Monday, August 27, 2018

Monday Musings -- Too Soon?

When a public figure dies, the hearts and flowers pour out of the woodwork in praise.  It's understandable, if not truthful.  The same is happening now, for Sen. John McCain.  Given the current political climate, the man does look like a paragon of virtue, but he was decidedly not.  I'll never get over his choice of Sarah Palin as his VP running mate.  A man of virtue, of integrity, would never have foisted that crazy person upon the American people.  I can't help but wonder if that act set the stage for the Orange Menace, and the unleashing of the dark psyche of the disaffected citizens.

The blog Lawyers, Guns and Money has an honest piece on Senator John McCain.  Link to it here.  Here is an excerpt.
“Do you know why Chelsea Clinton is so ugly?”
“Because Janet Reno is her father.”
Ha ha ha. What mavericktude! Making fun of the looks of both a teenage girl and a pioneering Cabinet official. This is a good summary of that joke:
“The remark packed into its 15 words several layers of misogyny. It disparaged the looks of Chelsea, then 18 and barely out of high school; it portrayed Reno as a man at a time when she was serving as the first female US attorney general; and it implied that Hillary Clinton was engaged in a lesbian affair while the Monica Lewinsky scandal was blazing. Not bad going, Senator McCain.”
I recognize that many 'great' public figures have dark and unsavory aspects to their lives.  He is not unusual in this regard.  I acknowledge that during these times of corruption and ineptitude we long for men and women of courage -- we need our heroes in order to keep hope alive.  I also know that they are many true heroes out there, and we do not need to invent fake ones.  It may upset some to hear of McCain's shortcomings at this time, but it is equally upsetting for those in the know to see him lauded so.

As Doris Lessing said,  "I am, to be quite honest, sick of hero stories."

My heroes?  The mothers and fathers who flee torture and war with their children in tow, to save their babies from the horror.  The teachers in America who work tirelessly for little pay to educate our children and give them a chance to participate in life.  The people who donate a kidney to a stranger.  People who carry donor ID cards in their wallets every day.  People who serve food in a shelter. and  Doctors Without Borders.  Men and women war correspondents who voluntarily place themselves in the most dangerous places on earth so they we may know the truth.  And so many more.

I am glad that the Senator's suffering is over.  No one should have to die like that.  Despite his POW status, he lived a life of privilege and power.  My sympathies to his family.  Full stop.
I am, to be quite honest, sick of hero stories. Julie Taymor
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I am, to be quite honest, sick of hero stories. Julie Taymor
Read more at:

P.S. I've already received shit on Facebook.  You know, "This is not the time...." kind of stuff.  Oh well.  I say, there's never a wrong time for the truth.  Something that's in short supply in national politics right now.  That's okay.  People can mourn.  I don't want to take that away from them.  And they can't take the truth away from me.  That's just how it goes down, folks.

I was contrary in 1974; I'm contrary in 2018.  >>>>>>

Friday, August 24, 2018


What a week, what a week.  The house of cards is falling (hip hip hooray) and I am riveted by all the 'close' confidants of the Orange Bloated One who are flipping on him.  This isn't the end, sadly, unless some miracle occurs.  I fantasize that the First Lady will take Barron and leave the White House for her home country.  Stay tuned.  It is bound to get very very ugly before it is over, and as Brennan said tonight in an interview, I hope the "adults" around the POTUS will stop him from doing something too terrible.  Right.

The hysterically funny art that is coming out of all this is fantastic.  Look up the recent covers of Newsweek Magazine, with POS POTUS drowning in stormy seas that eventually flood to the ceiling of the Oval Office.

