10 September, 2017

Interrupting Blue

...I have a blue house with a blue window....

We interrupt the miseries of the moment for an expedition into poetry.

I can't tell if it's any good. Honestly, I feel that way about everything right now, as if I'm incapable of judging things with any degree of objectivity, since my filter has wrapped around me so many times that I'm swathed in... whatever it is. Rusty barbed wire, mesh made of rotted meat and maggots, synthetic peach-flavored fishing line, candyfloss blue fiberglass, I don't know anymore.

Beltway Driving

In front of my face
lines float upon a page
in front of my eyes
mist crawls across my brain
and with a buzzing blue
a blue trot
a blue gallop
a blue horse
is loose on the beltway

hurry, shouts a jogger
as he blazes past me, dressed for the
running of the horses
drive all the blue ones off at the next exit ramp,
explains another runner
a blue flash
a blue canter
a blue horse

among many horse-colored horses
and many sprinting humans
it is Barcelona and Chincoteague
amid the runners
on the beltway
with the horses that are blue
and not blue

driven steadily
blue ones grouped together towards the right
now, calls a driver rushing fleet-footed from behind

I stay with the
horse-colored horses
as the blue ones peel out, away,
up a curving blue exit ramp
against a blue sky
inside a blue thunder
into a blue neighborhood

I wonder what the residents will think

ahead of me
a blue horse
to the left of me
a blue horse
beyond my sightline
a blue horse
alongside many blue horses
we'll get them at the next exit

the prize is a garland
of blue roses

so we drive
until words float upon a page.

8 September 2017

Eiffel 65; I'm Blue

07 September, 2017

Extra Innings

...sun's comin' up I got cakes on the griddle/Life ain't nothin' but a funny funny riddle....

I'm later than I mean to be, which is more or less always the case, and phone on my way over.

Hello, Mommy-Mom.

"Hello, Baby-Babe!"

Are you having breakfast? Are you up? Have you washed and dried and dressed?

She answers in an order that makes sense, which is not the order in which I asked.

"I AM up, I have clothes on, and I'm working on this grapefruit."

I'll make the rest of your breakfast when I get there. I'm on my way now.

We discuss going out to the ballpark. It's my last opportunity of the season to take her to a day game. Well, Monday would also work, but tickets are more expensive (the Yankees are in on Monday) and besides, that's Senior Day at MDRF, and I want to take her. EAS plans to take her later this month when her friend Anita can be there as well, but something will come up, with Anita or the weather or EAS, and then she won't get to go.

And Mother needs her chocolate covered frozen cheesecake on a stick.

I arrive, and she's done a fairly competent job of breakfast. The toast is about to burn, but I rescue it. After food, I hustle her into the shower. I keep expecting her to back out of our ballgame plans, come up with excuses for not going, something. Though when we went a week or so ago, it was fine, she enjoyed herself and is looking forward to going again.

The Toronto Blue Jays are in town, which means the whole city gets to hate on Bautista, which, it occurs to me, I will miss doing when smug jerk retires eventually.

After I've walked dogs, I make lunch for Mother, even though she's just had breakfast, hoping she'll nibble and nosh and fill up while I go home to buy and print tickets and get things together for the game.

Gomez and I spend enough time hunting for his baseball hat that we're late to fetch Mother, park farther away from the stadium than I like and miss out on receiving today's giveaway caps from Dap.

We sit in Upper Reserve, where seats are cheap and the sun can shine on us if it sneaks through the heavy cloud cover. But not too much with the shining- we have our decorated straw hats from last time.

In front of us, there is a family including a pair of teen girls. Mother repeatedly leans forward to tap them, to speak to them, to touch them. At one point, the one with hip-length hair pulls out a brush. Mother taps her and extends her hand for the brush. The girl tentatively hands the brush to her. After a few messy and ineffective jabs, I gently take the brush from Mother.

Let's let her brush her own hair, shall we? She probably likes it a certain way.

I mean, it's nice that she's engaged. It's nice that she's interactive. It's a bit embarrassing, though, for me, and, I imagine, disconcerting for the girls. They are more courteous and patient with Mother's frequent intrusions than one might expect considering the current levels of rudeness. Mom to at least one of them is there, and perhaps she's an anchor. Or they look comfortable there; perhaps frequent visitors, who have become accustomed to a variety of eccentrics surrounding them. At any rate, I am possibly overly empathetic imagining their discomfort.

