“There was a star riding through clouds one night, and I said to the star, ‘Consume me.’” ~ Virginia Woolf, from The Waves

"Snowbound" (nd, aquatint)by Kenneth J. Reeve
“Snowbound” (nd, aquatint)
by Kenneth J. Reeve

                   

“This is why it hurts the way it hurts. You have too many words in your head. There are too many ways to describe the way you feel. You will never have the luxury of a dull ache. You must suffer through the intricacy of feeling too much” ~ Iain Thomas, from I Wrote This For You

Tuesday, early evening. Drizzle and warm, low 60’s.

George Jo Mess Covered Bridge
“Covered Bridge” (nd, aquatint)
by George Jo Mess

Well, in the last three days I have gotten the tree up and trimmed, the house decorated, and the Christmas cards addressed. Just waiting for a check so that I can buy Christmas stamps and pop them in the mail. I’ve also gotten almost caught up on editing a bunch of pictures that I hadn’t tended to, and now I need to take a disc to Costco to have prints made. The only pictures that I haven’t edited are the ones from Lex’s shower, so I suppose that I really shouldn’t be saying anything about her inability to get her thank you cards out to everyone.

The other thing that I finally took care of was to update the flash drive for Corey’s parents’ digital frame that we got them a few years ago. They hadn’t gotten any updated pictures in a while, so between the two of us, we tried to add more recent pix than the ones of Eamonn with his high school prom date.

Okay. So our entire family runs perpetually behind schedule.

“My nature
is a quagmire of unresolved
confessions.” ~ Robert Creeley, from “The Door

"December Day" (nd, aquatint)by Kenneth J. Reeve
“December Day” (nd, aquatint)
by Kenneth J. Reeve

This afternoon I had my long-awaited appointment with the new pain management group. I am reserving my assessment of them until after my next two appointments. Today’s was with a pain management specialist. Next one is with the neurologist in the group, and then after that with the anesthesiologist to talk about injectable treatment options. All I can say for sure is that this particular practice must have a bunch of drug addicts as patients because I had to sign a medication contract stating that I would take my medicine as directed and that I would not sell it (!), and I had to do a drug test and agree to submit to random drug tests at any point in the future . . . Really? Wow.

I commented to the intake nurse that they must have a lot of drug abusers, and she said that I had no idea. It’s kind of weird, and it puts me off the practice a bit, but I’ll withhold final judgment for now. I also had to complete reams of paper work, and they gave me a copy of everything even though I didn’t really want copies of anything. Lots of dead trees today.

I know that I’m used to my old pain management doctor, but we were at an impasse with my treatment, so not it’s time to explore other options, whatever those might be.

“How deep they drove themselves into me, the things it was impossible to say aloud.” ~ Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals Of Sylvia Plath

I thought that I’d do a post today instead of my usual Two for Tuesday, and then tomorrow I’ll start to wrap presents and get the house clean.

George Jo Mess Snow Drifts ca 1940
“Snow Drifts” (ca 1940, aquatint)
by George Jo Mess

I’ve been doing this odd thing the past week or so: I fall asleep around 10:45, but I wake up again around 11:30 and can’t get back to sleep for a few hours. Not sure what that’s about.Last night I woke up, and I was wide awake, so I watched some recorded episodes of “NCIS” until 3 and then tried to get back to sleep, but the dogs had me up again at 4.

Alfie (other Jack Russell) is also doing weird things. He has gone into the dining room three times and peed in the same spot. As far as we know, Alfie hasn’t been messing in the house for years. Shakes would do his revenge pees, but not so much for Alfie. I have a feeling that he’s going downhill as far as his health, and I feel so sad that he has always been the one to receive the least attention, mostly because of his psycho streak, which made it kind of hard to get close to him. But in the past few days he’s had the saddest look on his face, and it’s breaking my heart.

“Footfalls echo in the memory
down the passage we did not take
towards the door we never opened
into the rose garden. My words echo
thus, in your mind” ~ T.S. Eliot, from “Four Quartets”

I got a telephone call from my friend Rebecca this morning. She’s Facebook friends with Corey, who still maintains his FB page, and she saw the pictures from our cruise that Corey posted. She wanted to let me know that she thought I looked good in the pictures. That actually a very nice way to start the day. She moved to Midlothian (a few hours west) this past summer with her long time beau and her eight-year-old son.