In other news, I am recovering from my angiogram that I had yesterday.  Nothing terrible, just sore in the groin where they inserted the catheter by which they went into the heart (through the femoral artery in the groin) to search for a blockage.  No blockage was found.  What was found was something called a "fistula."  Probably a congenital issue, it involves a blood vessel coming off one of the coronary arteries where is should not, and going into a pulmonary artery at a place it should not.  It essentially means that the full blood supply to that part of the heart is not getting there.  And, that's the part of the heart where all my haywire electrical activity is coming from.  It's a very rare condition, and so the cardiologist will consult to find out what the next steps are.  There is a cork screw like device they can insert into that vein which will essentially cut off the blood flow and direct the blood back into the heart as Gawd intended.  Then we could see if the electrical activity returns to normal.

I was sedated but very much awake during the procedure, and it was fascinating to see the inside of my heart as they injected dye and lit it up.  What a complex organ (as are they all) with so many components that could fail.  I'm amazed we human exist at all.

The hardest part of the 9 hour day was having to lie flat for 4 hours after the procedure.  They don't want the femoral artery to rupture at the incision site, so they tape you up real good, and keep you still.  Probably even more boring for my sweet husband, who stayed by me for the day.  He got a short break to go home and release the hounds for their potty break, but other than that, he was there.  Waiting. Waiting.  Watching me catch a nap, etc.  BORING.

So, today, I took it easy.  I thought it would be great to go into town and see a movie.  So we did.  But we could not find a single parking space anywhere.  Anywhere.  (Damn you, college students.) We gave up, headed towards home, stopped at a Mexican restaurant and had lunch. Hospital discharge instructions included drinking a lot of water to flush out the syrupy iodine dye which can clog up in the kidneys. Modelo counts, does it not?  We had delicious stacked enchiladas with a fried egg on top.  I grew up eating these babies, and these babies were above and beyond what I knew.  I dare not tell my dad, because he'll be all butt-hurt that I love these more than his.

We ended the day having dinner with a great couple here at the Big House.  We've enjoyed their dinner companionship a few times, and tonight we decided to make it a standing weekly date.  How nice is that?

Life is good.  Happy Friday.

Monday, August 20, 2018

I Am A Monster

I ate lunch with my mother today.  She was just a shell.  She wasn't really there.  Her eyes, cold and dead.  Unknowing and unseeing.  Her uncoordinated fingers trying to manage the half sandwich in her hands.  Managing but just barely.  Dad took the sandwich from her, arranged it just so, handed back and said, "Get it together already."

I hated them both at that moment.  I am a monster.

They (he) invited me at the very last moment.  Seriously.  On their way out the door.  I had started to make a sandwich, and I left it where it was.  I figured they (he) had a reason.  And so he did.  He asked me to take her to a dermatology appointment later in the week.  He asked almost as we had finished our lunch.  Mine was unsatisfying: yucky fish in a yucky sauce on a bland wild rice blend.  Get it together, kitchen staff.  I hate this place sometimes.  I am a monster.

I just returned from a few days of R&R and loved every minute of it.  The countryside, the friends, the food.  No doggies to take for walks several times a day.  No piles of animal poop to pick up.  No need to satisfy the unquenchable need of a chihuahua for constant cuddling.  No neighbors to put on a happy face for as I make my way down the hallway to retrieve the days mail. 

We returned and had several messages on the phone.  Dinner dates to be made, maid services to be rescheduled.  I heaved a large sigh.  We're back.  No longer in the land of make believe.

Suitcases to unpack, laundry to be done,  grocery shopping schlepping to do.  God it all seems so dreary.

My mother's dermatology appointment is the day after my angiogram (outpatient hospital procedure).  I believe I will be sufficiently recovered to do so.  But damn, he didn't even ask about the procedure.  He is 86 after all, and has difficulty keeping track of things.  Many things.  He asked me again about a computer problem he was having.  I told him once again that I am hopeless on PCs and if he only had a Mac I could help.  But, I told, him, he was shit out of luck.

I am a monster.

(With apologies to Elizabeth, who so brilliantly uses the phrase, "I am a monster.")

Friday, August 17, 2018


We're off to my old stomping grounds for a few days.  We'll see friends, drive along the dusty roads of the valley, take in the sights at Fisherman's Wharf, walk the rough paths of the Carmel Mission.  I love the plaza and garden there.  I used to fantasize about having something similar at my home. If only the money and labor resources could materialize, which they never did.

