I Sing the Body Elliptic, and Other Sidereal Love Songs

When I launched Winamp just now to listen to some internet radio, I thought it said the title of the song now playing was “I Sing the Body Elliptic,*”  although when I took a second, closer look, it said something quite else. For all I know, that might actually have been the name of the song, only it changed it’s mind and decided to be something else.  It’s hard to say for sure.  I had just finished reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman, (almost straight through,with only one brief interruption), and my realities haven’t quite settled down again after such a wild ride.

Gaiman, AKA “The Sandmansandman,” has the dubious distinction of being the first author who has ever crossed over from one of my realities into another. Usually, I start a story with a character in mind, and if the story needs other characters, I decide who they are and what they look like, decide how they act and add them to the story. Sometimes, I have to tinker with a new character (or the story, or both) to get things to fit together and play nicely with each other.  This was one of the rare instances when I needed a character and one just showed up, walked right into the story and was perfect in the role.  Sometimes he appears as a tall, spare, somber man with tousled black hair who looks remarkably like Neil, and sometimes as a great archetypal wolfhound with tousled black fur, but dog and man are two sides of the same coin. Being a good dog, he came when he was called and brought his name with him. It was almost like he sprang fully formed from the forehead of Zeus or something. I didn’t even stop typing to figure out what his name was.  It was just there:  Narna.

He lives in that house beside the Clyde, within the stand of trees where there always seem to be so many ravens.  He came there because of Macca, she of the fiery auburn hair and heather green eyes, who is small for her size (“I thought you would be taller.” “What makes you think I’m not?”).  He loves Macca as a dog loves, with a fierce, irrevocable love. Narna is her dog and nobody else’s.

The house, which is currently a two-story, oak-paneled, grey stone farmhouse, has changed it’s shape and substance several times whenever it was necessary, but it has been Macca’s abode since not all that long after the ice went away, and Narna has lived there with her since not very long after that.  There’s a grandmother and a daughter involved (isn’t there always?) and they both belong to Macca.  Her mother is named Danu, and she is older than the vast amounts of ice that used to be there a long time ago, until it all melted.  I haven’t remembered what color her hair was originally yet — it’s white now, — but her eyes have always been green.   Macca has a red-haired, green-eyed daughter named Aine who lives in Cornwall with the King of the Fairies.

I don’t recall any of them ever using the name “Hempstock,” but I know they came from that same vast uncharted territory that’s out there somewhere,  beyond the event horizon, where all the things that could be, and might be and may be come from and go to, where anything can be true or false, or even true and false.  And who’s to say what’s true and what isn’t?  Truth is a mirror and nobody who looks into it ever sees the same thing anybody else sees.

*”I Sing the Body Electric” is a poem from Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman.  Later, it was the title story of a collection of short stories by Ray Bradbury that had to do with Electric Grandmothers. The “elliptical” bit is my mind throwing me a curve ball just to make sure I’m paying attention.

Castles, Cats, and California Dreaming

Writing a story about a Norman stone tower in Cumbria and a lady named Aoife.  Naturally, I had to go into Paint (which is a really simple, plain vanilla, comes-with -Windows program), and design the castle in stages.  Spent most of the afternoon doing same. The castle is situated on a peninsular escarpment with a cliff face on one side, and a sheer drop on the other three sides. Did five vignettes from when the tower was first built in 1052, just a 3-storey tower, the bridge to it and low walls around the demesne with its large oak, three apple trees, and herb garden; to what it is like when the story takes place in 1162 with added gate at the end of the bridge, with higher walls, a second court and gate, and walls around the garden and large second courtyard; then what it looks like in 1192 with an added on spiral staircase replacing the trap doors in the tower; what it looks like in 1252, with its large hall with tall, narrow mullioned windows and  in 1298, when a two story addition has been made on the far end of the hall with 2 storerooms upstairs and stable/barn downstairs.  Of course, I didn’t plan it out prior to 1000 when it was known as Theotescylfe, which is Anglo-Saxon for this particular type of “waterfall” and was just a cluster of iron age round houses with a plank bridge.  Later on, the name was misspelled as “Theotesclyff” and the misspelling stuck.  This is the final version with the waterfalls on either side of it. The Stone Tower 5th stage 1298I always plan out the houses where my stories take place.  It helps me visualize things and keep straight what rooms are where. 