Kenneth Reeve Hoosier Homestead ND
“Hoosier Homestead” (nd, aquating)
by Kenneth J. Reeve

Rebecca is a wedding photographer and has quite a successful business. She used to work with me at the realty firm where I was marketing director. She’s done really well for herself in starting her own business and growing it more with each year, unlike some of us who just talk about doing things but never get around to doing them . . .

What’s ironic is that when I was doing the cards yesterday, I wrote a few letters to include with some cards to special people, and one of those was to her. We always seem to think of each other around the same time.

“There are days that walk through me and I cannot hold them.” ~ Katherine Larson

This morning as I was coming into consciousness, I had a poem. I had the title and the first part. I did not write it down, and now, now I cannot remember even one word.

My dreams last night included some kind of interaction with the FBI criminal profilers on “Criminal Minds,” but that’s about all that I can remember, and all of this makes me wonder if my memory has always been this bad. I don’t think that it has. I know that when I took the Topomax for my migraines that it seriously affected my cognitive abilities in a negative way, but I wonder if it did permanent damage to my memory. I just don’t seem to be able to remember anything from one day to the next. Corey, on the other hand, remembers everything (of course, he does).

Oh well . . .

A few things that I’m looking forward to in the next few weeks:

  • Peter Jackson’s first part of The Hobbit is in theaters. Can you tell from reading this that I have a really insipid smile on my face just from thinking about this?
  • The new film version of Les Miserables opens on Christmas day. The cast is stellar. Can’t wait for this one either.

    "Winter Moonlight" (nd, aquatint)by George Jo Mess
    “Winter Moonlight” (nd, aquatint)
    by George Jo Mess
  • The “Dr. Who” Christmas special airs on Christmas day. Really looking forward to this one as well (does it reflect badly on me that these first three are movies and a television show?)
  • On December 22, I’m going to run outside and say, “The Doctor saved us from annihilation,” which is only funny if you’re a Whovian and/or if you think that the Mayans just didn’t finish their calendar.

A few things that I’m not looking forward to in the next few weeks:

  • Christmas morning without Shakes to sit in the middle of the presents and beg for treats from his stocking.
  • The entire Christmas without Olivia, even though I know that this year she really isn’t going to understand anything that’s going on.
  • My mother telling me that what I got her is nice and then asking where I got it so that she can take it back.
  • There’s something else, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what it is . . .

More later. Peace.

Music by The National, “You Were a Kindness”

                   

Late Search

All day on the radio flat static
filled the car as I took
the river road, deep
into Vermont. I knew you only
by the glint on the water, reflected
off some deeper, moving thing like clean
white bones, or fish.
Vermont, Late fall, the sun
backing off a bit each—it seemed a good
place to find you, heading north
into the dark.

I found an inn
by the river and lay all night, the wheels
still in my head and the river
and the river road stretching on like
your breath into my body but still

I could not dream you.
I saw only the vacant waves opening
and slamming shut, slamming shut some
floating door. And then from nowhere
your palm, cool
on my forehead, closing softly
like the last word.
Then I didn’t know
which side we were on—the water calm,
too close to set or else too far—
as if you’d wakened me
from my dream, into yours.

~ Robin Behn from Paper Bird: Poems

 

Advertisements

“I walk without flinching through the burning cathedral of the summer. My bank of wild grass is majestic and full of music. It is a fire that solitude presses against my lips.” ~ Violette Leduc, Mad in Pursuit

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

                   

“To express the thought of a brow by the radiance of a light tone against a somber background; to express hope by some star, the eagerness of a soul by a sunset radiance.” ~ Vincent van Gogh, from a letter to his brother, Theo, September 1888

Friday afternoon. Sunny and warm, low humidity.

Sunrise over Salar de Uyuni

Massive migraine yesterday, so no writing. Just a dull throb today, so better.

Yesterday was a frustrating day (actually, the whole week has been that way), one of those days in which too many telephone calls had to be made, and no forward motion was made. I’m trying to ascertain whether or not my health insurance will cover Botox injections for my migraines (not for my face). I keep getting told different things with each phone call. I finally spoke with someone in my neurologist’s office who actually was familiar with how my particular insurance covers the shots, and she is going to have the nursing supervisor call me next week (when she returns from vacation) so that I can put everything in place.

