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An email from Judy reminds me how ostracized we are. Creighton’s French family will be in Portland to visit and are staying with Mark and Judy. We’ve been invited for dinner tomorrow at Catherine’s suggestion. Judy writes, “come at 6:00 and plan to leave early because we’ll all be going up to Seattle to see the Mariner’s on Sunday.”
This kind of controlling communication just exacerbates my ornery side. I want to arrive early and stay late just to “show them,” but I know it is no use. It would only confirm their belief that we are below them.
In my study, the sun shines through the east facing window casting warmth on the carpet where Jacques stretches out with his nose toward the light. Saturday Susan provides one after another tasteful Jazz selections on her weekly radio broadcast on KMHD, while I finish my first cup of coffee.
At the end of yesterday Creighton’s anxiety about going over to his brother’s was so high he suggested we call to excuse ourselves because the car is damaged. I told him we’d talk about it in the morning and went to sleep. I’ve decided I’m going, with or without him.
Mark & Judy’s gardens and gazebo are lovely, excellent wines were served with delicious food. Catherine and JF filled us in on the news of their extended French family. Mark was somewhat grandiose, but not as overbearing as he’s been before. Creighton and I were on our best behavior, which took a toll in painful tension throughout Creighton’s body.
Catherine’s brother Luic also suffers from severe depression and the life changing ramifications of being unable to make a living. In Mark’s expression as we left I may have detected a hint of empathy and wonder at his brother’s existence. Dream on.
A new sofa now graces the living room in front of the picture window. While driving up to Olympia to take delivery of it, I thought about the four couches and one futon I’ve owned in 39 years of married life. The first one cost $200 dollars which took me two Christmas’ to save for. It was a black, cream and burnt orange box. I loved it. The second, now 25 years old sits in the driveway with a “FREE COUCH” sign on it. Third, fourth and futon live here. All were picked up and delivered in the ‘79 Datsun.
Hot. For here. Into the 90’s fahrenheit. Melting muggy inversion. Worked on inside projects. Only a few more days before I’m back to a work schedule. Not end of the world; end of all day mine. Hard to give up this freedom. May be the only drawback to free time. Losing it. Worth it. Desire to retire sooner than later bubbles. Harbored resentment oozes. Independence increases. Time shrinks.
Hot outside. Cool inside. Made date with Catherine et Jean Francois. Chose place online. So simple to drive over the river. Complex to fly from France to Portland, Oregon. Sans doute.
What fun we had reminiscing about the three weeks Creighton and I spent with them in 1996. We have a fluid friendship and it takes only a half glass of wine for Jean Francois and I to start joking. Where we met was serendipitous; a small wine bar with plenty of fine French wines. We were the only four people at the two tall bistro tables and we enjoyed a crisp white bordeaux with olives and crackers. A picture of the four of us in front of a map of France is the only memento we have of their visit.
I woke up sure it was Friday and was relieved when I realized it was Thursday. My summer break is drawing to a close, so every day is precious. Well, really, every day is precious anyway, but days on end of “doing my own thing” now that’s priceless. I’m beginning to long to retire. Time to look into it seriously and start making plans.
I was thinking so strongly of judi that I pulled out the little coffee maker and brewed myself a “second cup” this morning. I miss her. Wish we lived closer to one another. Maybe some day.
Eight, eight, zero eight. I awaken to a light rain clearing the sky and cooling the air. My newly decorated study invites me to spend the morning at the computer. I’ve worked diligently this summer to create new flower drawings for my note cards, so sprucing up the format became today's big project. I want them to be just right: picture fresh and clear, borders complimentary, picture centered on the front, small picture inside properly positioned, and logo correct and centered on the back. Creighton is beginning to figure out how to set up a website to “peddle my wares.”
Oh, I was going to be so productive today! I had a mile long list in my head of all the loose ends and projects I haven’t accomplished and when I dashed out to begin the day, the deck beaconed. Sipping coffee I looked through the changes C and I had recommended on the note cards. I decided that some the drawings, done early on and in a “hurry up and get it done” manner would be improved by spending time deepening the three dimensional qualities. And that’s what I did, all day long. Felt like vacation at Beach Haven.
Last day of summer break. All day those dang loose ends were picked up and more created as life will be. Roses and other flowers headed, carrots thinned, dogs taken to park then bathed, pills sorted, laundry processed, sprinklers set, truck vacuumed, writing words; soon to be posted.
Black capped Chickadees swing upside-down on the single green suet cage at the corner of the deck, then summersault over to sip fresh water from the shallow, white painted metal chalice. Bush tits gather in swarms of a dozen or more on the suet and nuthatches have discovered this safe haven too.
“People won’t take them,” he offered in conversation as she dug a penny out of her purse to pay for coffee. “What?” she asked puzzled.
“Pennies,” he replied. “I can’t give them away as change! People refuse them; just hand them back to me.”
