“We must free ourselves of the hope that the sea will ever rest. We must learn to sail in high winds.” ~ Aristotle Onassis ”

Flight of Birds on Pérolles Lake, Fribourg, Switzerland by Claude-Olivier Marti (FCC)

“The answer is never the answer. What’s really interesting is the mystery. If you seek the mystery instead of the answer, you’ll always be seeking . . . the job is to seek mystery, evoke mystery, plant a garden in which strange plants grow and mysteries bloom. The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer.” ~ Ken Kesey

Tuesday, early evening. Partly cloudy and mild, high 50’s.

So . . . Singulair is my new best friend.

Winter Pond with Black Swans by jajoll (FCC)

I went to my PCP yesterday, who listened to my two-month long tale of woe, listened to my lungs (which are clear), and added Singulair to my long list of regular medications. I took my first dose last night before bed, and actually slept fairly well for the first time in I can’t remember. Coughing was minimal, as was the raspy, paper-crackling sound that’s been coming from my lungs.

How very unexpected but wonderful.

So today I’ve been coughing once in a while, still a bit painful, but overall, I feel 100 percent better than I did two days ago, which is saying quite a lot. I feel that the whole ER visit was a waste of time and money (once I get the bill), but the ER doctor did prescribe a cough medicine that helped, so I suppose it wasn’t a total waste of five hours of my life . . .

Tomorrow I’m supposed to go for a pulmonary function test (PFT), which I was hoping to get out of, but my doctor still wants me to go even though I feel better. I’m so very tired of medical tests, especially since they almost never reveal anything new about my decrepit body.

“Experience is never limited, and it is never complete; it is an immense sensibility, a kind of huge spider-web of the finest silken threads suspended in the chamber of consciousness, and catching every air-borne particle in its tissue.” ~ Henry James

Lake Ontario Swan by Tony the Misfit (FCC)

So yesterday was my birthday, and as usual, it sucked. I’m not quite sure why this is almost always the case, but it is. Perhaps it’s because of my complete dislike for my birthday, something that has been going on for as long as I can remember. The last birthday I remember liking was my 16th, and trust me when I say that was an age ago.

But aside from my own feelings about my birthday, it seems that so few people remember it that it feels like more of an imposition than a reason to celebrate. I got a lovely card from Corey’s parents. My mother did not bother to call or send a card, which is not surprising but nevertheless, disappointing. I mean, she’s my mother . . . Two of my children were too broke to buy me a card, which doesn’t bother me, but I know that at least one of my children forgot that it was my birthday.

Perhaps I’m being hyper-sensitive; it’s been known to happen once or twice . . . but geez. If I treated everyone else’s birthday’s so cavalierly, you can bet I’d hear about it.

Is it a mom thing, this seeming lack of appreciation, or perhaps, lack of attention to detail might be more accurate? I’m not looking for a party or even a cake, although a cake would be nice (this coming from the woman who has yet to bake Corey’s homemade carrot cake for his last birthday). I don’t know exactly what it is I’m looking for, and perhaps I sound like a selfish bitch, and perhaps I am that, after all. Perhaps being sick for two months has worn down the sunnier side of my disposition (if such a side ever existed), or perhaps I feel a need to bitch where no need truly exists.

Perhaps I should just keep my feelings to myself and get on with life.

Whatever.

“By the fire, when the wind pauses, little is said.
Every phrase we unfold stands upright. Outside,
The visible cold, the therapy of moonlight.” ~ Anne Stevenson, “The Wind, the Sun, and the Moon”

So while I was sick—as in bedridden sick—I read Stieg Larrson’s Millenium Series, all three books. They were great. It’s the finest writing I’ve come across in a long time. It’s so sad that he died before he could complete more novels. But now I’m ready to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie. I don’t like to see the movie before I’ve read the book.

Snowy Owl in Flight by pbonenfant (FCC)

I ordered two other series, even though I have no idea as to whether they are any good: Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games. I used one of my gift cards that Corey’s parents bought me for Christmas. So cool being able to buy new books. I’m planning to start one of the series tomorrow, but I haven’t decided which one.

