“Todo começo é involuntário.” (All beginnings are involuntary) ~ Fernando Pessao

  

December Snow, Anchorage, Alaska by Janson Jones  

“I’m astounded whenever I finish something. Astounded and distressed.” ~ Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet 

Cold and rainy here today. No snow. Of course there is no snow. But if feels like it should be snowing. At least that’s what my inner voice is saying. Snow . . . snow . . . snow . . .

University of Alaska Campus, November 2009 by Janson Jones

We haven’t had a good snow in this area for years, which is probably best since everything comes to a complete standstill even with a light dusting. These people don’t know how to drive in the rain, let alone the snow.  And ice? Just stay home. It’s safer.  

Corey and I are talking about trying to make a trip to Ohio for a few days around Christmas. With any luck, it will be snowing, and maybe I can get some good photographs. For some reason, I feel most creative as far as my photography when there is snow. Maybe it’s because I’m really a black and white person as far as my own color palette. I mean, on those quizzes when it asks what your favorite color is, I answer black. On rare occasions I’ll pick red or purple, but mostly, it’s just black.  

I don’t have anything against color, I just happen to like black—black boots, black purses, black pants, black leather jackets. And then there are those 10 or so white sweaters that I have in my closet in various stages of comfort wearability. The oldest is probably from the early 90’s, and it is wonderfully comfortable.  

I know. You are probably thinking that I need to get out more, but even when I left the house on a regular basis, it was mostly black, with some red thrown in and occasionally shades of purple and lavender.  

So shooting pictures in the snow is very rewarding for me. I do have to admit, though, that I haven’t figured out how to set my digital camera to take black and white photographs, so I usually just take out the color in Photoshop.  Not my first choice, but it works. Years ago I had wanted to put a dark room in my house so that I could develop my own black and white film. As with most things, never got around to it, which is just as well since I shoot almost exclusively in digital now.  

“My perfectionist instinct should inhibit me from finishing: it should inhibit me from even beginning.” ~ Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet   

White House Image of President Greeting Salahis

On the national front Tiger Woods is doing a mea culpa. Those White House gate-crashers, the Salahis, are still firmly holding to their story that they had invitations (sure, you did), and in Orange County, California, thieves broke into a warehouse and stole food and goods that had been collected for the needy. Robbing Salvation Army kettles, stealing donations—can’t these people pick their targets better? Not that anyone deserves to be robbed, but robbing from those who can least afford it?  Bah . . .  

Don’t ask me how I feel about President Obama’s speech in which he declares that he will be sending 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.  I am of very mixed feelings about the whole thing. I mean, Bin Laden was in Afghanistan in the first place. That’s where the war should have been fought, not in Iraq. Perhaps if the previous administration and Darth Cheney had been more focused, there would be no need to send anyone anywhere. I mean, 30,000 troops is a lot of people. A lot. And the proclamation that withdrawal will begin in mid 2011 is ludicrous. There is not way to know that in advance. Another open-ended incursion into another country—not the best news, to say the very least.     

And on a final note, I read a disturbing story about a 13-year-old Florida girl who committed suicide because of sexting bullying. Apparently, this young, impressionable girl sent a topless photo of herself to a boy that she liked. Okay. That’s the first problem. The fact that kids, teenagers, young people can take sexually-explicit photographs of themselves and each other with their phones and not be mature enough to realize the long-reaching implications is truly bothersome (the article cites a poll in which 20 percent of teens admit to sending sexually explicit photographs of themselves over cell phones).  Someone else intercepted the photo while using the boy’s phone, and that person spread the picture throughout the girl’s school and even to nearby high schools. Soon after, classmates began a campaign of fierce harassment, calling the girl a slut and a whore when she walked the school halls.  

What dismays me the most about this story is that at 13, girls are in the midst of one of the most confusing times of their lives. Hormones. Emotions. Body image. Peer pressure. It doesn’t matter what kind of home life these kids have, adolescence is adolescence, which is to say, it’s one of the most tumultuous, stressful, suckiest times of a person’s life. The girl did not tell her family about the bullying, and eventually, it became so bad that she felt that she couldn’t go on, and she hung herself in her bedroom where her mother found her.  

Teenage Girls With Cell Phones

So many things wrong with this situation: the lack of privacy as a result of cell phones with cameras, the lack of good judgment on the part of those involved, the cruelty with which teenagers and children treat each other, never realizing just how horribly words and actions can affect a boy or girl who is already feeling isolated, or confused, or sad. It just makes me ache inside for this girl’s family and friends, and it makes me want to throttle the bullies, which, I know, is not the best reaction.  