I find that, having moved away, every piece of geography and every landmark there is imbued with deep emotion for me.  I lived there in high school and for a few of years after that, and those years are already heady with the drama and growing pains of a young woman.  My memory of those years is that I was deeply insecure, afraid of the wider world, and really just wanted to be rescued and kept safe.  Safe from what?  I suppose from having to make decisions and grow up.

I recently had a conversation with a couple of old mates from those days, and their memories of me are of a strong and confident young woman.  "Cool," is what they said.  They admired me from afar.  I sure put on a good show.  I suppose we all do, put on a good show that is.  I think back to my first marriage and remember the absolute terror I felt right after our wedding day.  I remember standing at the screen door off our little kitchen, the moonlight streaming in on a cold November night, choking down my tears because I didn't want to wake my husband.  What a sad sight:  a bereft young woman wailing at the moon while 20 feet away in another room, her husband sleeps.

I was a coward.  I couldn't pull together the courage to say I'd made a terrible mistake and get myself out of that situation.  I felt I had to live with it.  He wasn't a bad person, after all.  He just wasn't for me, and it wasn't my time to be attached to someone in this way.  He was a pot head long before I knew that someone could be that lost in THC.  All my friends smoked, what was the big deal?  My fear and insecurity kept me from speaking out, moving out, and getting on with the business of discovering my own life.

If only I'd really been that cool, confident woman that others saw.  I would not have spent over 10 years in a marriage that was a mistake.  The irony was that it took the birth of our daughter to give me the strength to say "no more."  I was willing to put up with "less than" but I didn't want her growing up watching me live that way.  I was deeply unhappy and sniping at her father all the time.  I was wishing he would just die and go away.  I found out, through Al Anon, that this is a common fantasy when living with an addict or alcoholic.  That they would die and the problem would be over.

So, I lived this life, put on my happy face for the photographs.  I know there must have been some genuinely happy times.  Must've been.  Had to have been.  But I can't recall them.

I did happily anticipate the birth of our daughter -- very much.  I loved being pregnant and never felt

better in my life.  I experienced many miscarriages and much sadness over the losses.  This pregnancy was working and I was overjoyed.  But I'll tell  you something terrible:  when I looked at the pee stick and saw it was positive, I cried.  Not out of joy, but out of sorrow.  I already knew this marriage wasn't going to last.  That I was going to have to do this parenting thing alone.

Another terrible, lonely moment.  Not so cool. Not so confident.

Friday, August 10, 2018


Everyday I wake up to smoky skies and a blood red sunrise.  I've ordered special breathing masks to wear on my walks with the dogs, but they haven't arrived yet.  Authorities are saying that these fires are bound to rage on for weeks to come.  Everyone who is my neighbor is a high risk person -- being that high-risk includes just being over 65 years of age.  We're sticking close to home and limiting our time out of doors.

Tomorrow, however, we drive 2 hours into the mountains to meet up with my daughter and her family.  They are camping with friends and drove in from Colorado.  Just a day visit, as they are headed home, but I am so happy that I'm going to be able to hold my grand babies for a few hours.  I miss them all the time.  I miss my daughter.  Thank goodness for the telephone and video phone apps so we can talk whenever we want.  Because, yeah, I miss the hell out of them.

In two weeks I'm going into the hospital for an outpatient procedure to look into my heart.  Sounds weird, huh?  People do it all the time.  It's called an Angiogram and I'm doing it because my stress test shows a small blockage.  It might be responsible for my heart's strange electrical activity, or it may not.  Once they get in there, they may decide to put in a stent to open up the area.  I've had a similar procedure done, decades ago, when the doc thought maybe I had a brain aneurysm.  The lead up to the exam was much worse than the procedure itself.  It doesn't hurt to have a catheter roaming around your arteries.  And they numb the area where they insert it (groin).  And you're in a nice little fog of anesthesia.

