I've known this day was coming for a very long time. I knew when I got Cyrus that I wouldn't have much time with him. He was kept alive in a shelter all of his first nine years under less than ideal circumstances. He came to me with medications for the pain from his blown hips and shoulders and his terrible arthritis, He's also on a pill for his thyroid problems. In the past year and a half, he has developed a skin disease that baffles my vet. We keep him on a prophylactic antibiotic to deal with the skin disease, but it isn't working anymore. At this point I don't know what is hurting the most: his legs and hips or the sores that won't heal on his face. But it became clear very early this morning that the pain is becoming too bad to bear. He has been whimpering since 3:00 AM. I can take the whimpering but I know it won't be long before the whimpering turns into screams and I can't do that to him. He has suffered enough.
His time with me has been good for us both. He has been, from the moment I got him to this moment, one of the sweetest, most loving dogs I've ever had. He has been the strong noble silent type. So I know this constant whimpering is a sign that he isn't that strong anymore.
Perhaps the timing of this crisis is a good thing, because the most difficult time of the year is rapidly approaching. Cyrus is terrified of loud noises that sound like gunfire. So the fourth of July and the twenty fourth of July are two times of huge fireworks extravaganza's of human stupidity and economic waste on an ostentatious scale. I don't approve. Cyrus is just undone by the noise. He will not have to go through that again this year. But I'll never hear fireworks that I don't think of his terror and the terror of so many other dogs when idiots are burning money with a big bang.
Okay, call it Virginia Creeper or Creeping Jenny, but it's strangling my Mormon Plum tree and tugging on the phone line. I don't care much about the phone line since no one in the main house has a land line, but I do care about the plum tree. I have been working on getting as much of it cut from it's source and pulled out of the tree. But still it's attached so high up in the tree, I'll need a much higher ladder or a cherry picker to get it all out.
I climbed the ladder leaning against the trunk and did battle with the biggest strands of it choking some limbs to death. I removed a lot of dead tree along with some mighty long ropes of vine. And in the center of the tree, as I stood on the top rung of the ladder I was torn to shreds by the thicket of deadwood at the center. I have wounds to prove that this was a battle royal. The vine won this round, but I'm far from done.
Can you blame me for hugging myself? I obviously need a hug. I just climbed down from the inside of a prickly tree, it's 5:30 and I've been working in my sleeping boxers and wife-beater. I haven't combed my hair in two days. I don't even think I washed my face today. That's a gawd-awful picture of me hugging myself to show my wounds. But it's the me I live with. Obsessed in everything I do. And without any modesty at all. I might as well garden naked.
While the Eastern Boys are repelling down canyons in Southern Utah, I'm still laying brick and digging up lemon mint. Anyone want some lemon mint? It's crowding out the spearmint. It's done-in the peppermint. I've had it with the lemon mint. Oh yes, it does sound as if it would be lovely. But it only takes a couple of years in the garden to crowd out damn near everything else. And sadly, it's a pale imitation of a mint with a faint scent of citrus.
I'm still opening up vinca covered swaths of ground beside the gazebo to add more patio space. My brick laying has taken a drastic turn from widening a pathway to creating a whole new patio. I hope I have enough bricks.
I've tried to explain to the Dartmouth boy (who is the one around the place during the daytime) the formula for keeping the main house cool through the summer. It involves keeping sunlight out of the house. It involves keeping the house all shut up during the day except the two farthest windows upstairs which should be just opened a bit to create a place for the hot air to go as the cool air from the swamp-cooler whooshes through the house chasing that flow of hot air out those two small openings in the upstairs bedrooms. A lifetime of living with swamp-coolers has taught me how to make the best use of them. Just by closing the shades on the side of the house that sun is shinning on will lower the temperature in the house five to ten degrees. By opening the house at night to the canyon winds that blow from east to west, you can sleep comfortably with just the ceiling fan on low.
But the Dartmouth boy has other things on his mind. He's starting a new business in the food service industry and it's all new to him. He hasn't worked in the restaurant business; he hasn't any construction experience. So his firm timeline seems to be slipping away. He's tried to hire several tradesmen to do the conversion from bus to rolling restaurant in a specific length of time. Things are scheduled and don't go as planned. I could have told him not to count on contractors to give you an accurate timeline. There are always things you didn't factor into your plan that drag time out way past your prior deadline.
So he is worried about his bus and his timeline. He can't concentrate on what the old woman is saying about keeping the house closed up in the daytime and dark. He didn't hear me tell him about the way a small opening at the bottom of a window is enough draft to draw the cool air from downstairs upstairs to chase out the hot. I know. It's counter intuitive. And I am just a talkative old woman.