I also read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, which I hadn’t realized that I’d never read until I picked up P. D. James’s new book Death Comes to Pemberley. Corey bought me the James book as a Christmas present, and even though it didn’t feature the author’s signature character Adam Dalgliesh, it was quite good, but as I was reading it, I kept thinking that I really should have read Austen’s book first.

So after Christmas I picked up a very nice collection of the Austen novels at Sam’s Club for under $15, and now that I’ve read P&P, I think that I’m going to reread the James book so that it seems more connected. I mean, we’re only talking about an afternoon of reading, so why not?

“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.” ~ Franz Kafka

I recently discovered a band called Girls, who remind me very much of earlier Beatles, same kind of music. Always wonderful to find a new band or new voice. I think that I heard something of theirs on the television show “Revenge,” which is not a half-bad series about one woman’s search for . . . you know, revenge for her father’s frame-up for some dastardly crime that he did not commit. It’s not high drama, but it’s enjoyable, and it features songs from musicians I’ve never encountered before, which is the best part.

Birds in Winter, Irondequoit Bay by Tony the Misfit (FCC)

I regularly find new musicians from the shows “House” and “Bones,” but it’s great when an unexpected source of music crosses my radar.

Speaking of radar . . . Eamonn was stopped by cops the other night, and the consequences are going to cost major money. Thankfully for him, his father has agreed to pay and allow Eamonn to pay him back. He’s rather down about the whole thing. Understandable.

Alexis still owes for a speeding ticket that she received during one of her trips to see Mike when he was working in Maryland. I’ve been bitching at Brett because he’s made no effort to get even his learner’s permit yet, but perhaps I should be thankful. My children seem to have inherited my predisposition for a heavy foot, although I can say honestly that it’s been many years since I have gotten a ticket.

Of course, now that I’ve put that into words, you watch. Something will happen. Testing fate. Never a good idea.

Anyway, it would be really great if Brett would make an effort to get his license, as he has classes two nights this semester, and I really hate driving at night, especially since I need to get new glasses, another thing that I have yet to take care of. I know that from his point of view (Brett’s), there’s no real need to rush the whole driving process as he always has someone to take him where he needs to go.

Odd, though. I remember that I counted the days until I was legal so that I could get my license. Corey and I were talking about how different it is now. In fact, I read an article that said that fewer teenagers are in a hurry to drive because they don’t really go anywhere as they spend so much time on the computer. I think that’s a good and bad thing.

“A process blows the moon into the sun,
Pulls down the shabby curtains of the skin;
And the heart gives up its dead.” ~ Dylan Thomas, from “A process in the weather of the heart”

Let’s see . . . what else has been happening while I’ve been non-functioning? Corey has an approximate ship-out date: somewhere after January 27, which is when the ship is due to be finished in the yard. Of course, that’s a tentative date. He’s getting restless, ready to start on this new adventure, which is quite understandable.  His route has changed from Germany to Russia to something much warmer: Cape Canaveral to the Ascension Islands, south of the equator.

Blue Swans on Lake Macatawa, Michigan, by Images by Arnie (FCC)

The warmer weather will be nice, but he’s really bummed about not seeing Europe. He’s also bummed about not being able to visit with the Germans in Hamburg. Apparently my nephew Phillip is still quite sick, so it’s a shame that Corey won’t be able to visit with them.

The new route means that all of the cold-weather gear that Corey spent time hunting down now has to be repacked, and he needs to shift his focus. I tried to make him feel better by pointing out that he’ll come home with a tan before summer . . .

Other than those things, a few minor bumps in the road: The motherboard that we bought for my computer a while ago is the wrong size for my computer, which we found out when Corey took it in to be installed finally. One of the risks of not installing soon after purchase. Somehow, we need to find a way to sell the motherboard that doesn’t fit.

Corey’s truck is fixed, well almost. The new transmission and transfer case have been installed. He had to buy a new batter because the one in the truck had died from disuse and refused to take a charge. Just one small problem: no brakes. The brake lines have rusted and consequently are leaking brake fluid. So yet another hiccup in the very long and complicated truck saga. Replacing the lines is not an inexpensive fix. I’m hoping that it’s something that I can have taken care of while he’s gone so that when he gets home, he can finally drive his truck.