I first read about Botox for migraines about five or six years ago, but at that time, it was still considered experimental. Slowly, more and more insurance companies are paying for the shots for people like me who suffer from frequent migraines and for whom normal treatment is ineffective. I’m really hoping this pans out so that I can get these shots. I’m kind of at the end of my rope as far as the migraines go; I mean, I’ve given up caffeine almost entirely, and I avoid triggers, but I still get these damned things at least two or three times a week.

I would like to preserve the few brain cells that I have left. Really don’t think that’s too much to ask . . .

When Corey got home from work yesterday, we spent a few hours in the pool just floating and talking. It was quite relaxing except, of course, for the times when Tillie would jump into the water to get her ball. She’s such a needy little bugger. Even now as I type, she’s sitting in the door whining because I’m ignoring her. It’s like having a toddler.

“The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.” ~Henry David Thoreau, Walden

The World’s Largest Mirror: Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Corey and I are both making an effort to get to sleep earlier, so that we can wake up earlier, as in no more 4 a.m. sleep times. Although I am sleeping better, I still wake up at least two to three times, which means the longest stretch of uninterrupted sleep that I get is about four hours. Still that’s better than the two hours I was averaging before. The dogs are still the primary reason that I wake up.

For example, last night, just as I was drifting off, I heard the unmistakable sound of Tillie retching; it sounds very much like a cat with a hairball. She’s been eating grass, so of course, it has to come up. Why do dogs eat grass? They aren’t cows. I just don’t understand how they can eat something that their bodies cannot digest, and then their bodies expel the grass only for them to go back to grazing the next day. Why? Why? Why?

I read a little tidbit from the Telegraph that describes an elk that was ignoring its drinking water. The elk was seen putting its hooves into the water and acting strangely. Then the elk stuck its head into the water and came out with a squirrel in its mouth. The elk put the squirrel down, nudged it to make sure it was alive, and then watched the squirrel scamper off. How cool is that?

How sad is it that the supposedly wild beasts have more humanity than some people? Don’t get me started.

“Now the day is over, the shadows are long on the grass. The new trees hold the light—and wisps of white cloud move dreamily over the dreaming mountains.” ~ Katherine Mansfield, from a letter to John Middleton Murry (May 21, 1921)

Salar de Uyuni at Sunrise

I am finding that I have become quite fond of Katherine Mansfield’s writings, especially her letters. They remind me of Virginia Woolf’s correspondence. Both women wrote such thought-filled missives. I find both women’s prose styles to be quite poetic and vivid.

One of my readers has offered to write me a real letter. I am so excited. Of course, with the drama that has been taking forefront in our household lately, I have yet to send her my address. I am such a poor correspondent even before I get started.

I never had a pen pal as a child, although I know that several of my friends did. I imagine that the notion of a pen pal is quite outdated in today’s virtual world. I mean, first, no one writes with a pen any more, and second, corresponding with someone across the world is no longer something that takes time or effort, really. There is e-mail, instant messaging, tweeting, and Facebook, among other things. If you want someone to know what you are doing or what projects you may be involved in, you can tell them in 144 characters or less. How prosaic can one be in 144 characters?

I gave up Twitter ages ago. Who really needs to know that I’m buying groceries? That’s not to say that Twitter is not a good medium. For example, writer Neil Gaiman uses his Twitter to talk about his writing, his projects, and to promote reading. That’s the kind of information for which Twitter was made. I see no reason to update people every time I leave the house. I mean, who cares really?

I’m reminded of an episode of “Criminal Minds” in which Agent Rossi makes fun of Twitter: “Eating sushi. Yum.” And then he says something like “who are these people that they think their every movement is so important?” The killer in that particular episode was using social networking to stalk his victims. Virtual stalking . . . yep, I can relate.

“A nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and uncharted places.” ~ Isabelle Eberhardt

Salar de Uyuni (can be downloaded as wallpaper)

The pictures in today’s post feature one of the places on my list of places to see before I die: Salar de Uyuni (or Salar de Tunupa).

Salt Mounds on the Salar de Uyuni

This place, which at times can appear to be the world’s largest natural mirror, is actually the world’s largest salt flat. Located in Bolivia near the Andes, the Salar (Spanish for salt flat) is covered by a flat salt crust atop a brine lake. This brine lake, rich in natural minerals, contains 50 to 70 percent of the world’s lithium reserves. The Uyuni salt flats contain over 10 billion tons of salt, 25,000 tons of which are harvested annually.