The boys are already a big hit in the neighborhood. Neighbors know their names and all the girls and women find them charming. They are eye-candy for the ladies. And they're friendly in a breezy sort of way as they rush from one sport to another. Seems they do it all, from mountain climbing to rowing. And they have copious amounts of sports equipment for every imaginable sport. I'm impressed and yet a bit annoyed that there are five specialized bikes in the fireplace room leaning against various unused pieces of furniture.
The William & Mary boy comes from a military family. I met his dad briefly when he was here for a fishing trip with his son. He's a semi-retired high ranking naval officer, and he's a magnificent hunk of a charming man. I had the pleasure of an introduction. He told me the house and neighborhood remind him of places in Virginia. He told me the boys love the house and neighborhood. His son is a snappy dressing organized and orderly young man. He's going places. He's got his life as well ordered and organized as his bedroom and office. His clothes are hung up or put in drawers. His bed is carefully made.
The Dartmouth boy is living in chaos. His room is a mess. It appears he needs a cleaning lady or a wife. Clothes are strewn about the floor like a thirteen year old. Bed unmade and shoved against a wall, so making it up will be harder than necessary. The drawers of his chest of drawers are haphazardly open. I'm so tempted to pick up is dirty clothes and make his bed but I resist the impulse. I know it will be taken as criticism, or worse, snooping. And I don't want to be any one's cleaning lady or mother. Yet I want to warn him not to take his girlfriend into that messy room. I must resist this impulse. I hope the chaos is a temporary problem that's related to his stalled business plan, because I like the boys. I want them to stay awhile.
I was shopping for dill weed at Traces and saw a huge version of this flower. This is the only one of mine that has flowered so far, but if I give them the slightest care I might get more blooms.
The Dragon flower (Dracunculus vulgaris) is an interesting member of the Arum family and a native of the Mediterranean region. The plant's name is associated with its resemblance to a dragon's tongue. This unusual plant is also called the Voodoo lily, Black dragon, and Dragon arum.
Its dark purple spadix emits a most unforgettable foul odor smelling of rotten meat. Fortunately, this rotten odor occurs only when the flower is mature and lasts long enough to attract a few flies, approximately one day. Flies are its chief pollinator of the Dragon flower.
So far I have noticed no scent of rotten meat. I was told at Traces that theirs hasn't propagated, but mine has and mine is small in comparison.
Considered huge in every way, mature dragon flower plants reach heights of 18-30 inches tall. The 10-12 inch flowers range in color from deep maroon to nearly black and last for 7-10 days. You can expect to find the unusual Dragon flower plant blooming in late spring to early summer.
I can hardly wait for mine to get that big. The woman at Traces said she has a collector of rare and unusual flowers who is in the market for one. I may follow up with this, since I have several. But first I'm going to give it a little care, since: This plant grows in either full sun or light shade and prefers moist, humus-rich soil. My soil is far from rich and mostly hard as rock clay. Oh well.
I can tell you this about it: It grows like a weed, self propagating and rooted in poor soil. It tolerates dry soil up to a point. And no matter how abused, comes back year after year. I have shot it from every angle possible and also taken a shot of the spotted stem. Anyone?
I've been doing some digging, laying brick to enlarge my walkway and give me a bit more patio for the little house. And in my digging I'm discovering river rock and slate. These are a couple of photos of this work so far. Most of the slabs of slate I've uncovered are too big for me to budge from their resting places, so I am using river rocks and brick to incorporate them into the patio I'm building without disturbing their resting places.
I was very unlucky when it came to fathers. I had two of them. If only they had been the gay kind, I'd probably have been better adjusted and liked men more. I'd probably have chosen nurturing, gentle, kind men to get involved with. But no, like my fathers, the men I married and lived with were selfish, bullying men who drank too much and felt a sense of entitlement just by virtue of gender. Men of my father's generation did not help around the house. And so the men I mated with refused to do domestic chores. Men of my father's generation ruled the family, and women and children should know their places.
My sperm-donor father did not want me and never gave me the slightest attention unless I spilled my milk or spoke when not spoken to. He was harsh with all of us, but especially harsh with me and my mother. He never held me. There is not a single photo from the beginning of my life until the day my mother and I ran away that shows he and I together.
My adoptive father wanted me, he held me, and then he used me to satisfy his sexual needs from the time I was almost seven until I started menstruating, at which point I became a liability. That's when all affection stopped and he and my mother began to watch me like hawks waiting for the sexual monster they'd created to get pregnant and disgrace the family. So no, Father's Day means nothing to me but a reminder of the power father's have to shape their daughter's future relationships with men.
