Saturday, December 30, 2017


This is Scotch about 10:00 am.

The day, I think, has finally succumbed to the grayness I feel. (Not saying that I control the weather or anything.) 

Same cat, same position, two hours later.

Now the next day. 

Yesterday, I might have been arrested for laziness. Or maybe it was just a mental health day after the debacle of the new tax law and our continued rape by old white guys. I slept a bit late, which meant that Mom slept late and we have reviewed how that goes. It was overcast and cool, resulting in an evening rain. I hope nothing got ruined on the patio, as I have yet to batten down those hatches.

Why are winter naps the best? It seems as if I can't even properly nap at other times of the year (anymore). But winter naps are thick and crunchy, a substance or state that you can bite down on and chew (or saw logs) away.

I think it has been a week. And baby, what a week it has been. It is now December 29. Sometimes I head into the New Year with a lot of energy and ideas for a better year, a better me. That wave of optimism crashed on the beach and haven't seen the likes of energy yet again.

Mom is good and was even doing better, I was going to report. But today she has been very very trying. This is all frustrating because she loses her will to be involved and in motion, just going on the cruise control that has made me murderously angry with her for decades. I become invisible in the face of her dismissiveness and passivity.

Meanwhile, just to make the holidays that much stressful, my older half-sister, Carole, who was already into dementia, had a stroke. It has been almost a week in the hospital and she has not recovered her swallow reflex. I haven't seen her yet, but I believe she is paralyzed on one side. Mom and I are going down there tomorrow and I anticipate I will fall apart. Somehow it does not seem real. She is not expected to survive.

On NPR I heard a story about refugee children and "toxic stress." I don't even know where to go with that one.

Watched an excellent documentary about whaling and Melville on The American Experience on Amazon Prime, which rekindled some of my Moby Dick reading energy. I listened last night as I fell asleep and was once again astounded at how excellent, funny, poetic, and insightful Melville was. I know this must sound crazy to many of you. Indeed, I had been through it about 10 years ago, and while I appreciated it, I did not quite see the many layers of genius. 

I came across a copy of The Poetry of Robert Frost at a thrift store today and thought it was worthy of $2.00. While waiting for Mom to complete her physical therapy, I perused it while drinking chemical soda water and a quesadilla at Del Taco. I can't say as I really know his work, save for the famous one or two. 

I'm not a fan of rhyming poems, really, but I was struck how prescient some of these were.


It is right in there
Betwixt and between
The orchard bare
And the orchard green,

When the boughs are right
In a flowery burst
Of pink and white,
That we fear the worst.

For there's not a clime
But at any cost
Will take that time
For a night of frost.


"Shine, perishing republic."

Cumaean Sybil, charming Ogress,
What are the simple facts of progress
That I may trade on with reliance
In consultation with my clients?
The Sibyl said, "Go back to Rome
And tell your clientele at home
That if it's not a mere illusion
All there is to it is diffusion 
Of coats, oats, votes, to all mankind.
In the Surviving Book we find
That liberal, or conservative,
The state's one function is to give.
The bud must bloom till blowsy blown
Its petals loosen and are strewn;
And that's a fate it can't evade
Unless 'twould rather wilt than fade.

both from In The Clearing, New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1962

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Wonderous supper: prosciutto, marcona almonds, Toscana black pepper cheese and some sips of calvados. Turns out Oona Minnie Pearl Moonlight and Zora Idris Caledonia like theyselves some proscuitto. Butterscotch liked it too, but the stress of being near two cats that don't much like her meant she gave it up. 

Why do cats look so grim and scrunched when they hunker down for sleep? Oona is atop the dresser, looking quite as if she has a misery or the weight of the world. Could she be in a Christmas funk? The rest of this household is. Mom is just in oblivion, I am the the one who is circling a Christmas funk.

As per my general ambient entries, I continue to struggle with being in the place I not-so-happily grew up. And as the big holiday approaches, the ambiguity and discomfort I generally feel around here is magnified by the reality that I am here with just Mom and a bunch of cats. Perhaps there is a bit of loneliness for family, of which I don't have a lot, and friends, of which I have a generous and blessed amount but who are not here to participate with me.