All sorted.Ate my supper last night in front of the TV.  Big Mac and fries, my treat for the week.  I have a folded lap robe on the couch that the white one sleeps on.  Beside it is a kitty bed which the black one sleeps on in the afternoon when the sun comes in the window on it. 

I was sitting in one of a pair of leather arm chairs with a TV table for my food, and the black one was asleep in the other leather chair. 

IMG_0390In between the leather armchair and the gold recliner, there is a “cat table” — just a painted plywood box with an upholstered top — which has atop it the bear toy my BFF gave the kitties. The toy has high-pitched squeakers in each paw and a lower pitched squawker in its head.  (She’s not heavy enough to make them squeak or squawk if she steps on one.) It’s actually a dog toy (don’t tell them, OK?), but the grey kitty loves to sleep on it.  It makes me smile every time I see her there–a kitty with a bearskin rug . . .

Ran across this:

I’ve always liked that song, as sung by the Mamas and the Papas, and this version, played in classical guitar style is nice.  His earring makes me think of Sir Walter Raleigh. (Or “Ralegh,” which is how he spelled it). 

As you may have noted a couple of posts ago, I have decided to keep a running list of the books I read this year.  At the present, I’m on the middle book of a trilogy by Rosemary Sutcliff about Roman Britain – The film “The Eagle” is supposed to be based on the first one, “The Eagle of the Ninth” which refers to the Legio IX Hispana, which she posits was destroyed while pursuing hostile Caledonian tribesmen north of Hadrian’s wall, although the veracity of this premise is disputed.  I’m into the second book of the trilogy right now, “The Silver Branch.” The third book is “The Lantern Bearers.”  I will update my list in future posts.



Coyote Tracks

6a00e54fcf7385883401a73d5f2922970d-800wiA trickster god frequently features prominently in the myths and folklore of many people of the world. In the Scandinavian mythos, this role is played by Loki.  In Japan, it is Kitsune the fox, and in the European mythos, another fox, Reynard, is the trickster.  In the myths and legends of the Native American peoples, this role is frequently played by Coyote.  It is the trickster’s role to play tricks and practical jokes on the unwary or unsuspecting, to put up roadblocks, create complications, and generally just make things difficult.  It is the trickster’s job to see to it that bpl020The tracks of Coyote have been all over my life of late, starting with my shoulder, and my hassles with the VA, and with the root cause of the problem, that inimical 40-pound jug of water I was trying to put in the water dispenser, which is how I messed my shoulder up in the first place.  Of course, it was not until after I had messed up my shoulder that I found that the water service also had 3-gallon jugs.

So, on the 15th after I came home from getting my shoulder x-rayed, I called the water delivery people.  The delivery manager assured me that the very next day, I would have my 5-gallon bottles replaced with 3-gallon ones.  Thursday comes and goes, and no water.  Friday I call again.  Oh, somebody will be out today.  Friday comes and goes, and no water.  Monday was the MLK holiday, so Tuesday I call again.  Tuesday comes and goes and no water.  I was out of pocket most of Wednesday so I call again Thursday morning.  Late Thursday afternoon, one of the route drivers calls me and assures me that today (Friday) I will get my water bottles switched out.   Whether or not he does, in fact, follow through on his promise is a moot point.  I’m tired of fooling with them.

Edit:  Mirabile dictu, the doorbell plonged a minute ago and it was the water delivery guy FINALLY bringing me the 3-gallon water bottles and hauling off those stupid 5-gallon bottles.

I had already been investigating renting an under-sink reverse osmosis gizmo where they mount the works under the sink and put another faucet on top of the sink to dispense the freshly reverse-osmosed water. I was going to get a new sink faucet this month, and get the reverse osmosis unit next month, but I’ve changed my mind. I called the reverse osmosis people yesterday, and  the guy is supposed to come out Monday afternoon at 3:00 and install it.  My absentee landlord is going to pay for the installation.  Once it’s installed, I will be able to call the stupid bottled water service and tell them to come get their water and dispenser or I’m going to put them out in the alley.  This is not the first go-round I’ve had with them, but it’s certainly going to be the last.

