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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Closing Time, 2015

These holidays are going about 50/50, but the good parts are just as good as the lousy are lousy. Which is a rare thing. Usually everything puddles in the middle, or the lousy outweighs all either by frequency or importance of the said suckage part.

Not that there's a lack of suckage, from relationships to health, there's plenty. But there were some really cool moments through it. Billy and I had a chat about the first time we each hit someone, inspired by last Sunday's football schoolyard fights. The surprise, the adrenaline rush, all of it. I can't think of any time before when we shared something like that.

And I realized that every time I got in a fight, it was because some ass was bullying someone. And always being the biggest girl (and with 3 violent older brothers) I was ready to go, and stupidly fearless. What's some kid my age compared to any of my almost full-grown brothers? Johnny was teaching me karate when I was 4 fergodssakes. So not a lot of fear. I subsequently had my ass handed to me several times because I never backed down. It's a Brooklyn thing. With all the changes and places in life and people I've been, I'm so that Brooklyn girl at war with at least 1 brother at all times. And I could never win, up against them. JesusH, nothing can drive you crazy like family can.

And every time my ass was kicked it was always by a guy. I never lost a fight with a girl.
Not that any of the above is to be proud of.
Just very Brooklyn.

Billy surprised me with a new Dell computer for Christmas! Hooray! Then Fedex and UPS kept delivering more things. It's like an appliance store in here. Billy was on the phone trying to straighten it out for an hour with people he couldn't understand. Finally he got some help. They're supposed to come get them...

There's a saturation point thing happening. I have so many people in my life, and that's a curse and a blessing. I also have a nasty health issue going on. And I'm getting anxiety about not working on Beestbook for 2 weeks now while this has been shitty. I'm supposed to not get stressed, my ass. It's the once-a-damn-year holidays and I'm eating buttered white rolls, water, clear broth and yogurt. Again, my ass.

Oh right I had 2 hard boiled eggs today too.
Well, maybe I'll get down to a size 14 again.

See? Not all bad.

Beest understands Brooklynese. Must've got it while living with my father's family in the '20s. I hear it in her accent. She's icy cold at times and then the sweetest, most loyal cat other times. She's never really bad. In fact, sometimes her sweetness annoys me. She's working out her PTSD just like me, is all.

It's been a year of finding truths. The DNA tests Billy and I took showed I'm Irish, we both extract from the Melanesians way way back, and we are not Native. Billy is almost entirely British (we had different dads) and I'm more Western European and British than Scandihoovian. So all the stories and even the family trees are wrong. Our great-grandfather wasn't half Mohawk  But I'm 5% Irish! Woohoo!

VT foodstamps sent me a letter. It arrived the 24th and said I had to call and be interviewed by the 27th or lose my foodstamps. I got thru in time, but if others weren't home in time to call, or their letter was delayed, they're going to have to go thru the whole process again. The office was closing from the 25th until Monday the 28th. Low, sleazy trick, Shumlin. And a third time, not get stressed, my ass.

I'm so happy to say that the coffee table is getting outta here. There'll be a bench with storage, that's an inch higher, a slim rectangle instead of this huge oval and peep can sit on it. Finally! Yay for function!

In all the days alone, I can't bring myself to work on the book, but I'm still writing.
Writing a lot tends to make one think a lot. Trying to get to the heart of matters is a slow, clumsy process. But if you take deep breaths and forgive yourself sometimes, it gets better. Nobody's perfect.

My New Year Resolution is Have More Fun. That's been my resolution for decades, and too many years lately I've broken it. Not this new one. Dammit.

Next year, Christmas in New Jersey!

I wish you all the best you can stand, that at least one big dream comes true, and that you give and get all kinds of love.
Happy 2016!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Come Softly, Darling

The gastro guy was not the ogre I'd feared. In fact, he was quite intelligent, quirky and efficient. And I say that because he was nice, and came to the same conclusion I did. It's diverticulitis. 10 days of antibiotics and antifungals and this infection should be done. It's a bit miserable that it comes at the holidays, but such is life. I'm just happy to know there's an end to the pain in sight.

I began the Cipro and Flagyl today. They are vile and pure chemical nastiness. I've heard stories of what they'll do to me. But the last day of them is New Year's Eve and 2016 will, with luck, be chemical-free. 