And then there's the goddamn tax bill.

In other news, though, I feel as if I just might have made some very necessary breakthroughs on other fronts such as health and "stuff management." 

So this one won't be too long. I am so relieved that the shortest day of the year is nigh on upon us. These short days feel like being confined in a not-big-enough box, and during the confinement there is a bright blinding light focussed for too long a time.

Sunday, December 17, 2017


One wonders if one test of endurance is how many times a human can watch Christmas in Connecticut in a single lifetime. I am pretty sure Janet is going for the record here. I don't even have to be nearby, having only sly drifts of the occasional music, to know where she is in the film, whether I want to or not. I think we need some Ramadan and Yom Kippur and Aztec holiday comedies, no?

Oona Minnie Pearl Moonlight and Zora Idris Caledonia staid the course, sleeping on my bed most of the night. This is unusual. Idris is enraptured by all things Oona, so that was her draw. She tried to get her to play several times, but Oona was Sybergian in her dedication to sleep.

My freshman English teacher, the inimitable Mr. Frank Panezich (R.I.P) insisted that paragraphs have four to eight sentences. Wondering if any English specialists out there have heard that and if so, why? My thought was that it was a teaching device for making high school students coherent. 

I see that my overhead fan needs dusting again. Sometimes I feel as if I am living in some dust version of The Wind. I haven't seen it in a long time, but my memory is of Lillian Gish in an endless loop of sweeping her house out, Sisyphean-style. But perhaps I am thinking of a Willa Cather novel or Little House on the Prairie.

I love the word prairie. Not sure why, it just looks good. Plus, slightly French, always a draw for me.

I was supposed to have breakfast with three friends, fellows from high school. After two emails queries, I received one response. And, of course, no response this morning at all. Le sigh. I suppose I should just get on to the day. Perhaps I will later hear about a later meal.

To those of you non-Melville-ians, wondering whether to take the plunge, go for it. I will not say I am having an easy time of it, being far behind the other Kermit Place Readers, but it certainly has plenty of delights. Besides yesterday's quote about sleeping, I am enamoured of the phrase benevolent biscuit. Doesn't that make a smashing restaurant name? I guess I am pining for that breakfast. 

Mr. Panezich also told us that we would never graduate from college unless we read The Iliad. I was always worried about that, but not enough to read it until long after I had graduated. Maybe the process would have been faster had I done as he required. I will say that I absorbed it much better when I attempted it as an adult. That said, I do recall trying to read it as a teenager. I was confused from the very start with the name Briseis and why those guys were fighting over her. I gave up soon thereafter. Plus, Agamemnon? That's a mouthful to say in East LA. And there was that ridiculous Signet edition with tiny type and tissue-thin paper.

What strikes me now is how we accept fighting over the possession of a woman for purposes of rape as a reasonable text for high schoolers. Although I was a bit more naive than most (more like purposefully numb/dumb) to lusts and the ownerships of men, I think I was a put off by that.I would hope that these days there is actual conversation about these issues before setting students to the welcome task of reading such a book. I loved it when I finally read it and was so happy that I had.

This all brings me to Mary Beard's new book, Women and Power and her interview with Pamela Paul on the New York Times Book Review Podcast. All recommended.

Goodness, but I am a chatterbox this morning and after only one cup of coffee. 

And some morning Emily Dickinson


Hope is a subtle glutton;
He feeds upon the fair;
And yet, inspected closely,
What abstinence is there!

His is the halcyon table
That never served but one,
And whatsoever is consumed
The same amount remain.

Okay, I am not even entirely sure what that poem means, but that first line is a killer. And did you know that a halcyon is a kind of kingfisher? I did not. Makes the poem even better.


Could mortal lip divine
The undeveloped freight
Of a delivered syllable
'T would crumble with the weight.

And put the load right on me.


Congratulate me! I have turned Mom into a Netflix binger! Although I had a bit of trouble settling her into The Crown she has been watching it, happily, for about six or seven hours. Now, The Crown has to be more edifying and challenging than Shark Tank or endless repeats of The Property Brothers and Fixer-Upper, right?

