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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Flat End of the Year

Post-Xmas, things slow down a bit for the last hoorahs of the old year. I'm crawling along in first gear here. Four days of friends stopping by was wonderful but tiring, and it's not over (there are still 6 Muffinpants family members and 3  iBrattleboro-related people to see). I'm glad for the break. The "just keep drinking til it's over" technique of coping is long gone, with nothing to take its place. So I guess that means I'm finally an adult. It was much easier to just meander through the holidays in a stupor.

As nice as this Yuletide has been, I think next year will be different. Maybe I'll go down to Billy's for the week. He ended up alone and I feel bad. Chiefy went to a family do instead of going out to dinner with him. And now it's looking like Chiefy and the Bensonhurst Bomber won't be buying a house in Florida, and Billy won't move there by himself. Florida is a pit anyway and I've been hoping they wouldn't. So, yeah, next year in Jersey! Maybe I'll get Billy to decorate and take the opportunity to help him weed out all the mountains of Xmas stuff Mac had bought and stored over the years, and maybe even go into the city or have people over to his house. We'll see.

And here comes 2015. In 2015, I'll have lived in Vermont for 20 years, Ian will be dead 20 years, and I'll go into my 5th year of living in The Shire. The Shire itself will be going through changes, as the new housing complex will be built to house most of the population that the government doesn't want living in the flood plain. I'm hoping to avoid living in this new building (which I'll call Red Rover) and waiting for the 2nd, smaller development to develop. It'll be rotten to leave this place when it finally happens, but it's inevitable. Old people and gimps aren't welcome where flooding occurs, so out we go. One way or another, 2015 will be my last whole year in The Shire. Every year brings changes.

There's a lot of good in 2014 to look back at, and a lot of bad, like every year. People left and people entered, things happened that impacted everything from my little home to my whole country. Years do seem to go by faster the older I get. Someone said that's because when you're 20, 5 years is a quarter of your life but at 60 it's just a twelfth. It's perspective. Days roll on, things happen, you keep going. Before we know it, Summer will be back. Pretty soon I'll be shopping for next year's Yuletide gifts. And we'll still, I'm sure, be waiting for George RR Martin's next book.

So here's to us and 2015. Let's make it unforgettable. Cheers! x

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Beestitude for the Holidays

Beest has taken up residence under the tree. The last Tortie in my life, my parents' cat Patches, also thought it was her domain. However, Patches went to the space where there were no presents, in back, and stayed there until New Year's Day. Beest is front and center. She will not tolerate gifts near her unless they are suitable pillows, has shredded the gift wrap on the few I put under the tree (the rest are in an ottoman, and under or on top of my desk) and keeps kicking the presents back out across the floor of the front room when I put them back. In holidays past she bit off all ribbons, bows and tags, and I've adapted to those insults. But this is war.

I'm considering my tactical options.   

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Blitzlebahs and Waazzlewahs

In spite of the Daily Horror (there's at least one every day now), I'm feeling very holidayish. Didn't think it would happen this year, but something is back. Maybe because the house is a shambles of decorations and odd foods that are only here in December... bits that make up traditions. Doing those things- the cards, the foods, the gift wrapping, the decorating and decisions, the budgeting, the shopping- makes things feel hopeful. Thanksgiving with Billy was great, and then bang! it's Christmastime. Haul out the holly! It's a longer process; the decorating I used to do in 2 days now takes at least a week, but slowing down has its benefits.

Hanging the ornaments on the tree is more of a marathon than a sprint these days, but every one of those bells, balls and tchotchkes have a story. So many people that have been in my life, and every year I take each piece out and remember something about that person. Kevin Destein's little china Pan and choirboy. Ian's Mom's straw figures. The old glass balls that have been in my family longer than I have. I can still hear my Mom sputtering when I picked up the ancient blown glass bell in 1968. NOBODY touched that but her! The angels that my brothers and I got, one each, after the elders died. Some of the snow frosted ones my Dad bought for his own sad, artificial tree when he and my Mom split up. Ornaments friends have given me through the years. I pull out Woodstock and wonder whatever happened to Jenny. The bagpiper that Cam gave me years ago is the second heaviest ornament. The heaviest is a Lennox china ball that MaryAlice had bought for me just before she died, almost 2 years ago already. I try  to put groups together, the rock band pieces, the Peanuts gang, the ones family members made. More than a hundred ornaments, each with its story. So it takes a while.

