Cockle-Warming Nostalgia and Painful Neuralgia

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This evening, I attempted the failing task of recalling special “Trick or Treat” rounds when was a wee lad. However my  perspective and narrative may be affected by the critter crackles from the front yard across to the woods. I don’t know exactly how many chickens are reluctant guests at Marklewood, but there is definitely a robust, focused, and somewhat aroused rooster.

The outdoor pusses seem to be leaving them alone. They have the air of not wanting to bother. I suspect though that they are visualizing extra large chicken nugget. Even after all this time spent with my various pets, I wonder about a cat’s desire to make every day special. Treats. Table scraps. Treats and table scraps. Every once in a while they remind me of their preference for premium brands for both food and litter.

As I type away, pinched nerve and all, Eve, Yorick, DeWilde, Kitty Carlisle, and their cronies are planning somme act of aggression that will end with sweet dreams of a spectacular dinner menu. The daily special is rather obvious.

Those thoughts reveal funny musings of the future. Yet, my intent was to reminisce a bit. My pinched nerve is throbbing and doesn’t seem to want to cooperate. I shall go to bed and pray that, upon awaking tomorrow, my waylaid nerve has righted its wrong. It will hopefully return the reins of my pain management. Nettie, ( I name everything!) purloined both my time and attention and, for almost two long months, has made my life “all about her!”

So if you run into me at the Harris-Teeter, feel free to inquire about my very first time. My mother had decided that I would dress as a cat … while Scott’s mother preferred that he wear a dog costume. Since Chapel Hill still had that small town feel and pace, the two of us went alone. We returned a few hours later with our grocery bags teeming with penny candy and the occasional bar.

Or you may want to ask about a particular night about fifteen years ago. While four of us sat on the floor enjoying martinis, a dear friend was dressing at home. He wrapped about twenty yards of some lacy fabric around his body. He found a well-coordinated and appropriate pair of high heels, in no less a man’s size 10. And topped it off with a blond wig and an “exuberant” turban.

As I was making sure that all the shutters were tightly shut, and that those candy-seeking invaders would skip my house. The house was dark , with stretched and eerie shadows gave the front yard definition and a Gothic feel.

You might be curious about, perhaps, some Halloween party that fell into debauchery and misbehavior. You’ll enjoy tales of ’84 in New York and those of ’95 at the beach.

Whew! And a lurking “Oh my!” is beginning to overwhelm me. Painkillers don’t even seem to give me much relief. Resting in a prone position and staying extremely still removes at least the throb. So at this earliest of morning hours, I best sign off and, walking carefully and intently, head to bed.

I can listen to the most recent “Gotham” while Jon is glued to the television.

That experience probably isn’t much different from that of my parents and grandparents. TV had yet to dawn.

Speaking of which …

The Box! The Box! The Box!

Yikes! How I would be so jubilant and relieved if the various elections were over. My reference is not for a moment, but better yet: a lost memory. In fact, if CNN had already exhausted any further analysis and actually moved on, happiness would bounce from pine to pine at Camp Marklewood. As it dissipated into political oblivion, Jon and I would be focused on the December holidays.

However, the election is yet one week from today. Specifically, it is the US Senate race that looms over voters and blatantly flirts with further consternation and, perhaps, even a tragedy of sorts. Oh, I must make certain that there is an ample reserve of my prescribed Zoloft, Wellbutrin, and Gabapentin. For the first time since I first registered to vote in 1974, dread and anger seem tightly woven into a laniard of negativity.

How sweet it would be if today were November 5. I could neatly stuff all the election details and post mortems into a tiny and well-sealed box. Then I best place it into a similarly tiny chest and hide it from sight in “nostalgia purgatory” — the attic.

In an average evening, one might watch, let’s say, three television shows. New episodes of “The Walking Dead”, “The Good Wife”, and “Madam Secretary” would be marred and likely scarred from the fifteen or so desperately partisan commercials that air every hour.

The entire Senate race now appears to be based on otherwise resolved and exhausted issues. The Affordable Care Act and the “life v. Choice” debate dominate the airwaves and YouTube. Don’t get me started on the disrespectful use of the label ObamaCare, especially when its delivery is sarcastic and unkind.

It would be terrific if, at age 58, I might still carry hope and kindness in my robe pocket. I teeter on apathy, Gentle Readers. Mind you, I shall still vote with optimism that humanity will prevail and begin to embrace everyone. We owe each child a future, not to forget food and shelter.

But I am sure everyone is aware of my political leanings. They haven’t wavered in forty years. Except for the “tiny box” proposition.

It could very well be the safest route home from this partisan Purgatory, lest I place that laniard around my neck.

Vote. Vote. Vote.

And, yes, these featured watercolors are in fact also tiny.