Screenshot_2The kitchen sink faucet leaks.  It’s been fixed twice since I’ve lived here.  It’s about time it was replaced.  Since I get to do it, I’m going to replace it with a faucet that has a taller spigot. I have this nice pasta cooker pot (at left) that has a strainer insert and the current sink faucet has a spigot that is so low I can barely get the durn thing under it to fill, never mind to rinse the soap off after I’ve washed it. Same problem with large bowls. It has a sprayer with it, but the sprayer doesn’t work.  I’ll get my mom to give me the pertinents on her plumber.  She’s used him about 12 years, and he does good work.  Guess whose going to get to pay for it.

In other news, a couple of weeks ago I went into my Amazon seller’s inventory screen and repriced almost everything, coming down on my prices in some cases as much as several dollars. Ever since then, I’ve sold something almost every day.  Sold two things yesterday. Sold something already today. Last year I made some $218 and some-odd cents selling books, DVD’s and VCR tapes through Amazon.  Of course, I wish I’d sell bunches of stuff, but then I can’t complain. Thinning my herd of books and making $218 in the process beats a poke with a sharp stick any day of the week. It behooves me to do some more culling and listing.

Now, if that jive outfit in San Francisco that I transcribe for will send me my 1099 or whatever wage and earnings form they’re supposed to send, I can do my taxes.

tumblr_msmk1pwmq81r3gb3zo1_400Are we having fun yet?

Books Read in 2014

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Wrede, Patricia
(Dealing with Dragons, Searching for Dragons, Calling on Dragons, Talking to Dragons)
Sharaz-de: Tales from the Arabian Nights, Toppi, Sergio
*Clockwork Phoenix: Tales of Beauty and Strangeness, Allen, Mike, editor.
*The Day They Brought the Bears to Belfast, Lee, Sharon (short story)
*Surfside, Lee, Sharon (short story)
*Life in a Tudor Palace, Gidlow, Christopher


The Squeaky Wheel

…Is apparently not squeaking loud enough.  I had my shoulder joint x-rayed the 15th.  They were supposed to let me know what the read was the next day.  Finally, on the 21st I got an email from them.  The x-ray showed osteoarthritis (duh!), did I want a steroid injection in my joint?  Since it would do little good, I said no. I broke the kneecap on my left knee and I have osteoarthritis in that knee as a result, so I know what osteoarthritis feels like.  This does not feel like osteoarthritis.  It feels like when I tore that shoulder up before and had to have rotator cuff surgery.  And so I told them.  Not to put too fine a point on it, I’ve started to have cramps in my upper arm muscle and one of the muscles in my forearm that goes all the way down to my wrist, and the ball of my left thumb is now numb. Can I please have my Ultram prescription refilled? I was prescribed 1 Ultram in the morning and one in the evening (who is she kidding?) and told I could up the dosage to two.   These are 50 mg tablets. Maximum dosage is 400 mg a day.  I’m taking two every four hours, which is the maximum dosage, just to function.

She writes me back to come in and have my neck x-rayed! and get a lab test, and gives me an appointment to see her on January 31st!  Since I drive my stick-shift car so well with one arm, yesterday, after I got done daddy-sitting, I went and got my neck x-rayed.  I had to take off my necklace (he will not take it off for me, he’s not allowed), both earrings and my hair barrette. My left arm is already cramping like crazy from having to reach up and take the necklace off, so what happens next?  The technician grabs me by my left shoulder to position me, and I just nearly screamed.  Then I go to the lab, looking like a mad woman with my hair all loose. The lab technician hands me a cup and a phial and tells me to pee in the cup and pour it in the phial.  So now, since I went through 50 Ultram in a little over a week because Ultram doesn’t control my pain, I’m obviously a junkie, and all of this is drug seeking behavior. Because I ran out of Ultram, my mom gave me two hydrocodone left over from when she had a tooth pulled.  It’s an opioid but I can take if I take Benadryl with it.  I took one Tuesday night (and slept all night for the first time in weeks) and one Wednesday morning.  So now they have a urine sample with hydrocodone in it.

Obviously, their rules say put a Band-aid on it and see if they stop screaming.  If that doesn’t work, give them aspirin and see if they stop screaming, and keep up the stop-gap measures until the person either gets better or ends up in the ER somewhere.  Of course, I could do an end run around all this farting around (pardon my Anglo-Saxon) if I could drive the 100 plus miles to the VA hospital in Amarillo, but unless I can get somebody to take me, that’s not going to happen, because my mom can’t leave my dad alone and I’d be very uneasy about taking my 26+ year old car out on the highway.

