pets, part 1

The following post is by MYRLN, a non-blogger who is Kalilily Time’s guest writer every Monday.
PETS (1)
First was the black and brown dog, the flop-eared Gordon Setter called Biscuit. This partial namesake of the racehorse Sea Biscuit assumed everyone loved him. Total strangers were met with ferociousness: wild tail-wagging followed by a sitdown to offer a paw for a “How’dya do?” shake. People were his friends, not his masters.
He read “his” people-family’s moods and emotions with psychiatric precision — lying quietly on the floor, head resting on front paws for times of anger or tearful sadness; prancing around and standing with paws on someone’s chest when happiness erupted openly; or sitting, with head on the lap of someone who felt abandoned or uncertain, and then listening to whatever tale of woe or unmet need was being told.
And he considered the hillside woods across the road from “his” brick house and the trolley tracks as his pesonal preserve. Daily, he hunted them, stalking and chasing whatever small-game wildlife dared trespass on “his” land. And once, he brought home a pheasant — whether caught or merely found already dead was never known. He left it on the porch floor at the back door. Its discovery evoked screeches of surprise and horror from those who at first had no idea what had gotten to their doorstep or how. At least not until the proud-chested, tail-thumping perpetrator was noticed a few feet off to the side. Then there came grins and laughs and “Of course!” which seemed to please him some.
Yet, he never brought any catch home again after that — except for an occasional fly-ball chased down in the backyard batting practice of “his” younger people-family. He’d bring the baseball up to the back door, leaving a wholly recognizable and familiar catch as an offering. And wholly uncaring that he’d cut short batting practice.
It all seemed okay with him that his real hunting prowess went unappreciated. His open-mouthed, tongue-hanging grin said so. After all, he still got terrific table scraps and petted endlessly and invited along for a walk or to play. “Here Biscuit!”
That was enough for him.
(To be continued: Pets 2)

a Sunday poem

A sadly appropriate poem for today — one of Jim Culleny’s daily poetry emails.

Jorge the Church Janitor Finally Quits
by Martín Espada
No one asks
where I am from,
I must be
from the country of janitors,
I have always mopped this floor.
Honduras, you are a squatter’s camp
outside the city
of their understanding.
No one can speak
my name.
I host the fiesta
of the bathroom
stirring the toilet
like a punchbowl.
The Spansih music of my name is lost
when the guests complain
about toilet paper.

the music of a name

I learned something today that interests me. I learned from one of my new “friends” at the elderwomanspace that there is an Electric Light Orchestra song entitled “Dear Elaine.”
And when I went here and searched for other songs with Elaine in them (I never thought there were any), I found a couple of dozen.
I couldn’t listen to any of them unless I joined, but I wish I could have heard how this ABBA song sounds, because the lyrics certainly spoke loudly enough to me tonight:
You hate, you scream, you swear
And still you never reach him
You curse, you try to scare
But you can never teach him
It’s a dead end street
They tie your hands and tie your feet
And the street is narrow
A nowhere lane
A nowhere train for Elaine, Elaine, Elaine
Elaine, Elaine, Elaine
You know they’re gonna get you
You try to break away
But they will never let you
It’s a dead end street
They tie your hands and tie your feet
And the street is narrow
A nowhere lane
A nowhere train for Elaine, Elaine, Elaine
You’re like a goldfish in a bowl
Elaine, Elaine, Elaine
They have your mind, they’ll take your soul
You come, you stay, you go
It really doesn’t matter
You’ve done it all before
By now they’ll know the pattern
It’s a dead end street
They tie your hands and tie your feet
And the street is narrow
A nowhere lane
A nowhere train for Elaine, Elaine, Elaine
You’re like a goldfish in a bowl
Elaine, Elaine, Elaine
They have your mind, they’ll take your soul
Now that you’re gone, you know they’re gonna get you
Now that you’re gone, you know they’ll never let you
It’s a dead end street
They tie your hands and tie your feet
And the street is narrow
A nowhere lane
A nowhere train for Elaine, Elaine, Elaine
You’re like a goldfish in a bowl
Elaine, Elaine, Elaine
They have your mind, they’ll take your soul
Now that you’re gone, you know they’re gonna get you
Now that you’re gone, you know they’ll never let you

how many friends do I need?

