Monday, June 22, 2015

On This Longest Day



Inside a CT scanner is like being in a space capsule. Col. Chris Hadfield, I thought of you as I held a perfect rigor mortis formation, toes pointed skyward, as if in prayer. The capsule spins within its own orbit, humming to the universe, a song of the electro-magnetic spectrum. I chanted X-ray, gamma-ray, all the way to man-in-the-moon marigold in the color spectrum, the color of enlightenment, noting the red laser beam cross etched across my chest. I'm dissected, scanned and disassembled within minutes, then put back together into wafer-thin slices. Hosanna in the highest. The secret inside passages of my body, from hip to toe is made visible by invisible light. And tangible on the CD the imagist hands me on this first day of summer.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Scanning Photos on the Solstice & Father's Day


For the Solstice and for Father's Day I scanned and posted some photos on Facebook of my father. Some were photos that I had never seen before, as I had packed away his photo album soon after the funeral and never looked at it again (my mother died soon after, in 1994). I never really knew my absentee father so Father's Day is not something I've ever celebrated. Ever.

Photos forgotten until I decided to scan all my family photos. A momentous project I never meant to take on, but when my uncle began throwing out old photos when we cleaned out my grandmother's house, something needed to be done to preserve the past. So I collected and sorted and saved boxes of photos.

Back in March, during the Equinox, I began scanning my grandmother's photos, then I scanned my aunt's photos, then my mother's photos, and finally my father's photos on the Solstice.

I was surprised by the composite five-generational story that emerged from filing the separate photo albums of family members. The first album begins in the 1890s, with my great-grandparents; and the richest albums by far, are the old black & white photos up to the 1960s. My personal favorites are the photos from the 1940s and '50s. That's where I enter the picture, so to speak.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Cortisone shots to both knees

Double Cortisone shots to both knees yesterday, feels like I've been knee-capped with  a baseball bat by the Mafia. I don't feel so great. Nauseous. And this is supposed to make them better? Someone said I may be experiencing a "cortisone flash."

I'm icing it, taking it easy. Relief is not instant. And I can't take pain pills. Knees are bloody killing me. At least I now have normal range of movement and can keep the muscles toned.

6/14 Better today, rocky day yesterday. The pain sapped all my energy. I did a little work and clean up and am now paying for it today. I paid for it all night long. Funny little bruises remind me of where I was jabbed. I'm amazed that the Cortisone shots will even work. It's not exactly the obvious relief that most people seem to get. It may take a bit of time to work is an understatement.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Killing off Adobe Flash

I can't open Messages. It used to work fine. A reboot may solve it. Nope. Tired of the Facebook slow dance and a wonky DSL, I deactivated Adobe Flash completely (a Firefox extension) and now Facebook loads right up, with less scrolling lag, fewer blue spinning balls and tractor gears with stalled pages and stuck screens. I get why Steve Jobs had a vendetta against Adobe Flash. Mildly annoying not to be able to watch videos on FB, but I can load Flash when needed, elsewhere.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

VIENNA, 1992


In a rat-infested box under the bed, I found an old photograph of me looking rather tired, perhaps sneering for the camera, with two horses, who were also pretty soured, I might add, from hauling mindless tourists. The cart owner, didn't want me to touch them, not that there was any love lost between them, but our Viennese hostess, Claudia told him, she knows horses. And all I could think of was that this is what happens to dancing Lippizanners who don't make the ecole grade, they wind up plodding along as carriage and cart horses. The only sound of music they hear is the honking of car horns. But every once and a while, they hear the strains of a Viennese waltz, and they lift their ears skyward, perhaps an ancestral memory shaken loose from the fetters of time.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Who murdered sleep?

June 8, 2015 at 6:34am ·

After a heavy clean up day on Saturday, yesterday was a lost day, with enforced rest and downtime for my knee. But it also allowed me to get some quality scanning time in. Hope I have more energy today. Not enough sleep. Woke at 3 AM. Augh. Who murdered sleep?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Broken Crockery


Doors of the past are closing all at once and no time to savor the memories that are evoked by an old worn-out crocheted rug my grannie made during the 1950s, or the broken cake plates and teacups handpainted with flowers and gold rims. Mourning the loss of everyday things, I made a pottery wall gallery along our wooden fence as a tribute to the broken crockery of the past. On what fence shall I hang my poor broken heart?

Gems in the Basement


I've been cleaning out my granny's house in Forest Knolls. The only gems we found in the basement were old photos and even they were in bad shape. Someone got the bright idea to store them in the basement, but the windows broke, it rained inside, and it was a mess... Then the woodrats moved in and began a serious remodel job, building a new nest with old slivers of shingles. They found creature comfort in our prerequisite Jesus Mary and Joseph lithographs that once adorned the bedroom walls to keep us safe as we slept. The faces of the holy family was their flooring. We also found old confirmation and wedding photos as well. And anything shiny, of course—old Christmas ornaments were on their most coveted list. So hard to throw away those ugly old ornaments, that once embodied the magic of Christmas. So odd to think that it was always Christmas in the woodrats' household.

The Right Attitude to Read




After packing and cataloging books all day, I settled in for a good read. Alexander McCall Smith's The Right Attitude to Rain, was calling to me in the pile of unread books. It's a lovely first edition slated to be signed by Himself, but alas, I came down with the flu that day.

Alexander (aka Sandy), and I had corresponded via Twitter, he was writing pithy 140 character short stories on Twitter. No mean feat. Very spare prose. 