“But I get distracted and start doing something. What I achieve is not the product of an act of my will but of my will’s surrender.” ~ Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet 

I speak from experience when I say that teenage girls are most vicious when it comes to other teenage girls. I think that the jealousy hormone ratchets out of control with the onset of puberty. These young girls are so starved for attention, even the wrong kind, that idle gossip can soon turn to slander which can then escalate into bullying. Teenage boys, because they have pretty much one main focus, will easily become caught up in these campaigns. No one wins.  

The gossip-mongers learn that being vocal gets them noticed. Their friends don’t want to seem unsupportive, so they join in. The victims, not having endured workforce mongering and backstabbing, are totally unprepared for the onslaught. If you don’t believe that middle schools are hotbeds of jungle socialization, then you are living with your head in the sand.  

Is this solely a family problem? No, because no amount of good parenting can prepare a child for the ferocity of what can go on in school, any school, from one day to the next. Is this a school problem? No, but yes. Teachers and administrators aren’t responsible for peer pressure and psychological factors; however, that being said, they should be responsible for alerting parents and guardians to potential problems when they are aware of them, which in this case, they did not. Is this a societal problem? Yes, absolutely.  

I know. I’m beating that long-deceased horse carcass again, but it would be a lie to say that children aren’t socialized by countless factors from a very young age to fit in, to be pretty or handsome, to get invited to the right birthday parties in pre-school. It starts that soon.  

I know that there is actually no one right answer to this problem. I also know that access to technology is not always a good thing. Witness the number of adults who have made sex videos only to have them surface after the breakup of a relationship that was supposed to last forever.  If grown-ups don’t have enough sense not to do these kinds of things, how can we expect impressionable youth to know better?  

“I begin because I don’t have the strength to think; I finish because I don’t have the courage to quit.” ~ Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet   

I’ve worked myself into a lather, so perhaps this would be a good stopping point. Or perhaps, I should go back to boycotting the news. Whatever.  

Other than those tidbits, not a whole lot else going on. Everyone has retreated to the comfort of their own niches: Corey is on the computer in the dining room; Eamonn is sleeping in his room, and Brett is in his room, probably watching television. I’m sitting here in a white sweater and jeans, Christmas socks on my feet, and snowmen earrings on my lobes.  

Admittedly, it was hard motivating myself to write this post. I played a bit of spider solitaire and then sat here looking at the screen. Turned on one of my playlists and hoped that music would inspire me, but truthfully, it didn’t. So I thought that I’d just ramble for a bit and call it a day, but once I got started, the steamroller took over. Weird how that happens.  

More later. Peace.  

K. D. Lang’s “Barefoot”  

  

                                                                                                                                     

Lyrics to Barefoot  

When the sun goes down here
And darkness falls
The blanket of winter
Leaves no light at all
  

You search for shelter
To calm the storm
Shaking with an instinct
Just to stay warm
  

Chorus:
But I’d walk through the snow barefoot
If you’d open up your door
I’d walk through the snow barefoot
  

You hear the howling
Of dogs and wind
Stirring up the secrets
That are frozen within
  

The ice will haunt you
It lays so deep
Locking up inside you
The dreams that you keep

“Gloom, despair, and agony on me, deep dark depression, excessive misery . . . if it weren’t for bad luck, we’d have no luck at all . . .” ~ Hee Haw

walking-on-broken-glass

Walking on Broken Glass, by L. Liwag

 

What happens if you break a mirror while walking under a ladder on Friday the 13th while throwing salt over the wrong shoulder?

Bad luck happens in direct proportion to the amount of money you do not have ~ L. Liwag

Well, kiddies, this is how the fun began: We thought that we ran out of gas in Hagerstown, Maryland. Pushed the car through an intersection, Corey did, that is. Then we had to push the it down and around to get into the Exxon station, Corey and I and a man who looked as if he might have a heart attack.

Now, several things are wrong with this picture: Me, helping to push the Trooper. The car stopping when the gas gauge did not ready fully empty.

We should have known that it was but a prelude . . .

Half an hour out of Hagerstown, on I68 going west, chugging (literally) up a mountain, cresting it, and then coming down, Izzie the Trooper died. Just died. Stopped. Dead. On a mountain.

99isuzutrooperNow mind you, we just got Izzie back from the mechanics a week ago.

We are kind of midway between Norfolk and Lima, Ohio. On the side of the road. On a mountain.

It is literally, hot as Hades. I am perspiring like a sweat hog. The hood of the Trooper is up to indicate to passersby: “Hey, look at us. We haven’t just stopped here to rest. Something is wrong.”

Passersby ignore us. We debate. Make telephone calls. Devise a plan of action: Corey’s brothers are going to come and get us, using Steve’s Suburban, towing the ginormous landscaping trailer.

