Saturday, April 30, 2016

DISSOLVING SCRAPS






"When daylight lasts until 10 P.M because of the time change, and the traffic noise has died down, I have the illusion that all I'd need to do is return to those faraway neighborhoods to find the people I've lost, who had never left ... It's like in the morning when you try to recall your dream from the night before, but all that's left are scraps that dissolve before you can put them together.

— Patrick Modiano, Chien de Printemps

I certainly wish it were quiet here, well, after 10 P.M. As usual, we are heading to the 1 A.M. zone. I had thought that maybe I would get to bed earlier, as I, comme d'habitude, did not sleep well. It was after 11 A.M. when I finally got out of bed. Can anyone tell me how long a dog can bark without stopping? There is at least one canine in my neighborhood that is going for the record.

Speaking of dream scraps, I had a heart-filling dream this morning. I was in New York, walking around some neighborhood with Kim and Ginny. I was so incredibly happy in the dream. I was so excited to be back home. Then I woke up with a touch of the bittersweet: the happiness left a little buzz of pleasure, but the reality is the ass end of Los Angeles.

The weather was good today, though. Sometimes the weather is so temperate and beautiful, you can imagine why people thought it was a good place to move to.

As for productivity, well, not so very much. I had a pair of special sunglasses for my mother that needed to be returned. Obstacles, of course, presented the roadblocks for that to be a simple path: lost the soft case for awhile, couldn't remember where we had ordered them, then some email exchange (I am still not sure they will take them). Once the arrangements were made there's the big obstacle of not having a printer. Sigh.

Well, today I was determined to focus on that one task (see recent posts) and get that damn box in the mail. Yes, there were more steps involved like having to drive twice (3 miles each way, so that makes 12 miles) to get the printed copies, and oooh, no packing tape ... blah blah blah. But! 'Tis done. And I even managed to post a birthday present before the due date (along with three post-birthday missals).

So, in Pepsyian form, to bed. I have just enough energy for some reading,having snagged some delectable new books from the library: The Lady with the Borzoi: Blanche Knopf, Literary Tastemaker Extraordinaire,  Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck, Peter Arno: The Mad, Mad World of the New Yorker's Greatest Cartoonist, Small Town Talk: Bob Dylan, The Band, Van Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Friends in the Wild Years of Woodstock.





Wednesday, April 27, 2016

DWELLING IN THE UNDONE




Progress, progress, be my pillow
Be my comfort, let me sleep
In the coolness of forward motion
In completion I can reap...

With apologies to the Youngbloods. I had to stop and have a moment of reflection and breath rather than dwelling in the undone. I seem to be all off or all on.

I finally (thanks to Michael Wahrman holding my hand over the telephone) got my bug blaster operational. Now, I have to treat all those tomatoes, and, baby, there are a lot of them. I had my mother help me get some of them staked better so that I could reach them as they were a deep and viney mess.

One must respect the will to live and reproduce that tomatoes have. Those spider mites are everywhere yet that plant keeps going. I have hopes that this water treatment will work and that they will thrive. Meanwhile, it looks like fresh tomatoes and pasta for dinner tonight.

This is the plant I worked on the most.

Today's harvest from that plant.


If you were me, you might wonder why I took on the task of all this gardening. Sebastian, our gardener came over yesterday with the rest of the dirt, so now, besides tending to all that is going on in the garden already, I have a bunch more to plant. I don't have an answer to this question. More activity all the time? I can remember the very big upside that it pleases my mother a great deal.

Will somebody out there remind me to enjoy myself a bit?

In other positive news, I have been (with utter appreciation) resupplied with some sleeping medication so I am getting better rest, even if I am still having nightmares. I had a terrible one about Jason R and Monsterwood last night, but after some trauma, it came out great.

Also, some of you might not even know that the first volume of this is actually published. I wish that I could send one to each of you, but I cannot. If you wish to buy it however, here is the link.

Okay, feeling better now. Guess I will clean up and find other fun tasks to accomplish until it is cool enough to get back out there and attack the spider mites.

Napping friends.




Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A MORE RESTFUL NIGHT

Well, first, the salon was a great success. The company, the food, the evening, all in all, just sweetly divine. It was the first party to take place in that backyard in a many a year. We did drink Purple Rain cocktails, kindly supplied by Debee and John. Even Janet had one, a small one, and proceeded to enjoy the rest of the evening. Debee brought a copy of 1999 to go along with the tribute drinks. We were up until after 12:00. But no worries about the disturbing the neighbors since one of them was there.

And I did get the patio clean enough for humans to walk through it. I have yet to have the energy to revisit the remaining boxes and what not, but it has only been two days.

And truth be told, I wasn't feeling even a little well today, although I think I am a bit better this evening. I didn't sleep well and had another terrible nightmare. If I don't take something to help me "stay down," I wake up every two hours or so.

I did get my Sunday-Monday work done, but little else. I have tried to work on my embroidery projects, but that is almost out of my current skill level. Also, I am at a point where I am matching threads and I am not sure I have that much focus.

So, although I have some further thoughts on my last post, as well as some good comments from some of you, I will call this goodnight and watch the last episode of Janet King while I hope for a more restful night. Emmylou is happily conked out on my dirty clothes on the floor, while Vera is all curled up on the extra blankets. (It got a little bit cold today.)


Friday, April 22, 2016

THAT'LL DO, PIG


Merle helps Mom do the dishes. 






Among the things I wrassle with, and you know those numbers are legion, is focus. As I was getting dressed to go out and tackle the patio problem in advance of the salon bbq tomorrow, it struck me that perhaps I need to try to do only one thing at a time.  (See? Right there! I thought AND I put on my clothes.)

Is it my nature (to attempt) to solve many issues in as short a time as possible, or my profession as a producer wherein multitasking is essential to the successful completion of a project? I rarely do only one thing at a time.TV plus needlework or web surfing. Doing the dishes plus listening to audio book. Even sleeping now requires management of podcasts to help me fall asleep.

So, this morning, I am to see if I can limit the number of things I am doing and see how that goes.

And I can hear CB quoting Yoda: There is no trying, only doing.

And meanwhile, if anyone has any practical ideas about how to detach from "stuff" I'd be open to hearing them. I have too much and, so far, no practice has helped me to learn to let go.

In general, just as a caffeinated side note, I attach a lot of reasons and "noise" to things, causality and consequence and possibility clauses. That might be worth something. So and so gave that to me. So and so might like this. I acquired this at such and such time. I could repurpose that to ... I could make that into ...

I am struggling with this. Perhaps some of you are as well.


 Front yard tomato/pepper patch.

Report from the trenches.

I can barely force myself to do any of this. Not to place any particular blame, but my mother's way of dealing with things, like so many of us, is to shove them into cardboard boxes, place them on the leaky patio, and never think about them again. Where, not only do they get moldy, but they can get plenty of dirt from the Los Angeles Basin polluted air, augmented by freeway dust, the freeway being less than a mile away.

I emptied a box that was full of my brother Carl's keepsakes: diplomas, letters, cards, machine heads for his guitars, cassettes of his old band, Gush, and other such things. A card from his dear friends Fico and Debee on the occasion of his 50th birthday. He didn't live to see 51. All going to the trash.

And in my mother's papers, I found all the documents relating to her reverse mortgage. That's a great place for legal documents, right? Where stray cats can pee and dust gather. Ugh. I am sorry. I had to take a break and hope that I can dig in after a calming down session.

In better news, I found my dad's shop vacuum and it still works! I don't have all the attachments, but it is easier to vacuum some of this mess than to sweep. At least the first time through. Maybe I will even make it to mopping sometime.

I have been more successful at not yelling at her. And her memory loss seems to have evened out. But she is so passive. Even I ask her to do a simple task that she is fully capable of executing she wants me to do. Not because she can't. She doesn't want to do much of anything.

Going through this stuff on the patio is huge. And I am not even working on my own belongings moved from Berkeley last summer that need sorting.

Non-attachment is a survival skill that should be taught early and often. But I guess that goes against the capitalist, acquiring culture. And, yes, there is more to it than that, so I am not advocating not having anything ever, just figuring out how to let more go more quickly.