Diverticulitis usually leaves diverticulosis in its wake. Not an infection, but a finger-wagging nun of an issue. Diverticula stay riled, once riled. Dietary changes should become permanent, with rare excursions into regular food. No more nuts, seeds, berries, beans, peas, corn or anything small or hard that can become stuck and start irritation that leads to infection again. Goodbye to many things I've enjoyed cooking, or eating raw. No high fiber stuff, no bits of dry herbs floating in things, just what's smooth to the system so the little easily-offended buggers don't wage war.

But there is still much that's okay. Ice cream, yogurt, any soft dairy, really. Meat, fish and poultry that's whole and cooked to softness. Veggies and fruits cooked to softness, or pureed. White bread, macaroni, white crackers, noodles, mashed potatoes. Even cheesecake (sans crust) and smooth puddings. I certainly won't starve. In fact, this may be a good way to lose the dozens of pounds I've gained over the last 15 years of gimpdom.

There is a chance it's not diverticulitis, but the only way to know that is to do the course of drugs and see what happens. If it's not gone when I see him on January 6th, further tests will be done. I'm trying to not think about that.

The good thing is that I'm a cook. This is going to stretch my skills and imagination. I can't lazily throw a handful of dry herbs into a pot anymore. Fresh herbs will have to go into a bouquet garni. No more quick stir fries, no more refried rice. No more beans on toast. I'll miss crunchiness in general. Food will have to be cooked slowly and thoroughly. But that shouldn't be a problem once I don't feel like the Wreck of the Hesperus. As a bonus, I got to give 4 shopping bags of food to my Gal Friday, who can certainly use it now that Christmas has wrung her purse dry. And there'll be more when I get into the sideboard where the dry stuff is stored.

I'm also pretty delighted that the last two encounters I've had with medico types have been good and productive. My gastro guy is a little weird and his office looks like a college dorm room, but he's bright and engaged. We even bantered a bit of Python. I can work with him. That's a rarity in my life experience.

So for now I'll just go with the flow. It's not so bad. Lasagna is still on the Christmas menu; so long as the tomato sauce has no seeds it's fine. If I couldn't have cheese I'd be much pissier about it all. :)

Friday, December 18, 2015

Guts and Glory and Lessons Learned

At the beginning of November, my guts became hinky. Hinkier than usual. I stopped taking the Aleve and turmeric that were making my joints bearable, stopped drinking coffee and tea, and thought that giving my GI system a break would resolve whatever was making them angry. They weren't having it. 

So on Pearl Harbor Day I finally went to the ER. A pair of very nice young men took samples of all my bodily fluids and solids and asked a hundred questions. It was determined that I had an acute UTI affecting my kidneys, but that didn't explain why my guts were rejecting all but broth, soft white bread and yogurt (which had been my main diet for over a month, excepting Thanksgiving dinner, which left me crying in pain). An ultrasound and blood tests told us that my other organs were functioning as they should, so not the usual suspects of liver, gallbladder, etc. This is intestinal. They gave me scripts for Keflex and omeprazole and told me to see the gastroenterologist for further investigation, since their job was to hospitalize peep in crisis and they couldn't go further. To watch for a fever over 101 and return immediately if that happened. To rest, avoid stress, stay on the mostly-liquid diet, and not take NSAIDs or turmeric. It's known that using turmeric and NSAIDs together causes ulcers. Okay. I'd already been doing that and learning to live with the pain. So just wait for the gastro guy to determine what the hell's going on. I see him on Monday.

The Keflex course presumably did its thing. I don't know. As I told them, I can't tell kidney pain from the rest of the pain. It's all pain, all the time, everywhere. The omeprazole has calmed down the burning in my stomach and that's very good. But the intestinal pain/swelling/dammitwhatthehellwiththisshit goes on. And so does the broth-white bread-yogurt diet.

Which brings me to the super whining part of this missive. It's the holidays! I can't eat the good stuff! Waaah! I hosted friends last weekend for the tree trimming and laid out a smorgasbord of things I love- herring, meatballs, gravlax, cheeses- and couldn't have any of it. And everywhere, it's about holiday food. In media, in song, in people rushing around the Shire with bags of groceries, in my email inbox, in conversations, in my mind. Food food food. I'm not a wealthy person, so keeping the tradition of special and dear foods I love is the biggest part of holiday celebrating now. And that won't be happening this year. It's white bread, broth, and yogurt, holidays or no holidays. Oy vey iz mir.

And then I think of all those who don't know where their next meal is coming from, and am ashamed.

And those who only wish they had a home and tree this year...

And I even have a new understanding of diabetics who post sugary recipes nonstop on Fecebook. We always want what we can't or shouldn't have.

