Monday, December 30, 2019

"With the night falling we are saying thank you."

My husband, soon to be ex-husband, has been moved to the skilled nursing wing of where we lived.  It's a permanent move and I am heartbroken for him.  He's in a wheelchair now, his existence bleak and he is in physical and mental agony.  His sister is going to visit in a couple of days and I hope they have a good few days together, although I know it will be full of anguish. Hopefully there will also be moments of happiness and humor.  (Please God.)

I'm planning a trip mid-January, because he wants to see me and I do want to see him.  I have no idea what the medical prognosis is or how long he has to live, and so I will take this chance to spend time with him.  It's going to be difficult, I know this.  I hear from friends and family that he is even more feeble and frail than he was just four months ago.  A precipitous  decline, which makes me wonder if it is solely the Parkinson's or something else.

He is not a 'glass half full' kind of guy and it is going to be hard to listen to him as he tells me how miserable he is.  I'm going to do a little homework before hand in order to just be there for him and not try and 'fix' him.  He doesn't want to live like this, and I can't say I blame him.  I mean, really, who would?  How in the world is he supposed to find meaning in something like this?  What in the world would motivate me to get out of bed each day knowing how lousy the day likely will be?

I'll be asking staff what kind of mental health intervention they are planning, if anything.

I came across this poem, which is the kind of attitude I ascribe to, but I don't think he does.  It helps me, anyway.

Thanks

Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
taking our feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
thank you we are saying and waving
dark though it is

W.S. Merwin

Friday, December 27, 2019

The Supreme Joy of it All


A merry Christmas was had by all.  On the eve of, we went to a tamale and cookie making party, with plenty of fun games to boot.  My daughter and son-in-law have some great friends, and these particular ones she has known since High School.  In California.  They've all made their way to Colorado.

My grand daughter's good buddy is this smiling fellow below.  At three years old, he is full of energy and provides plenty of exasperation for his moms.  The night we were there, he kept locking the front door because he wanted people to knock.  Didn't work so well when one of his moms tried to come with an arm full of gifts...and he couldn't figure out how to UN lock the door!

 I really enjoy the company of these people who are about thirty years younger than I am.  I feel lucky that my daughter wants me there and includes me.  I hold my tongue when something 'old ladyish' pops into my head and I don't give advice.  I don't want to be their mom, I want to be their friend.

We avoided any snow and the temps were a balmy 50 degrees.  Snow may be coming this weekend, so I'm getting out while I can.  I did some post Christmas shopping to scoop up ribbons, ornaments and decorations at 70 percent off.  And I purchased a new artificial Christmas tree for a mere $63.  My current one is 7 years old and is a shorty, which needs to be up on a table in order to look good.  It's pretty unstable perched up there, especially with active grand children.

I have no idea what I'm doing for New Year's Eve, if anything.  I might make an early night of it and snuggle in bed with the best little dog in the world.  Binge watch something on Netflix.

I hope you enjoyed your holidays and found ways to celebrate the light and all the good things in your life.  Let's cross our fingers for the new year, shall we?


Monday, December 23, 2019

Monday Musings - On my fourteenth blogiversary

Man, the Friday music posts started by The New Dharma Bums are really firing me up. I've got the Alexa thingy, and now all I do is say, "Alexa, play 1970s folk music," and away we go. It's fantastic. I also like to ask it to play Christmas Jazz. Another very good one. So what if it's listening in on me? Welcome to my super secret fascinating life of puttering, cooking and cleaning. 

 I watched an extremely inspiring documentary the other day: Charged: The Eduardo Garcia Story




What a story of loss and recovery. I won't share too much here, because I want you to watch it! After I saw it, I felt a new spark of energy to get on with this life of mine. Because, you know, sometimes I wonder if this existence is really worth much, and I have amorphous existential questions that hover just feet above my head. I've been thinking of the past eight years, in which I left one marriage, moved a fair distance to join my family in northern California, made new friends and created a pretty solid life and married once more. I've lived through numerous health problems, some of which were nearly fatal. I met a man and fell in love yet again. A man, no less! My friends from the other side of the fence never made me feel weird about that. 

Washing up the breakfast dishes yesterday, the realization popped into my head: over the last 5 years I have sold or purchased THREE homes! The last one is my very own. The other two were with my husband. Buying and selling your own home is usually an extremely stressful situation involving banks, lenders, insurance companies, real estate agents and sometimes attorneys (as was our case because the house was in the family trust). Thinking about all of this, a grin spread across my face and I thought, gleefully, "I am MIGHTY." If I ever doubt my abilities to tackle big things, I need to remember this. Hmmm...maybe signage would help. My daughter does this: leaves herself notes to remind herself carry on, love herself, appreciate the good. 

Ooohh...now I'm envisioning a lipstick scrawl on my bathroom mirror: "I am MIGHTY." 

So, it's two days before Christmas and I'm all set. Just going to spend the day loving on my grand kids and their parents. Of course, I will be thinking back on Christmases gone by...and of people gone or left behind/people missed and loved and remembered. For me, this big tumbling whirling life always comes into fine focus during the winter holidays. Some years are better than others, naturally, and this year might be a little difficult. However, I know the experience of Christmas through my grand children's eyes will be uplifting. I'm gonna love them up until they push Bubbe away! 