And food! Since I made mincemeat last year, I'm doing a fruitcake this year. A drunken one, and a big one. I've put off making the Irish cream, because if I make it when you're supposed to, it's gone by the Solstice, much less the rest. But it's got to be made soon so it tastes like something. So does the fruitcake. That's my weekend. There's no citron to be found, but raisins and currants will have to do. And I'm not doing brown paper around it, either. So there.

Today was a challenge. Hanging garland was at the end of to-dos, and when I reached up, my arm and hand shook like I was 99 years old. That wigged me out a bit. And I couldn't stop it, either. I hate when that happens.

And there's been a real-life Santa miracle. A couple days ago, I ordered a nice but not expensive art supply set. Ostensibly for myself, cuz I'm trying to teach myself to draw with my left hand and thought a new hand deserves new instruments. Then on FB today I see a mother asking for help getting her 15 year-old daughter art supplies for Christmas. Perfect fit. It was delivered tonight and mom will be here tomorrow afternoon for it. I also made some jewelry this year for gifts and have a spare silver wolf necklace. Happens to be her daughter's favorite animal. Tell me Santa didn't have a hand in this here.

So it's slightly nostalgic in the Shire, I'm feeling like Mrs. Cratchit putting the holidays together again. I really don't think Billy will be coming up with the weather we've been having, and he's driving to Florida 2 weeks after New Year. He was just here. I'll see him in the Spring. I also won't see Strider til the Spring. She has surgery and recovery time coming up, then it'll be deep Winter. She's happy as someone can get in this day and age, that's all I care about. And I've freed myself from obligations. Which leaves me free to have a huge debauchery episode a la 1978! Woohoo, bring on the holidays! 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

ARRRR! and GRR Martin's Name Day

It's finally cool. AC is off, windows are open. Allergies are annoying and I've caught the snotmonster bug that's going around, but we've made it through another Summer without fire or flood or dragons swooping down on us. Now comes the slippery, wet leaf-strewn path to the holidays. I've already started shopping, but that's because everyone lives elsewhere and things need to be here whenever the people are. Strider is so busy I haven't seen her since last November! Billy will probably be here for Thanksgiving but not Christma-Solsti-Channu-Kwanza-Yule. I think I'm done making dinners. If he comes up, we'll go out. Or we'll order the take away meal from Chelsea Royal. Ach, Fall brings all the "what to do" into the house on little cold papery gusts.

First, though, is Halloween. This is my season. Horror movies, cold dark nights, whistly winds. The trees seem to change color and drop their leaves faster every year. That lovely smell of death and decay just before we reach Stick Season. Which is a stark beauty of its own. And then the snow...

What a strange week this has been. Last Friday my old friend Bruce came by, up from Atlanta. I hadn't seen him in 31 years. He's old now (I haven't changed a bit, cough). We haven't been in close touch, he was more a friend of my Mom's, but it was like I'd seen him yesterday. He brought me a signed copy of his book, so I asked him to sign the one I had bought to Fr. Thomas and I'll get that in the mail. What a nice man. It's a bit odd to fast forward from the relationship we had decades ago. I was 17 when I met him, 24 when I saw him last. He was the 13 years-older-than-me, sophisticated, Wharton MBA, upper west side, gay Adonis who taught A Course in Miracles. Now I seem to have caught up to his age and we spoke as equals. Curious how different that is. We skimmed through all the years; our work, our loves, our moves, our losses. It crossed my mind it may be the last time I see Bruce this lifetime. That's fine, we're okay.

Of course I was rooting for Scotland's independence. But rooting for Scotland to do anything in their own best interest is pretty pointless. Like being a White Sox fan. It occurred to me it's like the first union drive at the co-op. It didn't make it, and there was much disappointment. But a few years later it reared its head again and this time people weren't afraid of it. And the second union drive worked. Maybe it'll be like that.

Beest abides. She has her issues, but she's turned into a mostly sweet and only sometimes psycho mushpot. I do wish she'd stop chewing off her belly fur. She looks like a cow.

Everyone else is doing well, just the same old sagas of life. Hilarity, boredom, stress and grief.
While writing this we've passed from Talk Like a Pirate Day to George RR Martin's birthday. Monday will arrive, bringing the Autumn Equinox. Scott Fitzgerald's birthday soon, too.

"Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter - tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further... And one fine morning -
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."- FSF

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Hard Month's Week

August hasn't been an easy month. Not horrific (well, for the most part) just difficult.