And I give myself a head lecture on being grateful, staying in the moment, and what really matters. I have family and friends, a warm home, a crazy cat, a pretty tree decorated with vigor by people who care about me.

That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown. And all by itself, that's glorious enough.
Happy Holidays. Peace, love, joy.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmas Present

Thanksgiving is done and the calendar has turned to the last page for 2015. I've done much of my holiday shopping ahead of time (a habit I mocked my Mom for having), and now turn attentions to decorating. Billy took the Chair home so there is space again for the Tree. Billy also brought me one of the many wreaths Mac had bought when she was loopy. A huge riot of greenery with a sled, ice skates, and various other Wintery symbols. It's the one they used to hang on their front door. He doesn't decorate anymore. The over-the-door wreath hanger plays music when its motion sensor is turned on. Silly, but sweet.

Over the next 2 weeks the boxes will emerge from storage. The fake pine bough to hang over the arch between the kitchen and front room, the garland for wherever sparkle is needed, the little Santas, snowmen, choir children and St. Lucia will take their places. I'll hunt out the holiday books- Dickens' Christmas Stories, the carol book, the Goldenbooks and my Dad's trade magazine with nostalgic illustrations from the '50s- that I read every year. I'm having friends over for St. Lucia Day to help me trim the tree, a job that's come to take me a week to do alone. We'll have cocoa and Swedish foods, and play the Christmas television specials from childhood, now on dvds. Lights will shine. Songs will be sung.

But I'm not feeling it.

In years past I've gotten merry way too early and by the time Yule was here I was over the whole thing. I don't think that'll be the case this time.

This year there are friends who are making what will likely be their last Christmases. So there's the Ghost of Christmas Future lurking in the dark corner, waiting with his sickle. Who knew this time last year that Chiefy wouldn't be here for this year's edition, or that any others we've said a final goodbye to in 2015 wouldn't be around to lift a glass? People die, it's part of life. It just gets tougher as the years go by and there are fewer to share the memories, fewer to smile with us. People move far away, too. We can call, we can message, we can mail them. But it's not the same. Presents are called such things for being presented, for presence. Absence doesn't get a bright ribbon, it's just a void.

So we carry on, make new traditions, new memories, fill the voids, tell the stories. We keep what old traditions we hold dear that won't hurt too much. We let go of what we can't do anymore and focus on what and who we still have. Chase away the dark with bright lights. Realize that all we have is right now, this minute, and make the most of it. It's better to light a candle than curse the darkness, they say, and it's true. Once again, we strike the match and hope for the best.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Brown and Gray

I was talking to a friend tonight who said, "Every year I feel I have less and less to be thankful for." Maybe because we remember better times, I suggested. And we've lost a lot along the way, including the little things like patience and our minds.

These are the days when things are getting very real. I've stepped back from Fecebook. It can take over your life, especially when you volunteer to admin or monitor a page. Or 5. The constant barrage of opinion, right or wrong, agree or disagree, judging judging judging, is darkening to the soul. Too much news is as bad for you as ignorance. I remind myself this crapola is why I gave up cable, and that the intrusive Comcast homepage plastic news is bad enough to have to see. "News" media has turned up the volume, and I'm just going to try not listening for once. People pieces, the ones on BBC, are enough to tell me stories. The Guardian is not purposely traumatizing. Though don't get me started on the BBC.

Tonight it's finally cold. Fall is here. It's Thanksgiving week, I have no idea what's going to happen with Billy beyond he'll be here Thursday and probably Friday. This is because of medication timing and confusion, along with whatever else. I try not to speculate. Kick and Scott will be by on Friday, I haven't seen her in years. Billy gave Patrick his old leather jacket and she sent a photo. I can't believe he's a 6' tall 17 year-old wearing Billy's leather. Strider had a kitchen fire and was burned pretty badly on her hands and arms trying to put it out. But she's okay and the house will be fixed, hopefully by the new year. What's verynot okay is that there was a baby's death in the family. That's never going to be okay.

And all of that and so much more is why I haven't done much besides read historical background for the Beest book in weeks. Maybe for once I'm actually doing this bookwriting thing the correct way. It's good dissociation from the holy shit-look-what-happened-my-opinion-is-better-than-yours circus of the day world we live in. We didn't used to have to know people this well. We didn't used to have to know everything that everyone on the planet said. What the hell? I'm better off learning about the battle for the Somme or the Red Baron.

