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Snowing this morning, but it’s just a touch too warm to stick. Still, seeing the light fluffy white is always a relief from the denseness of rain. Storms are brewing for western Washington and Oregon, promising havoc at the coasts.
We fill the woodbox, the bird feeder, and critter feeder. True disaster is unlikely here, unless a tree were to crash through our roof, so we don’t load up on food and other supplies that we already have and/or wouldn’t use anyway.
After September 11, 2001, I stocked up on canned dinners, then gave them to local food banks.
We decided to name our tree “Merry.” I bought her about 8 years ago when it became clear we could no longer haul a live tree up to the second story of our home. Years before, Creighton eschewed cut (dead) trees. With trepidation, I took the plunge to buy a fake fir.
Merry causes no strain on our bodies bringing her inside, she doesn’t make our allergies skyrocket, doesn’t shed needles and bugs, and doesn’t die after we’ve spent $75.00 -100.00 for a
Fake and artificial seem terribly ungrateful for the service she’s provided. She’s earned her name.
Downstairs the wood stove fan pushes dry heat from a day long fire into the room. Old growth cherry logs burn hot and long, imbuing the air with their sweet fragrance. While I write, Creighton is at his computer creating CD’s for me to take to work. He’s a genius at that.
The storms continue into this evening. Rain falls constantly. Though the wind hasn’t yet hit our area, in other communities there is much devastation, inconvenience, and destruction, with more to come.
I notice Mattie’s behavior is different. Usually an independent backyard rambler, he’s attached to my ankle tonight.
The aftermath of this storm is slowly surfacing. Lost life, homes and businesses flooded, whole livelihoods lost. Interstate-5, the main North South thoroughfare on the West Coast, is closed half way between Portland and Seattle, effectively halting all commerce and pleasure travel until Thursday, at the earliest. The railways also are stopped due to landslides and downed trees on the tracks.
My little corner of paradise is fine. Other than soaked grounds and blown leaves, no damage to report. Even my commute to school, and the buildings are OK, except for some roof leaks in the Black Box theater.
Ideas flash through my brain, sometimes sticking around long enough to be jotted on a post-it note, and added to the endless piles of possibilities I work so diligently to manage into neat conclusions.
Working with three younger (read: much younger) counselors, all of whom are five-star fellows, is a blast. They appreciate my vision and experience, and I love their agile thinking and desire to work as a team to build something workable out of an idea.
The question that circles is how our student body will be distributed so that we have stable and essentially equal case loads.
Something I ate, “an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato...” (Dickens) had me farting and groaning throughout the night. Stayed home to get back in balance, and feel better tonight.
Jo’s had another fall, and the concern is that she may have had a small stroke. Her dog, near death and unable to get itself out the pet door, is shitting and pissing all over the carpets. Sounds like a horrific mess, and I’m not rescuing her. I’ve put off calling so many times, it’s become an albatross.
We’ve watched all our favorite holiday movies already. Faced with repeating, or moving out of the genre, we slapped in a DVD Creighton picked up from his step-mom, when we visited Phoenix last spring. “Joy to the World,” a production of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Within two minutes I was writhing; “Oh yeah, for sure, the shepherds were all happy, smiling, clean, well groomed boys! and they were attended by pretty, clean, white girls! and they sat together in the pure, tranquil fields, ‘watching their sheep by night!’ Turn it off! I can’t stand it!”
What a fun day we had. To me, it’s an affirmation of the unfinished return, as a couple, to a state of being that once was normal.
Shopping together, laughing, references to events, quotes, sights, only we can share...because only we have experienced that particular moment, that sweet sense of the sublime, the ridiculous, the crazy melding of humor and humanity.
We even gave the LDS, DVD another try! AARGH! AACKKK! No can do!!! It’s too revealing though. Spooky to me. Aghast again, we rummaged through our gift sacks and offered visual entertainment that will take us through tonight!