I woke up to the sound of Joe Barton's voice calling the BP twenty billion dollar escrow account, to guarantee reparations for victims of the Gulf oilspill, a shakedown. I heard something similar from other wingnuts spouting bullshit yesterday after the President's Oval Office speech. I hope someone is taking notes and keeping track of the senators and representatives running for reelection who are saying this kind of sick shit, but I'm betting that only a handful of the very rich think and those whose pockets are fully lined by the lobbyists for the oil industry, like Joe Barton, share his sentiments. Joe Barton's district is not one that will be fouled by a black tide since the 6th district doesn't have a beach, but his biggest donor is the oil and gas industry. Joe Barton is a corporatist pig. Joe Barton is a shill for the oil industry. He does not represent the people of the 6th district of Texas unless all his constituents are oil men, Any politician who wants to protect BP, should go down in infamy as a politician who sold his integrity to the only industry which currently has the power to destroy our environment and our livelihoods. God forbid we give contracts and award the building of new nuclear power plants to private industry. God forbid we let private industry run nuclear power plants. Industry's only constituent is it's shareholders. Industries only job is to make more and more money in less and less time. Safety is only important to industry in so far as it doesn't interfere with profits and bonuses.
Seems to me I have heard some of these same comments about the escrow fund (calling it a shakedown, a slush fund) from the usual idiots on the far right like Palin, Bachmann, Rush and Beck. But any politician who lives in one of the states that will be devastated by this catastrophe and who refers to the escrow fund established to cover the cost of the clean up and reparations to those whose livelihoods have been ruined as a shakedown, should be run out of town by an angry mob of pitchfork wielding citizens.
I don't remember a Spring and early Summer when it rained like this. It's made working outside hit or miss. The ground under the pine trees, where the Creeping Jenny and Vinca Major covers all but dog trails, is saturated. The big open field between the border of what is the yard of the cottage and what is the lawn of the main house is so wet it's slimy at the roots. I've never had a May/June water bill so low. And it's never been this thickly deep and green. The "creepy Jenny" and Wisteria have grown wings from the top of the gazebo skipping the tops of the Lilacs and up the trunk of the giant healthy conifer to the west where the Western Tanager made it's nest this year. The vines have topped the Mormon plumb making a tunnel and dripping tendrils from above that require trimming. They grow so fast I swear if I sat out there and watched I could see it happening. Three days and it grows a foot. Like Kudzu, I think. I must get a handle on it before it swallows my cottage and locks me in.
Nick came by a little after noon with two cakes, a card, lovely espresso cups, and good conversation. Nick cooks. Nick bakes. Nick has the right equipment. Check out these cakes.
Then later in the afternoon, Ms M and Roscoe came by bearing gifts and flowers. While she was here, Esther, Marsha, Rachel and David came. At the end of the day there were two Davids in my house. Both lovely men. My friend and neighbor supplied and cooked for the party. And the food was great. There were five dogs visiting my two, so it was a wonderful dog party as well.
I woke late to cold and rain. I don't remember ever having bad weather for my birthday. It's one of the nicest things about having an early June birthday. I began the day cursing the weather until I found my glasses. Then Nick called and nothing could ruin the day. It was perfect in every way.
To those of you on twitter and facebook, thank you for the lovely birthday wishes. I have never had so many people wish me happy birthday.
We've had a series of intense winds and rain storms. Wednesday morning when Marly and I went out during a break in the storms we discovered a baby Western Tanager on the walkway. Marly was very respectful of this baby. She did a very good imitation of a Pointer, just looking at it very intently. She didn't bark or growl or poke it with her nose. We watched it for a moment and then I took Marly in, grabbed my camera, and took a series of photos in quick succession. When we first looked at it, it's head was up, but as I was snapping pictures its head drooped and it's wings began to look less useful. I hoped if we left it alone, mom or pop would come to the rescue. Next time we went out it was on its side and seemed to be rapidly dying. Today I'll bury this baby. I'm hoping that since Western Tanagers lay from one to five eggs, there will be surviving fledgelings. This baby looked big enough to fly. It's wings were very sturdy looking. I can't imagine what brought it down. Yes, there were winds and yes, there was rain. But somehow I can't imagine that sturdy little bird getting downed by wind and rain. I'll bury it today. I think it's a boy and would have grown to look like its magnificent daddy.
Roscoe woke me up early this morning whimpering at the door. That's how it always was. I let him in and we went back to sleep. Now we're up and I'm getting my first cup of coffee, then we'll all go outside for their morning comstitutional. I'll feed them. And our day will be off to a good start. It's so nice to have handsome Roscoe around today. I'll keep my camera close so I can document everything he does.
Ms M has decided to keep Roscoe at her mother's house. I feel as if we're all being punished for being happy. She said he needs to get used to being alone. Why now? He'll have plenty of time to get used to being alone when they move.
In the years Ms M and Roscoe lived with me I was a generous supportive friend. I've always cared for Roscoe when she worked. I encouraged her to go back to school. I helped her in every way I could. Taking care of Roscoe was part of my helping her. Now it feels as if she's punishing me for my generosity. I wonder how Roscoe feels?