If you're feeling blue, remember that the days are now getting lighter and brighter. And watch the movie. It will lift your spirits, I guarantee it. 

Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukka. Joyous Kwanza!

Friday, December 20, 2019

TGIF

I saw, finally, the movie "The Sound of My Voice." Linda was a favorite of mine in high school - years 1972 - 75. I wore down the grooves on her "Heart Like a Wheel" album. The movie is a powerful portrait of her life and career. She grew up in a musical family and the making of music was just a part of family life. No wonder she was a natural, and ready when she moved to Los Angeles to start her big career in earnest, after starting small with her sister and brother in Tuscon, AZ. "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" was on the regular playlist with my little trio, albeit uptempo unlike this version. I like the slow version, but the two fellas I was playing with preferred something faster. It really took my breath away -- literally. Practice, practice. So, anyway, back to the movie. So many wonderful songs, and great artists: Emmy Lou Harris, Dolly Parton, the Eagles, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitte. If you go to Youtube you can see the special upon her induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Not to be missed. Have a lovely weekend!

Friday, December 13, 2019

TGIF

I was sick this week with a cold that settled in my chest. Sunday was a lazy day, barely moving about at all except to let Lucy out for a pee. I watched a lot of recorded programs on the television, notably, for this post, a John Sebastian special on Folk Music (PBS). It was extremely bitter sweet to see...so many of the singers and songs from my teen years, and the artists that I emulated when I was playing music with friends, and later, publicly. The Lovin' Spoonful, The Kingston Trio; The Limelighters were early influences and music that my parents listened to. Those early ballads and songs adopted and adapted by white American folk singers also had a common style: smooth (too smooth), mournful, too removed from their origins to feel authentic. I didn't know that then because this was the first time I'd heard many of the tunes. One of the reasons I grew bored with folk music of America was because it became, well, boring for me. Too slow, too down tempo, too mournful. Some songs endure for me, of course, and this one is particularly bitter sweet.

 One of the songs I sang often was Guthrie's Deportee. I was all about folk music with a social conscience. It was a great song for my voice, but after some time I just felt sad when I sang it, so I dropped it from my song list. It is a fine, song, however, and so I'll include it here.

  And what, I ask you, has changed? The music of Peter, Paul and Mary, the artists mentioned above, the adapted folk music sung by Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, these informed my view of America and the world. They were songs that called out social injustice and clamored for change. Maybe I'm under the influence of my illness still, maybe melconcholy from my recent relationship split, maybe being in a new town and state and still finding my way, but I'm just not feeling all that warm and fuzzy about the human race as a whole. Of course our President and Republicans in Congress aren't lifting my mood either. The rich keep getting richer and the poor get poorer. This song, written in 1934 by Goebel Reeves, still rings true in 2019. I performed this song, in a workshop, for Ronnie Gilbert who was leading the day-long workshop way back in the early 1990s. Mary McCaslin was also in that workshop and she and I worked on a song together (Ronnie asked us to) and performed it later in the day. I have no recollection what song that was! But I'll always remember with great happiness that Ronnie thought I ought to be performing. She said, "I don't care if it's in somebody's house, but you've got to be singing." I may not have followed Ronnie's advice, but I sure still enjoy music. And I sing in the shower. Here's what I finally listened to in order to lift my spirits and steady my heart.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

When Things Fall Apart, We Get Back up Again

I've been holding onto blame these past many months.  He did this, he made me leave.  Anger feels so much better than endless sadness, doesn't it? 

We had a wonderful last trip to France in April.  We both had a strong notion it would be his last trip abroad, and so we wanted to go to the land he loved the most.  Parts of the trip were difficult; driving all over Normandy was nightmarish and exhausting, particularly for me because I was the one driving.  He'd lost the ability to drive the year before.

Still.  We spent time with friends in their idyllic country home outside of Strasbourg, being shown many little villages and farms within a day's drive.  A ancient castle, too, and a grouping of houses built into the side of a mountain of rock.  We shared Easter with them and their extended family and truly felt at home.  Imagine.  Easter in Alsace-Lorraine, eating traditional pastries and local cheeses and honey.

Although he had his diagnosis and was slowing down, he was up for the trip.  We flew first class for the comfort.  We took our time, and we saw a lot.  We returned home very happy.  At least I was.  I didn't know what was to come in June.

It happened, and I left.  It was pure anguish for the both of us.

He let me know yesterday that he will be moving to Assisted Living, and he could barely speak -- a gravely set of words said over the phone.  And then the call cut out.  I called him back and he didn't answer.  I went limp.

I've spent so much time being angry with him, blaming him and cursing him.  Today, after his call, my chest caved, and tears rolled down my cheeks and the dog looked at me like, "what happened to you, lady?"  I've spent the time since that broken call finishing my novel, "The Book woman of Troublesome Creek," loading the dishwasher for another round, calling Home Depot to check on the status of a delivery and other such mundane tasks.   The tears continue their roll...I cannot stop them. 

