Sunday’s Theme Music

Welcome to Sunday, so named for that star that dominates the Earth sky and our lives. The star cranked over the Oregon horizon on this 21 of March, 2021, at 7:13 AM and will remain with us until 7:23 PM. Chilly air and rain are prevalent with a temperature of 40 degrees F. Yesterday turned out okay though, presenting us a rain, sun, and mist blend and a comfortable low fifties temp. I hope today will do the same.

Little heavy-hearted today. Another friend went into hospice. Not COVID-19 related; just life. A good person, with a satisfying joie de vivre, I haven’t seen him in a year. My sadness is for him, enduring pain and realizing his end is approaching, and his family. My sadness is also that I won’t be able to enjoy his company in the future, and that will leave a hole. His body has been slowly giving up on him, a matter that’s accelerated since the turn of the year. We hope to do at least one Zoom call with him before his final breaths.

Meanwhile, my wife and I slipped out to the store yesterday. We did this in the afternoon, in broad daylight (love that expression). This is unusual for us; we typically scurry in and our either very early or very late, when fewer people are about. But, yes, we’re growing weary, perhaps jaded about COVID-19. Plus, we’re optimistic. Cases have been trending down in our state, county, and town, since about January’s middle. More folks are vaccinated. We’re still wearing masks. Well, in grocery stores we are, which is where we were yestiday.

You might think we’re crazy. Getting a little wild. None of that is true. Yeah, you knew that. But laughing with my wife, joking about being such ‘risk-takers’, brought the 1984 Cars song, “You Might Think” out of my mind’s dusty crevices and up into the musical crease. Thought it would be a fine Sunday theme song. You might think I’m wrong. That’s your right.

Stay positive, test negative, wear a mask, and get the vax. Cheers

Thursday Thoughts

  1. My cousin, Glenn Seidel, passed away, ending his cancer fight. A genuine nice, caring person, his death is one that makes you question life’s mechanics. I wish he’d never suffered cancer; he’d watched his mother and younger sister fall to cancer. It’s good that he’s no longer suffering, though. Watching the suffering, unable to do more than mouth platitudes, is the struggle for me when a friend, relative, or pet is suffering and dying. No, it’s not about me; the survivors always mourn. It’s about what he — what they all — went through before reaching the point of death. Here’s to Glenn.
  2. Weather is on my mind. We’re contemplating a move east. Why? Summer weather here in southern Oregon has become a litany of summer suffering: wildfires, or smoke from wildfires suspend or kill activities and travel. Drought requires water restrictions, which is enforced via capitalism: if you have the money, you can buy the water. Depressing, right? But our winter is comfortable, remarkably snow free and freezing free. Moving east to Ohio or PA would mean plunging into that stuff.
  3. Watching Texas suffer from lack of planning for cold weather brings deep sighs of frustration. Save some pennies, increase profits, but when the shit hits, you’re wickedly unprepared. It’s sadly now the GOP way. Yet that ‘save some pennies, increase profits’ mantra holds fast against critical thinking. It’s always the poorest classes who suffer most, of course.
  4. Since I’m on politics, will the righteous right-wing notice that President Biden, a Democrat, immediately reached out to help states, whether they’re ‘red’ or ‘blue’? Doubtful that they’ll notice; doubtful that they’ll remember. Yes, experiencing a strong cynical streak today.
  5. We worry about the animals along with people, you know? We hope the animals are warm and safe, too. The logical response is, this is life; suffering is inculcated as part of the formula. Death is a natural ending. Still, I hope for the best. Guess I’m an unrepentant optimist.
  6. Writing (knock on wood) continues going well, which continues to scare me. There’s a burst of jubilation as a major chapter is completed. After a pause of reflection, anxiety strikes as I face the ever-present, ever-daunting question, what next? That question always pulls me back into the puzzle that’s called writing a novel.
  7. I’m watching more foreign television shows that are in their native languages. I run in place and watch television to wind down at the day’s conclusion. Usually do two to three miles between 10:30 PM and midnight. Bad dubbing draws cringes and winces, which are disruptions to the entertainment. Don’t need it. Instead, I watch television in German, Icelandic, Norwegian, French, etc., eyes glued to the captions. We like how characters appear in television from other countries. Characters in the U.S. TV land are typically pretty people with pleasant lives and mild challenges to their principles and decisions. Typically, matters are quickly resolved, with little complications. There are exceptions. The characters in stories in other nations are less pretty, less glamorous, and more natural. Yes, they’re more like me. Fortunately, watching foreign television seems to be a growing streaming trend. A great selection is available.
  8. One exception in U.S. television that I continue to admire is “The Wire”. Watching it for the second time, finishing season four, the levels of excellence in production values, acting, character development, plots, and story arcs all still impress me. It’s been several years since I first watched it, yet so many of the people and story-lines remain memorable. It’s a gritty show, but you end up rooting and crying for so many.
  9. Finished reading/read six books last week. I’m mastering the jogging-in-place-while-reading process. Five of the books were fiction, the other was non-fiction. Reading does enhance/intensify my writing process. Hungry for more books now. One is on hold at the library, so I need to head that way, but also research more to add to my list. I’m reading mostly crime and speculative fiction while I’m writing my science fiction/speculative fiction novel.
  10. With running in place augmenting my walking and other exercise, my 28-day average remains over 12, coming in at 12.41 for this cycle, with a best day of 14 on February 7.
  11. It’s raining outside. My cats are in and asleep. One sleeps on my feet as I type, keeping me warm with his weight. Another is in the foyer, curled up on the bench, a paw over his eyes. The third is stretched out on the guest bed like a ginger throw. Their presence and the knowledge that they’re safe and comfortable reassures me against awareness of the world’s pain.
  12. Now, time to go eat lunch. Then it’s back to writing like crazy, at least one more time. Stay safe, please. Cheers