Yes, times are hard and even scary. People are nuttier in greater numbers than I've ever noticed. Well, we were all nutty in the 70s but that was in a friendly way. This isn't. I'm already treating gut problems (and miss my percolated coffee!!) and I don't need more tsuris. So to hell with it, let me map out Beest's travels around France as an Allied spy in WW1. She's roughly following my Uncle Bert, who bicycled around France carrying maps and intelligence from unit to unit. It's not a happy place, but a hundred years later it's pretty straightforward and not as terrifying as say, any of the current Republican Party Presidential candidates.

This Thanksgiving I do have a lot to be thankful for, and I'm trying to be mindful of it. Good friends, family, enough. I could do with less of some things and more of others, but enough is what I have. Which makes me a very lucky woman.
Happy Thanksgiving

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Undeniable

Today is the day that Autumn is undeniable. Though the Leaf Peepers have been here and driving through for the last couple of weeks, it's just hitting peak here. The oaks are already stripteasing, and the thinning of the canopy reveals more light, more sky. Those 40 ft tall elms along the Brandywine are still green. The last holdouts, always. This may be the last Fall in the Shire. It's expected that next year the new building next to the shopping center will be open and we'll be packed up and moved out. The fate of the Shire is unknown.

About the Shire. It was built 50 years ago as housing for the elderly. Over the years and HUD regulation changes it also opened to the disabled, and then to general low-income people. We have a mix of ages and abilities here, workers and retirees side by side, but everyone is somewhere around the poverty line or they wouldn't qualify to live here. When the Shire was built, there were no Flood Zone Maps or regulations and so it had been grandfathered in as okay for anyone to live in. All was well until Irene flooded the Shire 4 years ago. We fought to come back, and won. However, HUD regulations state that the elderly and disabled can't permanently reside in Flood Zones. So the Brattleboro Housing Authority made plans to get us resituated.

Somewhere in the middle of this several things happened. Byron Stookey, founder of the Housing Authority, finally retired. He is one of the best humans I've ever known and is sorely missed around here. Soon after his departure, the BHA became the Brattleboro Housing Partnerships and left the HUD property lists. There is little info to reference about this. HUD is divesting itself of property management and these "projects" (so long publicly owned) are being made private concerns, partially funded by HUD under Section 8 Vouchers for the residents and new construction partially funded by the Feds. The BHP is a whole new entity, a combo of the old BHA people and other housing investment types. For the new building we're slated to inhabit, the partner is Vermont Housing, a non-profit syndicate and developer. Here's more about them:

With this new hybrid of private and public involvement, the new apartment building, called Red Clover Commons, will be mainly senior housing. Here is the info we have of what it looks like:

3 floors in a T shape, across the street from a major shopping center, next door to a 24-hour chain pharmacy, close to the high school, the hospital and the local EMT service, and right off the highway. This is practical to the general view. It's easier and cheaper to have the elderly and sick near so much. The board of directors and everyone involved have put a great amount of work into this and they're satisfied. I understand and appreciate all this. It's necessary and there's nothing to be done about it anyway. But that doesn't mean we who've lived in and loved the Shire don't have feelings about it.

I could take this all as part of the suckage of life if the Shire was to be no more after we depart it. Were it to be knocked down, raised above flood level and turned into something new I could live with it, as that's what we all thought would happen. But recently I learned that these are historic buildings, and the VT Historic Preservation Society has something to say about it. This development is the only one of its kind in New England, of a model done in several places around the states, but one that's stood the test of time, and Nature's wrath as well. These brick buildings were built to last. And so they won't be knocked down.

Like a lost love, it would be easier to never see it again, but knowing it's still here will always tug my heart.
I'm soaking up every detail of my plants dying in my little front garden, it's their last cycle I'll see. The vine I trained around the front porch pillar will go on climbing without me, I hope, and the roses bloom each June and September.

But I will not go gently into that new building.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Funny how conversations go all over the place and things you haven't thought of in dog's years come up.

Today, while reading the riot act to Billy for his general lack of using noggin, nicknames came up. And so, beginning with a diaper-inspired first nickname, I recall all the nicknames I've had. Why? I don't know. It's a relief from all the serious crapola going on.

Stinky. The first, and what my 2 eldest brothers called me til they died. Billy calls me Rora now but for years he called me Babe.

Laura Begorrah... Grammar school. Rhyming was big.

Lady Jane, Bratinella, Mother Laura Stella. Thanks to Mom. I knew what was in store by which name she called me.