The Salar is a major transport route, even during the rainy season when it is covered by a thin sheet of water, which produces the mirror effect. Because it is a prime location for photographers, the Salar attracts tourists from around the world. Many Bolivian tourist sites use the phrases “where the earth meets the sky” or “the border between heaven and earth” in their promotional hype.

I found out about Salar de Uyuni completely by accident when I saw a photograph. The image was mesmerizing, and I looked closely to make sure that it wasn’t photoshopped. Imagine my surprise when I found out that it was a real place and that people can actually go there.

I have lots of places on my list for lots of different reasons: the castles in Scotland, the reefs in Australia, the ruins of old churches in Ireland, the Maldives while they still exist.

One day . . .

Salar de Uyuni: Walking on the Boarder between Heaven and Earth*

More later. Peace

Music by Shawn Colvin, “Never Saw Blue Like That”

*Access used to be limited to hot air balloon, but this is no longer the case. Access is usually via 4×4 vehicles.

                   

City of Lavender

I had everything I ever wanted to say to you organized in my head
but forgot it all when you took my palm in your hand and with
your index finger wrote “disaster.” If you were to ask me how I
ended up here, I don’t even know. Every night at 8:25 I can’t
believe it’s already 8:25 and I’m so happy it’s only 8:25. Sometimes
I find tragedy reassuring. Sometimes the cat licks my neck. I don’t
want to think about where I’ve been or where I’m going anymore.
Sometimes I just want to cry. Sometimes I just want to sit in a
quiet space. It’s within me to rip my own head off. Let me tell you
about the city. It’s a city of lavender. I can’t remember its name.
There aren’t enough bank holidays. Someday you’ll read this and
understand what type of person I am.

~ Jason Bredle

“I must learn to love the fool in me the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries” ~ Theodore Isaac Rubin

*Snow Bath by Corey Fickel

“All my life I have been on the brink of either a break down or a break through.” ~ Diane Ackerman

Saint Francis in the Snow

Our Internet has really been acting funky, which has made it hard to post. We have a wireless network in the house, and given that our house is not very big, there really shouldn’t be problems, but of course there are. My computer is farthest from the router, but that hasn’t seemed to make much of a difference until recently. The other computers in the house have Internet service, but I do not. It’s very frustrating, but we don’t really know why this is happening unless the router is going bad, which may be the case. I suspect the router because replacing it would cost money, and that’s how things work in this house. If it’s a simple, cheap fix, it doesn’t break; if it’s expensive, then it will break. 

Anyway, yesterday, I wasn’t even able to look at videos on YouTube, without my computer locking up, so I decided to abandon any hopes of posting. Today, things seems to be working fine, so I’ll take my chances. 

I think that I’ve decided to abandon Facebook. I don’t have much to report in the status bar, and my life isn’t so involved that I feel a need to update everyone on what isn’t happening. I think that Facebook can be fun for the people who participate in the games and polls, which I don’t. And it has been nice making contact with some people from my past, but after that initial contact, is there anything more to say? 

I think back to my old post on becoming a hermit, which I wrote sort of tongue in cheek, but I really think that a part of me is very much like a hermit: I don’t crave the company of lots of people, and the more time that I spend here in this little corner of my bedroom, the less I feel that I am connected to the outside world. I’m not bemoaning my fate, just making a statement. 

“I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unnerving ease. It begins in your mind, always . . .  ~ Yann Martel, Life of Pi

"I love this stuff . . ."

The port security company called Corey to schedule an interview, which is great. But now he is anxious, worrying about impressing them. I told him that it’s normal to be anxious given that he hasn’t really interviewed for a job in a long time, but he is convinced that he is not qualified. He finished his port security training with the Coast Guard but did not graduate because of his injury; therefore, he doesn’t have any certifications. I told him that he just needs to explain what happened, but he is tying himself up in knots over this. 

He does have the qualifications for this type of job. I just hope that he can make it through the interview. If he can do well in the interview, he has a good shot at the job. 

Being unemployed for so long has insidious effects, which are now coming to the front. Unemployment strips your confidence, makes you feel inadequate, and the longer the unemployment continues, the more you begin to believe that you are a failure, not worthy of consideration. Having had my own bout with unemployment, I truly understand what Corey is feeling, and unfortunately, all of the loving supportive words in the world cannot erase that overwhelming feeling of insecurity. 