(Images: “Postcards for Ants” by Lorraine Loots, 2014. Each miniature is 10cm X 10cm.)

Wisdom From His Perch

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When one is retired, every day is either like Monday or like Friday, depending on one’s viewpoint and attitude. It’s either dread or relief.

Henry reminds me to seek joy everywhere. I guess I haven’t listened to him lately.

That silly puss can be rather intuitive and sensible. I was allowing those Medicaid demons to get in my head and mess with my aura.

Today, said aura is beginning to once again shine.
(Henry also advised me to fetch another voodoo doll, just in case. Sadly, Harris-Teeter was sold out, and the manager issued me a raincheck.)

As today is, thus, my Saturday, then somewhere and for whatever reason, it’s Tuesday for some unfortunate souls.

Don’t even bring up the subject of midweek, often referred to as “hump day”. Henry hates that wretched reference, and relies on his own voice and lexicology.

(Image: “The Circus” wool/linen by  Marguerite Zorach, 1929.)

MGM Seeks Quell to Woes

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I am, once again, in Medicaid Hell. Not Purgatory. Hell! Hell, I tell you!

We here have all been dealing with the same issue since August 1: that is, that both the interested and disinterested representatives of the Wake County Medicaid office, UNC Memorial Hospital, and Marklewood. It is  I who loses in the end. I am now forced to suffer because of their error, not to mention the aggravation. I have been trembling all day, as I look for both nails and voodoo dolls.

Spitting alone will never assist in attaining results. Inflicting verbal pain may just be the remedy I need. Again, I did mean “pain” not abuse. Currently, dialogue between all parties is at an evil and ugly crossroads. There doesn’t seem to be any “gruntle” in my immediate imagination.

Even passive aggression doesn’t seem to at least pull me out of the annals of the Devil’s lair. A limbo status would at least relax me as we ease into a weekend of non-resolution.

Yesterday, I finally asked my case worker’s supervisor: “What if I died on your watch?” Desperate measures are not enough for Father Time. She responded to all of my inquiries as if an organ transplant is akin to a broken leg; and that perhaps I should investigate Affordable Care  options. I already had inquired. The least expensive policy would cost me $457 per month. Those of you who are either retired or disabled I’m certain can sympathize with my frustration. The North Carolina legislature has added unreasonable “deductibles”, waiting periods, or some other falderal of fine print.

Yikes! Today’s Zoloft and Wellbutrin just aren’t enough to lure me from this intense state of mind. Calgon can’t bring much of anything to the table or tub, for that matter. Perhaps, I’ll take Sr Edward Patricia’s longstanding credo to “heart” and fetch my rosary.

There is not a “Hail Mary” nor a “Lord’s Prayer” that will nudge both the Universe’s understanding and Its speedy fix. They’ve been packed, stored, and by this point — probably misplaced, along with all of my parochial ephemera and angst.

Pray for us sinners, Governor McCrory.

(Image: “Le Petit Prince Tripode” by Émile Morel)

The Artist’s Mother: Perfect Arrangements

I can’t really remember when I first realized the concept of color. Presumably it was before or during kindergarten at Chapel Hill’s Little Red School. The nuances, hues, and complexities of colors followed.

The following year, we learned the color charts and became experts on primary colors.To my excitement, my mother bought me a bigger and better box of Crayolas. Perhaps, it held 18 crayons, maybe not. My memories of those years are safely locked away in a desk drawer, keeping at bay the more curious pusses. Naturally, I misplaced the key.

My point is that I had moved up some unspoken notch, improved a skill, or experienced a minor rite of passage. In Mrs Sawyer’s first grade class, I kept a cigar box in which I hid “whatever size or how many ever” of crayons.

One spring day, my mother was preparing to take me to school, a newly built Catholic school, with actual nuns, and potential uniforms. As she grabbed her keys, I studied her eye-catching blouse.

The color was odd and one of which I was unfamiliar. As she turned the ignition, I blurted my query and quickly paused. I never, ever blurted as a child. It was unmannerly, rude, and unaccepted in a parochial school such as St Thomas More. My parents expected that also. That, my friends, is an entirely different tale, one of familial dysfunction and oppression.

My mother never noticed my unseemly enthusiasm. She just started talking and talking about nuances, hues, prisms, and the infinite number of colors in the spectrum. Of course, she worded it differently as I am prone to embellish. We soon came upon the red brick structure. I finally had to ask: “But what color is your shirt?”

She quickly corrected my use of shirt and replied a reserved, yet warm: “chartreuse”. Finally. It took almost fifteen minutes to get an answer.

“Chartreuse, hmmm” I thought. It quickly became my favorite color, although I couldn’t pronounce the word for at least a year. That yellowish green color was wonderful and exotic and special. And it was at once my color.