We’ll just have to see.

Other than that, same old, I suppose—bills, illness, kids, and constantly shifting schedules.

More later. Peace.

(P.S. Thanks to all of you who sent well wishes for my recovery. They were much appreciated.)

Music by Girls, “Love Like a River”

                   

Cardinal Rules

nourish yourself
close to the ground
but when you fly
redden the sky with bright wings

stay close
to the cover of dark branches
a red
alert to danger
but not afraid

feed peacefully
with small chickadees and sparrows
content with crumbs
the world provides
enough

when the jay comes
hungry and screaming
vanish
like a flame
extinguished in the wind

and in the cold
in the days of iron frost
do not complain
but stuff your belly with the seeds
of your own burning
life
and fluff up your feathers
to hold in heat

even with your thin feet
deep in snow

sing

~ Nancy Paddock

“Sometimes I’m terrified of my heart; of its constant hunger for whatever it is it wants. The way it stops and starts.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe

Cedar Waxwing and Berries in Snow

                   

“If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.” ~ Thomas Merton

Tuesday, early evening. Cold.

It’s hovering around 40° F; yesterday it was 78° F. That’s how it’s been for the past five or six days. One day, unseasonably warm winter temps, and the next day, temps at least 30 to 40 degrees lower than the day before. I seem to have developed a scratchiness to my voice. Could be the temperature fluctuations, or it could be pollen. Then again, it could just be Wisconsin Governor Walker grating on my nerves (and why is the mainstream media totally ignoring the Wisconsin situation?)

Just for fun, I thought that I would interrupt regular posting to insert Jon Stewart’s latest commentary on the Wisconsin happenings:

Vodpod videos no longer available.
Crisis in Dairyland – Angry Curds – The Daily S…, posted with vodpod 

We now resume regular posting . . .

Sharing a Perch in the Snow

Today I had the first of three gastro tests to try to find out why my system does not work like a normal person. I’m not even going to list the name of the test that I had to undergo. Suffice it to say that personal privacy and boundaries are not respected during this test and that it involved barium, which, if you have never been near this contrast medium, you should thank the powers that be as barium is made of chalk and bird poop, which is what gives it its lovely white consistency and delectable flavor . . .

Thankfully, I did have two really great radiology technicians, which helps the nerves. Next test involves having to swallow a contrast marker and then have x-rays taken on day five; I already swallowed the marker last week because the woman in the doctor’s office did not tell me not to take the marker before today’s test, which means that I have to do it all over again. Third test involves putting a tube in my nose for 24 hours. Just typing that makes me shudder, no lie.

February was spent in a haze of doctor’s appointments. Little wonder that it is the first of March, but my brain is still January-engaged.

“The visible exhausts me. I am dissolved in shadow.” ~ Theodore Roethke

Snowy Owl by John H. Gavin

Two Fridays ago I had my eye exam, the first one I’ve had in a couple of years. It was only after this exam that I found out that the vision rider for which I am paying is essentially worthless. “Well it covers this, but there is a fitting fee . . . but if you want to get glasses, then you have to pay $80 for the contacts today, but if you want contacts, then we deduct this and add that and if you’re really lucky, on the full moon, you can wish for glasses or contacts, but not both. Whatever.

I went back last Friday for the optometrist to check the contacts that she had prescribed. I told her that I was having problems seeing out of my left eye. We talked for a few minutes about my previous experiences with contacts, and she said—I kid you not—”Well, you are older now, and your eyes are older, so you can’t expect to see the way that you used to.”

Really? No shit? I’m older? Thank you so much for that moment of truth. I was completely unaware that I had gotten older. In her favor, she just seems like a very matter-of-fact person, not snotty, just telling it like it is.

So my old eyes tried another contact prescription. I could tell before I left the waiting room that they weren’t working. Another hop onto the exam chair (which is really hard to do, hopping, that is, when you’re old), and we decided to go with two different lenses: near vision in the left eye, and distance in the right eye. I was certain that my brain would rebel, but it actually works perfectly. I can see everything on the dash in the car, and I can see the computer screen. I always find it beneficial to see the car’s dash, so I’m feeling better. Now I just have to wait for another payday to get updated glasses.