Fat Stuff. A charmer from my Uncle Bert.

Moose...from the old block. We were all animals.

Bubbles... Junior High. Possibly because I laughed a lot?

Janis... High school. I think every hippie girl was called Janis at some point, if you were one after the original was dead. I was also Queen Hortense, Nard, Laura-Aura, Jaybird, and still Bubbles, depending on who was talking.

Treasure... this was post-college, when roommates named me after a character on "Gidget". The character was named Mary Eleanor Chest, "but the boys all call her Treasure". It's still used by a few, as it made a comeback in the union drive when we used pirate names in things.

Mama Duck... when Seth was living with Ian and me, he was like our ward. Ian was Papa Duck and Seth was Little Duck. It's now only used by Dodo, and he calls me Mama Q (for Quack).

The Whore of Bethlehem. What Anthony at the Magickal Childe called me. He was confused, everyone laughed, and so it stuck.

annikee. I use this as a nom-de-net but certain people use it to my face. It was a Dutch friend's name and I always liked it. The bonus is it's a lot like "anarchy".

Fitty Cent... after the rapper, but not because of rapping. It's a long story.

It seems, including my real name, I've answered to 19 names.
And now I'm wondering if I should use a pen name for the Beest book.
Can a person have too many names?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Berning Up

Much of my time these days is spent in organizing the unorganized. The Bernie Sanders campaign is a full-blown social media campaign, and I've jumped right in, admin-ing 2 Fecebook pages as well as networking and contributing with others and networking thru Fecebook into the real world.

For one thing, I'm entirely blown away by the people wanting Bernie. They are not only good, decent people who want a good, decent country. They're from every political view there is. And the common denominator is in wanting better. "We All Do Better When We All Do Better" may be the axiom that applies universally to everyone I know in this.

Another thing is that so many of the Bernie supporters have never ever been actively involved in any campaign and have no organizing clues at all. This is at the same time, exhilarating and problematic. To keep a campaign up and pumped, people need to be enthused about their contribution. The best way to be enthused is to do what you love and are good at doing. Bad- or no- skill assessment and task assignment can kill a campaign, and I worry, seeing this done willy-nilly. But I have faith it will all straighten out.

The morale among the Bernie people is something I haven't seen in my lifetime. And every time I interact with a new Bernie person, I'm amazed at the variety of characters, and that the thing everyone wants is to straighten things out. Nobody wants this oligarchic-theocratic-gossipy-mean society we've stooped to being. That's the only commonality. They've all had enough. They want the high road. They want issues, not hairdos. They want straight talk and no bullshit answers. I can't draw a picture of a Bernie supporter, and I could, in every other election. There is no stereotype.

This is the first time in years that I've put so much time into a candidacy. I'm a Bernie or Bust gal. And I'm in very good company.

My other attention goes to the Life and Adventures of Hilde Beest. I think I'm finally writing something the way you're supposed to write. Doing research, building the framework, making a time and place schedule, all while dreaming out the story. And I'm loving this process. It's the life of Beest, whose 150th birthday starts the book, in Naulakha, Kipling's home here in VT.  

In amongst this are the other things in life, which at the moment are all pretty cool. Not perfect, but not awful. I'm back to the "Is Anyone Dead?" scale of calamities. Everything's do-able as long as nobody's dead. Right now, everyone abides.

So forgive my sporadic posting and reading, I'm busy.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


What now, this notice? I have to inform the EU that this blog has cookies attached, not by me. Google, aka the Evil Empire that Owns Us All, has cookies on everything. This is why I've taken to clearing cookies and cache twice a day, and running a scan every night.


EU, consider yourself informed. And that goes for the rest of you and all.

Carry on.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Life, the Universe, and Everything

These days I'm so blown away at the extremism of everything that I just sit and think a lot. When I sit and think a lot, I decide what's what, and that then gets put away for the meanwhile. I'm not a worrier, I reject despair for the demon it is, and there's so much happening All The Time these days that I just move on. But some things keep surfacing.

Like, opinions are not facts, folks. Strider sent me this great succinct piece about that:
It drives me nuts. People must know this. Yet I see it every day.

The level of hatred. Holy shit I haven't seen people so mean and rotten since grade school as they are these days online. And I'm amazed to find people I thought I knew saying such things. Religious and racial hatred are the worst I've seen since the 60s. Political hatred is the new black. And this general atmosphere is leading to people killing people all over the place.