Tiny snow flakes drifted in the near freezing skies, under a thick veil of stone gray clouds. Aged cherry, ablaze in the wood stove, did combat against the chill. Holiday music, of many varieties, floated through the house. The aroma of genuine Scottish Shortbread, buttery crusty, revived memories of long ago holidays. Presents to me appeared under Merry, and were joined by packages from me.
Two more weeks of school will be followed by a long winter break. That’s one of the advantages I love with my work. Though no one’s paid for holidays, we’re never forced to work them.
Finally talked with Jo yesterday evening. Everything revolves. As silkworms perpetually spin their silken threads amid mulberry leaves and larva droppings, Jo sits surrounded by self-created chaos, craving cleanliness, beauty, and order.
Her tears, though quiet, were audible. A master at implying, never openly asking or requesting outright, I’ve learned to listen, and empathetically direct the power back to her. With boundaries firmly established, I no longer offer to rescue her. Offering to take the appropriate steps to deal with her dyeing dog “when the time comes” is inbounds.
So easy to recognize another’s foibles. Do I see my own?
He passes the tin of small cigars. Deftly I pretend it’s what I wanted.
Scrooge “Not in the habit of keeping Christmas...an ant is what it is; a grasshopper is what it is...good afternoon.”
Frozen heart flutters. “Generosity well represented...slight provision for the poor...if they would rather die, then let them...good afternoon.”
Ain’t no way I can come close to this. Seems the more downtrodden one’s being, the more highly elevated and brighter the star of hope resides in Dickens’ text.
“Your welfare...your reclamation..bear but a touch of my hand...”
“...to Bottomy Bay...”
Attended a meeting this morning with all the district high school counselors, some administrators, and district office personnel. As I glanced around the room, smiling and visually greeting friends, I began to pay attention to the women’s hair color and style. There was only one woman there with salt & pepper hair color. I was the single white haired lady, and many in the room are much older than I am.
For several years my graying hair contrasted so starkly with my face age, that it made me appear younger. Not so any more. I’ll take the plunge on Friday!
When Lee and I met for lunch today, we weren’t even into the restaurant before I exclaimed I was getting my hair colored tomorrow. Surprised, she encouraged me, saying it would be a fun change, and offered tips on home coloring and how to keep the roots looking good. If she’d said, oh Lindy, I think that would be a mistake, I’d listen to her. She suggested I start with the semi-permanent kind that will wash out in 4-6 weeks, so if I don’t like the look, I don’t have to grow my hair out to get rid of it.
All day I’ve been fretting about this hair coloring thing. Finally I told Tanya and she also was very encouraging, saying she thinks it will look really nice. So I settled down, calming myself with affirmations of my desire for a change. After all, it’s my look, my life, my desire, hell…it’s just hair! It grows out!
Done. I’m now back to a dark, salt and pepper coloring, similar to how my hair looked 10-15 years ago. They “weaved” black in, leaving some natural silver for highlight. I’m psyched, and relieved. It looks right, and very natural. Creighton approves too!
At the dog park this morning, I walked a ways with a woman I’ve conversed with before. Her three ‘girl’ Beagles, of various ages, also are rescue hounds. She asked if I’d take them were she to drop dead tomorrow. I was surprised. She was serious. She wants them to remain together, and is concerned she’ll pass before they do.
Her husband is in long-term care, a reality that clearly shapes her current state of being. She mentioned her anxiety disorder. I don’t know her name. She looks to be in her 60’s.
Me? Mom to five aging Beagles??
Oh my. Algonquin club was in fine form last night! Lots of good food, engaging conversations, excellent wines, and our fun (low budget, creative) gift exchange. Creighton was the designated driver, so I enjoyed more vino than usual. I’m fine today, and have no embarrassing stories to tell on myself.
Over breakfast, Creighton and I recollected the various conversations, turning points, moments of wild laughter, warm exchanges, frank clarifications, and discussions about politics, politics, and politics. Fortunately (and maybe why we remain intact?!) we’re all D’s.