So the Thoughts

So the thoughts go, ah, another cousin has died. He was seventy-three. Positive for COVID-19, kidney failure was his cause of death.

The thoughts continue, when did I see him last? What happened to him in the interim?

The thoughts drift…did he marry and have children? Who are they and where do they live?

The thoughts roll on to other uncles and aunts and their children, and their children’s children.

Two other cousins passed away in 2020. Hadn’t seen one in two decades. Almost six had passed since I’d seen the other. They and I were small children. Also passing was an aunt, not seen since I was two or three.

In a modern age of connection and travel, it’s startling to recognize how many of my family members I know about, and how little I know about them.

Two related stories are there to be told. One is of a cousin fourteen years younger. He was friends with my sister via FB. (My sister has a different father than me and last name and she’s since married a few times.) He reached out to her: “Hey, how come my mom’s maiden name and your brother’s last name are the same?” He was too young to remember me, and didn’t know about our connection.

Another friend request came in last year. Mom’s older brother had a son who know lives north of me by a few hours. Can we be friends? A few years older, he and I have a lot in common. On one FB exchange today, we discovered that we attended the same Joe Cocker concern a few years ago. From our description of where we were sitting, we were within yards of one another.

It’s a large world and a small world, a world tangled with connections and distance. I began trying to untangle some of it today.

The End

The world won’t end in a whimper,

and not with a bang,

and probably not with fire and ice.

It’ll end with them shouting, “You lie,”

and others shouting back,

oblivious to the death and dying,

that’s rendering life a wreck.

Monday’s Theme Music

Computer issues drop-kicked my Sunday into Sourday yesterday. Naturally, I blamed 2020. Made more sense than blaming myself, or HP, Microsoft, Kaspersky, or anything else. No, this was 2020’s fault. Because, 2020 has been a helluva memorable year for all the wrong reasons, from my perspective.

Like, yesterday, I went for a short walk. Golden leaves were flaring bright against the sky blue. The air was warmish at seventy, but clearer than a new 4K television picture. Yet, given my ‘puter issues, my mood was sour. Walking out of the house and up the hill, I remembered the four small, beautiful cats who used to greet me when I came out. Pepper, Buddy, and Mimi (aka Princess) all were neighbor cats. Quinn was my own. None were big. Three were long-furred but all were sweet and happy. All were here last year, last fall. Now, all were gone, victimized by life and death, as we all will be.

Yeah, some mood, right?

It’s natural for my mind to provide theme music, background to whatever I’m doing. Yesterday’s chosen song stayed with me for today. Probably did this song as theme music before; I didn’t bother to look. Frying other matters in my head, you know?

Here is Green Day with “Wake Me When September Ends” (2005). In place of September, feel free to insert anything else. I inserted 2020, as in wake me when 2020 ends.

Cheers

Mimi Update

Mimi is the neighbor’s beautiful little gray and white cat. She had a close call with a car the other day. Turned out, she’d been hit.

I wrote about her close call in Friday Fragments. I saw Mimi streak away and reported it to the neighbor. I’ve seen cats streak away from accidents only to succumb later.

Such was the case now. Mimi’s back end was injured. She dragged herself into the house and hid. My neighbors searched for her but couldn’t find her. Midnight that night, Mimi made a noise and she was found, along with the extents of her injuries. They rushed her to care.

Mimi could be saved. The price would be high. Her injuries were extensive, and the quality of life and her future would be very uncertain. Grieving at 2:30 AM, the people made the decision they thought best for themselves and their cat.

Coronavirus restrictions were broken as the vet allowed them to say good-bye.

It was the humane thing to do.