I'm coping. Marly and Cyrus are coping. I talked to my therapist, Fred, on Friday. He's kind enough to do a mini-session on the phone as an assessment. Do I need to see Dr Isabella or not? Do I need a change of anti-depressant or not? "Or not" is the conclusion we both came to as I talked to him. I have a bad day or two and think I'm coming undone. Bipolar disorder can get tricky when you're transitioning. The way down and the way up are dangerous times. It's then when you have the energy to do real damage or chose the final solution. I'm not worried about that for myself. I know that if I stay on top of this illness I can keep myself fairly stable. It's when I ignore changes that I get into trouble. It doesn't take much to knock me off this narrow balance beam. So I'm vigilant and I don't put off checking in with Fred.
Saturday morning I woke up and decided to cut my hair. Change can be good. Change is inevitable. Embrace change! I didn't hesitate. I got my coffee, had a smoke, and hacked off my hair. I went from chin length bob to short short in less than a half an hour. I'm good. I can cut the back of my hair using only touch to feel the length and thickness of it. I think of the first big haircut change as a rough draft. But when writing poetry and cutting my hair, the rough draft is often what works. I'm happy with the result. I almost have a Rachel Maddow cut. And the few people who've seen it have been complimentary.
Now I have to take Marly for a walk so she'll stop waiting for Roscoe.
I'm fading into the background of my own life. I'm hardly even here anymore. Nothing works to distract me from the bleak realities of my everyday existence or the disgust I feel for my bad attitude. There are no humans in my photos. That's a result of my having alienated everyone. There's no one left to offend. I have driven them all away. I make no effort anymore. And aside from the things I've blogged about there are a couple of new things that are now just having an impact on my state of mind. Yes, circumstances can tip the scales toward a bipolar event.
A couple of weeks ago I found out that my internist is going to work for the V.A. I think it's admirable that she's willing to work with Vets, but she has been a very good medical professional for me. She knows me very well. She was the gate keeper, the nerve center, the one person who could tell me to call my shrink when I got too gloomy. She didn't nag me. She didn't judge me. She seemed to genuinely like me. I don't get that much. I know I'm not that easy to get, to like, to care about. I'm sometimes very prickly, impatient, irritable. Now I have to start with someone new, who hasn't read my fucking chart, who has no idea who I am or how I think, or what matters to me. She even shared my political passions. I've been sitting on this catastrophe as if it hasn't really happened or won't matter all that much, but today as I was filling my pill minder I saw that I was running out of Warfarin. I called in my refill but the pharmacy will need to contact my doctor to get more refills. And that's when it hit me. I've lost someone else who really matters in my life. Now I have to negotiate everything anew. Now I have to prove to someone else that my bipolar diagnosis isn't the totality of who I am. My bipolar disorder is a challenge but it doesn't explain everything. It's not the only reason I'm a difficult woman.
Last night Ms M came home from Michigan to pick up Roscoe. Last night Ms M told me she's taking Roscoe with her to Savannah when she moves in July. Months ago she asked me if I'd keep him when she moved. I said yes. At that point I began to think of him as my responsibily. He's a wonderful dog who has spent almost all of his life here. This has been home. This place, these people, these dogs are his familairs. I was losing Ms M. But I was happy for her, proud of her. I was doing her a favor and doing her dog a favor. Now I'm losing them both. If you've looked at my photos much you know that Roscoe is the most photographed presence in my pictures. Roscoe is a big part of my life. Roscoe has special needs. He's a dog who hates to be alone. Now I have to start learning to live without him. My life is shrinking at an alarming rate.
We had two whole days without rain. The temperature was in the 70s. I've been slightly depressed by the news. Twitter always reports the big news stories a day or two before they hit the news programs so I knew the Aid Flotilla was coming and I knew Israel wasn't going to let it in. I'm starting to get really hammered by the Gulf oil spill story. I'm starting to get depressed for President Obama. The Bush chickens are all now coming home to roost and it's a foul mess landing on Obama's shoulders. I feel sorry for him, sorry for the people of the Gulf. I'm horrified by the confrontation between aid workers and the Israeli soldiers. So I took a couple of days off. I didn't even check email. No twitter, no blog, no news.
I started unearthing the stone work I did twenty years ago. And I mean that literally. For almost twenty years no one has been clearing leaves and other debris from the alley side of the little house. So all that debris has turned into soil that's been collecting on the old stone walkway. I began a small archeological dig and took pictures as I worked. I also began adding stones to the path to the main house, enlarging the area covered by brick. I have no idea why doing stone work is so enjoyable for me. When I began doing the this work back here twenty years ago I found it both satisfying and somewhat meditative. It's hard work but I love the final result. That's a good thing since I have a huge pile of bricks and all the work I did all those years ago has been shifted as tree roots have grown under the pavers, lifting them and making tripping hazards here and there. Making my patio area larger and better is going to be my summer project. Here are the photos of my efforts so far.