Every time I see the Staten Island obits, there are a half dozen young people who OD'd or were killed. Some are suicides, and some are kids of people I knew as teenagers. In one family from my old block,.the mother died last Fall, her son (and my friend) died a month later, and his daughter killed herself this Spring. And the soldiers coming home, addicted to opiates they got from the service medic for their wounds. They get zero help and end up in Hell on earth back home. Soldier suicides are put anywhere from 5-20 per day. This struck home when it happened in Kick's family. What the hell.

And then there are amazing mind-blowing great things.

Bernie Sanders. I've met and talked with the man a few times, and even got to give a speech and introduce him once up in Burlington. There's something so extraordinary about Bernie that I can only compare his energy to the Dalai Lama's from 6 feet away. He's got a piece of some good energy, that Bernie. I've never been this excited about a Presidential candidate.

The Pope. I'm a freakin Atheist and I love this guy. He's even got my favorite saint's name.

And we may have found "Earth 2.0" 

As for everything else, in the midst of all of it, I'm happy. Which makes the bad standable and the good joyful.

My family is alright, lots of moving this Summer, from Indy to Myrtle Beach (at last), to Toronto from BC, to Albany from Corvallis, OR. Billy is settled into getting his house fixed and has a guy to do it. Who knows if he'll ever move. I've let go of how he's eating or not eating. He'll do what he'll do whatever I say so why cause tsuris. We talk every other day.

The Summer is at the tipping point (and hooray for the incoming Fall!). Old friends are coming up from the city, some I haven't seen in 22 years. That should be wild. Strider will come in August too, with Olive the Kissydog. I foresee lots of laughing in August. Maybe I'll go down to see Billy in September. We'll see. What to do with Beest is the question. She abides, sleeping through this heat and humidity, and is moody-go-bitchy as always.

As Jon Stewart and Garrison Keillor retire, Berkeley Breathed comes back. We could use Gary Larson and Bill Watterson coming back, too. I live in hope. :)

I hope everyone who loves Summer is enjoying it for all it's worth. And I hope all who are in Winter are loving it for what it is.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Perpetual Change

It's July 2nd. Half of 2015 is gone and I'm still making sure that I've written 2015 on my checks. How does time speed up so?

Which brings me to deadlines and why I understand George RR Martin, who's adopted "Deadline? What deadline?" as his family arms motto..

Unlike GRRM, I'm not writing an opus work for the ages. I'm just trying to keep up with projects, causes and the occasional articles I write for a small paper and some websites I now admin. For most of my life, as soon as there was something to be done I jumped in and did it. That sort of immediacy only happens now if the toilet is clogged (happens every time Billy visits) or Beest is stuck somewhere on something (happens about twice a week). Everything else goes into my datebook several times, with "MUST BE FINISHED" on the final deadline. Guess when things actually get done? Yep, on the last day possible.

And so, in July, I'm attempting to catch up with the year so far. The last time I posted about life was in March and lots happened in those following 3 months.

Strider and Olive the Kissydog did get to come for an overnight, it was great to see them but too short a visit. I miss them, even though we email almost every day.

After admitting to Billy that I couldn't sit in what we now call The Billy Chair, he told me to get my old wingchair revamped for my birthday present. I found a woman who was happy to work on such an old chair (it's about 80 years old) and she gave it new life. It's good for another 80 years!

At the end of March Chiefy contracted viral meningitis in Florida. He was in hospital for 2 weeks, and was well enough to drive home to NJ mid-April. After being home a week his abdomen swelled up and Billy and Lynn talked him into going to the ER, but he'd only go to the one near his home. There, they ran several tests including a paracentises to drain the fluid and analyze it. He went home still in discomfort, and then began running a high fever. He went back to the local hospital. They couldn't find what was wrong and so he went to Columbia Presbyterian in NYC. They determined that someone nicked his intestines doing the paracentises and he was bleeding out. He was up and down for a week, then the sepsis set in. He died on May 2nd. He was 66.

This not only shocked and upset everyone who knew him, it changed Billy's life and left him friendless. He is the last survivor of the whole gang he's known since school days. Last month he started looking to move here to Vermont. As we perused RE listings, signed on with a friend who's a buyer's broker, and went to look at houses on the market, it became clear that what he wants is the house he's in. Since he and Mac had made a lot of changes there, it's not something easily found. A 20X20 bedroom, for instance, is not a common feature. He's now saying that if something doesn't turn up by Fall, he'll just stay in NJ and do more to that house (solar, new siding, new roof, etc.). He also ended up not taking the puppy Kick was holding in place for him from her German Shepherd's litter, which upset us all. I worry about him. I've no idea how this will pan out. He's not taking care of himself and was sneaking Ring Dings when I left him alone. He cut his visit short by a day and went home complaining of a stomach bug, but there was more to it than that.

