a buncha backs

Back #1: It was just a matter of time, I guess. Several nights ago, as I tried to lift my mother’s legs back onto her bed, I felt as though someone shoved a knife into the right side of the lower spine. It was a long night for me, as I painfully made my way to a chair, only to find it hurt too much to try and sit. Lots of Excedrin Back and Body later, I’m relatively OK as long as I don’t twist sideways or make a sudden move. I have a long history of problems with the right side of my body, including developing “drop foot” on my way to Harvard’s first BloggerCon five years ago. And it’s been all downhill from there.
Back #2: Despite the above, I wrapped an Ace lumbar support belt around myself, put on the cruise control, and drove out to see my daughter and family, who, I knew, would give me some TLC — which I needed for more reasons than my out of whack back. Luckily, I had left my new quarterstaff there, and that surely came in handy for limping around the yard.
staff.jpg
[Side note: Ronni Bennett has a section of her blog dedicated to the “Quarterstaff Revolution,” and I will be sending my photo to add to the growing collection.]
Back #3: Last week, I took a little trip back in time and finally got together with my college roommate and her husband, who live about a half-hour’s ride from here. Both she and her husband were good friends of mine all through college. She and I were the same size and coloring We shared a room and later an apartment right through grad school, and we also shared our wardrobes. She is still slim.. Our lives are about as opposite as possible these days, but the memories of all of the crazy college experiences we shared (including driving down to Daytona Beach for Spring break with three of our male classmates) are still ties that bind.
Back #4: Thanks to the Bush regime, this country is so democratically backward that we can only hope that the new president will have the strength and stamina to haul us back to where we belong. The latest indignity is PBS stalling about widely airing Torturing Democracy. It is, however, being aired by individual public stations, and you can watch it online.

reluctant reentry

mewindow.jpg
I spent last weekend in a place as close to perfect as I’ve been in a long time. Good friends, good food, a good book, a lake, mountains, a spacious home with lots of decks, pitchers of Cosmos, and laughter-filled games of Boggle. I could have stayed there forever.
Now I’m back in the situation I should never gotten into, and I’m finalizing plans for my escape, with support from both the Hospice nurse and social worker. I would like to take my mother (92 years old and demented) with me, where we would be with our extended family in a home with beautiful gardens on a dead end street with lots of neighbors. She would have pleasant distractions from the painful movements of her body and mind. I would bring in the help we both need.
But my brother doesn’t want to let her go. And I just can’t stay.
As my hair grows gray, I need to spend more time in places of peace.
mewater.jpg

carefully care-free

Four days free of caregiving!
I am heading out tomorrow with my gaggle of friends to Lake Luzerne, which is not far from Lake George, which, as fate would have it, is the site of the annual motorcycle Americade at the same time. No doubt, the roads will be crawling with hogs of all kinds and their wannabe relatives
Back in high school, I dated a guy with a motorcycle — unbeknownst to my parents of course. It might be fun to ride on one again. I mean, isn’t there some commercial where a grandmother rides in on the back of a bike that her grandson is driving? Hmm. Maybe I’ll run into a senior citizen biker.
Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out if the itchy bumps popping up on my arms are flea bites or hives or some sort. I can’t seem to find any fleas on my cat, but I know those critters are pretty tricky.
Also, meanwhile, the hospice nurse continues to check in on my mother. Mom somehow fractured a rib while I was gone a few weekends ago. While the pain seems to be finally subsiding, she is getting less and less stable on her feet and just is not happy about very much. The nurse brought in a young woman who played the guitar and sang, and my mother seemed to like that — although after they left, she was sure that they stole some of her jewelry.
I don’t know how my brother is going to handle four days and three nights taking care of mom on his own. If it were me, I’d hire someone to come in and help. I’m leaving a list of available private hires on the refrigerator and a stockpile of food that mom likes inside.
I am sooo out of here.

time, tide, and sigh

As the moment of the Solstice approached the beach at York, Maine, the sea turned an irridescent aqua and the sky poured up from it into a haze of that “sky-blue-pink” that no one believes is a real color — but it is. Real. And then the sun slipped behind the houses of the beach town, the sea vista slid into silver and then cerulean, and the stretch of sky above the dimly lit shoreline hung out a perfect slice of moon.

I had forgotton to bring my camera, what with having to remember all that paraphernalia. You know, Tibetan bell, rune stones, words — all that stuff of art and poetry and human hope. But more on that later.

For now, suffice it to say that I’m back from my five days at Long Sands, York Beach, with bronchitis and a low-grade strep infection that’s raging high-grade in my throat. Ya’ can’t win ’em all.