Gomez disappears for a long while, returning with a Boog Powell barbeque sandwich. I remind Mother of Young Boog Powell, who plays for Oakland, who was pictured in her newspaper with Old Boog Powell and a sandwich. Young Boog Powell is Herschel Mark Powell IV and the son of a baseball fan. We watched him play when we went to the game on Wednesday the 23rd, leaving before the 12th inning had finished, and listening on the radio when Manny hits a walk-off homer.

Mother is engaged in the game, cheering enthusiastically for Manny, Adam, and particularly Trey Mancini, this year's amazing rookie. She's paying attention to the plays, as evidenced by her applause when Toronto players make excellent catches or during double-play action. I'm glad she's enjoying herself.

The teams are tied in the ninth, so throughout the following innings, people leave for their various whatever-they-may-bes, and the young ladies move down a few rows. I pen a tine thank you note for the mother, asking her to convey my gratitude to the girls, and give it to her during an exciting moment of action, when Mother won't see and question me. At the finale, she turns and says, "that's all right, hon." I reiterate my thanks for their tolerance.

Today's game also goes to twelve innings. It also has the correct outcome. We stay for the whole game this time, and get to see a little pie action.

Gomez helps me keep track of Mother during our exit with the throng. As we pass the gate, a stadium worker says, "Hey, where's ya'all's rally caps?" I turn back with a smile.

We didn't arrive in time to get them.

"That's okay, I like yours better anyhow."

"Me, too," says Mother.

Thanks, Mom. Really.

John Denver; Thank God I'm A Country Boy

03 September, 2017

I'll Wait

...reach down/ in between my legs/ ease the seat back....

"So, since it's raining, does that mean we can't listen to music?"*

Since I've just spent three days sick, and the rain is very heavy, it's probably a good idea if I concentrate on driving, so we can, but something soothing enough to not jangle me, something peppy enough to not sad me, and something that we can listen to at a volume that won't make me jumpy.

They consult, and conclude.

"How about this?"

I agree, and into the CD deck slides Van Halen's 1984.

The instrumental introduction kicks in, reminding me that this album has less of what we love about Van Halen on it, which is not what most people think of when they think of Van Halen. Diver Down, an earlier release, has the instrumentals Cathedral and Intruder, and an odd assortment of covers, including not only the well-know Where Have All The Good Times Gone(Kinks), Dancing In The Street(Martha and the Vandellas) and Pretty Woman (Roy Orbison), but also a lovely rendition of Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now), featuring father Jan Van Halen on clarinet, and an a capella version of Happy Trails. The Van Halen originals on Diver Down struck us (me, again; the kids for the first time) as incredibly interesting... until the vocals kicked in, at which point they became less so, due largely to the forgettable lyrics of The Full Bug and Little Guitars. Secrets redeems itself, but really, just ONE good original song on an album? According to Eddie, Van Halen's producer Ted Templeman wanted singles, not albums and felt the best way to get them was to cover songs that had been hits already. That's what Diver Down was. 1984 was far more what Alex and Eddie wanted for the band.

But the oddball covers and the obscure instrumentals are one of the things WE love about Van Halen, although Hot For Teacher is probably more 'trademark' VH. We just enjoy demonstrations of superior musicianship. 1984, happily, has plenty of that, despite a shortage of instrumentals and oldies. Hot For Teacher included.

I'll Wait, though it peaked at only #13 on the charts after its initial release, is one of the best examples of the '80s Big Hair Rock genre. The synthesized intro, (a bit like Journey's Separate Ways, written May of 1982, but longer and better), was recorded in what technically qualifies as Eddie Van Halen's "home studio," the new 5150 (so named after the California Welfare code for involuntary institutionalization of a mentally unstable and potentially dangerous individual) studio in 1983 for the upcoming album. The first son recorded there was Jump, which Templeman immediately assessed as "the" hit of the new album. Eddie remembers,
Once Ted heard that song, he was full-hog in. He said, “That’s great! Let’s go to work.” When I first played “Jump” for the band, nobody wanted to have anything to do with it. Dave said that I was a guitar hero and I shouldn’t be playing keyboards. My response was if I want to play a tuba or Bavarian cheese whistle, I will do it.
 The video for I'll Wait, released back when MTV was MTV and not the weird bastardized version of itself that it became, is also worth a look. It's, at a glance, not very different from Def Leppard's Photograph, and yet... but somehow... well.