I watched an interview between Stephen Colbert and Anderson Cooper about grief.  Grief can be about death (as in the case of this video) or other kinds of endings, like marriages. Stephen's outlook on life is so raw and real (and compassionate), and it stems from his Catholic upbringing but is also, as he states, a central tenet of Buddhism as well: life is suffering. It truly is. And if we know this down to our bones (or our soul) we can embrace that, and embrace all the miraculously good things that come to us in this life as well.

Which brings me to my final thought: My marriage may have ended in a really shitty way, but that doesn't change the fact that I had six years of living and loving well, and for that I am extremely grateful. My old love, a very proud and accomplished man, is in a real predicament now, and he is suffering mightily. So I cry for him and his pain. I cry for myself, and I cry for what might have been. I turn, once again, to Pema Chodron's book, "When Things Fall Apart." I go forward. There is no other choice.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Monday Musings

Finally caught a cold.  Doing okay, but with me it always ends up in the chest aggravating my asthma.  Phooey.

I did venture out on Saturday to take photos for my daughter.  She had a concept in mind for their annual Christmas card.  She usually does the "hectic young family" theme and this year was no different.  It's not hard to get those kinds of shots, because they are a very busy young family, after all!

I stayed for several hours, came home and processed the work and sent her the ones I thought came out the best.  She loves them, and has already put together the collage for her card.  I was invited back in the evening for watching Christmas movies, but decided to stay home and lay low.  I slept like the dead, with the help of Nyquil.

Here are some of the photos I particularly enjoy.

The frowny grumpy one was definitely what we were going for.  Not hard to get this face out of this little girl.



When they were trying to get a normal family portrait in front of the tree, he was fooling around and sticking his butt in the air.  Hahahaha.  I managed one single one where everyone was looking into the camera with either a smile or a neutral expression.  And then my daughter didn't use that one at all!  Oh well, her call, her card.  Her concept is a good one and produced a fun card.

She did one a few years ago when her son was a toddler.  He was so out of sorts they just ended up throwing a bunch of lit Christmas lights over all their heads in a tangled mess.  Her dad got the shot.  It was an hysterically funny card with Eden balling his head off.





My cards are already in the mail.  I enjoy the exercise.  It's a habit that I'll probably never abandon.  I sent one to my friends in La Petite Pierre, France, in hopes that Alice will send me her usual tin of delicious and subtle French Christmas cookies.  Fingers crossed!


Friday, December 6, 2019

TGIF

(click on images to enlarge)
I had some photos from my Paris trip three years ago show up on Facebook this week.  I love that city, its people and the whole vibe of it.  The photos bring back many wonderful memories of walking, walking, walking through Paris streets and observing people.  Stopping at a cafe for lunch or a Perrier with grenadine to refresh and take a load off the feet for a bit.  I probably won't be returning to Paris for many years, as my financial situation is now not what it was.  But I am thankful for the opportunities I had to travel in Europe and Africa over the last five years.

 I won't miss the crowds, however.  My trip this year was marred by the crowded conditions.  It's one reason I don't go to large museums like the Musee du Louvre. I don't want to jostle with other tourists to get a look at the Mona Lisa.  I heard recently they are considering removing it because it attracts too many people.

The walk around Giverny was similarly ruined by too many people.  It would really help to limit the number of visitors at any one time. 
And don't get me started on Versailles.  What a sea of humanity.  Shoulder to shoulder snaking through hallways with no ability to linger or turn around.  There's plenty in Paris and nearby to enjoy without putting yourself through that.

In other news this week, I called the university to see what the heck was up with my change of insurance coverage.  After weeks of unsuccessfully navigating their website (which is undergoing renovation) I got hold of a real live person on the phone, gave her all my information and was assured she would expedite it.  That was October 23.  Nothing has happened since then.  WTF?!  I spoke with a live person again this week and she said she can't  understand why it wasn't processed, but it wasn't.  I gathered up my fist shaking anger and tucked it away so I could have a civil conversation with her and get the job done.  I am not the kind of person who sees a doc once or twice a year.  I'm a very, very frequent flyer due to several chronic illnesses.  So I've been livid that this is taking so long.  She said I'd have my new insurance card by the end of the week, but it came the next day.  A Christmas MIRACLE.  I have a doc appointment today for follow ups and referrals.

It's a very scary proposition to be as ill as I am and have no coverage for a few months.  I mean, I have coverage, but it's in California only, and I've been limping by here in Colorado without a doctor (or in my case, doctors).  I've been able to transfer my prescriptions to my new home and they've been paying for it.  I did have a visit to the ER a couple of weeks ago, and obviously I'm out of area, as they say, so we'll see if it gets covered.  The gal on the phone was explaining that they are switching to a new on-line system for all nine campuses, and they've been having a lot of problems with it.  Great....Same ol' university I've known and disparaged for over thirty years.  And still...I get health insurance, so there's that.

Have a wonderful weekend.

"Don't let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace."  

~ Dali Lama



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