And I remind myself that if I could let go of all my records, in actuality if not in my fantasy mind, perhaps I can use that as a yardstick of value. Is this item more valuable than the original copy of Elvis Presley you let go? Those early Beatles albums? (Not going to detail any more. I am sure Amoeba made a lot of money.)

Saturday.

Well, progress has been made. I need to get out and make room for my guests in the patio and backyard. My garbage cans are getting full of papers and cardboard. And, my mom and I powered through getting the refrigerator clean. Plus, James came over last night and hung up my new pot rack.


I think I have a new motto, taken from a fine film, Babe. "That'll do, pig."  (I am not calling myself any names here.)

ALL GOOD THINGS NEVER LAST

My dear friend and soul brother MPC was quicker to the party than I was. He was raving about Controversy and Dirty Mind before I focussed. I was quick to take to Head and When You Were Mine and was learning other bits of the early canon. So I was a fan.

I was back at UC Berkeley finishing my long-delayed Bachelor's degree. KALX  (the UC Berkeley radio station) was playing all the time and both MPC and I had spent some time as substitute DJs and such. As ever, I had time getting out of bed (ah, those days of sweet sweet sleep). On that day, I was likely dozing after the alarm went off, sleepily contemplating missing something important like French class. But mostly, I was dead asleep. And then a song came on. Something inside of me, something primal and deep was jolted. I sat bolt upright in bed and turned up the radio. I could not believe the beauty and brilliance of the song. I could practically sing the whole thing from the first time I heard it: LITTLE RED CORVETTE. Electrifying.

And the ride,
I say the ride is so smooth
You must be a limousine ...


That was it. He had me, hook, line, sinker, heart, soul, bank account, body, whatever I had belonged to Prince. That metaphor, that music, that sweet screech, all had me. I remember this moment, the sleep, the bed, the room, the first hearing of this song as if I had been minutes ago. 

Not too long after, by the time Little Red Corvette was a hit, or at least commonly known, I was hanging out with the current love of my life and singing that line. I mentioned that those lines were about the best compliment I could imagine. Sadly, the dear was utterly perplexed by that. I should have known better. I still stand by my sentiment as among the most romantic lines, the highest compliment possible. 

Yes, there were other Prince songs, other memories. Dancing, as so many did, in the years before 1999 was a just a year and then the past.


Don't miss this either. 

Sometimes it snows in April
Sometimes I feel so bad, so bad
Sometimes I wish life was never ending,
And all good things, they say, never last

Thursday, April 21, 2016

UNRESTED

Oh sigh.
Having a hard time with Janet today, although I have, at least, managed to, relatively, keep my temper. I know. I know. I know. It is my attitude that needs to change, my patience that needs to increase. My sense of timing and schedule that need to be adjusted to accommodate her.

Yes, well. Some of that is more easily accomplished when I don't stay up to piddle around with Prime Suspect. I'm on the last episodes now, so if I don't get hooked on something else.

All right now. Off to Trader Joe's and take Janet to get her eyes examined.

Boysenberries a-cumin'.


Well, that was the 11th and now we are on to the 19th.

Things have evened out a bit in Janetworld. I am not sure if it is due to a change in her medications but she is somewhat more participatory, actually helping me work on the patio cleaning today, and slightly less wifty and needy.

It is already hot here. The nasturtiums are on the wane, at least in the sunniest parts of the garden. Other things are wilty, also. The heat also makes it unpleasant to work in the yard after about 10:00 or 11:00, which  does not give me a lot of time if I am struggling with insomnia.

Wow. Last night was a doozy nightmare, the root of which I have not deciphered, nor perhaps will I. It had to do with fundamentalist Christians busy with polygamy and child abuse in a tunnel somewhere underneath my bed. A wife or two tried to convince me to keep my mouth shut. Throughout the dream I tried to wake up or speak or scream. Undaunted by their threats, I tried to go public or expose them, when they grabbed my mother. I continued to struggle to make noise. They bonked her on the head with a big rock in an attempt to kill her. At that point, I was able to scream, not in the dream, but in actuality. I did wake up somewhat, and I woke up my mother as well.