*Do I need to explain that Primarily Decorative has trouble focussing when driving, worse when the rain provides distractions like slick roads and mists, moron drivers who drive like the whole sky is falling, other, different moron drivers who drive as if conditions are clear, dry and unworthy of adjustment, beautiful patterns of raindrops on the windshield and, if it's light enough, gorgeous clouds in luscious hues of silver and grey from horizon to horizon? It's not that I have trouble focussing, per se. It's that I have trouble prioritizing.

Now, where I was originally going with this post, begun in 2009 or '10, I couldn't tell you.

But I don't feel like (read: 'am not interested in') writing about braving today's persistent rain to go shopping for trousers with Mother at Target today, which is all that happened, so.

Well, that, and I walked dogs, saw 4 rabbits, photographed 2 of them, then wrote a haiku.

Yeah, it all sounded boring to me, too.

So, Van Halen. Really not boring.

Van Halen; Panama

01 September, 2017

Virtual Conversation

...leapfrog the dog/ and brush me, Daddy-O....

I could apologize for recycling, but who does that? I've neglected my blog long enough that old posts I considered unworthy to upgrade from 'draft' seem a little bit fun. And "a little bit fun" is recommendation enough, since my main topic of conversation nowadays is My Mother The Horse, whom I love to distraction, quite literally.

I consider starting a cottage industry of creations made from the abundant dog hair in my home, and say so in a semi-public arena.

(I say 'arena' as opposed to 'place', because there is no 'here' here. It is all virtual. Where IS the internet? Zackly.)

Musicweaver and Autumn "like" this.

I feel as if I'm quoting when I say "There is no 'here' here", and I know it isn't Gertrude Stein, because she wrote that there was "no there there" in reference to her childhood home. But if someone said "There is no 'here' here" before me, and I'm quoting, and you know it, let me know; otherwise, I'm taking credit for it.

RoYo: Knit a doggy sweater! Full circle!

Kimby: oh, I got lots of dog hair to add to your project.

Lovi: - sends a link -

(Pretty cool- also there are people who will spin your pet hair into yarn for you. )

Mich: I got this little Swiffer thingie that sucks it up; it's made life so much better. I'd be happy to drop off the buckets of hair I have here!

Primarily Decorative: Oh, sure, but you gotta spin it first...and the staple length even of Golden Retriever hair makes that prohibitively time-consuming. You don't think anyone would like Dust Funnies? With little pipe-cleaner ears and noses?
Becca: I can teach you how to spin it. :)
(I learned to spindle spin at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this past year.)

(Instructions on how to spin pet hair yerowndamnself. Warning: abundance of vocabulary words; eg: whorl, short-staple, carder, flyer, bobbin, take-up speed, tension, draft, and rolag.)

RoYo Stuffed animals! Little doggies, stuffed with doggie!

CelioGrin We have an abundance of black dog hair if you need another color. ·
KJunk: @Mich, I have that Swiffer thing too, and you know how you are supposed to throw it away and buy a new one when it's full? I used an Exacto knife to slice through the clear section, cutting three sides of the rectangle, so now it opens and I can 'empty' it and reuse it over and over. Now, for Cybele's issue with the length of GR hair...can't help that...
(Good on ya for using it to its fullest, KJunk. Even better-greener- are reusable Swiffer cloths, which don't address the plastic-ness of the Swiffer itself, but it's a step in the right direction.)

Peach: I have an abundance of cat hair if you need any help...

AmLaughing: I see a line in feline fashion. A pink poodle sweater for a prissy Persian who has everything. Or possibly pussycat toupees. You can see from my profile photo that my Pennycat loves her platinum extensions. An Afghan hound had to die for those. Do you think my cat cares?