I soon (if soon can describe two years later) graduated to a bigger box, the overwhelming but altogether satisfying “64” count one. I searched for chartreuse but never found it. I did, however, find “Cornflower Blue” and “Burnt Sienna”. My look of puzzlement faded away in a quick blush. It had a pencil sharpener.

I am now more than a half century older. Those days are long gone. Chartreuse, though, is still my favorite color. I always notice it first, if it was indeed on the fabric wall, home furnishings, liqueur bottles, or paintings. The last I use as a “catch all”! I detest the word “artwork”. It’s bland, unemotional, and wholly without direction or purpose.

Please. Gentle Reader, forgive me for squeezing illustration, sculpture, watercolors, oils, and the like into one tiny, limited, and now teeming word. I will say three Holy Marys. And I will surely recall Sr Jane Raphael’s serious and intimidating glances during our studies for First Holy Communion.

Sr Jane married the parish priest two years later, by which time Hal, Margy, Polly, and I had moved to Greensboro. There, it would be Srs Mary Joseph and Mary Fitzpatrick that would show me the greater range of modern “nunnery” and the like.

Go ahead and ask me.

Truthfully? Yes, I still always smile and look for chartreuse and cornflower blue. The temptation then wakes up and I lull it back into blissful oblivion.

Alas. I have not purchased crayons, in any size package, since the mid-70’s. That would’ve been for my sister.

(Images: “Arrangement in Green and Black, Portraits of the Photographer’s Mother” by Aline Smithson.)

Just Where Did the Universe Hide My Keys?

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I have only driven twice in the last year, once to the market to fetch ice cream. That treat was long gone before I realized I had even purchase it. Coffee. Coffee Chip. Or Banana Pudding ice cream. All three favors get my taste buds all aflutter.

Now that I’ve been home for ten weeks since my five week stint, the bug is hitting. I’m getting restless and eager to once again have the reigns in my hand. Jon will though be a tough nut to crack or otherwise. He’s come to enjoy the control, imput, and involvement in my recuperation.

He’s often likened the process to something like “Driving Miss Daisy” at which I readily balk. I, then, pout a little and allow my indignation to slowly dissipate. After all, it is the genteel South where we acquiesce just a little, then slowly surrender. We will then host either a proper soirée or a knockdown after-party that remains on “Ultra” mode until dawn.

So my plan is to slowly work my way back to the driver’s seat and turn my iPod to the latest Glasvegas tunes. And crank those ditties up. I’m back, or will be soon. Although once I have the transplant, it will be a month or more I can, by orders of Dr Rose-Jones, get back to my life, albeit a newly revised and hopefully improved one.

I will be prescribed a strict regimen of many anti-rejection medications. I shall have to slowly return to my schedule, forever: scrutinizing my diet, limiting my activities, and maintaining my, usual cheery, ebullient, and positive self. To fulfill all those requisite “musts”, I might need to my Medicaid communications over to a hawkish, more aggressive friend or loved one (Read Jon here!).

For all of those needs and reasons, possession of the primary Jeep key is half the skirmish. It is a precious Marklewood icon of control, albeit always well-meaning.

So I must make my moments matter. That time is ideal for making phone calls, texting, and returning long, delinquent responses to emails. I admit I cannot text nearly as quickly as Janet Franks Doll who I am certain has surreptitiously won national tournaments. Jon Markle is the email and application guru.

I best use my “Daisy” days wisely while Jon maintains the reigns.

I suspect I may even need to renew my driver’s license a couple of times before that last dance, a waltz with my friend, Nancy Kitchener . She will definitely let me navigate and steer.

L’Chaim.

(Image: “The Forgotten”by Ray Caesar, 2014.

Not Quite the War of the Roses

Tonight, my dander is up, my soapboxes are in the sunroom, and the hatches are well battened. Henry thinks my ire could get no higher but, then again, he’s never been privy to my dark side. I think his perspective is only that of a cat’s. He notices only the amount of food in the dish or Fresh litter in the box.  While I may be seething and spitting (perhaps nails, I’m not yet certain),  he sleeps blissfully nearby. All the cats I have ever encountered are oblivious to the world around them, except for the fact that they rule it.

So here I sit on this Monday night, on the eve of my bi-weekly appointment with my UNC cardiologist, Dr. Rose. Oddly, my Raleigh cardiologist is a different and unrelated Dr. Rose. Jon and I will deliver good news to her. My Medicaid has finally been recertified after a nightmarish ten weeks of endless phone calls ands emails. Don’t even inquire, my friends. The blackening cloud that is Wake County has finally lifted. I am back on the sunny  transplant list. And I can finally refill each of my dozen prescriptions.

For an unexplainable reason, the benefits determination folks don’t seem to understand the serious nature of my illness. I finally had to, in unbridled exasperation, blurt: “What if I died on your watch? Would my card be renewed afterwards?” Of course, I felt remorse, but not enough to apologize.