So with gusto, I sat down to read his descriptions of things most ordinary and plain, made beautiful by his prose, it made me weak at the knees. I swooned seeing Edinburgh depicted through his lens. But I found that I was also too tired to read, so I grocked the book and tented it over my face, making for a good sunscreen. Perhaps if I read it with the write attitude, it might rain.

Most people are familiar with Sandy's No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series, set in Botswana, and also a BBC mini series. If you haven't read his Portuguese Irregular Verbs, well, then, you're in for a real treat. I reread it every few years. But I refuse to finish the book because I enjoy it so much and I don't want the story to end. Most irregular, I know.

Why, in this digital age, is it so painful to part with books? Old friends, the ones I've read more than once, are the hardest to let go of. Such fond memories. And the marginalia! I feel like Proust in Swann's Way. Bring me some madelines and bring me some wine, as I sort books, using the Dewy Decimal System, but it's all written in Morse code.

I make parings of books like fine wine and cheese. Ah, but the sharp scent of old books, part dust, part mold, burnt paper and still redolent of printer's ink. (Probably all that lead...)

So many books to divest, my love of books has threatened to overtake me and I'm downsizing and needs must rid myself of them all. But I can't bear to do it. So I'm starting with the pulp fiction and working my way back to what matters most. Blue Shoes of Happiness, on the unread pile...I'm saving it for the dark time that is coming.

Now, if only I had a house....or some walls.

Saving Photos and Old Books from the Dross


I've been cleaning out my grandmother's house since November (100 years of crap). They only way I've been about to get through the process is by salvaging and scanning old photos and memorabilia, But I've been saving the bookcases for last, because parting with books is the hardest task. Such sorrow.

So much water damage. The only treasures were old photos and even they were in bad shape. Someone got the bright idea to put them in the basement, but the windows broke, and it was a mess...

When the woodrats began a serious remodel job, they found creature comfort in our prerequisite Jesus Mary and Joseph lithographs, and old confirmations and wedding photos. And anything shiny, of course—old Christmas ornaments and beer caps were on their most coveted list.

Fire ants have burrowed and nested inside all my old childhood books in the basement—honeycombed, all that was left in most cases, were the covers.

And during May, I've also had to do the same excavation process to my cabin in Forestville (still working on it), which has has literally fallen apart (the floor buckled), and I have been tossing out most of that stuff. No time to say a proper goodbye to my clothes, and memorabilia. Carpenter ants and rats at work all these years in an empty cabin.

I was able to save my photos, and poetry books, but they too, have to go. I still need to scan, and archive all my papers there too. Letters from famous poets (Seamus Heaney), and musicians (Dave Brubeck, lots of poetry books. What to do with it all. What university would want my archives? I've a call out to Jim Carmin, poet, and special collections librarian in Portland, Or, for ideas.

As to my cabin, the landlord will remodeling it. Meanwhile... I literally have no place to go. My partner's been crazy weird. Going off his meds was a huge mistake. And I was hoping for a short respite. I'm compromised with my knee injury. So I've a limited shelf life before I easily tire. And I can't carry much, even with dual knee braces strapped down tight. I'm taking baby steps with these first books, lining them up in banana boxes. But it hurts, oh, it hurts. They say all good things come in threes. I guess it's equally true for bad things as well.

A cousin who lives in his car, writes on my Facebook page: Books are history, as opposed to digital media; they're tangible rather than someone one reads on a screen. Yeah, he's right. Visceral. They stink of old dust and vague mustiness. But their tangibleness is a hefty weight.

I'm making separate piles. Celtic Studies stuff to UC Berkeley; Literary works to SFSU Poetry Library, etc. But I've also got a lot of literary memorabilia and letters from famous poets, etc. Back in the days when we actually wrote letters! Sure, I could scan them, but what to do with the originals?

I had to laugh that generations of fire ants had nested inside all my old childhood books in the Forest Knolls basement—honeycombed, all that was left in most cases, were the covers. To think they pooped out all those storied words: Robinson Crusoe, Heidi, Black Beauty, Where they therefore the forefathers of literate generations of ants?

I can't remember who said in a poem, I am in love with books but I am uneasy with my love of books—Galway Kinnell? Anyway, I made a vow years ago to buy no more books, but they've managed to find me anyway.

Yes, I've had a life built upon a solid foundation of books that have shored me up during tough times. And otherwise, have brought me delight through the decades, even if I never read them again. Bruce Chatwin, Paul Theroux., Barry Lopez. Larry McMurtry, Edward Abbey, Alexander McCall Smith.

So many doors closing at once and no time to savor them, or write about it, the memories that are evoked by rotted memorabilia—an old worn-out crocheted rug my grannie made during the 1950s, or a broken cake plates and teacups handpainted with flowers and gold rims—are astounding. I made a pottery wall gallery along our wooden fence as a tribute to broken crockery.

It's a sobering thought to see how stuff accumulates. And culling my stuff was on the menu, but just not this soon. It seems all I've been doing is sorting stuff since November. The end is not quite in sight. Divestiture. Yes, taking photos of things. And letting them go. All my clothes are done, and bagged. I am running on naked.

Also, I want to scan and otherwise document all that other literary stuff, and let it go. And I'm so tired. Part of it is my knee, constant pain....which I block as I can't take pain killers, or Advil anymore. Supposed to get knee replacement. Guess that won't happen now. Fingers crossed (not the knees).

Ah, but the sharp scent of old books, part dust, part mold, burnt paper and printer's ink. Vellichor. But I f'ound a Peet's Free Tasty Beverage coupon in one book! Now where did I put it?