It seems as if I don't have a lot to show for the day. I did make it to the pool, make some actual progress in the re-reading of Moby Dick, cleaned the litter boxes, gave meds to Emmylou and Butterscotch, made pizza, emptied the trash, did some computer maintenance, and watched a few more episodes of Snowfall.

I really wanted to stay in bed, read, and drink coffee, but what is new about that? I must get my last swims in before the Palm Park Pool closes for at least three months. I haven't quite figured out what I am going to do for exercise. 

Yes, it was quite a week. In a fit of usefulness, I called to get another estimate on getting the jacaranda tree trimmed. The company showed up with a full crew, gave me a reasonable price and credit, so chaos ensued. They cut down rather more than we wanted. It was hella-noisy. I threw Emmylou into Mom's room for safekeeping, and then did not see her for a 14 or so hours.

In the spirit of fun (not), I went to the dentist the next morning only to find I need a molar pulled immediately and an estimated $7000.00 more work as soon as I can get that cash together. I was prepared for a bit of that work, but that was a shock and a bummer. I arranged for the extraction for next week so that I could get a couple of things done in case of being a mess.

My ex-pat cousin needed a body to get to the California Secretary of State for an apostille. I had never heard of such a thing, but it's a basically a notarization for international use. She needed it as quickly as possibly so that she could register her new baby, Leonardo, for citizenship. Hence, one reason no tooth extraction as I had already promised to do this. As payment for my service, I get an extra special bottle of grappa picked out by my bon vivant Italian cousin-in-law. Can't wait.

So, after the numbing news on the teeth, I returned home in something of a snit, to still no Emmylou. I walked the streets calling her to no avail. Standing in the doorway of my mother's room, I saw a dark blob inside the curtain. Sure enough, Emmylou was cowering there, head facing the wall. She was probably there all night. Now a vet visit ensued.

Do you think I might have been stressed?

At any rate, both Emmylou and Butterscotch have that upper respiratory virus that kitties get, particularly when there are a lot of them. So far, no one else is showing any signs. Oona is asleep at the foot of the bed and Idris is curled up on the floor. Oona won't like it when I get under the covers and disturb her.

I am continually abused by any news or even sight of anything relating to the Repugnant Congress or the Shitgibbon of Doom. The Doug Jones victory helped but they just doubled down on the tax bill, internet neutrality, and the Mueller investigation. I am still dumbfounded and agog that none of these elected asshats ... nay, they are criminalfuckturdwads cares about justice or fairness as I understand those concepts.

Watching the John Singleton show, Snowfall, on FX while reading The Hate U Give and thinking back to all the black history and literature I have read this past year. Not to mention that it was black voters in Alabama who stood up to the Shitgibbon and child molester. We have fucked up, a lot of us privileged white Americans. I am fine with stepping back and stepping down. 

Feeling pretty ghetto here today with some party in the 'hood where the bass is about to break my eardrums. Might not be any sleep in my future tonight. Then again, I was ready to go to sleep at 7:30.

Well, as I understand it, change is challenging and I am working at that change, constantly questioning myself about my choices (like snagging two need-fixing up Huffy Panama Jack bicycles today). Sigh.

In the midst of my travels,I picked up a Barnes and Noble edition of Emily Dickinson's Collected Poems. How strange and wonderful they are. 


Superiority to fate
Is difficult to learn.
'T is not conferred by any

But possible to earn

A pittance at a time,
Until to her surprise,
The soul with strict economy
Subsists till Paradise


Remorse is memory awake,
Her companies astir, 
A presence of departed acts
At window and a door.

Its past set down before the soul,
And lighted with a match,
Perusal to facilitate
Of its condensed despatch.

Remorse is cureless, — the disease
Not even God can heal;
For 't is his institution, —
The complement of hell.

And for those of you who have yet to delve into the mysteries and delights of Moby DIck, I offer:

Damn me, it's worth a fellow's while to be born into the world, if only to fall right asleep.

And so, we bid you good night.

Butterscotch has a new napping spot when she is feeling better.