One thing has been the changing of plans every day. Billy still hasn't gotten here and I could've seen Strider but for plans, new plans and change of plans. Billy has had a terrible time with getting his meds from CVS and finally at my bitching changed drug stores. Then there was an issue in registering his new car (a Nissan Murano), then I got wicked sick, and we missed Phoebe Muffinpants' wedding. Then Tuesday I got no sleep and he had 9" of rain fall in one day. The falling limbs missed his new car but are all over his yard. Then Wednesday night he got no sleep. (And here's the true freakiness of that- at 4 a.m. today he was woken by MaryAlice's voice saying, "Hello?" He couldn't get back to sleep. At 9a, I was woken by MaryAlice's voice saying, "Hello?" In my zombie sleep mode, I responded, "Thanks, Mac." We were both surprised, but I was even more surprised that lifelong skeptic Billy would tell me such a thing.) Since tomorrow starts the weekend, we're now planning next Tuesday for arrival. As it turns out, it's a good thing he's down there, as Chiefy was rushed to the hospital today. CVS didn't have his meds for a week and now he's in CP in New York. So it's all for the better, and who knows maybe that's why Mac yelled hello at us. His sofabed is open and dressed, whenever he arrives.

The sofa story is too upsetting to recount. Let's just say there are 2 guys I may never speak to again and 2 guys (Paul and Mike) who are always, always there when I need them. And I think the only times they see each other is when I need help. Bless 'em. And thanks for the Irish single malt, Mike!

But there has been darker news lately- the police killings here in the US are escalating. Our militarized robocops are out of control and brutalizing protesters, creating news blackouts and making no fly zones. I don't know where this will end.

Or look at what's going on almost everywhere on the planet, if you can stand to look at it.

And Robin Williams kills himself. It hit me like a meat hook to the gut. I get sad when a celebrity I love passes, but this one put me down. I cried buckets for 2 days; just a few tears today. Why it affected me so I have no idea. I didn't know him. I met him once at the "Dead Poets Society" premiere and he was so sweet it wasn't like meeting a star at all.  Over the last 35 years, he lifted me out of many a funk. I wish I could've returned the favor. So very, very sad to lose him.

The next day Lauren Bacall died. The last of the cool old movie gals. Here's looking at you, kid.

But life goes on for those still breathing. MaryEllen's surgery went well and she starts chemo Monday. She's in good spirits and looks better than she has in months. Emily's son has both his hips adjusted and his tendons lengthened tomorrow. Poor kid. He can't even speak to express his pain.This should help him, and they may still be able to get up here later in the year. We'll see how it goes. Bruce, whom I haven't seen in 32 years, is coming by on September 12th. When I last saw him I'd just graduated culinary school and went to my Mom's house to make dinner for us all. That was several lifetimes ago. His book is out and I'll be so happy to have him sign it! I'm writing regularly, and not shirking it. Without jinxing it, the WIP is coming along. Beest is a bit tubbier but still her charming self and still biting all the fur off her belly. There are projects to be done, things to help out with and Fall is coming. In spite of everything, life goes on, and that's good.

I hope life is treating you well. x

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Worst Trends of the 20th Century #43

The decline of civilization stinks. Along with the uprising testosterone came a total loss of consideration for others. Manners were dropped like hot potatoes and never taught again sometime in the generation after me. Wrapped in a sort of response to feminism, gentlemanliness became weakness. Men became coy about using their manners in the way they were raised. Fair enough, plenty of women said they didn't want the door opened for them. But nowadays I almost fall over in shock when a man swoops around to open a door for me. Saying, "Excuse me." in a non-bitchy, sincere way gets you a surprised hairy eyeball.

Manners these days are often met with hostility and disdain. If you show any old-fashioned courtesies then you must be a pretentious snob. You are putting on airs if you display social graces. I'd use the urban slang for these terms but I don't want to; having a vocabulary is as looked down upon as manners. How did getting an education for yourself become the mark of Cain? Bah. Let 'em hate.

It's become popular to hate. Where I was raised to never use the word, and instructed many times, "We don't hate," that's all gone. You're a fool to smile, a fool to be civil, a fool to be anything more than an ignorant, hostile asshole.

With these new codes of conduct you'd think that pride would remain. It does, but it's twisted. Instead of pride in your character and how well you treat others, people have pride in how they abuse others and get away with it. There's pride in getting over on your fellow baby, not in helping them. Standards have not just changed, everything that slides downhill with them have. Rarely do you get a pleasant business person when calling about any matter. Even if you're asking about something you want to buy, you get treated like an axe murderer.

The smallest of courtesies- thank you notes, for example- gone. These days you're lucky if someone even acknowledges receiving a gift.

Why? Wasn't life a little more bearable for everyone when we were kinder to each other? That old saying, "We all do better when we all do better" should be brought back.