(Fiber artist Nancy Paap creates PETA-friendly fur coats by warping her loom with cotton and using spun pet fur as weft. Your pet cuddles you!)

Primarily Decorative: You guys mock me now, but when I am a bazillionaire, creating hand-spun retrieverino yarn, and selling it, or scarves knit from it, you will wish to come out on my gigantic boat and attend my fawncey parties. I will instruct my butler to sniff at each of you, because I will be far too wealthy and important to do it myself.

Mom: and your butler will, naturally, be a golden retriever... what with all that sniffing, eh?

(I'm not sure how I'd keep my Golden Retriever's black tuxedo hair-free... maybe my butler should be a Black Lab, and I'll just sew a shirt and cuffs for him. Using an old sheet that my Golden Retrievers have chewed.)

Kate: But it has to be dry clean only, or we'll smell like wet dog. :P

(Why, then, doesn't your wool sweater smell like wet sheep? Or your acrylic sweater smell like wet acryl?)

KrackyWhoorzl: i'm in!!

(One woman's pet-to-product stories.)

AnneF: I used to say that I could knit a companion animal out of what Merlin sheds...

(I sweep up a small Cocker Spaniel every_single_day.)

RoYo: Cybele, does the scarf come with a flea collar?

I'm thinking if I "treat" the yarn, the scarf could BE a flea collar. Maybe I'll send one to the lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Flea Collar indeed.

(Dog Eat Dog; Adam and the Ants)

31 August, 2017

Monagamy? No.

...It's a thousand pages, give or take a few/ I'll be writing more in a week or two....

"The book I'm reading..." is a mystery sentence to me.

It's not that I don't read; that's just ridiculous. It's the "the" part of that which is foreign to me.

Current bookpile:

Thom Hartmann, Cracking the Code
This is about the co-opting of language as a shortcut to our emotional reaction. This is how 3-second soundbytes control a presidential election. It's about how language is managed in such a way that it bypasses our intellectual processing, and goes directly for a visceral response, like flinching from a punch.

Oliver Sacks, Awakenings
You saw the movie. Oh, you didn't? Neither did I. This is a series of documented case studies, and Oliver Sachs, purportedly the 'rock star of psychology', (he wrote The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, a series of essays about brain-injured patients), has continued, over the years, to add additional forwards to his work, until the forwards compirse about half the book's contents. I was telling a pal about starting this book, and how it was heavy going because I couldn't find the beginning due to the temporally backwards-moving series of forwards. He said, "I'd want to read all the forwards. Because, you know, it's OLIVER SACHS." I took his point, but didn't read all the forwards. I have other stuff to do. Like read all these other books.

Isaac Asimov, On The Bible
My cousin and I share a curious fascination with the history and development of Judeo-Christian literature and culture. She lent books to me from her extensive collection, and I told her about the Asimov discussion of The Bible. I ordered it online for her. When she came, she thought it was a bomb. The story bears repeating, but I'll need to edit a bit to protect... well, everyone.

Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope
If you haven't read this, I don't understand why. I don't understand why I haven't finished it yet. Actually, the 'why' is easy: I'm reading a couple pages from a bunch of different books, so it slows me down. Also, there's not a discernible plotline, so there's no sense of urgency.

Nimoy, I Am Spock
I think I have two copies of this at the moment.

CJ Crowe, Phillip Pomeroy, Murder at the Oh No! Corral
This is a rather elderly show, written pre-offspring, which makes it 25 or so years old. It's still good, and we're performing it at the Sunset Restaurant in Glen Burnie on September 11th and September 18th, both of which are Monday evenings.

Nora Roberts, or maybe Jude Deveraux, and the title hardly matters
Just a fluff romance novel with murder mystery thrown in for grins. I began it in the bathtub. Bathtub reading is the main reason I believe I'm permanantly unlikely to own an electronic reading device. Imagine: I could lose my entire library falling asleep in the tub. A paperback romance, retail price $6.00, not only represents a smallish investment, but also will eventually recover and be readable after an unplanned dip in the bubbles. Ditto for sand at the beach, water at the pool, not to mention being jumbled in a totebag, left for actual years untouched, stepped upon or dropped accidentally from the car.