After that, I slept fitfully, falling back into nightmarish, but vague dreams. I managed to surface enough to get up, go outside, look for cats. Emmylou and Vera enjoy their nights in the yard. Vera is able to traverse the fence to visit others; Emmylou waits to get out the front window.

The nightmare cast a pall over the day, combined with a sense of being unrested. There are things to do, to get accomplished, a challenge on a good day. I focussed on whatever progress I could make in getting the front beds planted and the backyard organized.

As we are having a salon on Saturday, we are trying to host it outside, even if all the cleanup is yet to be accomplished. The pool table that has sat actually moldering and taking space was dismantled and taken to the dump yesterday. Janet and I swept and cleaned where it had been. A significant portion of Carl material was found, much of it destroyed by mildew and mold. (By the way, those fans of you out there, perhaps you might enlighten me as to how many copies of the LOTR trilogy a basic fan needs. I do believe Carl had three or four, mostly ruined.)

I will not go so far as to say life is great. I am staying productive, barely. I see the possibilities of depression, but have staid mostly out of that bog. Having perspective is difficult and sometimes frightening. I feel stupid and vacant and disorganized and useless.

I had to remind myself that many of these tasks are a process and that I needed to detach from an immediate outcome. That every moldy book I threw away was making progress. I want it to be a purgative event, but then I would likely be getting in the way of any helpers.  So, I take my progress and tiredness with a grain of salt and try to get to bed earlier.

Also, I got new glasses! I can see!






Saturday, April 9, 2016

ELVIS AND THE MUSE

Rainy day, dream away. Although I have plenty to do, of course. It's the second rainy day in a row. Actual April showers here in Southern California. What a field day for the  ... weeds. I am sure the flowers and new transplants will be happy, too. But getting ahead of those weeds again.

Well, if I get my work done today, I can pull weeds when the earth is still damp. That makes it a whole lot easier.

Re-entry to caregiving was a little rough. I didn't sleep so well on Wednesday night, and we know that makes your humble narrator a cranky gal.

One thing about getting up early is that you can futz around a lot and it is still not terribly late. But I do need to work. And the nap weather is just begging for me to zone out.

Later.

Yes, there was a good rainy day nap involved and yes, there was a cat involved as well. It happens. When you are lucky.

Palm Springs was a thrift shopping jubilee. At mostly reasonable prices. K and I found some cool thrift shops in Joshua Tree as well. This late 19th/early 20th century Austrian pitcher was only $5 and Janet loves it. The larkspur, roses, and snapdragons are from our garden.








































My mom just asked me if I remembered Oregano. I was besotted with the herb so we named a kitty so. I have a significant oregano plant out in the garden, as well as rosemary, lavender, cilantro, curly parsley, thyme, marjoram, basil, thai basil, purple basil, and rue. The garden is kind of going nuts. Much to Janet's delight.

Elvis and the muse have left the building.
So to bed.





Wednesday, April 6, 2016

NEITHER STONED NOR TEENAGE


Palm Springs, California

I am pretty much out of mental gas here. K and I have been having loads of fun thrift shopping and buzzing around the desert. Today we both did work this morning, despite our plan to leave for early for Joshua Tree National Monument.

We left late and had several thrift store stops along the way, having a great time. It was late afternoon by the time we got to the park. K was thinking about turning back, but as the ranger let us in for free and my assurances were that it was totally worth it, we pressed on. It was magical. We giggled and gawked and made up stories as if we were stoned teenagers, and we were neither stoned nor teenagers.

So, after dinner and a lovely skinny dip in the pool under starry skies, I bid you goodnight.









Monday, April 4, 2016

GREETINGS FROM PALM SPRINGS

Freesia.
I grew a few this year.
On my birthday, I picked a few flowers from the garden and place them next to my bed.
As you might recall, I wallowed about in misdirection that day, fending off IEED (improvised emotional explosive devices) from the dementors. I did take a nap in the quiet. The smell of freesia, so gossamer, nearly vibrated in the room. There's a sweetness to freesia that almost hits the same places in your head as wasabi, only it is kiss instead of a jolt. I see I have one more blossom on its way in. Should be peaking about the time I get back from Palm Springs.