And that's my soapbox rant for the day. Thank you.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Sofa and Other Great Plans

This Summer will go down in history as the Sofa Summer. Back in April when my brother was here, we thought, "Well, it'd be smarter to get a sleeper sofa than keep paying hotels." And so the hunt began in May. What an easy solution! No problem, I thought. 

It's now the 3rd week of July. No sofa. My futon sits alone, all accoutrements piled on the other side of the sitting room, waiting. The Sofa That Will Be Mine sits elsewhere, waiting. This is what happens when there are 11 people, 4 households, 2 trucks, a wedding, a business, and 3 sofas involved. It's the Chinese puzzle that is my life, on steroids. How did it get so complicated? Take a furniture business run entirely by 2 guys, from sales to delivery. Take a handful of friends who want to trade off their furniture to each other. Throw in a wedding that's just a bit smaller than Chuck and Di's. Add one disorganized, not-very-highly-functioning person who wants to ringmaster the circus, and voila! Chaos and stagnation.

However emblematic of the season, the sofa is the least problem of this Summer's roller coaster. Every plan laid for the last 3 months has gone awry due to awful things. The big reunion on Long Island was cancelled due to a death in the host's family. Emily was going to visit here with her family but now her 9 year-old son who has CP is having surgery on both legs. My cousin won't be coming north anytime soon due to a (thankfully small) stroke. Another old family friend who was coming up was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer out of the blue and just had a radical hysterectomy (she's just leaving the hospital as I type- and so far, so good). There is frightening sickness everywhere and nobody gets a break. Even Strider hasn't been able to get away from her responsibilities and I haven't seen her since last November. Life is full of complications for us all.

But that's not to say other things haven't been great.
1) I sold an article about living in the Sawyer mansion and that'll be published next month. I've made a resolution to not write for free anymore. And so the Vermont Views deal went by the wayside, as well as writing for several other websites. I don't mind the work, but I do mind manipulation and disrespect. If you want to play with my head, and even moreso my words, you have to pay me.

2) In the wee hours I've been writing up a storm. My WIP book has been a joy to write in the quiet hours I've adopted since springing forward. This one may actually get finished!

3) I've reconnected to many people that were lost along the years via Fecebook. And I know how I railed about FB, but these days nobody emails anymore, it's all FB messaging. It's time-consuming but it's wonderful to have so many old friends and cohorts back in my life.

4) Billy has been so much better since getting insulin. I had no idea that a lot of what was going on with him- the shaking sweats, the memory loss, the mood swings and general depression- all came from his diabetic issues. That's over, hallelujah. Whether or not he'll move to Florida is still up in the air.

5) Food glorious food! Ever since I took probiotics for 8 weeks, my digestive troubles have gone away. I can drink coffee again! This Summer the produce has been delicious. This humid heat has done wonders for fruits and herbs. I can't wait for the veggie harvest. I can eat peppers again!

6) We have at least another year and a half in The Shire. Many things can happen in that time span, so I'm not even thinking about it.

7) Television is out of my life, and good riddance to the huge bill and crappy service. I don't miss it.

8) My greatniece is a married woman now. They are moving back to BC next week, her hub has completed his studies and the next chapter of their life is about to begin. Her parents (Niecely, Queen of Pirates and #1 Nephew) are still trying to sell their house and move to the beach. It's a tough market these days but I have faith it'll happen when it's supposed to happen. #4 Nephew is engaged, and back in school to go into computers, on the west coast. All my sis-in-laws are hanging in there and well.

9) Beest is happy and healthy, and has become a sweet companion cat. A far cry from the cranky, hissy, bitey Beest she was 2 1/2 years ago. Gal Friday takes her on walks outside with a harness now. Beest hates the harness but it's a riot to see her walk in it. You have to get your kicks where you can.

Yes, the world is a mess. I can't believe my eyes when I read the news these days. I stay abreast of what's going on and do what I can, but there's so much out of control that we can't do anything about. At least for now, watching and keeping an eye out for an opportunity to change things is the best we can do.

Even with the scares and troubles, life is as peaceful as I make it. We get by the best that we can.

Now I have to go do some things, but I hope to catch up with all my non-FB blogging pals later. As Ringo says, "Peace and love!"

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


My birthday was last week. With a lot of effort, my brother came to town and we had a blast. Here we are, all these years later, the same people from the early 70s, hanging out. Only now we're both single, both hauling around broken down bodies. We're good. We even would have been sugar-free if  Special K hadn't brought a bag of Mi-Dels by. And of all things, the hair on top of his head is growing back. He's been shiny top for 14 years! I still can't believe he's using stevia herb. 3 packets in one cup of coffee, but he's not using sugar! Woohoo!!!!!!!!!!!!