MaryEllen had another round of chemo thru the Spring, and though nothing's remarkably better, nothing got worse. She started another round of chemo yesterday. Her strength and attitude are amazing.

We were told that the emptying of The Shire will begin next Summer. They've just begun breaking ground at the new site that will be a senior housing apartment building. There will be another building for the rest of us gimps but meanwhile they're moving low income young folks in here, which is changing The Shire. I'll wait for the second site. Let the old bitty next door move to Red Clover Commons ("Red Rover", we call it), and maybe I'll get lucky and have a year of peace here. She's joined a Holy Roller-type church. Now the preacher and his helper come by twice a week, yelling and singing and clapping. You must know how I love that. They did it last night during the Chris Squire Memorial. I turned up the music to drown them out.

The fate of The Shire itself is unknown. It's worth several million, and I believe that what I've been saying since the flood came will happen. In the end, it'll be sold off to a developer who'll landfill it to above flood plain level and build McMansions on this pretty site along the Brandywine.

Beest is Beest, and abides in a sort of bitchy but sweet way. Gal Friday and I have taken to dressing her up.

Gold suits her. More to come.

I'm thrilled and scared about Bernie running for President. Thrilled because he's just what we need, scared because he has an opponent who's ruthless and devious. It takes a lot out of one to have such hope for a great man to take the reins, but look at the crowds he's attracting. In Wisconsin last night he drew more than twice the size that showed up for Hillary's rally in NYC. People know that Hillary is only another corporate shill for the oligarchs, and maybe, just maybe, Bernie will win...

And I, overall, am fine. Aside from 3 newly-broken teeth and the allergies to Summer, my health is the same as usual. There is always pain. I've come to ignore it as much as possible and keep a smile on when anyone else is around. Since Western Medicine has nothing good to offer I stay away from it, treat myself with herbs, and carry on. I can't wait for cool weather again. Summer is Hell to my body. It's nice to see my front garden so full and flowery, but it's not worth the pain. Bring back the cold and long, dark nights!

Be well, have fun. Tempus fugit.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Farewell to The Fish

Chris Squire has died. Just last month the announcement came that he had AML, a rare and deadly form of leukemia. His fans hoped for the best, that somehow he'd beat it or at least be with us a while longer, but AML is a fast killer. I hope his passing was easy.

Not everyone knows who Chris was. He was the co-founder (with Jon Anderson) of Yes, the legendary Progrock band. At the announcement of his illness Chris sent regrets that he wouldn't be on this year's Summer tour, the first time in Yes' 47 years that he'd be absent. There is much online about Yes and Chris, anyone interested can find their entire histories. Youtube has all the Yes albums as well.

This feels like losing an old friend. With his death, and Jon Anderson not in the band anymore, to me it's the death of Yes as well. All things must pass, but that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.

From Wiki, on his nickname: "Chris Squire was commonly known by his nickname, "Fish", and the name is associated with many of his works including his solo record, Fish Out of Water, and the solo piece "The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)" from the 1971 Yes record Fragile. The name has multiple origins, not least of which is the heteronymic meanings of "bass", describing low frequency sound or the bass guitar as well as the fish. Additionally, Squire's astrological sign was Pisces. Further, in the early days of Yes' career, he once accidentally flooded a hotel room in Oslo, Norway, while taking a shower, and Bill Bruford gave him the nickname. On the 2007 documentary "The Classic Artists Series 3: Yes", Bruford says that the nickname arose because Squire spent long periods in the bathroom while they shared a house together in Fulham."

He was a close friend of Greg Lake's for almost 50 years, going back to their being roommates in London when they both were starting out and finding their first successes.

Chris played bass like nobody else could. He wrote songs we'll have forever. I'll treasure that moment when he smiled wildly and gave me a protest fist as the cops carried me off in Madison Square Garden all my days. 

Farewell. RIP. Thanks.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Foster's Hay Truck

Out of nowhere and unrelated to anything else, I just had a vivid memory.