“Really?! I pick them up off the ground whenever I see them,” she exclaimed. “I call them lucky pennies”
“Yes,” he agreed, “but I have over a hundred dollars of them that I can’t give away!”
Why is that I wonder? What makes a penny so insignificant...or is it inconvenient...that people don’t want them?
I also pick up feathers. Sometimes I keep them. Today I walked right by one, though I noticed it in the lawn. Probably from a gull.
On the door of Cabin number one at Beach Haven is a wood spirit I carved in the image of a Native American’s face. Into the top I poked the feathers I’d gathered off the beach that vacation. Years later the spirit’s headdress has grown to the point there’s hardly room for more feathers. I thought about adding streamers down both sides but winter winds will strip some away, providing room for summer additions.
Her voice, at first almost childlike, wondered into the recording device: “Are you there? Where are you? Are you out on the deck?” Then the quaver started. He was repulsed.
The constant pull and tug within his mind and spirit of a life-force thin as the blood in his veins, simmered up once again.
“Why is she calling ME?” he demanded into the empty kitchen. Jaw clenched, he returned the call.
“I can’t get anything done, my TV and Stereo aren’t operating, rescue me number one son.”
“No.” Stated more than once.
All her aspersions, inferences, for naught. Disequillibrium doubled.
In 1960 air conditioning in automobiles was a luxury yet to be invented. Summer travel in sweltering heat meant all windows down, and jockeying for who got to sit by them. When my family took extended vacations, to warm climates the tension heightened. Dad usually drove, though mom frequently spelled him. Diana, often nauseous with car sickness, was allowed to ride in the front passenger seat and mom would sit at a back window. Mike, two years older than I, took the other one. I was left the choice of center front or center back. Both were cramped and stifling.
That summer we drove from central Washington through Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon and on down to San Diego where Dad’s father lived. I remember distinctly stopping at a park somewhere in southern Arizona. The temperature was over 110 and there was no breeze when we stopped at a small city park for lunch. I was crazy hot. Instead of sprinkling the parched lawn, the park manager had left a hose running slowly to thoroughly soak the patch it lay upon. Eyeing the cool puddle, I made like a wild animal, rolling and resting till I was soaked and refreshed.
Another method we used to stay cool was to soak cotton towels or kerchiefs in water whenever we were at a stop in the journey. We’d wrap the moist fabric around our heads and necks creating a personal air conditioner as the hot air flowed through the windows. In the dry Southwestern desert all moisture wicked out quickly leaving one longing for another stop.
Moving from one air conditioned pod to another, the heat of these past three days rarely touches me. Only when I walk on the baking macadam of a strip mall does it take my breath away.
Summer in northeastern Washington, circa 1955. On two lane highways, from Wenatchee to Deer Lake, my family and I traveled through coulee desert wastelands and dry scrub pine forests for hours. We arrived late in the day as a storm blustered in from the north. Famished for a refreshing splash in the lake, Mike and I stripped into our water clothes and danced our individual incantations of relief in the shallows of the bay at Mac’s Landing. As waves whipped up, and thunderclouds illuminated the evening sky, I first experienced the sensation of water seeming warmer when the air’s cooler.
Sheets of lightning pressing toward us from the horizon herald distant booms of thunder. Low pressure and high pressure battled and pranced in the roiling evening sky soundscape.
We didn’t want to leave the comfort of seemingly warm water contrasted with clearly cool air, and so conspired silently not to hear our parents and grandparents insisting we come ashore. Basking in the twilight with soft flashing light, immersed in the relief of waves, we lingered until the first bolt entered the water on the opposite shore. That was it. No choice now, and God bless them. We’re both still alive.
And so the hot spell has passed, and the storms have flowed and ebbed. As I sit here in my study the remaining rhythm is another storm front of rain. It pummels the driveway, rampages down the gutter, soaks into the land. It’s good. No clashing of pressure systems tonight. Dogs and men will have a chance to sleep peacefully. Within days the warmth of August’s “Dog Days” will return and mellow afternoons on the deck will lure me to linger with words and drawings.
Still loving my job friends. With seniors on their way to college, it’s a blast!
Dad fell from a Pine tree. The description mostly fits him. He enjoys having fun with people (especially those who are thoughtful and thought provoking). Being at peace in his life, in his family, in this world is a value he holds dearly and its absence causes him great distress. Lies and deceits enrage him.
Helping others brings him calm, and being 100% Scottish keeps that in balance. With great compassion, he holds love strong and close. Though not fashion conscious, he’s imaginative and creative in many disciplines.
Here’s the curve ball: “emotionally soft, low self-esteem, needs affection and reassurance.”
It was that last little bit; the part about self-esteem, emotional softness, needing affection and reassurance that prompted me to call Dad before I retired. I learned that he’d been battling an infected cyst in his groin for two weeks.
His Doc prescribed two antibiotics, the combination of which had killed Dad’s already slight appetite. They’d also killed the good flora and inflamed his lifelong gastroenteritis. He sounded stressed. When I signed off I was scared and began to spin in my mental sockets. I left a message for Diana, then decided being with dad this weekend was top priority.