Aside from a one-day trip north to Freeport to the L.L. Bean and The Children’s Place outlets, we spent most of the week reading and walking on the beach. This was usually my view when I was ensconced at the cottage (that’s my bare toe-polished foot sticking out in the middle of the picture):

Bview.JPG

As usual, I didn’t bring enough books to read, so I picked up a spur-of-the-moment paperback when we stopped at Hannaford. I Love You Like a Tomato — in the voice of a young female Italian immigrant, who keeps trying to make her grandmother’s Old World magic work in her troublesome new world. You don’t have to be Italian to love Chi Chi Maggiordino who, tries, as she says to “put to GOOD use the power of the Evil Eye.”

When I wasn’t reading, I was walking on the beach — usually without my camera. Except for the one really rainy day, when we went poking around the snail-covered rocks at low tide.

As it turned out, we spent the nicest day shopping. And eating lobster. Twice. And looking for toy rockets for my grandson.

There were supposed to be three of us, but it wound up there there were only two. When it came to our plans for the Solstice, however, we included the third in absentia. Three. You have to have three.

The Crone’s Wall of Power

A couple of months ago, a long-time friend of mine who’s a quilter agreed to quilt a “portrait” of me that I could hang on my wall — not a literal portrait, but her creative interpretation of “me.”

And she did it. And I hung it on the wall above my couch. And then I surrounded it with images of the people in my life who empower me, because the piece that she made, for sure, exudes pure power.

She usually quilts pieces that hang as rectangles; but mine she made as a diamond, with the diamond-shaped inside pieces representing the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. The fabrics are rich and textured and appliqued and metalicaly embroidered — with milagros attached — hearts and turtles and salamanders.

It’s like a magical “ojo de dios” watching over me.
I’m not sure that my friend knows what an “ojo de dios” is, yet she created one as she delved into her feelings about what she knows about me. (She’s out of town now, but I’m going to check with her when she gets back to find out if she ever heard of it or not; she might well have, since she travels often to Mexico and collects Mexican art.)
Here’s my wall of power:

smpowerwall1.JPG
Meanwhile, I’m collecting textured yarns with which I want to make a mandala based on the “ojo de dios” idea. This site provides directions on how to make one. Jay Mohler, the artist, makes and sells them, but I have my idea for my own — one with lots more texture. I want to hang it over my computer, across from my wall of power — the eye of the god and the eye of the goddess sparking the space between.
Cool, huh?

And chaos reigns supreme.

chaos2.JPG
This is the view across the top of my roll-top desk, past my room divider, into my kitchen. Like my life. Chaos.

— Still getting over major tooth abcess and root canal work.

— Now mother hearing voices singing Polish Christmas Caroles while the podiatrist (who she insists is Polish but he’s not) is working on her hammer toe.

— While making broccoli soup in my Vita Mix, didn’t realize that the machine was set on high speed and the cover wasn’t on tight enough and — heh — broccoli bits all over everything, including me.

— Made batches of pesto with the harvested basil after I cleaned up the broccoli mess.

— Still not ready for the craft fair that I do once a year; need to print up signs, finish a few more items, and price everything. New items this year, thanks to a brainstorm of my breast-feeding daughter: washable nursing necklaces and shawls.

— Am almost done using putting transfers (that I printed up on my computer) on a special t-shirt to wear to BloggerCon.

— Finished harvesting my tomatoes, basil, and parsley; now have to clean out my garden before frost hits.

— Gotta get to the library to return Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons, which was so enthralling to me that I read it in one day (instead of cleaning up some of the chaos). As an ex-Catholic who went to 13 years of Catholic school and is totally fascinated with the lore of Church and its roots in paganism, I just loved this symbol, taken from the book:
earthairfirewater.jpg

— Gotta pick up The Secret Life of Bees, which is waiting for me at the library, as well as one of Judith Jance’s’ mysteries-on-tape that I can listen to on my way back and forth to Boston.

— Next stop is at Hannaford to pick up my mother’s prescription for Quinine for her leg cramps and then to Joanne’s for fabric to cover seams that I let out from a jacket I love that I made smaller years ago when I WAS smaller.

When my friend P stopped by after the tap-dancing class that we’re taking but I missed because of my root canal, we commiserated about how being retired isn’t what we wanted it to be. (Her 87-year-old ex-mother-in-law, to whom she’s close, has just been diagnosed with advanced breast cancer.) She thought that she would be spending her time resting, traveling, reading, having fun.

Whoever keeps trying to tell us that life can be just fun and games at any age is really selling us a bill of goods. I don’t know anyone whose life is that way.

Meanwhile, I’ve got to go battle chaos. And entropy. Always entropy.

Yes. America as a whole seems to have succumbed to entropy. And apathy.

Battle on, Xena.