Friday, March 7, 2014

Christmas Busted---Ice Here and Back Again

Many places in the Northeast experienced the weekend before Christmas 2013, an extreme ice storm with power outages and states of emergency to prevent unnecessary travel.  The unnecessary travel allows emergency vehicles, utility trucks, and law enforcement to get where they need to go without having to deal with as many stranded motorists or accidents.

Many of my concerns centered on power being out at my home where my heat source requires electricity and worries without heat the water pipes will freeze and break.  Just being cold seems secondary to this worry of broken water pipes.  I was very fortunate because the power outage lasted  5 hours on a Saturday afternoon.  It was about 6:30 pm when the power was restored by a utility truck on the highway in front of my house with the eerie sound of the linemen on loudspeaker talking to each other.  It was disorienting, but in a grateful way, I welcomed this strangeness of hearing them in the darkness of the early evening talking to each other as they did the necessary work to bring electricity back to our neighborhood.

This was my backyard:

It's March as I finish writing this blog segment.  It's been a long, difficult winter.  There's somewhat of a touch of spring in the air, but it seems snow and cold are wearing on.  Hanging on to hope that spring will be here soon is a difficult task for me at this time.

The Bitter Sweetness: I Get Dressed and I Show Up

I'm feeling bitter sweetness and loneliness tonight.  To assist myself in working through these feelings, I've been listening to soft music that evokes some of the emotions I've been feeling.  And I scribble and doodle in my Windows 7 Paint program.  It helps me to feel peace.  I turned here to my oft-neglected blog to soothe myself and find hope rather than loss.

This is a self portrait that I did once in Paint.

I am progressing to upper middle age, where I guess 50-ish is the new 60-ish, in my case.  My face looks old to me and I wear cosmetics very seldom.  I don't color my hair, nor do I get the latest hair style and trips to the beautician are few and far between.  I seem to have a "kick me" tattoo on my forehead that invites weird and off color comments at times when I go out in the community.  I have to tell myself that maybe someone that comments like this will know what it's like some day.

Today I talked to two people who have suffered great trauma in their lives and I feel defeated and sad for them.  I wonder why it has to happen and why the healing must always be so painful and filled with anger.  There is no sweetness in this for those who have been traumatized by violence and horrendous acts.

A scan of the brains of those who have PTSD,  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, show there has been an actual change in the make-up or what I will call the "wiring" of the brain as compared to that who has not experienced such trauma.

This is a picture I did this evening in the Paint program that I titled Archangel:

And here is another that I titled Scribble:

I don't think I've ready for the MOMA, but it helped me to paint and doodle my way out of the sadness I'm feeling tonight.  And maybe there are angels or archangels looking out for the vulnerable, the prey of the predators, and the lost and alone who feel no sweetness and may only taste the bitter.

I will just keep getting dressed and showing up.  It is sweet to be able to do that and hopefully the bitterness I feel will take care of itself.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Have You Heard the One About the Psalmodikon---or An Amateur Luthier Makes One

My friend, whom I shall refer to as The Luthier, tinkers with and creates many types of musical instruments. These instruments can include those with bellows and reeds, such as accordions and pump organs, or stringed instruments made of many types of woods or cobbled and cannibalized from various other stringed instruments.  It is quite a creative process this requires speedy searches by myself on the internet for types of wood The Lutheir seeks or specific mandolin or viola strings, whatever the heat of the moment is requiring.

As far as the psalmodikon goes, I found it fascinating and even the pronunciation of the word required some education on our part by The Hermit.  The Hermit is another character in this process who also provides internet searches and information on tech processes and of course, pronunciation coaching.  It was determined that the best pronunciation for this instrument of Scandinavian origin is "som-OH-dick-on."

It is a long wooden instrument with one string that generally has a low, almost guttural sound.  It is known in states such as Minnesota where many Scandinavians settled in the 19th and 20th centuries.  The one string is often played with a bow used on other stringed instruments and they will be played in quartets of the instrument to provide a variety of notes.

The Luthier did build his psalmodikon and it looked fine.  I would have liked to play it and it held a fascination for me.  Maybe because the Scandinavian culture has always been an interest;  probably ever since seeing the Viking ship model my oldest brother made when I was a young child and sneaking into  his bedroom too look at it, but never daring to touch the model.  And I must admit those Midwestern Scandinavian lumberjacks are some fine looking specimens, too.

