I never thought of it before. I'd been living luminously between two eternities of darkness.

— Orhan Pamuk, My Name Is Red

The negative engagements I had with Janet earlier in the week have a psychic resonance. I am calmer, but spacier. Slightly down, more vacant than really depressed. I haven't managed to accomplish much of anything but wafting around thrift stores, mostly looking at stuff.

The weather forecast has tomorrow being mostly sunny so perhaps I can get myself to bed soon and up early to work at productivity and enjoy better light. I will bet that some flowers will be inspired to bloom as well.


Emptiness cannot be
compressed. Nor can it
fight abuse. Nor is there
an endless West hosting
elk, antelope, and the
tough cayuse. This is
true also of the mindL
it can get used.

— Kay Ryan, The Best of It: New and Selected Poems, New York, Grove Press, 2010

Monday, March 19, 2018


My cousin Dan drives around a lot, takes pleasure drives across the country and such. As fresh accompaniment, I burnt a few discs for him for the road . One of them was part of a Time-Life Folk Years compilation that was only so-so, but good for nostalgia. In the no good deed goes unpunished, I cannot get Sonny and Cher Baby, Don't Go out of my head (don't ask what this was doing on a folk compilation; it's all about the moolah). It must be the Wrecking Crew that grabs me. (Checked it out and it was.) Here's Hot Tuna doing Come Back, Baby as an ear palate cleanser. Play it loud.

I was musing to a friend the other day about how her husband, dear as he might be, has a low ceiling. What I meant by that was he has a tendency to get depressed and all focussed down and misses opportunities for both work and pleasure. And then I realized how aptly that shoe fits on my emotional foot.

Right now, however, I am sitting at the dining room table where I can see the sun shining on a through the peach roses, which are about 15 minutes from the blowsy and dropping stage. They look pretty from here. And, the azaleas are coming along great guns, although I have YET to feed them.

I am giving in to temptation and brewing a third cup of espresso. Janet and I are going through coffee at a good clip these days. She can drink a cup in the late afternoon or evening and still sleep like a rock. I think coughing is the only thing that keeps her away. If only I were so inclined to good sleep.

Emmylou is taking advantage of my sitting at the dining room table and going in for the face pets. She usually knocks open the bathroom door to take advantage of me when I am incommunicado.

At any rate, I will bet the garden will be beautiful by the time the bank takes it over after my mom dies. I hope they don't tear out all the plants, the bougainvillea, the wisteria, the carolina jasmine, the arabian jasmine, the azaleas, and lilac vine I am tenderly nurturing. The saw grass weeds and the nasturtiums are having a strong response to all of the spring rain, (although it technically isn't spring until tomorrow) by getting huge. Perhaps it will make weeding some of that grass easier as it will be simpler to tell it apart from the poppies and the cosmos.

Later that same day.

I am so angry with Janet that I feel sick. Our relationship utterly exhausts me. She steamrolls over my "buttons" so often. We do not have a happy, comfortable, or even pleasant relationship most of the time. She is reasonably compliant about taking her medication (finally) and not letting out the cats (some big relief there) so I guess physiologically she can still learn. But she is not motivated to any sort of kindness or care toward me. There is no partnership or help whatsoever.

The worst point, the thing that makes me unconscionably angry is when she ignores me. That sends me straight back to my childhood where she didn't help me even when it was really her job. She just abandoned me to my own devices. Even when I begged her to fill out my university financial aid forms, to get my father to do so, she shrugged and said she didn't get around to it. Because sitting around with the cats and floating in Janet universe was more important. Don't get me started about my father who wouldn't even drive me up to start college because he didn't want me to go. And you wonder why most of us Syberg didn't want children?

I know a lot of you like my mother. Let me tell you that she is a smart-alecky, self-absorbed, helpless, dependent bitch. She is extremely passive aggressive. She has never been a thoughtful, generous person, at least not to her family.

This is not to say she has never been kind or generous. But the times she has been are moments I can practically count out on my fingers.

I just feel sick and defeated. I know when she dies I will flagellate myself nearly to suicide, but it is so hard to deal with her, be with her. Although I am essentially the hired help, the emotional baggage makes it so much worse. I don't have any perspective.

I started this day in a good and positive mood. I enjoyed my garden and the cats, I did some work. I had some ideas I wanted to write to you about. Now I just want to cry and vomit. I am nearly shaking with exhaustion, emotional exhaustion. It is a wonder that I didn't emotionally eat my way through a bag of chips, nor succumb to the temptations of the liquor aisle at Trader Joe's.

I will just sink into the oblivion that a book or tv can provide.

Later that same night.

There have been times when Janet and I were close. I called her to share things with, to unwind, to laugh with. Maybe some of my anger (but not damn much) comes from knowing she is soon to die. It's within the realm of possibility that I am pushing her away. I find it very challenging to be close to her as I don't trust her not to hurt me. She probably feels the same way.

I just happened to open to this page.


Winter, like a set opinion
is routed. What gets it out?
The imposition of some external season
or some internal doubt?
I see yellow miscalculations spread
across bleak hills of what I said
I'd always think: a stippling of whit
upon the grey; a pink the shade.
of what I said I'd never say.

The Autobiography of Charles Darwin

I marvel at how generally
I am aided, how frequently
the availability of help
is demonstrated. I've had
unbridgeable distances collapse
and opposite objects coalesce
enough to think duress itself
may be a prayer. Perhaps not chance,
but need, selects; and desperation
works upon giraffes until their necks
can reach the necessary branch.
If so, help alters; makes seven vertebrae
go farther in living generations;
help coming to us, not from the fathers,
not to the children

— Kay Ryan, The Best of It: New and Selected Poems, New York, Grove Press, 2010

Sunday, March 18, 2018


Many things are odd in life, this you might have noticed along the way. An oddity for me is hearing my mother remark how odd it is that she won't exist much longer. Not only am I not sure what to feel about this, I am not even sure how to think about it, from her perspective, or come up with any response. Yes, there have been many times when I wished to cease to exist, but those feelings were generated from pain, disappointment, humiliation, and shame. But thinking of the world without you in it. That is a different thing.