I go to my mental health professional Tuesday — which I have to do because bupropion, which I take for concentration issues, is considered a mental health drug —  and boy is she going to get an earful!  I’m so strung out from lack of sleep and so upset I’ll probably break down and start crying — which is obviously a histrionic ploy to get more drugs.


tesla-cat-lectures-static-electricity-500x515Looked at my weather widget just now, and our humidity here is 21%.  I figured as much.  The cats are getting static sparks in the nose every time they sniff at each other or, if I’ve got a charge built up, whenever they sniff me.  Petting them gets their fur all crackly and static-matted.  The grey kitty hates that.

My lap robe has some polyester fiber in the fabric, as does the sweat suit I’m wearing.  If I’m listening to music on the computer, and I need to get up, if I don’t take my earbuds out before I whisk my lap robe off, I get zapped in both ears.  DIY electroshock therapy . . .

Reaching Out To The Women in Haiti

The video is heavy.  If you’re an abuse survivor, here’s your trigger warning.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _

Signal boosting this from Amanda Palmer’s blog: Her friend Sue Jones in Boston started a non-profit to teach yoga and meditation to women in Haiti, especially women dealing with life, post-earthquake. If you want to get involved with yogahope or find out how you can make a contribution, email Sue at info@yogahope.org.

Voice over narrator is Amanda Palmer.

From The Subline To The Zombie Apocalypse

Here’s the sublime. The amazing brush control this woman has.  I expect part of it comes from being Chinese and learning to write with a brush.  The rest of it is a magnificent artistic talent. There is something captivating and mesmerizing about watching somebody do something they’re very good at.

As for the zombie apocalypse, for the past two weeks, because of the constant pain in my shoulder, I’ve been trying to function on four hours of sleep a night or less.  Monday night I didn’t sleep at all.  Last night I got maybe three hours’ sleep.  This morning I had a meltdown talking to the people who deliver those 40 pound bottles of water that I hurt my shoulder wrestling when I found out that they have 3 gallon bottles and that these bottles will fit on my cooler. I’ve been yelling at the cats, especially when I found and had to clean up two urp events off the carpet.

zombie buttonAfter my meltdown this morning, I sent my my PA at the VA (!) an impassioned email to the effect that, yes, I’m allergic to the opioids but can I please have some anyway with some Benadryl on the side because I’m desperate for sleep and won’t be getting any without some kind of pain relief.  Depending on which opioid pain medication I take and/or at what dosage, they either make me itch all over, or else they make me itch all over and talk to people who aren’t there.   But if I take Benadryl at the same time, the antihistamine counteracts the itching — except that the Benadryl makes me a zombie (and, perforce, too zonked to talk to the people who aren’t there).  My PA heeded my pleas and  turned in a prescription for Ultram (tramadol hydrochloride) and Benadryl, and rather than wait two days to get it in the mail, I drove over and got it.  Oh, what fun driving a car with a stick shift when you’ve got a messed up left shoulder (but not nearly as much fun as if I was in Britain and had to shift with my left hand).  I took the prescribed dosage of both about 30 minutes ago and they’ve started to kick in. Yep.  I’m lost in the ozone again.

Brains ….. Need brains ….go-save-yourself-from-the-zombies

So Far, 2014 Has Not Been A Good Year For Shoulders

*Jeremiad Warning*

Our city water used to come from ground wells, but then, for some reason, the city had to start taking water from a lake. The water in the lake is runoff from farm land and is full of fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides and defoliants, with chlorine based chemicals added to make it “safe” to drink.  Needless to say, it tastes horrible, which is why for about 15 years now, I’ve been using reverse osmosis type bottled water.  When I first started getting it, I had to buy these 5 gallon containers, and then take them to a place and pay to get them filled (and haul the 40-pound full containers up a flight of stairs).  Then I moved to a place with no stairs, and then, about four years ago, I started taking from a service.  Even though they deliver it to the house, I’ve still got to lug them into the kitchen and up-end them onto the dispenser.

