Sunday’s Theme Music

The window of opportunity for Sunday 11/27/2022, has opened. By the numbers 7:15, 39 F, 49 F, 4:42. That would be AM sunrise, current temperature under an off-gray sky, today’s high, and to close the day, sunset this evening. Snow warnings are issued for later this week but we’re not expecting anything like what hit New York earlier this month. Old photographs of the digital type remind me that we’ve had snow in October and November before, always wet, heavy stuff that didn’t stick around for longer than a fruit fly’s life.

We’re celebrating another friend. We learned yesterday that she passed on Wednesday night. An artist with three sons, she was 96. I’ve only known her for sixteen years, since she was eighty, but she enthralled me with stories about growing up in Klamath, OR. Her late teens had her decide to move to San Francisco to study art. She went to school and lived the life, falling in love, marrying, moving to Sunnyvale, raising three sons while zipping around in a red Triumph sports car. There were trips to New York and Broadway plays, and then her husband’s death, and her return to Oregon. All that happened before she was fifty. I so loved talking to her and enjoyed her spirit. Her mind had slowly trickled away in its abilities, leaving her puzzled about people’s identities and what was going on, and disassembling her ability to paint and write, but she always shared a fantastic smile. Her youngest son has been taking care of her for the last ten years in her house on the hill. Art and laughter used to fill it. It had become more and more silent in the last two years.

The microwave has gone offline again. I did the usual tricks to restore but they resulted in a no-go. So, a deeper, more prolonged process of troubleshooting and repair. So, in case I thought I might have some free time, I don’t.

I saw a bumper sticker yesterday, oh boy. “Give me something to believe in.” read the label on the scratched light blue Volkswagen Beetle. The Neurons immediately kicked “Something to Believe In” by Poison from 1990. It’s a soft rock ballad about losses and inequities. As relevant today as it was back in 1990, noting the TV charlatans living in mansions, driving luxury cars and scamming money from people as the homeless crises rises. Bret Michaels wrote the song and was mourning the loss of friends as he wrote it and felt it when he sang it. You should check out the words.

Stay positive and test negative. Enjoy some fresh air, sunshine, and beauty where you find it. Coffee has been consumed, and more will be consumed. Here’s the music. Cheers

Sammy

He glanced up when a women entered the coffee shop and strode with long legs to the counter. Then he caught himself from shouting and leaping out of his chair.

The woman looked just like his little sister. If his sister had not been dead for forty years — if he’d not seen her die (God, stop that thought) and hadn’t gone to her services, consoling Mom and his other sisters — he would have been sure it was Sammy, the name she chose when she was little, telling everyone, “My name is not Debby. It’s Sammy.” Asked why she’d changed her name, Sammy thrust out a hip, removed sunglasses from her nine-year-old face and replied, “Look at me. I’m not a Debby.” It was delivered with such precocious contempt.

Carmichael couldn’t stop himself from watching her. Like Sammy, this woman was stunning, brunette with thick hair and sunlight delivered highlights, long-legged, athletic in stance and motion, like she’s waiting for play to resume. All his sisters were the same, except Sharon, who seemed to be from a completely different set of genes, except she shared their grandmother’s hips, face, and neck — well, all of it as she aged, almost becoming Grandma’s spitting image. The other problem was that the woman looked as Sammy had when she’d died, so she couldn’t be Sammy. Sammy would now be sixty-two. So, that was impossible. Also, what would bring Sammy to Corvalis? Sammy wouldn’t be this far north. She wanted warm sunshine. He’d always thought she’d end up in southern California. That’s where she always declared she was going to live, and Sammy had the will to make it so.

The woman turned, strolling from the counter, sunglasses in hand, as Sammy always did. She glanced his way. He met it with a small smile and slight nod. God, the resemblance to his sister was shocking. He should take a photo, maybe explain why, then —

Her eyes widening, she walked toward him. “Carm? Oh my God, is it you?”

Carmichael sat back and held off answering for seconds. Then, “Do I know you?”

The woman stopped six feet away, sunglasses pointed to her chest, long hair held back by the other hand. “It’s me, Sammy.”

“Sammy?” Carmichael dumbly nodded. He refrained from adding, you can’t be Sammy because Sammy is dead. Didn’t seem like a polite thing to say. “Sammy…Sammy who?”

“But — I’m sorry. You — but it can’t — ” Sammy shook her head with small and precise movements. “I’m sorry, but you can’t be Carmichael.” A smile charmed him. “I thought you were my brother. You look just like him. But you can’t be.”

“Why?” Carmichael asked.

“Well, he died almost forty years ago,” Sammy replied with a small sigh. “Car accident, along with my mother and sister.”

“Sharon?”

Sammy froze for two seconds. Her brown eyes narrowed. “What’s going on? How did you know that?”

“Because my sister is Sharon. She was with us when you died.”

Patches

A patch to wake up

A patch to fall sleep

A patch to help you pay attention

A patch to take a drink.