The Luthier's creation did not remain whole very long.  It was disassembled and the spruce that it had been composed from became another musical project.  This is someone who has the specifications for the Stradivarius stringed instruments posted on the refrigerator in large font to refer to when needed.

Here is a link to some music by a psalmodikon quartet:

The psalomdikon quartet music is well-suited to sacred music, as you will see, if you viewed and listened to the music on this web page Nordic-American Psalmodkonforbundet.  This page has lots of information on the topic, if my article has piqued your interest.

The Luthier, of course, is on another project, and the Hermit and I just shrug our shoulders and know the Lutheir will be requesting new internet searches and information soon for the next and the next and the next...

Monday, March 4, 2013

Laundromat Musings

Washing and drying clothes at a laundromat involves a whole set of skills, that many may not be aware they might need.  Take a couple loads of laundry to the local laundromat when you've never been to one and it will become apparent that it isn't as simple a process as it might look.  Not to be gender biased, but if you're a man standing around waiting for someone to feel sorry for you and tell you what to do, you might get some sympathizers, you might not.  A lot of the women that are going to the laundromat may have children or grandchildren with them , as well as having hauled on heavy loads of wet and dirty clothes and don't see this endeavor as an opportunity to assist the clueless male on how to do his laundry.

Hopefully, the male in question, had a parent who taught him the basics of laundry when he was growing up and he will not be as clueless as originally conjectured to be.  Note, I was once asked to sniff and smell a man's newly laundered pair of pants to see if it still had a burning smell left from the fire he had his house recently.  I asked myself internally, "Is he serious?" but I played along and did as he asked.  I couldn't smell any burning smell, and there might have been a slight odor of kerosene, but I'm not the best person to ask, because my sense of smell is practically nonexistent, except after a superb night's rest, which can happen very rarely.

This was going on as two young children were rolling the laundry carts back and forth and coasting on them as entertainment, while their harried grandmother finished drying some bedding she had washed.  One sincerely enjoys silence after an experience like this, believe me.

Using the same laundromat all the time, one gets acclimated to which washing machines and dryers are the better ones.  One learns the washer that sounds like it will launch into orbit when it is spin drying or the dryer that will leave one with a mass of wet clothes after an hour of drying on the highest setting.  On the opposite side of things, are the washers that don't spin dry at all and leave sodden clothes and the dryers that may melt  the polyester shirt back to its roots as a  product of crude oil.

Who would have known the adventures that await at the local laundromat?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Following Craft Blogs----I Love It!

I follow several craft blogs by email and on facebook.  Probably two years ago I discovered Craft Gossip which publishes every day and is a digest of many types of crafts and features projects made by artists, artisans, craftsmen, you name it, it has been featured.  At least you can name it within tasteful limits.  This blog is a good  way to learn your way around the craft blog world and what you like and what suits your particular likes and dislikes.

I don't claim to be an expert in this area.  I don't attempt to write a craft blog because I don't think I have the self-discipline that I observe is required to do so.  I enjoy seeing the posts and pinning on Pinterest or bookmarking in my browser the crafts and ideas that I think that I might make some day.

And that is the crux of the matter:  some day.  I think this is the true enjoyment I receive in seeing all the wonderful things that can be made with fiber and fabric and all the other materials that are used by these wonderful bloggers and artisans.  I live vicariously through these people's talents.  I know I do.

In a better world, I would have the self-discipline to make all these beautiful objects that I see daily in the posts of such blogs as,  Schwin&Schwin, Crafting a Green World, Positively Splendid, Sew Can She, Crazy Little Projects, Graphics Fairy, Awesomesauce & Asshattery, Cornflower Blue, Chemknits, and meijo's JOY, to name just a few.

It is all such a wild circus of creativity and beauty that comes to me via these blogs and I enjoy them so much.  If I never make every single project that I yearn to make, I have still shared in the making, I believe by viewing the creative spirit of these blogs and the people who create them.  It is a blessing to me.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Honoring Bill

I came to my blog this rainy, dark evening in the North, to tell my tale since I last wrote.  My companion, Bill, died on August 26, due to advanced liver illness.  It seems it always comes sooner than we think it will.  Last summer he spoke of another friend who probably wouldn't last until Christmas.  The friend is terminally ill and still with us.  I have the thought, but Bill you aren't with us.
With the support of many I have muddled through since he died..  People have been there and done things for me that I never would have guessed were something I needed.  They saw the need and filled it.  