I’ve already had my left shoulder operated on (2008, rotator cuff repair) and two weeks ago, in the process of wrestling a 40-pound bottle of water onto my dispenser, I hurt my left shoulder again.   When I hurt my shoulder the first time, I had a full time job with private insurance, and saw the physician of my choice.  He did a cortisone injection, then an MRI, saw the damage, and I had the surgery all within about three months.  Now I’m having to use the VA (I’m ex-USAF) because I can’t work full time, can’t find a decent part-time job, and I can’t afford private insurance, not even Obamacare.

My left arm and shoulder have been hurting pretty much constantly for two weeks now with no improvement.  That tells me it’s not just a strain.  I’ve torn something.  Probably reinjured my rotator cuff. I know I need an MRI.  My physician’s assistant at the VA knows I need an MRI, but they have to play by the rules, and the rules say I can’t have an MRI until after I’ve had it x-rayed (which is not going to tell them anything because x-rays won’t show soft tissue damage).

I called my physician’s assistant this morning, and she ordered an x-ray.  Tomorrow I go get it.  Then, I’ll have to wait to get an appointment to see her so she can tell me I need to see an orthopedist (duh!) because she can’t order an MRI.  Then, I’ll have to wait to get an appointment with the orthopedist so the orthopedist can tell me I need an MRI (duh!).  In order to get an MRI, I’ll have to get an appointment.  Then I’ll have to ride six hours (round trip) on a rattletrap bus to the VA hospital in Amarillo to get the MRI because they don’t do MRIs here.  Then I’ll have to wait and get an appointment with the orthopedist so he can tell me what the MRI showed and refer me to the orthopedic surgeon.  Then I’ll have to wait to get an appointment with the orthopedic surgeon, who’ll be in Amarillo — another 6 hour bus ride … You get the idea.

In the meantime, I get to be in constant pain because I’m allergic to opioids, which includes all the good pain killers:  Oxycodone (Percocet), fentanyl, hydrocodone (Vicodin), methadone, codeine, morphine.  (I’m also allergic to aspirin.) All I can take are acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), and naproxen (Aleve).  I can tell you now, neither Tylenol nor Aleve even takes the edge off.

Now, during this same two-week period, I’ve been having to sit and type for hours at a time for this nickel and dime outfit I work for because I’ve got to come up with $125 by Wednesday to pay my city utility bill (electricity, water, sewage and garbage collection).   So this past Saturday, I’d been up typing since 4 a.m. (might as well, I can’t sleep), and about 8:30 my mom calls.  First words out of her mouth:  “Your father fell again last night.” He hurt his shoulder in the fall, and she wants to know if I can come help her get him to the doctor so he can have his shoulder x-rayed.  Of course, I’m right in the middle of a 27-minute report that took me four hours to type, is due back in an hour and a half and they penalize you if you start a job and don’t finish it, or turn it in late.  (I earned a whopping $16.20 for typing it.) On top of that,  I can’t lift anything much heavier than a dinner plate with my left arm, so I wouldn’t have been a whole lot of help anyway.

She was able to get one of the nurses to come help her get him out of the car, and they x-rayed it, and nothing looked broken.  By Sunday, the pain in his shoulder had gone away and he was fine.  About 10 o’clock Monday morning, mom calls again.  The doctor’s office had called and said Dad had a nondisplaced fracture.  Didn’t say of what.  Just said he had a nondisplaced fracture.  There’s only three bones in the shoulder: The humerus (upper arm bone), the scapula (shoulder blade) and the clavicle (collar bone).  Since he can walk with his walker fine, it can’t be his humerus or his scapula, so by process of elimination, it has to be his clavicle.  It’s sore to touch, but it doesn’t hurt otherwise, and he can use his arm fine.  The treatment?  Tincture of time.

But here’s the thing:  My dad is 91, frail, nearly blind, and can barely totter around with a walker.  He eats like a bird, and he’s practically skin and bones.  The intervals between his falls are steadily decreasing.  I would be dismayed, but not surprised, if my mom called me saying she thinks my dad has fallen and broken his hip.  (Or has broken his hip and fallen, which is more common in the elderly than you might think.)  But then, he’s at high risk for aspiration pneumonia, heart attack, stroke (he’s already had several small ones), and ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm, too.  At this point, we’re just taking it one day at a time.  That’s all we can do.