Nate Birkham, Home Rules
Home decorating advice. Of course, to 'decorate', you must first have a 'home' instead of a 'pathway through the clutter'. I'm working on it. Not quite TV-worthy yet (like Hoarders), but certainly not Home And Garden either. It's sort of sad, but I've bought books on how to get rid of/organize/sort/keep up, including a book with the title How To Get Organized When You Don't Have The Time, but I never finish THOSE books, either, and they become more clutter.

Stephanie Pearl-Mcfee, Knitting Rules
This is a good reference book. I have been using basic technique while learning fiddly refinements working on more complicated projects. After a couple of beer cozies and three unsuccessful projects, I finally turned out a pair of socks for The Man. He values them enough that he handwashed them hissownself. Reading Mcfee's book while knitting socks gave me confidence that I wasn't doing it ENTIRELY wrong, and left me with a sense that I finally understand how to build a sock. This may be an incorrect perception on my part, naturally, but it was a curiously satisfying feeling at the time.

William Shatner, Shatner Rules
Shatner, on Shatner. Better than Shatner on Conan.


I'm kidding about the last one, of course.

Shatner's newest is called Leonard, and I haven't read it yet.

The Beatles; Paperback Writer

15 April, 2017

Everyday Exchange

...even though you're crazy you will never be a bother....

She returns from the MRI, smiling. I hand her pocketbook to her.

How was it?

"It was fine. I guess. It's like being in a coffin."

I don't ask how she would know.

I made sure you were dressed warmly this time. Last time, you were cold and squirmed a lot. 

She sits and begins rummaging in her bag.

Whatcha looking for, Mama?

"Hair brush. I don't know if I have one, though."

You do. I saw it when I moved it from your winter purse.

"Why did you have my winter purse?"

You were carrying it this afternoon when we came here today. I transferred the things from your winter purse to the summer one.

"So you weren't totally idle."

Yes, I amused myself moving your things from one purse to another. Well, most of the things.

She looks alarmed.

"What do you mean, most of them?"

Well, I threw away all the used tissues.

She feigns irritation. "Hmph. I was saving those."

And dumped the crumbs.

"Poor ducks will starve."

But your hairbrush and your lipsticks are there.

"So I can be beautiful. I just don't know for who. You, I guess."

You do clean up nicely, I must say. 

Red Hot Chili Peppers; The Hunter

10 March, 2017

Biscuit, Please?

...you may not like/ the things we do/ only idiots/ ignore the truth....

We enter though the gate, returning from an outing. She holds it open for me, turns around to make sure it closes behind.

"Good girl," she murmurs, "good dog, good doggies."

Mother. Did you just say 'Good Dog' to me?

"Of course not."

Of course not.

Dog Eat Dog; Adam and the Ants

02 February, 2017

One Direction

...I would walk through the desert/ I would walk down the aisle/ I would swim all the oceans....

We exit the gate, dogs in tow. We all walk down the driveway. She heads left with Winnie, the way she always does. I and the dog with the stupidest name in the world move a bit to the right.

Why don't we go this way for a change? Change the scenery around a little.

She shakes her head. "Too much traffic on Maple."

Mother. It's exactly the same as we usually do, just around the block this way instead of that way.

She sighs. "Fine. We'll do it YOUR way. But I still say there's too much traffic in that direction."

One Direction; Stand Up

01 February, 2017

A Door, Ajar

...no one remembers your name/ when you're strange....

Clever and Athletic Sister put a spring thing on the gate, so it closes itself.

This did not solve the problem of Mother leaving the back door wide open while she walked the dogs, allowing insect access, escape of air-conditioned coolness or furnace-generated heat.

It also didn't solve the horrorshow of back door madness that resulted when she allowed some unqualified hucksters to put an addition onto the side of her house. Aside from the 'powder room' that's completely non-functional due to uninsulated pipes that we turn off in the winter time, the inner door opened outward, and the outer door, one step away, opened inward. It also was crooked and wouldn't lock properly.

CAS thought a new outer door would be a good idea. I shopped at Lowe's for a hot minute, sent photographs of things I thought were nice and the price range they were. CAS's contractor husband ordered a thing called a "left hand outswing steel door".