It was Summer '80 or '81, those were the two Summers I worked on Foster's farm. There was a blueberry field complete with air guns that blasted every ten minutes from sun up til sundown. People drove from everywhere to pick their own by the pound. There were 20 dairy cows, clumsy, gentle and not caring about much. I loved their big sweet eyes and soulful moos. They walked up the same track every day to the grazing field that smelled of timothy and deerstongue. After the hottest part of the day they'd meander back down the trail for the barn- sometimes without our going after them- to be milked and brushed, fed, watered and washed down as necessary. It was a small farm and ran efficiently. 60 year-old Foster, a high school kid, 2 little boys, and I made sure everything was done by 7 p. Long days, but healthy and peaceful.

My favorite part of the whole operation was the haying. Foster owned huge fields along both sides of the highway and after filling his silo and barn he sold bales to other people. He'd drive his old wooden-bed hay truck with the aluminum floor (I sailed right off that when unloading bales, twice) and I'd sit shotgun. With a SLOW sign flashing on the back we trundled up to the hayfields and loaded the tremendous crib with bales. I was so fit in those years that I did chin ups in the barn to stretch.

But the cab of that c.1940s truck is the flash scene that brought all this back. The only seat was the old bench style, no seatbelts. The whole interior was utilitarian blue and filthy. There were spaces for the driver and a farmhand and every other available inch was a pile of boxes with parts for things and various pieces of paper. The only thing that was clean was Foster's omnipresent cup of coffee. It sat in a tin box he'd jammed into a hole in the dashboard and it miraculously never sloshed over as we bounced along.

It was that that I just remembered so clearly, all that in an instant.

If you've never been in a beaten up hay truck on a hot Summer day with a fresh cut load, when a breeze floods the cab with the heady scent of a dozen different grasses filling your senses, you've missed something.

Thanks, Foster. You were one of the best bosses ever.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

In Like a Lion

Sometimes it's a little thing that sets one off. Whole avalanches of shit could be raining down for months, years, without much kerfuffle. Then a small thing- like someone presenting you with the gift you'd given them at Christmas last year as your gift this year- throws one out of kilter. It's like getting hit between the eyes with a whiffleball bat. You won't have a concussion, but it's a stunner.

In all. life's been boring and/or stressful.
I can't make myself write.  I feel like I have nothing to say. Sometimes that's out of contentment, which I had lots of over the Fall and Winter. Sometimes it's because there's so much info and writing everywhere now that anything I'd say would be redundant. And sometimes it's just all too damned sad to dwell on.

I'm learning to use my left hand dominantly, and surprised and pleased to find it's not nearly as bad to draw with as I dreaded.

Everyone has been sick/having operations/dying.

This past week: I did something that made my left arm too painful to move for 2 days (then something popped in my shoulderblade and it was better).

This past month: Big Brother Billy bought me a swiveling recliner (lovely). It takes up a third of my living room and now I can't go into that area (not lovely).

Winter was wonderfully cold and pain went way down. I got used to that. It's Mud Season now and Mr. Pain is back for the next 7 months. That rat bastard.

Beest abides. When we were going to sleep the other night she grabbed my hand with a paw and licked my whole palm. Never had a cat do that before. Little weirdo. Little weirdo has big Winter belly now.

Yes, she still bites off her belly fur.

Fingers crossed that Strider can get here next weekend. I haven't seen her since Thanksgiving '13 and I miss the girl. And crazy little Olive will be bringing joy to me and annoyance to the Beest.

Billy went to Florida and came back houseless. Chiefy and Lynn will be back in a week and a half. They too, will return houseless. I don't think Florida is going to happen, but I've been wrong before.

MaryEllen's ovarian cancer did not respond to the 16 courses of chemo. In fact, there are new growths. She's a helluva fighter though. She started a new drug last week. Her spirits seem good.

Politics on every level, from local to international, is an arena of fools and filth. But you know that.

We still don't know when the Shire will be upheaved. The new site is a brown field, and some waste disposal company was illegally dumping hazardous waste there as well. Since the capable manager left we get a minimum of news, so who knows. I'm going to ask to be left here until the next building is done. That should buy me a couple more years.

I hope my bloggy friends are all well and feeling chipper. Happy St. Patrick's Day!


Friday, March 6, 2015

March Already?!

Lawless left a comment on my last blogpost, and in coming to post it I realized I haven't blogged in forever. I don't know how time gets away from me, but it does. This isn't a post, but a promissory note. I will blog before the weekend is out! So much to catch up on. And John and Chris are getting married today! Glad I hopped on so I could add my wishes on time. Thanks Lawless, I'll be back!