Just Another

My friend passed away this week. It’s the polite way of saying he died, an easy way to express and digest it without harsher emotions and pain attached to it. He passed away. It’s like a boat sailing into a sunset, going on a journey, out of sight beyond an horizon, but really still there.

Ed was eighty-nine. He had a brain tumor. Actions were taken, but the body is the body.

He had a spectacular intelligence and a sharp sense of humor. I was flattered to know him and pleased that he sought my company. We always had lively conversations. Since I’ve known him, he’s had white and gray hair, with a receding hair line, and a gray and white riotous beard. His daughter included a photo of him from his youth. Turned out he used to be a blond, handsome man, a far reach from the fellow I knew in appearance. Yet, the resemblance beyond the superficialities of hair and beard was clearly there.

After gaining his PhD from Stanford, he joined NASA in the mid 1960s and was with them until he retired a few decades later. He was less involved with manned space exploration and more engaged with sending satellites out to find information and send it back.

In one sense, we’ve been expecting Ed’s death, in one form or another, since he was born. In another, it took him sooner than we hoped, and we wonder if it’s the curse of 2020.

I know that he’s not the only one who died this week, and that his life and death was much better than what many experience. His daughter informed us of Ed’s death on Wednesday.

“So last night mom went in to chat with dad. His breathing for 48 hours had been in the labored, raggedy stage. But he opened his eyes and they sparkled and he smiled. Mom chattered to him and told him it was ok if it was time for him to go. They had walked a lifetime together. She loved him but could let him go. I came in after to sit the rest of the evening not realizing what mom had said and told him “You’ve climbed a lot of mountains, and this has been a grand adventure of a life, it’s time to finish this final climb. We will walk it all the way to the end with you.” One tear rolled down his eye and about two minutes later I watched him hold his breath, carrying what had become a common pause in breathing, just a little further, and he was gone. He took it before it took him. And that’s the way he wanted it.He set the tone for all of us all the way along this last one year+. And I promise you he spent a lot of time over those 6 days, mostly pain free, sitting as an observer to this final unfolding, with his always enthusiastic and curious mind. He showed no struggle, no despair, no sadness. He fully leaned in to the enitre journey. I think he just would have liked it to go a little longer. But no regrets.”

I always wonder what happens after death, spiritually, but also along the lines of quantum existence. If there is something more, I’m sure Ed will make the most of it. If not, he led a life here worthy of being emulated and celebrated.

Either way, damn, I will miss him.

Sunday’s Theme Music

So…

Contrary to world expectations, I’ve been, um, feeling good? How else can it be put, but I’ve been experiencing a rising sense of hope and optimism. It permeates everything I’m doing and thinking.

Rationally, I can’t account for it. I can say that I’m less stressed because I’m not out there socializing and fighting traffic. I can attribute it to kind weather gods; May, June, and July have been pleasantly mild for the most part, keeping anxieties about wildfires and smoke tamped.

But then there’s COVID-19 and what it’s doing to the world. And there was the death of a sweet, shy cousin, too young, just fifty-one, dead from cancer, leaving two sons behind, succumbing to the disease after a four year struggle. In my mind, she remains bright-eyed and smiling with an impish impulse.

And there was Dad, being rushed to the hospital mid-week, Dad who is rarely sick but has a full metal jacket of stents (installed a few years ago) and moderate CPOD. He is almost eighty-eight, though, so there’s always expectations and worries. We are talking about the life train. It always pulls in at the same final stop.

Writing, though, has been a wonderful escape, of course, taking me on an unexpected ride as the characters evolve and the story goes in directions that I didn’t expect. That’s always a pleasure, innit? A good writing day can propel you over many obstacles.

So…

Feeling good. Optimistic, hopeful, even joyous.

Against this backdrop, I’m hearing “Bell Bottom Blues” by Eric Clapton (1971). Two aspects of the song stay on a loop in my head: “I don’t want to fade away,” and “I don’t want to lose this feeling.”

No, I don’t want to lose this feeling. It’s too good. I wish I could package it and share for free with everyone in the world. Others should know these sensations. They’re powerful stimulants.

Enough of my babbling. Here’s the music, a later live acoustic version that I think does more justice to the song.

A Life

She’d wrestled and cried

and purred and loved,

and was loved

and bit and clawed

(mostly in play)

(mostly)

and then gave a sigh and closed her eyes

just for a moment

just to rest

(just for a moment)

before giving up the fight to live

started seventeen years ago.

Memorial Day

With 97,000 plus deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the United States in 2020 and states starting to re-open, I believe we’ll probably start seeing a new meme about ‘Memorial Day’ as we’ll certainly cross 100,000 deaths before Memorial Day.

Which prompts me to recall Trump’s February 26 comment. “You have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.”

Today, three months later, we’re at 1,637,593 cases in the United States, which is a long way from zero.

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