Decisions about what to read in the upcoming year will be continued via e-mail!
Still five more days of classes...but we have Secret Santa! The reason I organized this is so that I’m compelled to go to work. This week of this month...this time of year it would be soooo easy, yes seductively alluring, to simply call in ‘sick’ and stay home, home, home...which is, after all, where I always want to be.
And, if I didn’t want to be here, then I’d better be figuring out why and fix it. But I do, so I create obligations, seasonal diversions which help me, (and others) drag ourselves out, fix ourselves up.
Driving to school in the dark 6:30 morning, I thought it was Wednesday. Ha! Ah well, another day in a place I love to work, with people I enjoy being around. Life’s been a lot worse.
Creighton’s having a hard time at night. Cries out, swears at himself, shouts at his demons, says things like “I should just kill myself.” Sometimes comfort helps, and always anti-anxiety meds help. Wish the docs would
that he really needs more than they allow. Sometimes I resort to sleeping in the guest room; the futon always floats me into deep sleep.
Past the half way mark and gleefully heading into the end of this last week before vacation. Secret Santa’s have been busy surprising and treating one another. The festive mood is contageous.
Lee dropped off a “thank you rock” today. I’ve been giving her small, paperweight size rocks with witty sayings written on them (in indellible ink) for several years. Last year I gave her one I made myself and this year she asked me to bring her some plain rocks so she could play too!
Tonight I’m making “U” rocks! for my coach counselor colleagues; a special limited edition!
Our building administrator hosted all building staff for beverages at a local pub. I’d never gone to these before, but wouldn’t miss this for the world! It was a time of good cheer. Jamal brought his three month old Asha, and she is so sweet. I was able to get her smiling and almost giggling.
My intention was to stay on the east side and go to the holiday concert, however, Mike the choral teacher released me! “Go home,” he insisted; “there will be better concerts!” So I’m home and glad to have the evening to regenerate for tomorrows festivities.
The day zoomed by. Everyone had a joyful time at lunch, the food was good, and the planning and prep Tanya and I had done, added to the general ambiance. At the end of the day colleagues left in ebullient spirits, to enjoy a full two weeks and three weekends away from school.
Though tired, knowing a weather forecast of unending rain will start tomorrow, I decided a trip to the dog park was in order. It felt good to tromp off the biliousness of too much rich. high calorie food. I’m trying desperately not to pack on winter weight.
Uncharacteristically, I settled in by the wood stove about 1:00 this afternoon to read Dickens’
A Christmas Carol.
I’ve read it almost every year for twenty or so seasons, yet with each reading something I didn’t notice before jumps out at me; or maybe it’s my natural forgetfulness...at any rate I love revisiting the story. And, Dylan Thomas’
Child’s Christmas in Wales
is another classic favorite. Both of them conjure up images that touch a sympathetic nerve within me.
I’ll pay for today’s lazy luxury with tomorrow’s too many tasks to complete, but right now I don’t care!
Arriving at the local grocery at 8:30 a.m. I was glad to complete that chore before the swarms descended. Even an hour later, the parking lot was filling up. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough! I’ve become a very adept cyber shopper, and wouldn’t have it any other way. Shopping amid the masses has never been fun for me, and ten years of retail sales during the holiday season just about ruined any joy that comes with it.
Only a few small gifts to complete and wrap, and our favorite Christmas Bread to make, bake and decorate.
Christmas Eve day is clearing and cold. We load the car and drive 90 miles south to Corvallis for a celebration with my older sister, her family, and my Dad. Arriving early (as promised) threw everybody off balance! Still had fun. Two little boys, 3 and 5 years old, made for a riotous gift opening session.
Creighton called to wish his mom a happy Christmas Eve and came away from it flummoxed and sad. She told a tale of having spent the day taking the shuttle to the store to buy wrapping paper. But she has no gifts to wrap.