A little unnerving but I'm treating myself to facials, pedicures and hair cut/color.  Pampering myself is making me very happy.  I didn't used to thrill to this kind of thing, but the older I become the more I enjoy the indulgence.   It centers me and calms me.  Makes me feel a little more youthful

Which, of course, helps me feel healthy, even though I'm not 100 percent.  I've lived with Type I Diabetes since my mid-thirties, and asthma all my life.  I've had health challenges aplenty.  Physical and mental. I've overcome them all, or at least learned how to live with them.  I've learned that taking good care of myself is essential.

And sometimes, I fall off the wagon and am not so good at taking care of myself.  Doesn't this happen to us all?  Then, you have this clarity, usually brought on by something critical, like my heart, that snaps you out of your apathy.  Thank goodness for a strong sense of survival.  That's what I've got.

I want many years ahead of love, laughter, crude jokes and bad language.  Many more musical concerts to experience, books to read, movies to watch, meals to enjoy.  Dreams to dream.  Walks with the dogs, holding hands with my hubs.  There's just so much to do.

Don't you feel it?

Friday, August 3, 2018


Have you ever heard of a 'chemical stress test' for the heart?  I had one this morning at the hospital in Sacramento.  They are checking out my heart to make sure that my current issues are not related to some kind of blockage.  Doc ordered the chemical test as opposed to the treadmill.  I was treated well, fully briefed on the procedure (it's pretty complex with several steps and caveats), set up in the PET scan room, hooked up with IV and heart monitors and then shoved through a tube with my arms above my head for about 30 minutes.  Despite my fears about what my physical reactions might be, I got through it with relative ease.  When they put the chemical in that would stress my heart, I became warm, felt pretty jacked up and developed a moderate headache.  

My days of snorting cocaine came to mind....the late 1970s were a tad careless and wild.  

I also used self-hypnosis to keep me calm and take my mind away from my body's sensations and the sounds in the lab.  I imagined I was in my old hammock under the sycamore trees, feeling the breezes blow across my face and listening to bird song.  It allowed time to sail by and I was actually a little surprised when the test came to an end.

Now, of course, I have to wait to find out the results.  During the procedure, I did hear some comments between the techs and the nurses which indicated that they were -- I don't know the right word -- impressed by the wacky electrical activity they were seeing.  I imagine that if a blockage had been found they would have admitted me to the hospital then and there.  Then again...mistakes  have been known to happen.

In happier news, my grandson turned seven years old yesterday.  We had a nice chat on Facetime and he was devouring jelly beans the entire time.  I reminded him that I was there in the room with everybody when he was born.  He knows the whole story: he was born in the bathtub, he was blue when he came out, and he had a cone shaped head.  He thinks it's all very funny.  He popped another jelly bean into his gob and laughed loudly.

This photo was taken a couple of years ago, in my beloved Brazilian hammock that hung in my front yard.  I left it for the buyer of the house since we don't have anywhere to hang it.  Sigh.  I spent many, many happy hours in that hammock.

Northern California continues to burn and our skies are pretty smoky.  The morning sun today was a bright red/orange fireball straight out of a science fiction movie.    The Carr fire near Redding has caused 6 deaths, including 2 fire fighters.  Something like 1300 structures (mostly residences) have been destroyed.  So, I'm not going to complain about a little smoke.  

My husband took this photo when we were driving east on I-80 into Sacramento at 7:00 a.m.  for the stress test.

There are many other fires currently in California.  This is just one.  The phrase often heard is, "this is the new normal."

Maybe next summer we hop a ship and spend a month at sea.  Somewhere, anywhere.  I'll take a stack of novels to read.  

If you'd like to join us, give me a holler.  The more the merrier.  You'd like to get away, wouldn't  you?

Have a lovely weekend!

You Can Go Home Again

 I took a vacation in the first week of May.  I went back to my high school and college stomping grounds, still populated by many friends of...