A patch to kill your dreams

A patch to keep you sane

A patch to make you eat

A patch to dull your brain.

A patch to calm your nerves

A patch to stay alive

A patch to keep you breathing

And then a patch to die.

Wednesday’s Wandering Thought

His wife, as she sometimes does, came in and said, “Just making sure you’re alive,” and then left for the gym.

It’s something she’s been doing for a few years. But he’d recently stayed with his mother, who twice told him that she was going to send someone down to his room to see if he was alive when he visited her.

Just what kind of vibe was he giving off to others that they wondered if he was still alive?

Time For Another Celebration

The winds brought in some news. A friend, Carol, was to meet another for lunch and whatever. Carol, known by habit and character to be punctual, didn’t show. The jilted date went to Carol’s house to learn why. The front door was unlocked, the television was on, and there was Carol, dressed and seated in front of the telly, all ready to go, already gone.

She was always fun at the annual Oscars Party, held at Judy’s house each year. The pandemic put a stop to that nonsense. Carol was also known as an enthusiastic reader and one ready for a small glass of white, and a refill. She was tidy and neat, never a hair out of place, always in stylish shoes, fast with a quip, ready to talk politics and the latest on the war, economy, or technology. She is, of course, irreplaceable, as they all are. News of her passing is going through the community like a high-speed boat.

All agree, we’ll certainly miss Carol. At least, the consensus says, she went out the best way, dressed and ready to go, with little apparent bother, and no long good-byes. She never was one for long good-byes.

A Celebration

Another friend has passed away. He beat cancer four years ago. Earlier this year, he said it had returned. Last time I saw him, he looked wan, gaunt, tired. He had beautiful brown eyes which glint with humor, mischief, and intelligence. All were absent that last time that I saw him. He didn’t speak much. He told us he was going to a family reunion in Europe. On his return two months ago, he told us that he was withdrawing from our weekly beer group meetup. I had a bad feeling.

But I’m not here to grieve. Grieving has worn me down. Death, sickness, and illness are all regular segments in the great cycle of life. Better instead to celebrate the friendships and love of these people who complete the circle and go on. We don’t know what they go on to. I just know what he’s left behind. I’m pleased that he took time to be a friend and join me to tip back a beer once a week and talk politics, philosophy, science, art, pop culture, music, and literature. He’d tell me about his life and his travels, how much he loved his father and sisters, what he and his daughter do as traditions, how proud he was of her.

I cherish those days and will as long as I can. And I will celebrate that such a person lived. My face still hurts with feelings of loss and tears sully my vision, but that’s me wallowing in self-pity that I lost such a friend. No more, no more. I will celebrate the human I knew and how he made me laugh, think, and wonder. And sometimes I’ll raise a beer and have a drink, and smile, as if he’s still there.

The Escape Dream

My wife and I were driving through the night. I did all the driving. It was a dark, intermittently wet experience but steady progress. We made it to where we wanted to go. As sunrise rinsed out the night, we found a different, larger vehicle to carry us on, and took on supplies. I packed the supplies in different containers. We emptied the one car, and I put everything in the other car. We were traveling with cats and had a litter box. I cleaned it out and then, for some reason, put the bags of used litter on the floor behind a seat. A cat was curled up in that location, apparently asleep, but I then realized he was dead. It was Quinn, who in RL, died of cancer several years ago.

With the new vehicle packed up, we went across the compound to shower. Suddenly naked, I squatted down in the sunshine, waiting for my turn. My wife stood beside me as I waited. We talked while this happened, feeling good about where we were and where we were going. People randomly passed by, taking no notice. I picked a scab off my leg.

The dream ended.

The Three Cadets Dream

A whirling dervish of a dream. The velocity and fullness reduced what I could record.

TL/DR, I posed as a young cadet to use a computer, got caught and left. I drove a big white pickup and was at a funeral parlor. I spoke with a friend about how he processed his wife’s death.

Main elements included being with three young men and sometimes pretending I was one of them. They were cadets in a junior military training program. Don’t know the service, etc. Punishment was meted out for small infractions; the punishment was ‘take a sip of water’ from a small glass of water. Observing the three of them, I surreptitiously saw their passwords so I could log onto systems under their names. The one I was doing this with most was Josh, a big, gangly white guy from Idaho.

I went with the three to a classroom. Located outside under a warm blue sky, the classroom was a square of computer terminals with chairs. Instructors in the old camouflage battle dress uniforms sat on a wall monitoring activities. I wanted to get on a terminal to write. I had nothing else to write with and it was urgent for me to write.

The three had white vinyl binders. Inside it, one to a page, was a required essay subject. They were supposed to practice writing these five-hundred-word essays and then go to the computer and write them in the system from memory. Figuring I went get in the system under Josh’s name, write one of his essays for him, and then use the computer as I needed, I studied the topics and selected one.