We call roadside assistance and get towed to just outside a place called Flintstone, I kid you not.

It’s 7:20 p.m. on a Friday. Our insurance has arranged to tow us to a small repair shop called J&J’s Repair Shop. Dubious name as I do not even see a bay. Or there might be a bay, can’t really tell. Lots of broken down cars and a purple bus like The Partridge Family.

A man with no shirt on asks Corey to turn the key. Corey does. The man with no shirt pronounces that the engine is gone.

questionsGone? As in gone gone? Dead? Why did we just go into hock to spend money we didn’t have to get something major done to the engine when it was going to die? Why didn’t the mechanics in Norfolk notice this other problem.

Gone? Are you serious?

For $1600 they’ll fix the car and take us to a motel. Sure. We’ll write you a check. I don’t think so. Man with no shirt leaves. We are stranded in the dirt. Literally.

It will take Corey’s brothers about six hours to get to us. I told you, we were midway. Somewhere in Maryland, 96 miles from Morgantown, West Virginia (that’s what the sign says). It’s a twelve-hour trip from our house to Corey’s parent’s house.

Canceled the hotel room in Sidney and were actually able to get a refund. Hallelujah.  

We decide to go to sleep for the duration: Corey in the driver’s seat. Brett in the passenger seat. Tillie in the backseat. And I decide to sleep all the way in the back on top of the luggage. I figure this is the part of the Trooper with the most room in it.

I am wrong.

I take as many muscle relaxers and pain pills as is safely allowable and fall dead asleep. At least the temperature outside is cool.

Around 5 in the morning Corey’s brothers arrive. Izzie is ceremoniously put onto the trailer.

Steve’s Suburban has leather seats. The better part of valor: We decide not to put Tillie’s dog nails on the leather seats. Corey rides in the Suburban with his brothers. Brett, Tillie, and I stay in Izzie.

We pass out from exhaustion. Depression. Tension.

Brett comments that so far, this has not been a great trip. Understatement.

It is hard to be charming when you smell like a wildebeest. ~ L. Liwag

I’m not really sure at what time we arrive in Lima. At least Corey’s dad is surprised. Surprise!

We came all the way from Norfolk to surprise you on your birthday! He’s happy. At least that part of the plan worked . . .

Mad, smelly wildebeest

It’s raining. Indian Lake plans have been canceled. Regroup. I don’t want to hug anyone because I stink. Truly. I am covered in sweat, grime, and dog hair. I feel as if my eyeballs are covered with fine hair. I am trying not to act as horrible as I feel.

I’m not sure that it is working.

A shower and a toothbrush. This is all that I can concentrate on. I just ended my sentence in a preposition. I don’t care. That’s how bad it is.

The migraine sets in around 5 p.m. I’m clean now, but I cannot move. Everything hurts. Please, someone just bring an elephant to stomp on my back so that it will feel better.

Corey’s sister is in a play, Grease. She is playing Marty.

I was in Grease a million years ago. Corey and his mom go to the play. I wish that I could go to the play. I love Grease.

I stay home and whimper to myself.

Tillie has a new friend: Alana’s Yorkshire Terrier Jake. I’m glad that someone is happy.

Corey gets home from the play around 11 p.m. I know that he is running on pure adrenaline at this point. They have pizza. I cannot climb the stairs from the basement to join the family for pizza. I feel like a boor, a rude boor. I’m praying that everyone understands and doesn’t think that I’m a boor.

Why does the word grease look funny? Is that how it’s spelled? How about boor? That looks funny too.

Tenacity is a great motto—for other people. ~ L. Liwag

So the good news is that Corey’s family is awesome: They will come and get you when you are broken down two states away.

Other good things: We have one of our dogs. I have most of my medicines with me. We have clothes for four days. The coffee is good. Brett has his PSP and several games. There are Twizzlers. No Pepsi, but Coke. And three computers.

One problem, though. I only brought one book with me, and I finished it last night.

Like Miss Scarlett, I will think about everything tomorrow. Today is Sunday, and we can’t take care of anything today anyway. Actually, I may never think about any of this. My brain might explode.

I’m seriously thinking of hiring a witch doctor or an exorcist when we finally make it back to Norfolk. No one’s luck can be this bad.

And so ends part one of the continuing saga: Why we should fly to Ohio the next time that we come . . .

And now, a song. More later. Peace.

 

“Half the fun of the travel is the esthetic of lostness.” ~ Ray Bradbury

Kayaking at First Landing State Park by Karen Roberts

Kayaking at First Landing State Park by Karen Roberts

“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money.  Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” ~ Susan Heller 

Well, this is the latest on our planned trip to Ohio: Corey bought the new tire today and had all of the tires rotated and balanced. The Trooper is still acting funny, which gives all of us a warm, happy feeling.