Hospice and the staff were wonderful the last 2 and a half days he was able to be home before passing.  He made a massive effort to get home from the hospital before he died.  A Hospice nurse and Linda G. inched him slowly in the door of our house and he had to repeatedly sit down before getting to the hospital bed set up in our living room.   The day before when I'd visited him at the hospital he had walked up and down the hallway using his walker.  He has been talking and calling people on the phone and seeing visitors.  I was unbearably shocked when I came the next day to take him home.  He was so weak, barely walking to his hospital room door with the walker.

I have written else where about our last night together.  He was moving on and heavily medicated with the elixir given to the dying to ease the passage from life to death.  Linda G. who had some experience with the dying explained the process that they go through.  The Hospice nurse had told me she doubted he would last the weekend.  Karl came to see him.  He wanted to see his friend one last time.

I sang to Bill, held his hand, prayed the Lord's Prayer and Serenity Prayer.  I think his last conscious words to me were "I love you."  It's so hard to let go of  Bill, even now.

He died at 3 an that morning.  I was on the phone to a close friend and looked over and he died then.  She told me, "I think he didn't want you to be alone when he died."

I have a small Christmas shrine at my desk in honor of him.  There is a smiling picture of him looking out from  the table where he sat doing a jig saw puzzle.  I have a small cross stitching that I did that states, "Bless this house with love and laughter."  There is my small, wooden painted prayer box, and a small tree decorated with beads and at the back a candle in a glass with the Serenity Prayer on it.

I honor Bill this way.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Quiet, Unspoken Wish

As many adults my age, I have seen the passing of my parents, 2 siblings, a brother-in-law, grandparents, and other relatives.  It is a loss one never "gets over," though one must realize that life goes on and one must keep living.  Writing in this blog is one way that helps me heal from the losses I've experienced.  I've had a wish that I could write some of the stories of those that have passed.  My fear is that somehow I won't get it quite right when I write about them.  But my hope is that I may capture their essence and somehow give my loved ones a life beyond what has been lost.

Please indulge me when I write about my loved ones.  And I would do the same for you, if by any chance, you needed a listening ear.

Neal was the heart of my immediate family.  A piece of advice he gave me when we were both adults was about the workplace.  His advice was that if a co-worker got promoted or received recognition, pat them on the back and buy them a drink.  No room for resentment and jealousy in this advice, was and still is my thought.  I'm not sure I could always live up to that admonition, but I know Neal would and did.

Not to say he was an angel or always did the right thing.  He could listen to an obscene Eddie Murphy monologue with the nieces and nephews at Christmas time, like any good uncle.  He was a cigarette smoker and enjoyed a good drink.

He graduated from high school in 1967 and entered the Navy soon after.  He did two tours of duty on aircraft carriers in the Tonkin Gulf during the Viet Nam Conflict.  He saw a man get blown away on their ship once due to an accident.  He visited Japan and developed a love for Japanese culture.  He was in an airport rest room once and standing next to him at another urinal was a man in drag.  Quite an experience for the small town country boy.  Another experience he told me about was getting back to the states and knowing "something was wrong" because of all the military clothes in the restroom trash...discarded due to the hostile reception military folks received back in the states.  I asked him once why he enlisted.  He told me, "I was patriotic."

Jobs were hard to come by after he left the Navy.  He had some tough years.  He attended college and received his B.A. in English through the G.I. Bill.  He still struggled to find employment.  He worked at the bowling alley for a while as a manager.  He then worked at the local newspaper and printing business, doing color separation when that was part of the printing process and printing presses were actually still in use.  I see it as an accomplishment that he headed and succeeded in making it a union shop for the printing workers.  A lot of the time he had some very thankless, under appreciated years, but he was well-loved by his family.  Always.

My father told a story once of Neal as a teenager accompanying him on a veterinarian call to doctor a horse.  Neal was in the stall trying to steady a highly excitable stallion.   The stallion backed Neal into the stall.  Dad said to him,  "Don't you open your peep or move, Neal," and somehow Dad quieted the horse and Neal got out of the stall.

Neal, don't you move.  I want you to stay right where you are in my memory.  Don't move.