Janet does enjoy the garden, so all that work is not in vain. The other morning, we ate scrambled eggs outside while the cats either sunned themselves or chased one another around. She mentions the flowers every time she looks out the front door. So, not all in vain. I hope I can get her to water while I am gone as there are some seedlings and recent transplants that need watering every day.

Okay, Sunday now ...

And I might not be very interesting.

That said, it is a beautiful night here in Palm Springs at 11:00 pm. So damn and lovely quiet with only crickets for company. K and her pup went to bed early and I am doing a version of my usual Sunday evening of working and staying up too late. But it is a different, and relaxing, setting. It is so wonderful to be here.

So back to working and Prime Suspect.

And to all a good night.










Saturday, April 2, 2016

POSSIBILITIES — BREATHE IN

Possibilities —
     Breathe In
     Breathe Out
          — Mom, at the top of a note that must have been for teaching.

It's so nice when she is gone and I am home alone. No TV on. No having to hear pundits chatter and Donald Trump's voice initiate internal questions about death, murder, and absence of reality.

We have a sunflower flower out back.


Next day.

Another night of not sleeping so well, plus weird music playing in the night. I thought perhaps, in a rare occurrence, Janet had gotten up to watch television. She is the family champeen sleeper, so I thought that unlikely. This time it was the Bose radio in the kitchen that came magically on. I have absolutely no clue about how this came about, but after not sleeping so well, I don't have the sharp dectecting skills to track down the answer. Also, I don't care very much.

Time for my first cup of coffee.

End of the day.

The point at which you tire of hearing about my travails with Janet, is the point where you can stop reading this particular entry.

She can be very funny. "You know there's no difference between sleeping and napping."  I wonder if she knew she was paraphrasing Popeye who said "When it comes to nappin', nuthin beatsk sleweepin'."

"Are we out of ice cream?" she queried in a petulant and concerned voice. I asked her what it was like to be five again. But it is really not that funny. She didn't remember that we bought quite a bit of ice cream yesterday.

We had a big brouhaha with the new cat, Merle, yesterday. Here are the bullet points:
  • Stray cat we've had for about a month;
  • Needed to be neutered;
  • Took him to vet, found that he had been microchipped;
  • Vet contacts owner; owner is looking for new home for him;
  • Owner says has paperwork to get free neuter but must find them;
  • Owner sends brother over to pick up cat and drop him at our house;
  • Merle is back, un-neutered, awaiting more information.
Janet must have asked me to explain this to her about 40 times. Sometimes she would ask me within five or ten minutes. Again, I just don't know if she is being needy and getting my attention by asking me questions repeatedly. I don't think she tries very hard. Is she tired, just from being 89?

Some of my reaction is just shock that she went mentally downhill. So. Fast. If we are lucky at all, some of this will be boredom and depression and she can get back a little "with-it-ness." We are doing much better with the pill taking, but anything that requires more than once a day or any kind of regularity (like a patch getting changed at the same time every day), has not been achievable.

She is freaking out a bit, although she wouldn't admit it, that I am going to Palm Springs for two nights and leaving her on her own. This is kind of a trial run to see what the parameters are of her taking care of herself. My hope is that this will make her more independent once she gets over her fear of my being gone.

This is so heartbreaking it sometimes seems unbearable. The slow, incremental, inexorable move to death, with a probable stop at incapacitation. It's hard to be here alone, watching it, living it on a daily basis. While I still lived in New York, I feared a telephone call in the night telling me she was gone.

Maybe I will adjust and rise to a better self in taking care of her. Maybe I will learn something that I would not apprehend any other way. Knowing that I will be homeless after she dies doesn't help. It's so very odd feeling that I am on the outside of life looking in at the world where people made better choices and had some better breaks continuin their private spins in relative comfort and security.

Sometimes life feels like a second language to me: I know how to speak it pretty well, but not as a native. No mother tongue for me.



First mini-eggplant.



Garden salad: red chard, Tuscan kale, spinach, two kinds of greens, purslane, nasturtiums, tomato.