Say what you will about him, but I’ve missed this man.
“We all have an old knot in the heart we wish to loosen and untie.” ~ Michael Ondaatje, from The Cat’s Table
Saturday afternoon. Rainy and cold, 41 degrees.
Well, I survived my birthday. Brett and Em and I went thrifting, and we found some great buys. Our favorite thrift store is Good Mojo’s; their prices are really great, and they have happy hours. I can always find something good in their book section, and I actually found a few volumes of poetry. The best part is that you can buy a bag of books for five bucks—as many as you can fit in the bag. So in addition to the poetry, I got some plant books for Brett, a pictorial book on New Zealand, a book for Olivia, and some others. Talk about cheap thrills.
Anyway, it was enough to keep my mind off the fact that it was my birthday, and I was alone, and all of that.
I did have a nice surprise on my birthday, though. Leah in NC sent me a care package with some delicious chocolate and a book I’ve had on my to read list, so that was just lovely. I immediately tore into one of the chocolate bars. Delish.
“Some events take a lifetime to reveal their damage and influence.” ~ Michael Ondaatje, from The Cat’s Table
Corey will be home a week early, which is nice but not good. His company is continuing furloughs, and we aren’t really sure if this early week means he won’t be going back in three weeks. First they took him off his regular boat, and then they put him on another boat, and then they said he would be on this new boat until the 4th or the 11th, and then they sent everyone on this new boat home, supposedly to reboot their cycle from 28/14 to 21/21.
It’s all very disconcerting, and neither of us can handle even the idea that he might be out of work again. It’s just too much to fathom. I mean, he had just over a year with this new job, good company, good salary and benefits, and then all of a sudden, everything changes. It’s not just his company; the number three company in the industry may be selling.
It’s the suddenness of everything. We had plans, big plans for this year, and now? Who the hell knows. Even the trip to Ohio is up in the air. I’m trying to keep my worrying to myself for the time being. Corey is so very, very stressed that I can’t see adding to that in any way. I guess it’s a matter of waiting and hoping.
“I’ve met many who remain haunted by the persistent ghost of an earlier place.” ~ Michael Ondaatje, from The Cat’s Table
So I’ve been spending a lot of time recently getting the house back in order. We finally have what was the junk room cleaned out. Before he left Corey set up the single bed for Olivia, and I had ordered one of those safety rails. I remember the one that my mother had for Alexis—it was so flimsy in comparison to the newer ones, which go under the mattress the full width of the box spring. There is no way that Olivia can fall out. So far she seems to be liking her transition from the portable crib to the bed, and she’s very happy to have a room that is her own.
Now I need to get the room that was Brett’s cleaned out and set up as a guest room. I have requested that the kids come over and go through the stuff that they’ve left here. Who knows when or if that will happen, but if not, I’ll start cleaning things out myself, and woe to anyone who complains.
I have drawers and shelves full of stuff that is theirs, and they have plenty of storage in my mom’s house, so I plan to do a serious decluttering, which will make Corey very happy.
“Yet where had it come from? And was it a pleasure or a sadness, this life inside me? It was as if with its existence I was lacking something essential, like water.” ~ Michael Ondaatje, from The Cat’s Table
Yesterday I bought some silk tulips for my parents’ graves. I remembered that when my Dad was doing his European run, he brought home a bunch of tulip bulbs from Holland. Both of my parents loved tulips. The plan is for me to make two arrangements before next Saturday, which is the one-year anniversary of my mother’s death.
Don’t think that I’m not aware that this looming anniversary is also wreaking havoc on my state of mind. Couple that with my birthday, and it’s no wonder that I am feeling very, very unsettled. And too, I am going on day three of this particular migraine.
The irony is that just a few days ago I was actually thinking to myself that it was so nice how my migraines weren’t quite as intense as they used to be. I told myself that my new drug regimen must be having some kind of effect as the migraines weren’t as painful and weren’t lasting as long . . . well, this one put the lie to that theory. A couple of days ago I started to feel tight, and then yesterday early I awoke with a really bad one. I took some medicine and woke up a few hours later with just as much pain.
Today, the pain is radiating down my nose—not the inside of my nose, not my sinuses, but a line straight down my nose. Very, very strange.