As of last week, I have been blogging for six years. There weren’t that many of us when I started, and making friends with those few fellow bloggers was exciting. There was a stimulating feeling of camaraderie and an open sharing of who we really were. I made, perhaps, a dozen blogger friends, and I still feel connected to most of them.
Now there’s Facebook, which is the “social network” to which many of my original blogger friends belong, and so I can keep up with them all using that application as a portal. I play Scrabulous with some of them, and interact with them (virtually) more than I do with any of my friends in the real world. Of course, that’s the isolated nature of my life as a caregiver.
One of the bloggers I know has more than 300 Facebook “friends.” Umm. I can’t imagine even having that many casual acquaintances.
I guess I have no need for friends on paper (metaphorically, of course, in this virtual world). I like to actually interact with my friends, and I only have so much time and energy to do so.
So I try to keep my “social network” friends at a minimum
But now I’m in a new network , a network of “third-age women, ” one of “…women growing old with joy and zest, wit and wisdom.” And I am confronted with the challenge of how to participate in that network authentically. It’s a chance for some new virtual friends with whom I share, if nothing else, the experiences of age.
But how many friends do I need? And, more importantly, how many friends do I have the time and energy to get to know.
I haven’t figured that out yet.

don’t anybody try

don’t anybody try to tell
me what a noble
thing I’m doing all day
the mindless whine —
please please please
where can I go where can I go
hands grabbing, patting, folding
I dream of monkeys
I’m going, gone inside nothing
left in me but anger
and ashes
nothing left of flow
of fire
don’t tell me it’s not
her, it’s the disease
it’s her still
my very soul.


It was bizarre walking into the gerontologist’s office with my mother a week or so ago and coming face to face with a man (the doctor) who looked just like a former colleague. Same eyes, narrow and slanted. Same mouth, with fleshy pieces at the lips’ edges. Even the voice was the same — a cultured New York City kind of sound.
And then the next week, taking my mom to an orthopedic surgeon and confronting a doctor who was the spitting image of the actor, Tom Amandes. It was like meeting Dr. Abbott of Everwood in person.
Many years ago, a woman accosted me in JC Penney’s, insisting that I was “Helen Kaminski.” I kept telling her I wasn’t, until she finally walked away muttering, “Well, you look just like her.”
It makes me wonder if someday science will enable us to trace our genetic heritage far enough back in time so that we can discover the ancient tribe where those genes began to be shared. Surely that’s why some people have practically the same physical features. They must be products of the same original dominant gene pool.
They say we each have a twin. A “doppelganger.
I wonder what the odds are of any of us running into ours on the street.

mulling over Mailer

One of the reasons I enjoy my long rides north out of town is that I can get NPR on my radio, WAMC out of Albany. (The mountains block the reception at the homestead.) On the way back from my daughter’s after Thanksgiving, I had a chance to hear an interview with Norman Mailer when he was at Hunter College last January.
I was able to find this blog post, which not only displays a photo of Mailer from last May, but offers some of Mailer’s best lines from his Hunter College interview. Unfortunately, the post doesn’t include his comments about death.
Mailer died on November 11.
From what I remember about what I heard him say in the taped interview, Mailer hinted at believing that we all come back, that there is some kind of reincarnation that happens. He told this story (and I’m paraphrasing.)

I’d like to come back as a Black athlete, Mailer says.
Hmmm, the clerk says, looking through the papers stacked on his clipboard. I’m afraid that one’s terribly oversubscribed. And it appears that we do have your future all set, however. You’re going to return as a cockroach.
Gee, says Mailer, that’s not exactly what I was hoping for.
Well, says the clerk, if it makes you feel any better, you’ll be the biggest and fastest cockroach in the block.

And that’s what Mailer had to say about dying.
Whatever happens, happens.
If I’m thinking a lot about death these days, I’m sure you’ll understand.
A small herd of deer made it’s way across our property yesterday. Today, a herd of happy hunters, dressed in the season’s camouflage, gathered at the local apple orchard stand, loading up with cider donuts and hot apple cider.
I just missed hitting a possum that ran in front of my car this evening.
My mom sleeps, eats, goes to the bathroom, sleeps, eats……
At least the new meds seem to make her less depressed.
Whatever happens, happens.