Wes The Handyman came to install the door, which was a big hairy deal. Pugsley helped, because installing a door is really a two-person job, but Mother was so put out, hovering and disagreeable that CAS finally took her away to do some shopping and have lunch. Don't move Mother's water dish. Or, if you must, do it when she's not looking.

It became a two day job. On the second day, Wes put the old wooden outer door back on the inner door, where it always had used to be. It swings inward, and has a lovely old glass doorknob. The hooks for the dog leashes are embedded in it. But the hucksters had chopped it so it no longer fills the doorframe, leaving a four-inch gap at the bottom. The steel door helps keep the cold out, but the pipes in the "addition" aren't all that is uninsulated. Wes said he'd put a two-by on the bottom or something like that. I suggested "mudflap" because that's the sort of brain I have. He said he'd look when he went to get supplies to finish the cosmetic interior of the outer doorframe. CAS had purchased a programmable door lock, so that keys wouldn't be an issue. Pugsley did the programming. We all learned to use the fancy lock, including Lucy, so that she could teach Mother when Mother was calm.

Wes came back with some rubber stair treads, one for each side of the door. He cut them to fit, mounted them at the bottom and they work beautifully.

So. Mother has two doors that work, are no longer a booby trap because the inner one opens outward and the outer one opens inward and there's no space between them. Egress is smooth and easy. The cold mostly stays outside and the warmth inside, which I imagine will reverse when summer comes.


The gate shuts by itself, but the door hangs open again. Because Mother walks out with the dogs, leaving the door open. Both doors, actually.

When Lucy or I are with her, not so much. But she's still by herself for a significant portion of each day, for the time being.  This is worrisome if she's going to walk the dogs and leave the door open, notice she's low on dog food and decide to walk the mile or so to the grocery at 5pm on a windy evening, say Yes to various contractors who knock on her door... but she wants to retain her independence. Or her illusion thereof, which, between CAS, Lucy and me, we manage to permit.

So CAS orders a pump to make the outer door close automatically, just as the gate does. It solves the problem, mostly. The door doesn't actually latch unless it's pushed into place. However, it appears closed and it keeps the cold and the bugs on the outside.

We've showed her how to operate the lock. She understands it, mostly. It is a myth that Alzheimer's patients can't learn new things. It just takes repetition and mimicry. I've asked Lucy to implement the phrase, "Let's turn around and close the door," so that it will sink in, but with the new pump, that's not as important.

Yesterday, I took down three (well, two and a half; she came back into the room before I could finish) weird little contraptions that she's put on the inside of the inside door, to lock it. "For protection. I'm a woman living alone," she explained to Lucy on Monday, when she put up two different such mechanisms.

Never mind that the open doors left routinely by this woman living alone are much more of a hazard. That sort of logic doesn't apply.  I show Mother how to operate the lock mechanism from the inside of the outer door, so she won't need a hook and eye on the inside of the inside door, which will mostly just keep out people who come to help her.

Look. If you lock this one, you're safe, and only people who love you can come inside. She agrees that this is secure. But that was yesterday. She may have put up a new, poorly executed latch by this morning.

Daily entertainment. Never a dull moment.

The Doors; People Are Strange

02 January, 2017

Quick Update

...it's a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in bacon...mmmmmmm....

Happy 2017. I could post about everything that kept me from writing in 2016, but even I don't care about that very much.

Mother isn't better, but she's not getting worse very quickly. If one loosens one's definition of 'conversation', she's still conversational, and somewhat lively. She is at the moment safe, comfortable and relatively happy. She still lives in her own house with two dogs. We're talking about screening her for participation in a drug study. Is it awful that I said to my sister, "It's one way in which her life can be meaningful at this point." ?

She says silly things like "Put the chicken in the car and the car won't go, and that's how you spell Chicago!"  apropos of usually nothing at all. I decorated her house for Xms, and we had some nice little holiday celebration activities.

Today we take her older dog to the vet, so I must go over and breakfast her. It's a gloomy day and she'll probably be extra sluggish. Must remove all the items I've snuck out of her house from the back of the truck before I leave, though. Yes, sir, yes, sir, three bags full.