Here’s hoping . . . 

“You can never have too much sky. You can fall asleep and wake up drunk on sky, and sky can keep you safe when you are sad. Here there is too much sadness and not enough sky. Butterflies too are few and so are flowers and most things that are beautiful. Still, we take what we can get and make the best of it.” ~ Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street

Snow Buddha

I’m back to not sleeping. I have no idea what’s going on, and I’m at the point at which I don’t even try to ascertain reasons. Last night, for example, I fell asleep somewhere between 5:30 and 6 a.m. I got up at 7, 9:20, and 11 to let the dogs out. I don’t really think that they need to go out, but they get restless. I finally fell into a deep sleep after 11. 

This is so backwards. I did have a migraine for three days, so that probably contributed to things. Funnily enough, a representative from my long-term disability insurance called for an update a few days ago. I told her that absolutely nothing had changed. Still seeing the same doctors, still taking the same medicines . . . she asked about my days, as in what did I do. What could I tell her? I sit at the computer for a few hours, read, watch television. She wanted to know if I do any cleaning. I told her that I do some things but not others. 

Those periodic conversations really bring into focus how much my life has changed in the past two years, how I have gone from working a full day and then going to classes in Alexandria, how I have gone from cleaning my whole house to cleaning parts of my house, how I have gone from sleeping 6 hours to sleeping 10 hours. It is more depressing than I can begin to describe. 

I spend hours with ice packs on my head. I spend hours on the heating pad. I take my pills, and I look forward to small things: new episodes of NCIS, a good book, a movie, my favorite coffee. So while I have lost so much, I have also relearned the art of appreciating small things. I don’t exactly see it as a fair trade-off, but it is what it is for however long it stays this way. 

“And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. when you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” ~ Haruki Murakami

In the news: Ben Stein, commentator for CNN (why should anyone listen to the former Nixon speechwriter?) says that he knows why Republicans are not in favor of healthcare reform: “. . . The answer is much higher percentage of Republicans are taxpayers than Democrats and the Republicans are the people paying for it, and the Democrats are the people receiving it.” 

Surface of Frozen Pool (or Ben Stein's Brain)

Let me just pause here for a moment while I collect my breath . . . First, and probably most importantly, the IRS does not have a spot anywhere on its myriad of forms that asks taxpayers to indicate their political affiliation, if any, so how, pray tell, did Stein come up with that factoid? Second, and this is personal, we pay a boatload of taxes, always have. A January 2009 report by Forbes magazine stated the following: 

“The 400 highest-earning taxpayers in the U.S. reported a record $105 billion in total adjusted gross income in 2006, but they paid just $18 billion in tax, new Internal Revenue Service figures show. That works out to an average federal income tax bite of 17%—the lowest rate paid by the richest 400 during the 15-year period covered by the IRS statistics. The average federal tax bite on the top 400 was 30% in 1995 and 23% in 2002.” 

This report says nothing about political parties, just income levels. In my many years of paying taxes, I have never had a 17 percent rate. Never. Stick it Ben Stein, you blowhard. (Thank you Skyewriter for the heads up.) 

In other news, former Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis only received $32,171 in compensation for 2009. Poor Lewis. Oh wait. I forgot to mention: Lewis also received $73 million in accumulated compensation and retirement benefits, which brings his net to $73,032,171, approximately . . . 

Fannie Mae wants another $15.3 Billion, yes with a B, in aid. Okeedokee.  Let’s take these things and compare them to the fact that unemployment benefits for millions of people expire this weekend, but lone Republican Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky is holding a temporary extension hostage over concerns about the deficit.  On Thursday, the House passed a bill temporarily extending the programs for a month until lawmakers can address the issues long-term. The Senate tried to follow suit, but the lone Republican Senator held out. 

Don’t get me wrong, I, too, have issues with the deficit. Perhaps we can ask Ken Lewis for a contribution, say $73 million or so? 

Enough financial news. It makes my eyes water and creates a sharp pain behind my right eye. 

More later. Peace. 

Music by Imogen Heap, “The Moment I Said It” (heard it on “Criminal Minds,” which has a soundtrack almost as awesome as “NCIS.”) 

 

  

*Corey took all of the pictures featured the day after the snow storm we had here a few weeks ago.