poor guy

The following post is by MYRLN, a non-blogger who is Kalilily Time’s guest writer every Monday.
Dear G.W., Prez of US of A,
You must be feeling really bad about the way these veterans are acting towards you and your administration. Saying nasty things and all, after all you’ve done for them, too. Ungrateful don’t quite cover it, does it? Closer to being treasoners is maybe more like it, like that old pro, Chaney, says, no?
I mean, look at how you tried to help’em, making their lives better and all when most of them didn’t have a pot to pee in before and nothing that would let’em throw back their shoulders and be proud about what they were doing for once in their lives. Here you go and start 2 wars for them and get them signed up to go to Iraq and that other place (which I’m not writing the name of cuz the guys here in the bar — many of’em vets — bet you can’t spell the name of the other place and are gonna get Meet the Press or something to challenge you to spell it, so I don’t wanna make it seem like I give you the spelling or anything. You’ll show’em. Just remember there’s a “H” after the “G” just like in the word “right” like in your politics.).
Anyways, so you give them the chance to risk life and limb for the good old USA and to be seen as heroes (all the things you never had the good luck to do or be back in the ‘Nam days), and what’s their reaction? Well, ingrates they are, they bitch and moan that they ain’t getting enough care from the VA for their missing arms or legs or both or that PTSD, whatever that is, maybe some Islamo-fascist code. Instead of holding up their stumps proudly and saluting you with them, all they do is whine, “They ain’t helping us enough.”
And then there’s that bunch that got big sign-up bonuses, some as much as 25-30 grand. Then they go and get hurt or killed over there in the war and can’t serve no more after only 2-3 weeks in action. And they or their families have the nerve to bitch and moan when you ask’em to give back the bonuses cuz they didn’t complete the contractual agreement they made. It’s probably enough to make you puke up your breakfast in the nice warm White House dining room with Laura and your dog.
Maybe what you oughta do, Mr. Prez, is toss all them ungrateful whiners down into Guantanamo and let’em rot there as traitors to you and your country which has done nothing but give them 2 good wars to fight in, like I said. I mean, what more could anybody ask of you? That’s a helluva legacy you’ll leave behind when you say, “Mission accomplished,” for the last time in ’09.
In the meantime, you just hang in there, Mr. B., and keep your wars cooking so as to keep ALL of us safe from terror. Except them damned veterans, of course. Looks like nothing could satisfy them.
Sincerely yours,
Jonathan Swift-boot

the family that plays together….

It’s the day before Thanksgiving, and they sit on the floor of his sunny bedroom and build Lego towers. He’s got parents who play with him. I don’t remember my parents ever doing that with me.
He helps them set the Thanksgiving table for the nine people who will gather for the family dinner. He wants to add something of his own at each place setting. What a great idea, they tell him.
I don’t think I would have been allowed.
He’s a lucky kid.
Now, I’m sitting here blogging while my mother is sleeping. I dressed her, fed her, cut and filed her fingernails, and that was about all she could take.
Her nails are dry and brittle, and they crumble when I cut them. She sleeps a lot. Eats little. She’s always stroking something — my arm, her knee. She needs to touch. Keep in touch. She’s afraid. We all know what she’s afraid of.
This is not play. This is not fun.
I try to make her smile. I try.

maybe the real news

The following post is by MYRLN, a non-blogger who is Kalilily Time’s guest writer every Monday.
Dysfunction isn’t limited to our government. The news media — tv, radio, and print alike — share the ailment in spades. In large measure, it’s become a matter of news entities trying to match or exceed the popularity of supermarket tabloids with their sole goal of rampant sensationalism. Fiction passed off as news.
Radio and local t.v. news is practically non-existent, consisting mostly of one-sentence sound bites promising fuller, more amazing coverage later on sometime. In showmanlike segments they then give us longer bits of weather and sports info. All of it’s wrapped in extended numbers and lengths of commercials and self-promotion telling us how great they are at what they do. Meaning mostly nothing. About that, we can’t argue.
Major national t.v. news entities, both broadcast and cable, do a better job but not by a whole lot. Much of the time, they ride their particular hobby horses. MSNBC, for example, has become deeply enamored of crime stories and features of prison life. CNN moves between hopscotching the world for variety and a maddening, eternal focus on illegal immigration. CBS is hopelessly focused on Katie Couric. But at least the majors make serious noises about real news.
Still, there’s the attention by all the majors to stories and/or slants that border on the unbelievable. This past week, for example, nearly every news organization covered a story out of our drought-stricken southeastern states. Residents there gathered to offer prayers asking for rain, an event dutifully covered as real news. In the next day or two, rainy weather (some severe and damaging) did indeed arrive. Well, the news jumped all over it, relating it to the prayer sessions as if were indeed a matter of cause and effect (as those who prayed proclaimed). If it were truly cause and effect, then we’ve stumbled on the solution to humankind’s problems, all of them. Prez Dumbya can lead the nation in mass prayer sessions asking for peace in the world, for all the best for everyone — Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and every other religion. And within days, paradise would be achieved (except for atheists and agnostics for whom prayer to an Almighty likely wouldn’t work). And all of it would be covered by the news media with a straight face.
Then there’s some of the print news, like the New York Post which typifies what’s wrong with ALL of our news media. It has a daily gossip column called “Page Six” which except by occasional accident is never on page 6. And on Sundays, it’s a separately-printed, glossy page, full-scale magazine.
You see, for the news folks, reality is not so much what actually IS in the world but what they choose to CALL reality and hence news. The truth is left to fend for itself.
This is Walter Cronkite signing off. Truly. Honest.
Direct from The Horse’s Mouth news organization. (Or maybe the other end of the horse.)