Thursday, October 1, 2015


I was up earlier than usual this morning, likely because I was asleep earlier with less than the usual amount of imbibition in my system. I couldn’t even get through 30 minutes of The Count of Monte Cristo, opting for a Planet Money podcast (don’t even remember the subject now). The sun comes through the living room and dining room window so brightly as if there are floodlights aimed at them. After preparing my morning cup of hot water and honey, I ambled out to the garden to see how the plants are doing. That’s when I saw …

… Bird butt. Certainly I have observed birds on a wire before but never before have I watched them balance. I just thought they, you know, plopped down and hung out. But no. Here was still another minor thing, yet major thing, I had failed to notice; birds have to work pretty hard to perch on those wires. They are in subtle yet constant motion. There’s a lesson in this observation, methinks, but it hasn’t come to me yet.

I brought the laptop out to the gardening bench. The morning is pretty quiet save for the occasional airplane cruizing by. And the river of freeway traffic, which by this time is not too loud as the drivers are crawling and cussing at this hour. By the hacking cough, I can hear that my Mom has stumbled out of bed. 


This past weekend, my dear homie Peter came over to help clean up the breezeway and hang the outdoor drapes. My mother, who had been utterly disinterested in my plans to hang drapes to replace the ratty, falling-apart-shades actually stopped chattering and gasped when she saw what we had done.

My brother called last night to say that he had gone to see his doctor and he is doing well. There was some concern that he had emphysema, as well, but that has been allayed. I didn't actually speak to him, and my mother forgets things very rapidly. 

I was a bit saddened and alarmed when she came into my room last night to ask if Panera made tomato soup. Panera's tomato soup is one of her absolute favorite things (right along with Sees Candy). Her gerontologist diagnosed her with major depression, which was a bit of a relief to me as that condition is at least treatable, if not reversible. But it does take time, and, so far, I haven't seen much of an improvement. She's much better if she exercises and if I get her out of the house. Company makes all the difference.

We drove up to North to see my brother in the hospital last two weeks ago. We got up early,   hoping to beat the traffic through LA (not much luck there). We drove up Highway 1 as we were in no particular hurry and I reasoned that my mom wasn't going to see Big Sur too many more times in her life. 

I particularly like the photobombing lady, who was offering to help us.

She utterly loved it. And while we were on our trip, she didn't nap, or not significantly, whereas here, she naps every two hours or so. As soon as we got back, she started feeling weird again. 

I need to get on with the day before it gets too hot. I only have three days to get things done before I head for NY.  And wouldn't you know it, there's a tropical storm that might impede my outgoing trip. On the brighter side, that likely means good weather for the Memorial on the 10th.


When Sisyphus was pushing the stone up the mountain,
Always near the top
As you remember, at the very tip of the height,
It lapsed and fell back upon him,
And he rolled to the bottom of the incline, exhausted.

Then he got up and pushed up the stone again,
First over the grassy rise, then the declivity of Dead Man's Gulch,
Then the outcroppings halfway, at which he took breath,
Looking out over the rosy panorama of Helicon;
Then finally the top

Where the stone wobbled, trembled, and lapsed back upon him,
And he rolled again down the whole long incline.
He said a man's reach must exceed his grasp,
Or what is Hades for?

He said it's not the goal that matters but the process
Of reaching it, the breathing joy
Of endeavor, and the labor along the way.
This belief damned him, and damned, what's harder,
The heavy stone.

— Josephine Miles, The New Yorker Book of Poems, Viking, 1969

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