(Oh, this part made me feel old as well). Corey and I were looking at frames, and I picked out a frame that pretty much mirrors my current frame. I know what flatters my face and what is comfortable. Seemed like a no-brainer to me . . . Corey says something along the lines of shouldn’t I try something that is a little more stylish?

What??? My frames are old-fashioned? Is that what you were implying with your comment? Poor man. Simply cannot catch a break. We left Costco with neither of us very happy. As it stands now, I don’t have a clue as to what kind of glasses I want to get. Every pair that I try on leaves me feeling less than attractive. I mean, if Sophia Loren can put her name on a line of glasses frames, why can she not append her visage with the frames? Loren looks cool in glasses. I look like . . . well, probably what I am: a bookish teacher type.

“Now I am quietly waiting for
the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again.” ~ Frank O’Hara

Blue Jay on Ice

In other news, remember that poetry contest that I entered? Well, I didn’t win, but I was a finalist. Pretty cool, huh?

Now if I were an optimist with a good self-image, I might see this as a sign that I should probably work on my craft more and actively work on sending things out for review. However, we all know that this is not the case, so my immediate first thoughts were, “A finalist? Are you kidding me? Did you not have a lot of entries?”

A Poet Reflects, the blog that hosted the contest, asked poet Allen Braden to judge the contest, which is why it took longer to find out the results.  I had decided that because so much time had passed between submitting my entry and hearing anything that I was definitely out of the running. This is how my mind works: no news = bad/horrible/catastrophic news.

Anyway, after I received the good news, I got an e-mail requesting that I create an MP3 of myself reading my poem. Seriously? I hate my voice whenever I hear it recorded; it always sounds like a little girl. I don’t mean that I have one of those Jennifer Tilly squeaky, breathless voices, just that I would prefer a Lauren Bacall timbre.

So after I get over the request itself, I realize that I have no idea as to how to create an MP3. I know. I know. It’s really not hard, but what can I say? I panicked. Then I settled down and gave it some thought and realized that Brett’s gaming headphones have a microphone on them. Voila! Recording action can be had.

Several attempts later, I finally came up with a reading with which I was actually pleased, so I shipped it off before I could change my mind. My poem and the reading are supposed to appear on tumblr tomorrow or the next day. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to post them here, although I’m not sure why this blog or that blog really makes a difference. It’s not like I’m beholden to my privacy or anything. I do plan to post some of the other finalists’ poems as well as the winner. Stay tuned.

“I have scars on my hands from touching certain people . . . Certain heads, certain colors and textures of human hair leave permanent marks on me. Other things, too.” ~ J. D. Salinger

Robin in the Snow by Noël Zia Lee

So that’s how things have been around here for the past week or so. Each time that I’ve sat down to write a post, something has kept me from achieving said goal. For example, on Friday night/Saturday morning, I didn’t fall asleep until 9:30 in the morning. Needless to say, I felt less than creative on Saturday afternoon, and Sunday was not much better. I have been trying to put up a few small things here and there (I loved the no elephants picture).

Meanwhile, Corey has already lost two shifts this week, but last week he worked 55 hours. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. If I were responsible for scheduling these people for shifts, I would make darn sure there was more balance. I mean, that’s one of the things I had to do in retail, schedule over 50 people at a time, and believe me, it’s not easy.

Speaking of retail, a Marshall’s is opening in the shopping center just down the road; I’m talking a mile away. Part of me longs to apply for a management position there, but who am I kidding? Retail management means working at least 50 to 60 hours a week, and a lot (emphasis on lot) of physical labor. How do you think those clothes get on those racks? Oh well, I can wish.

Not much new on the kids’ front. Spring break is sometime in March. Neither son has anything exciting planned (that I know about). Alexis? Well, that’s a post all by itself and a subject that I’m honestly not up to dealing with at the moment. So that’s it for now.

By the way, I have changed the name of my tumblr from “Slow Dancing in Quicksand” to “Frenzy and Lightning,” which is the url. It just seemed to make more sense, at least, to me.

More later. Peace.

Music by Jenny Lewis, “Godspeed”