We went in. I began executing my plan under an instructor’s cynical glare. I worried about being caught because I was much older than the cadets and my grooming was not to standards. The instructor noted an immediate infraction in my posture and addressed it in cool, low tones. “Take a sip of water,” she told me. I addressed my posture and sipped, then logged on. I was writing Josh’s essay on what I liked where I lived when I was young at home. Josh was from Idaho. I’ve never been but thought I could take a stab about the land’s beauty, hunting with friends and family, something out of those veins. But progress was impeded by the instructor interrupting me every few with notice of infractions and telling me, “Take a sip of water.”

My worry meter was cranked up. I wanted to get done and get out. Longer I stayed, greater chance of exposure, etc. And with my state and age, greater time equaled greater exposure equaled greater risk of being caught, which means I would fail.

Yes, other instructors took notice of me. Visiting senior officers did, too. They began a passive-aggressive campaign, standing behind me and telling another cadet sitting to my side to tell me that I was out of reg, etc., a drip of constant criticism. I slowly fumed and finally had it, identifying myself to the commander when he came in and made a snide remark. One of my commanders from RL, his posture instantly changed. He replied, “I know who you are. I’m just having fun with you.”

I decided to leave. The commander cajoled me, “Stay, relax, lighten up. Sometimes you need to relax, Seidel.”

But I was angry and set. Good-bye. He ruefully answered the same.

I caught up with the three cadets I’d been with. One of them had been working on an essay and showed it to me. His essay was supposed to be about CADRE, an acronym and what it meant to him. He took it literally, explaining what each letter represented. I lambasted him for being so literal, telling him, this is not what they want.

We were talking and walking. They got into a shiny white new Chevy pickup with me, a huge beast of machinery. I drove through the town talking with them about how to write better essays. Then I pulled into a side road, dirt, green with grass clumps. A woman was with five dogs and a ginger kitten. I worried about the ginger kitten being hurt by the dogs or the kitty being hit by a car. But another man arrived as I did, corralled the dogs and let her pick up the kitten. It seemed like those two knew each other.

I pulled into a large facility and back up to park. Difficult for me in this truck. Don’t know why we were there. I went into…confused miasma of things… I ended up with mud sticking to my shoes. I pulled them off to clean them, along with my socks. I was in a hurry to leave. When I parked, I thought I’d been to close other vehicles and thought I’d grazed a few, and I saw that a man was in one of them.

All the vehicles were white trucks like the one I drove.

The man got out and conducted a stony inspection of the trucks and gave me a look. I got into the truck to leave. The truck drifted back, scrapping more vehicles. I realized that my truck was too close to the others to move, so I got out and pushed it to one side so that I could leave.

We didn’t leave but went into the building. I discovered this was a funeral parlor. The man came in and met with family. They were in mourning over a loss. Don’t know who. I ran into my friend, Mel. I asked him how he’d coped when he lost his wife. He said that he didn’t handle it well, drinking too much and doing stupid shit, trying to sell computers.

Dream end

Dream note: Mel is a real life friend and looked exactly as I know him. His wife is alive.

Friday’s Theme Music

It’s up to 59 F outside. But the buttery morning sunshine delivered at 6:44 is now smoked over. Our lovely sky has rocketed relatively healthy lime green 48 on the air quality scale to 197. The high temperature today will be 103 F. Sunset, 7:31 PM.

Today is Friday, September 9, 2022. I’m waiting to begin my travel home. Tucker volunteered to inspect the bag and floofervise the process. On the other end of phones and texts, my youngest sister is reporting on Mom. Hospitalized for COVID complications and an appendix first thought ruptured but then found perforated, Mom has a lot of issues. A pacemaker was installed a few years ago. A diet of Kools and Salem cigarettes has left her with COPD and emphysema. The physicians discovered that she punctured one of her lung’s lobes. She’s also retaining fluid. Her O2 levels keep dropping to 70 or lower. Without much surprise to me, this 87-year-old woman has declared, “Enough. I’m tired. I’m done.”

My older sister has just arrived there from Atlanta. Another sister can’t attend because she’s COVID positive. The fourth sister is on her way back to the hospital. So is Mom’s partner. I won’t get there until tomorrow. The time, drama, and decisions give me a lot to think about.

The Neurons have a song by The Who circulating in the morning mental music stream. Released in 1971, “Gettin’ in Tune” has often been a standby song for me when I’m reflecting on choices and getting ready to travel. I understand why The Neurons have posted it.

Stay positive, test negative, wear a mask as needed, etc. I’ve had coffee. Might have more. Here is the music. Hope your Friday is a good one.

Cheers

Thursday’s Wandering Thought

As news about his mother’s declining condition was received, he thought for a while and then, teary-eyed, told her with his mind across time and space, “Well, Mom, I’m good with whatever you decide to do. You’ve known pain and sickness for so many years. If you decide you’re done, I understand.”

She would be missed, though. Strong, intelligent, and vital, she was his favorite mother. Probably always would be.

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