“Writing this, I do not want it to end until I can understand it better, in a way that would calm me even now, all these years later.” ~ Michael Ondaatje, from The Cat’s Table
Anyway, I’m trying to stay busy, trying not to think too much—that whole concept of busy work. It reminds me of the whole Victorian attitude towards women being idle, how they were supposed to spend hours on their needlework, a truly feminine pastime. Women who concentrated on plying their needles would not spend time foolishly gallivanting (my mother’s word) about:
Sewing was, in many ways, the ultimate sign of femininity. It was sedentary and passive, and it was traditionally done by women only for the care and maintenance of the family and home. In the literature of the period the needle itself often stood for women’s “natural” place in the home, and carried powerful associations of domestic bliss and maternal devotion. ~ Beth Harris, from “Slaves of the Needle”
Can you imagine spending hour after hour on needlepoint? Not denigrating needlepoint, just denigrating it as one of the only acceptable pastimes for a woman. I mean, consider the whole idea of hysteria (look up the etymology of the word—only a female can truly be hysterical) and how women who thought too much could harm themselves, even move their internal organs out of whack. French physician Pierre Briquet claimed that a quarter of all women suffered from hysteria.
Really? One quarter? I won’t even get into that era’s treatment of female conditions as that is a topic worthy of its own post (hint: The Victorians loved their vibrators, but hated sex. Click here for an article on the history).
Rambling . . . Where was I? Oh yes, busy work . . . But I digress . . .
More later. Peace.
Music by One Two, “Bitter and Sick”
Dream Song 14
Wednesday night. Colder, 47 degrees.
I have been rather out of it since my last post. Corey left Tuesday afternoon, and I’ve had Olivia three days in a row, and while I love this, it taxes me more than I care to admit. Also, yesterday I felt terrible, which made keeping up with her harder than usual. Anyway . . .
Can’t remember if I posted this before, but Leah in NC sent it to me as she knows what a word snob and purist I can be . . . Agree with her, though, that the last line is completely stupid.
The poem, which was written around 1920 (shorter version) by Dutch writer and traveler Gerard Nolst Trenité (aka Charivarius), is meant to demonstrate the extreme irregularity of the English language. This classic English poem contains about 800 of the worst irregularities in English spelling and pronunciation. Supposedly if you can pronounce the entire poem, you are more erudite than 90 percent of the population.
Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation — think of Psyche!
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough –
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!
Thursday evening. Clear and cool, 55 degrees.
I took Olivia home late this afternoon and then went to the movies with Eamonn. He has really wanted to see Fury, so I said that I would go with him. Got home just a bit ago, and boy, am I tired.
Catching up on the backlog on the DVR. Jon Stewart has been in Austin, Texas all week, and it’s been exactly as you would have imagined it. Here, have some “Daily Show” sarcasm:
From “The Daily Show” (October 29, 2014):
Al Madrigal covers the immigrant problem in Texas
See the full clip below:
Wednesday night, late. Chilly, 57 degrees.
So Corey left yesterday afternoon, which meant that I did not sleep well last night, which was unfortunate as I had Olivia today. Lex is working part time at a local pizza parlor, so there was no way that I could call her and tell her that I just wasn’t up to watching the bébé. So I muddled through, took a nap when she took hers, until Lex got off work and picked her up.
This evening I watched a few shows in between dozing, so I knew that I would never be able to get to writing a real post . . . so here’s something you may find entertaining:
I used to read Dear Prudence all of the time, mostly because she’s my kind of advice columnist: snarky when appropriate. So when I saw the description of this one in my inbox, I just had to read the whole thing. So glad that I did.
By Emily Yoffe
I live in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country, but on one of the more “modest” streets—mostly doctors and lawyers and family business owners. (A few blocks away are billionaires, families with famous last names, media moguls, etc.) I have noticed that on Halloween, what seems like 75 percent of the trick-or-treaters are clearly not from this neighborhood. Kids arrive in overflowing cars from less fortunate areas. I feel this is inappropriate. Halloween isn’t a social service or a charity in which I have to buy candy for less fortunate children. Obviously this makes me feel like a terrible person, because what’s the big deal about making less fortunate kids happy on a holiday? But it just bugs me, because we already pay more than enough taxes toward actual social services. Should Halloween be a neighborhood activity, or is it legitimately a free-for-all in which people hunt down the best candy grounds for their kids?