I fell from the Cypress tree. I love to learn. I’m faithful, emotionally and physically strong, and I’m an absolute optimist, even against the odds.
Though I don’t necessarily like what life dishes me, I deal with it; I adapt. I hate loneliness which is probably why I’ve felt alone most of my life (yet being an introvert, I treasure my quiet time.) I’m at my best when needed and loved affectionately, and I’m a passionate, often satisfied lover. At times I’m quick-tempered, and I’ve been unruly and careless in my life. And of course, I desperately desire financial independence.
It was around midnight when Creighton came noisily to bed after having awakened me with the TV volume up way too loud. Pissed off at his utter disrespect for my peaceful sleep, my passive aggressive reaction was to turn my clock radio up full blast as he flopped on his pillow.
Right on cue, the BBC top of the hour headline news announcer informed me, in his lovely British accent, that Barack Obama had selected Joe Biden as his VP running mate. Serendipity strikes again!
With that good news, I turned the radio off and slipped back into deep sleep.
In the shower by 8:00 a.m. put me in Corvallis by 10:30. Dad welcomed my visit and was a bit surprised when I stayed with him all day, leaving after our dinner with Les and Diana.
Glad for company and assistance with every day tasks, Dad paid attention as I encouraged him to eat lots of yogurt with the addition of VSL#3, an “all natural, live, freeze-dried, lactic acid bacteria medical food” with “450 billion bacteria per sachet.” This product builds up the good flora in the gut increasing the body’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients.
When the “good” bacteria in my intestines died after a series of antibiotic treatments for sinusitis, c-difficile (a “bad” gut bacteria) multiplied out of control. My condition was akin to ulcerative colitis. VSL was one of the natural treatments that helped me get my body back in balance.
One sweet part of this visit was driving Dad to and from various places. It was clear that he appreciated being a passenger. Plus it gave him the opportunity to offer his ultimate compliment of my/our ‘07 Accord when he quipped, “I’m not used to riding in the lap of luxury!”
Coming in a very close second is probably the hardest rejection anyone has to deal with. When the stakes are high it’s extremely difficult to “let go” and “move on.”
One does, one must, but one doesn’t have to like it or even support the person who won.
So it was with great empathy and relief that I watched and listened to Hillary Clinton as she whole heartedly expressed her appreciation for the support she’d received while at the same time she directed that support to the person who came in first. To do so indicates singular courage and self-confidence.
President WJ Clinton did his job tonight. With alacrity and charm he knit the frayed edges of the party together into a tighter, stronger weave. This man whose leadership skills I’d admired, tarnished himself in my eyes during his wife’s campaign. Over these two nights the Clinton’s have redeemed themselves with unequivocal support of Obama.
It scares the shit out of me to think that people out there actually would vote against Obama as a sort of grudge vote for Hillary.
What is that anyway?
Another version of shooting oneself in the foot. Except the stakes are much too high.
Open house was slated for tonight before admin. knew the conflict it would create. Deliberated all week, all day, and at the end of it I decided not to attend. My first no show for open house in twenty-six years. It came down to learning that other counselors weren’t going to attend, and asking myself, “why should I when no one else feels compelled?”
And then too, must admit, I wanted very much to be home to watch Barack Obama’s acceptance speech live on Public Television. So I’m here, listening as the line up of leaders drill the party’s mantra.
Historic. And he did fine. Not his best ever speech, but a densely, compact statement, with substance for all. Most notable to me is that Obama claimed back for Democrats, the right to wave our flags and love our country even when we disagree with its current leadership.
King Dubya’s fascist reign is over. His surrogate must be defeated. The Republican party, regardless of McCain’s intentions, will continue to erode our rights as citizens, bankrupt our nation, and destroy any remnants of positive world opinion. Time for me to put feet under my words, to help take my country back.
How can one know the measure of the decisions made. There’s no way to compare what might have been if one had said “yes” instead of “no,” or had equivocated instead of insisting. And all the reverberations, the lines from X equaling Y, the parsing of “perhaps” and “maybe.” All burnt into asphalt; dried into slate pallets. Crusted over in recounted reasons why it had to be, and is, cut into stone. Defunct as an angel without wings, I wonder what the hell sense anyone else might make of my mind, tangled as it is with sadness unspoken, unanswered, unplumbed.
Patiently I listen to other’s disquietudes, their angst, the unhappy accidents of their lives. Mine are as evident and obvious as the steel trusses of a skeletal bridge. A bridge through and over which I journey daily, with trepidation.
All’s quiet now. TV off. Dogs plunged into their sleeping baskets. Creighton determined to change his nighttime out crying pattern murmurs in the bedroom. On the couch, laptop on thigh, I muse.
We visited my family today. Dad seems on the mend, Diana as lively as ever and Les’ sister Erma, an artist, looked at my drawings with praise and encouragement.
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