I think that we are going to try to change the brakes and fix the one window while we are in Ohio and Corey can get some help from his brother and his cousin, both of whom know a lot about cars. At least, that was the plan yesterday.

We both tend to get a little anxious and testy before these trips because it’s not just a three hour trip to D.C. It’s a good 12 hours in the car, through mountains. While the Trooper is a very comfortable SUV that does reasonably well on gas, she’s been driven hard for the last few years, and she just isn’t what she used to be. I’m hoping that this will be her last long trip.

“And that’s the wonderful thing about family travel:  it provides you with experiences that will remain locked forever in the scar tissue of your mind.” ~ Dave Barry

Pew Island Trail
Pew Island Trail at Indian Lake, Ohio

We’ve decided to get a motel room  in Sidney, which is outside of Bellefontaine (a lovey French word which is pronounced Bell Fountain in Ohio???). It will be easier for everyone because our arrival is supposed to be a surprise for Corey’s dad, and while Chad, one of Corey’s brothers, had invited us to stay in his house, it’s really too much for the three of us plus Tillie to show up at his house, which is not any bigger than ours, and his girlfriend’s kids have all been bitten by dogs, which makes them dog-shy.

Tillie wouldn’t bite anyone, but try to get a child who sees a big black dog to understand that. It’s simply not fair to the children.

So we’ve found a fairly inexpensive hotel that is pet-friendly and is on the way to Indian Lake, which is where we are supposed to meet everyone on Saturday. 

In spite of all of the pre-travel stress, I know that Corey is looking forward to seeing all of his family and spending some quality time with them. I’m looking forward to exploring more of Indian Lake as the last time that we were there, I was unaware that there was a nature trail. I’m also hoping to rent a kayak.

I haven’t been kayaking in years, but it is not terribly strenuous to do. For a while, I harbored a desire to own my own kayak and taking it out on the Chesapeake Bay. Ah well. So much for that.

“What do nudists wear on casual Fridays?” ~ A.J. Esther 

So those are the big travel plans. Eamonn’s job will be to look after the two Jack Russells, who are staying home, and to take care of the house. I don’t anticipate any parties, but with Eamonn, I would never try to predict.

Aside from the upcoming trip, there really isn’t much to talk about. Corey and I spent hours yesterday doing laundry, getting caught up with all of that as Brett informed us that he did not have any shorts. He has shorts, but they were all in the dirty clothes hamper.

Poor Brett. Eamonn manages to acquire clothes that aren’t his on a continual basis, so every once in a while, I take Brett in Eamonn’s room (when Eamonn is gone, of course) and ask him to look through the clothes to see if anything is his. I must clarify, though. Eamonn acquires clothes from everywhere. We have strange things show up in our laundry all of the time—by strange, I mean that I know with certainty that I never purchased these clothes and that I have never seen them before.

blue heron
Blue Heron at Indian Lake, Ohio

My mom used to hate that when I was in school. I would come out into the living room wearing a shirt, and she would say, “Where did that come from?” The answer would usually be Sarah. But mom would go on a rant about how I had plenty of clothes of my own, and didn’t she buy me enough clothes, and what would people think?

I always loved that one: what would people think? Like the guy at the mall was going to know that the shirt I was wearing wasn’t mine? I dunno. My mom had some major quirks about clothes and jewelry. I suppose that she still does, considering that she always has a kind word to say about whatever I happen to be wearing, which is really annoying because she is always trying to give me an outfit that she bought for herself that doesn’t work.

Consider: My mother is about five inches shorter than I am. Her tastes run to fancy t-shirts. She tried to give me an ecru shirt and pants with some kind of embroidery on it and then became really pissed when I told her that I cannot wear ecru becase it makes me look yellow. She said that the set was beige and had never heard of people who can’t wear certain colors.

This is my mother, who has witnessed certain colors of clothes turn me a wonderful shade of jaundice.

I think not.

“When in doubt, wear red.”~ Bill Blass 

I really wish that I had some chocolate to sweeten my disposition because right now, I’m feeling pretty gnarly. Not happy. Not angry. Just gnarly. Only way I know how to describe it.

I’m pretty sure that a chocolate shake from Sonic would help the situation. That or it would give me a headache. Ah, life’s choices. The rich pageantry.

More later. Peace.

I wrote this post last night but forgot to post it. Amazing. Don’t know where my mind is. Then realized that once again, a paragraph had disappeared from my earlier version. My computer has a ghost.