—Halloween for the 99 Percent
In the urban neighborhood where I used to live, families who were not from the immediate area would come in fairly large groups to trick-or-treat on our streets, which were safe, well-lit, and full of people overstocked with candy. It was delightful to see the little mermaids, spider-men, ghosts, and the occasional axe murderer excitedly run up and down our front steps, having the time of their lives. So we’d spend an extra $20 to make sure we had enough candy for kids who weren’t as fortunate as ours. There you are, 99, on the impoverished side of Greenwich or Beverly Hills, with the other struggling lawyers, doctors, and business owners. Your whine makes me kind of wish that people from the actual poor side of town come this year not with scary costumes but with real pitchforks. Stop being callous and miserly and go to Costco, you cheapskate, and get enough candy to fill the bags of the kids who come one day a year to marvel at how the 1 percent live.
80 Percent of Female Restaurant Workers Say They’ve Been Harassed by Customers ~ Headline on sexual harassment article
Wednesday, late afternoon. Sunny and 81 degrees.
I came across this article in The Telegraph the other day and have been holding it, trying to decide how to approach it. I’ve finally decided that the best approach is the direct one: I’m posting the first half of the article with a link to the complete copy instead of just summarizing it.
Look, just from recent conversations with Corey it has been hammered home to me that the whole idea of sexual politics, sexual assault, sexual harassment will always be viewed differently by the sexes. Men can relate, but they cannot understand, not as a woman. And women can understand how precarious it is for men to be out there, walking on proverbial eggshells, but we may not sympathize.
While some men (most?) see catcalls as being flattering, most women (some?) find them anything but. Just because I put on something nice and I’m walking down this sidewalk, it doesn’t mean that I want complete strangers to hoot at me and tell me how they want to bend my body in weird ways. I didn’t get dressed with your approval in mind, and your admonition that I would look so much better if I smiled doesn’t matter one iota to me, and frankly, did I tell you that your polyester striped tie with the egg stain would look so much better in the trash?
Since I was a teenager I have walked to my car with my keys in my hand, parked beneath street lights whenever possible, etc. I know not to park between two vans or in a blind spot. Ask a male if he ever thinks about holding his keys as weapons in his hand. Ask a man if he ever wonders if someone is going to jump out from a dense hedge and attack him. Ask a man if his father ever gave him pepper spray as a gift.
Conversely, what happens to the guy who is just doing his job, who has a female co-worker come on to him, and that same guy refuses her. What is his recourse when she reports him for harassment? Will the supervisor believe the man or the woman?
It’s all far too complex to whittle it down to a few pat phrases or to tackle in just one post. I could dedicate a blog to this topic, and there are countless ones out there already (take a look at just this one page of the Huffington Post on sexual harassment). I mean, just consider a few key news items from the past few months involving the NFL, American Apparel, the military, Congress, Tinder, Yahoo, and on and on and on . . .
I just know that I can never sleep with my doors unlocked or my windows open, at least not here, and maybe not anywhere. I’ve witnessed it. I’ve known women who have been victims of it, and I’ve been a victim, too—a victim of the groping and the hooting, the unwanted touches and the leers.
We tell our daughters just to ignore it, to be safe, to be aware. But what do we tell our sons?
Woman vows to confront ‘cowards’ after being punched for challenging groper ~ The Telegraph (27 August 2014)
Mary Brandon was left with horrific facial injuries after a man punched her in the face because she told him to stop groping her
By Claire Carter
A woman who needed hospital treatment because a man punched her in the face after she told him to stop groping her has vowed not to let threats of violence stop her challenging sexual assaults.
Mary Brandon was dancing with friends when her bottom was groped by the man at Notting Hill Carnival in west London during the Bank Holiday weekend.
But when she told the man to stop and not repeat what he was doing, he punched her in the face with such force she had to be taken to hospital and was left with a swollen face and painful bruising.
The 22-year-old has shared images of her injuries on Facebook and claimed she would be punched again rather than let the “coward” get away with it. The image has been shared thousands of times.