We had long instructive and constructive talks about pain management. OfficerBillySir's still on narcotics and wants off. He's at the end of the road where they don't do anything good. So we talked over what I do now, what he will and won't do and there was no hairy deal about anything. A couple of weeks ago the dtug store didn't have his opiates in stock for 5 days and he went thru cold turkey. I called him every day and he held it together well. He's pretty much done with the whole mess. So we talked a lot about our old druggie days and all that went with that. Which led to me finally telling him about going cold turkey three years back, and how much fun it was for me but not so much for anyone around me.

We filled in gaps of family history. We were stunned and amazed at the same things that happened in our past. So many lies and such downright craziness in our family. We talked about Mac's death, how her family has forgotten him, how he'll build a new life and what I did getting thru Ian's death. And we laughed our asses off. 

He left this morning. I cried.

And yes there were birthday visits, cards and gifts galore. Even a Facebook birthday inundation, and special made-for-me greetings on a Greg site. It's not even over. There are packages in the mail and yet to be sent. I have good people in my life and am a lucky woman.

On Sunday, Lord Paul of Highgarden and ActivistDora joined us for a mini Throne-A-Thon (thanks to someone I'll just call Queen of the Pirates). Dora was new to it all so we took parts filling her in on who was who and what was going on. Now she's hooked. We feasted and there was much enthusiasm. I love when that happens.

Monday we made plans.
Chiefy, Chiefy's wife and OfficerBillySir are going to scout for a retirement community to move to in Florida for the whole month of July. Before then he wants to have the house well on its way to getting ready for sale. So he's starting with the bedroom. I thought he'd gotten some headway but apparently it was just the overstock- Mac's stacked boxes of QVC purchases that were never used- that were cleaned out by her family, not the rest of it. When she had wetbrain she went crazy and was spending 2 grand a month on QVC alone. Now he wants to find her jewelry (she hid it in her hallucinatory state) and I'll help him list it all on ebay. He gave her tens of thousands of dollars in jewelry, and it'll be the down payment on the new house, just in case this one doesn't sell by the time he buys into Florida. He has decent savings but selling that stuff is the smartest thing to do in many ways. He told me to harp on him to get it done so I will.

This was the third time he stayed in a hotel here, and he's spent $1800 thus far. So he gave me a check to buy a sleeper sofa so he can just stay here in the future. He can't sleep on a futon. I'm in shopping mode. Did I tell you he's a great brother?

We're also shopping for a concert to go to together and trying to drag Strider into it. We're looking at the Ringo concert in June right near him, and the Eagles in Newark in September. She hasn't committed one way or the other so far.

It's been raining. Not scary downpours but enough to make me think of how saturated the ground is, and if there'll be another flood before we move outta here. I guess that'll never go away until I leave the Shire. It's painy, but I don't think about that much anymore.

At 5:30 a.m. on a Wednesday I'm sitting in my chair eating dark chocolate, a birthday present from Gal Friday. I have a wonderful life.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

These Dreams, Part Deux

Protest dreams! (Kick that's your fault.) Waking up with a pointless political rant isn't all it's cracked up to be. And this because a woman came up to me at that protest in Kick's photo and bitched at me because my sign said, "Rat Bastards" with a drawing of a rat that Chris Grotke had drawn for me. I'd added blood to the mouth for a bit of vampire chic.

 Her argument was that it was disrespectful. I switched focus and said, "That's why we're here. So you can say what you think and I can carry this sign." Pure deflection. She huffed and flounced off and I didn't have to tell her she was insane. People actually think there can be a revolution without offending anyone. It gives me the WTF face. And I'd called the protest; I felt proprietary about it. Well, all this helps the Left Wing get nowhere.

At one point during that protest, a guy in a car pulled over and yelled at me, "Who are the Rat Bastards?" and I yelled back, "All of them!" He whooped and beeped his horn, taking off (you never know what drivers will do. I've gotten the finger for holding a sign that said, "Vote Today"). That was in one dream that wandered into something about Dora organizing a sandwich run.

And then there was the episode of "This Week in the Police State"... Kick's dog barked, a neighbor called the cops and 5 patrol cars pulled up at her house. Much insanity and a "Where are your papers??" scene later, all I can do is wonder at what subtle moment did we go from giving the cops your name to having to provide state-issued identification.

I'm keeping the sign over the peephole in my door. It says, "Don't answer the door because it might be The Man. " Thank you, Sherman Hemsley.