Something in my father’s eyes, something I can’t put my finger on, something lost or faded, some sparkle vanished, some wonder washed away. Something wistful in his bearing. Something telling in his words.
Still vital, cogent, still keen, witty. Still caring, loving. I want never to wake up to a day when he’s not as near as a phone call. I want always to have our summer fishing trips, to be able to seek his sage counsel, to learn from his adroit analysis.
Tears form as I read his Christmas note to me: “Thanks for being such a good person.”
I’ve had several serious flashbacks to traumatic events surrounding Creighton’s breakdown. There were so many that I just crammed them into an emotional holding tank, suspending their potency, so that I might focus on initial recovery. Believing my brain will only allow into consciousness what I’m ready to deal with, I conclude it’s time to work through some of the ugly stuff, the nasty, even hideous episodes.
Why do I enter these waters so timorously, with such trepidation?
Arriving at our current equilibrium was arduous. What might come from my questioning yesterday, today? Rotten apples? Upset apple carts? Apple crisp?
News report of assassination of Benazir Bhuto startled my brain at 6:00 am. Headache above my nose, between eyebrows, front and center; from drink? sleeping in weird position? sinuses acting up? all of the above?
Rain shifted to snow, slushy wet, nothing fun to go out and play in.
Creating cards: thank you, and sympathy. Husband of couple who lived across from us for twenty years, before moving to be near their son, expired after a long battle with cancer. Vietnam war survivor, victim finally to agent orange? napalm? bad karma of the late 1960’s?
Didn’t go gently.
Chaos in Pakistan. Sycophants swear by lies. Truth emerges as worms after rain. All a set up. Orchestrated by Bush Administration. Only way to legitimize Musharraf’s dictatorship. USA insists on open, free, fair elections. Assassination by commission or omission? Either way, she’s dead.
Wriggling through political muck, candidates for US President vie for votes, for voices in upcoming caucuses. Seeds of doubt stir as memory of voting machine machinations linger. Who will observe this bastion of “democracy” in its ultimate act of self renewal? Who will insure that the citizenry is christened with the pure water of a clean election?
Self-inflicted. She killed herself. Machiavellian murder makes mutiny mandatory.
So how shall we rise: when the iron fist of our mutated democracy delivers the maelstrom of another rigged national election; when the voice of the people is squashed; when our right to object is labeled “un-American” or “terrorism”?
How shall we rise? Who will be our inspirational leader? Who will be the next sacrificial goat? Who wants to be assassinated?
“Complacency is far more dangerous than outrage.” (Naomi Littlebear)
Complacency is comfortable until you lose your freedoms. Outrage is the antidote.
How shall we rise?
In absolute, unabashed, unequivocal outrage.
Singularly introverted, his immense banks of wisdom and knowledge remained locked away from any who could not tease it out, one sentence at a time. Not shy; more self-preserving from fear of inadequacy in social situations. Meeting women of his age range and intelligence was a constant trial. Though kind, thoughtful, soulful, spiritual, and philosophical, his self-depricating tendencies eclipsed his positives, leaving him frustrated and withdrawn.
Music comforted, fascinated, helped him, healed him. Playing music at times challenged his adequacy, causing a desire to kindle his guitar. Once he gained mastery, making music became one of his major emotional outlets.
Here’s to friends!
To Carol and Bill, with whom we shared a delicious dinner and erudite conversation in their lovely home last Saturday. May we continue to make music and memories.
To Leslie, who offered us home-infused pumpkin vodka with warm cider, lovely appetizers, and a robust fire, in her classy. well appointed home last evening. May our mutual respect and uncanny humor multiply.
To A-Club couples: Chris & Nancy, Loren & Ann, Ken & Faye (our book reading group) the excuse we offer to gather bimonthly and eat good food, drink fine wines, and generally have a good time. Happy New Year!
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