Ms Brandon has thanked the NHS nurses and carnival officials who helped her on Monday after the attack.
She has also posted a message criticising her attacker and his sexist violence next to the photo. She described him groping her and said when she asked him to stop, he did the same again.
“I pushed him away, exercising my right to tell man to stop touching my body without permission, so he took a swing at me and punched me in the face,” she wrote.
The graphic image showed her right eye bloodied and bulging, with bruising across her face, which needed treatment at the carnival and in hospital.
She added: “Carnival is supposed to be about community and good vibes.
“I wanted to have a good time but instead I spent nine hours in A&E because of this coward.
“A woman should be able to leave the house without fear of being sexually assaulted.
“And she should be able to defend herself without being put in hospital.
“The saddest this about this for me was discussing with my friends afterward whether in future it would be best not to do anything at all.
“Maybe it would be safer to just ignore it when someone invades your space and body.”
Police said there were a number of assaults and sexual assaults reported to have taken place at the carnival.
Ms Brandon added: “I can honestly say I will always stand up to someone who thinks they can get away with this behaviour and I would take a punch again from this loser or any other loser who thinks it is ok to treat women like this.”
Read the rest of the article here.
“Wednesday” by Olivia Cole
Note: I began writing this post on Monday. Then in the middle of it, I learned that Robin Williams had killed himself, and then nothing made sense any more…….
“Perhaps—I want the old days back again and they’ll never come back, and I am haunted by the memory of them and of the world falling about my ears.” ~ Margaret Mitchell, from Gone With the Wind
Monday afternoon. Cloudy and probably rain, 84 degrees.
Last night’s super moon was spectacular. I’m so glad that the clouds didn’t overshadow it. When I got up to let the dogs out, the entire backyard was awash in moonlight. So incredibly perfect.
The other day, I saw something I’ve never seen before: a buzzard was hanging out in someone’s front yard, munching on something . . . well, dead. Brett and I drove by, and he said, “Hey, that’s a buzzard!”
Of course I had missed it, so I drove around the block and then slowed as we neared the yard in which Brett had seen the bird. I saw it, and it was huge. Unfortunately, it heard the car and took flight. My, those wings, so massive. It was really something to see; we couldn’t have been more than twelve feet from it. I mean, I’ve seen them in the air, but never this close, and this still.
The other cool thing that happened is that Brett and I went thrifting, and I found a set of glass fish snack plates. I only have one fish plate left, and I’ve never had the snack size (about 5 inches wide), so I grabbed them. A while back I had looked on E-bay, and a set of two of the large fish plates was going for $30. Too pricey. I got eight of the small ones for $20. Such a deal.
Of course, to balance the two good things are two horrendous dreams: In both dreams, I see fire burst through a wall, and I immediately wake up—same image for both dreams, same reaction for both dreams. It has me more than a little paranoid, checking cords and connections, making sure nothing is frayed or a hazard. This particular scenario really has me unnerved.
“Later I’ll sweep away the nest—empty,
again, of everything but a blind
belief in the possible.” ~ Peter Everwine, from “Another Spring”
In spite of the fire dreams, I’m feeling pretty good, and I suppose I have good reason: Social Security has finally, finally approved my disability claim. As a brief refresher, I was first forced out on disability in October 2007. I’ve been fighting with social security ever since.
I know that I am fortunate that I was covered for long-term disability through George Washington’s policy, but the endless fight with Social Security has taken a toll on me. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve filled out the same forms, answered the same questions, had the same interviews. So even though they wanted to date it retroactive to November 15, 2012, I decided to accept.
When I asked the lawyer why that particular date, she said that they noticed from my therapy notes that I had taken a real downturn at that time . . .
No kidding. Really? How incredibly astute of them, she said, with more than a trace of bitter sarcasm . . .
What this means is that I don’t quality for Medicare until May of next year (for some reason, dates, times, confusing). And the backdated benefits that I’ll receive all have to be paid to my long-term disability carrier anyway (it’s part of the agreement), so the date doesn’t affect me that much. The irony is that the effective date would have meant so much a few years back when Corey was unemployed, and we were struggling, really struggling to keep my health insurance and a roof over our heads.
Oh well. Whatever.