Mom is not degenerating very rapidly, mostly. I suppose it would be better to say that she is holding her own for the most part. She has good and better and even fine days, but other than being unbearably annoying to me, she is okay. Her lung CT came back clean, and if she is faithful or even observant about taking her inhaler, she doesn't cough. The gym wears her down, but also energizes and focusses her. And when I drag her from the dominoes table to drive her over there, she is generally thoroughly cheerful and nearly enthusiastic.

Anyway, that was something that I have been meaning to mention. Now, I am going to bed.

March 16

This morning carries a chill so I am half under the covers, waiting for my second espresso pot to produce more coffee. Truth be told, I would probably be here anyway as I herd and harass Mom to get dressed for the senior center. She refuses to accept that it takes her a minimum of 90 minutes to prepare to leave the house. She was never quick to do anything, and ancient-ality has increased this tendency.

Windowboxes are nice. I have red dianthus and yellow and red marigolds in these boxes, and the red dahlia may well bloom again. So far this year, I don't think I have killed any recently purchased plants, although I did buy a half-price, drooping anemone that I will probably lose. One of the marauder cats found poor Butterscotch sleeping in the window last night and attacked her through the glass. That's how that window was broken last year. Still haven't looked in to replacing it.

Meanwhile, I should get dressed, get that second cup of joe, and get on to other issues.

Other issues and an outing later. About to run out to the gym. Had a landmark chat with my dearest Melinda for which one can be thoughtful and grateful.

In California, when it is overcast, one wants to curl into oneself. It's not all cold, but it feels so uninviting. I want to lose myself in books or more TV other than the writing I should be doing. But, I am going to muster myself to the gym and finish this later. Just know that in my head, I am curled up under the covers listening to either the end of Marlena or the first part of Speak No Evil.

Irritation is a cat mewling nonstop for no reason while she walks around, bird bell clattering, and the next-door dog, Kayla, in her endless endless barking.

Don't look too closely at this picture of the garden after the rain. Lots of weeds, and dirt spots.

On to Sunday.

I need to get my clock reset to getting to bed earlier. I am on a 1 to 9 schedule and that makes a lazy morning become the entire day. Of course, many such days have been spent being hungover and at least that isn't the case. I was oddly productive yesterday. I did a wee bit of gardening, scored at the thrift store while managing to put some treasures back, made soup, did three loads of laundry, and washed the kitchen floor, as well as finishing two books (one I pretty much read or listened to) and cleaning my closet some. That was pretty busy for me.

"How do people do it, I used to wonder. Well, I learned. That sort of secret feels like an illness, the way the world slows to a crawl as though for your inspection. So much clarity and consequence—it was like enlightenment, it was like being in the truth, which is a funny thing to say about deceit."

— Molly McCloskey, Straying

That's a good opening paragraph. Maybe not "Call me Ishmael." but intriguing enough.

A strange collection of music in my head: Al Green, Let's Stay Together, Ralph McTell's From Clare to Here, (Nancy Griffith does a nice job, too) and the Emenee toy theme.

Janet has gone back to bed, I am pretty sure. I will check when I get up to make my third cup of coffee and check the chicken soup on the stove. It smells very rich, and although it is lunch time, I still want my breakfast. (Yep, she's asleep while the talking heads yap away on the tv in the front room.)

There are few things more pleasurable than waking up in a warm, soft bed with a tabby curled and purring at your shoulder. At least until the big bossy Siamese decides she needs to whack the tabby. Vera and Oona really have it out for Scotch. Oona is jealous of her being with me. Vera Paris is just tough.

Whatever else I was planning on has been forgotten, so I should get to a poem and get to my tasks. The day is getting colder which makes climbing under the covers to watch Collateral on Netflix so much more tempting.

In more exciting news, picking up the new (used) washer and dryer on Tuesday. It will be awhile before I get them installed, as I have to clean up the garage, but hopefully this will be impetus.


It take a courageous
person to leave spaces
empty. Certainly any
artist in the Middle Ages
felt this timor, and quickly
covered space over
with griffins, sea serpents,
herbs, and brilliant carpets
of flowers—things pleasant
or unpleasant, no matter.
Of course they were cowards
and patronized by cowards
who liked their swards as
filled with birds as leaves.
All of them believed in
sudden edges and completely
barren patches in the mind,
and they didn't want to
think about them all the time.

— Kay Ryan, The Best of It: New and Selected Poems, New York, Grove Press, 2010

Ralph McTell

There's four who share this room as we work hard for the crack
And sleeping late on Sundays I never get to Mass

It's a long way from Clare to here
It's a long way from Clare to here
It's a long, long way, it grows further by the day
It's a long way from Clare to here

When Friday comes around Terry's only into fighting
My ma would like a letter home but I'm too tired for writing
It almost breaks my heart when I think of Josephine
I told her I'd be coming home with my pockets full of green
It almost breaks my heart when I think of Josephine
I told her I'd be coming home with my pockets full of green
And the only time I feel alright is when I'm into drinking
It sort of eases the pain of it and levels out my thinking
It almost breaks my heart when I think of Josephine
I told her I'd be coming home with my pockets full of green
I sometimes hear a fiddle play or maybe it's a notion
I dream I see white horses dance upon that other ocean
It almost breaks my heart when I think of Josephine
I told her I'd be coming home with my pockets full of green
It's a long, long way from Clare to here.