Gadzooks. I have typed three paragraphs with no mention of the US Senate race here. It’s predicted to be the most expensive in US history, the equivalent of handing over a five dollar bill to every citizen in this state. Tonight as I watched television, I counted at least 17 commercials. Nasty, negative commercials. At least, they are far from the nadir of the 2008 Dole-Hagan race. My hate/love relations with politics consumes my evenings: I can “never” just forget about it!

If you’re a hardcore rightwing person, please do not call me until after October 4th. My heart could not withstand a passionate debate and reluctant rile. I jest not, Beau.

So many people I know are either struggling financially or in poor health. For most of us, life has become a war of sorts. It has strengthened our awareness and sensitivities. Will we ever galvanize?

I must now retire for the day. Tomorrow is a mission and destination day. By nightfall, however, I shall have my Lipitor, Zoloft, and coffee ice cream. Life will for then finally appear to be rosy.

Until the next skirmish, I remain your humble correspondent.

(Images: “La Guerre des Pétales” by Blik, FR.)

Oh Loretta, Even Dainty Claws Will Harm Your Gowns!

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As I am certain you have always expected, Loretta Young is an icon for our household’s impressionable young pusses: Hermione, Claudja, and Dylis.
The two litter-mates are now seasoned five-year olds that love a Christmas only Dudley could offer. It goes without adding: the’d much prefer a food dish that could only be maintained by Professor Wutheridge.

On the other paw, Dylis is the product of an unholy assignation of our outdoor calico molly and a spry roving tom, surely sewing his oats. While both mother and daughter sleep under our house, the father marks his territory somewhere down the road.

As Marklewood is in the Hinterlands of Outer Raleigh, appropriate suitors for the naïve Dylis are rare. Her father, meanwhile meows with a Roger Miller-esque caterwaul. With my beloved’s tutelage, Dylis’s polite demeanor conceals well the behavior of a four month old kitten.

I fully expect her to soon greet us with a confident “mjau”, albeit with a genteel drawl.

As you might’ve predicted the late Miss Young was always a favorite of ours. I stretched my arm deep into my cache of musings and tried my hardest to tie a cat tale with her rather technicolor portrait.

Don’t you know it? Her fondness was for dogs: miniature poodles, French pugs, and Spaniels of many breeds. I suspect there were always a few dubious birds who sought refuge and a “Safe Cage” from their stalkers.

(Photograph of Loretta Young by the legendary Horst P. Horst, 1941.)

An Ultramarine Butterfly Sleeps in My Pocket


When I came across this terrific series by Australian artist, photographer, and activist Stephanie Valentin, fancy’s flight took me back to my years in grade school. My mother had many framed butterfly “boxes” in what I thought was a gallery, but was actually my parents’ bedroom. I was always dazzled by the ethereal nature of the tiny creatures which I had once thought were akin to fairies. The dedicated wall seemed to be almost animated with an iridescent and rich cobalt blue. Legend, urban and otherwise, had it that my maternal grandmother had brought the shadow boxes home from work in the 50’s.

Dorothy had been an Assistant Curator at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. during her Post-War years. Oddly, it was then allowable and customary that some (but not many) of the donated or discovered artifacts might be placed on permanent display in private collections. Across the Metro area, she and her savvy co-employees became, thus, curators of discarded artwork, porcelains, books, and curiosities.

Gentle Readers, you can only begin to visualize my many gazes of wonderment when, upon visiting, the two of us would explore the drawers of her weathered chiffarobe, the walls of teeming bookcases, or the unexpected and forgotten crawlspaces that only I might find. What a glisten and gleam my curiosity’s unlikely honor medal would receive in that cottage overlooking the Potomac River!

Before I ever experienced the blush of puberty’s angst, I too had bedroom walls and shelves filled precious “things”! It would seem that “yours humbly” returned to N.C. with what’d be precious booty to a child.

On these Raleighwood days and Marklewood nights, however, my earliest recollections of visiting or, for that matter, my grandmother herself are usually stirred the sight of brilliant Lapis Lepidopteran. Such memories and their prompts are unwieldily and infrequent.

I still have a few of the items, my favorites being her many 1st Editions and a few pieces of British potter Clarice Cliff’s hand-painted and etched Art Deco gems. The books are dusty. If I scrutinize intently, the other items seem to be appointing every turn in the house that my beloved and I share … with our indoor cats: Henry, Claudja, and Hermione (as in Gingold, not Granger). Those moments, though, are rare unless there’s a precious prompt, such as these fine pieces by Stephanie Valentin.

Tonight, I shall eagerly carry a butterfly in my ancient robe pocket.

(Images: “Ether Series”, Items No. 3,4, & 7″ by Stephanie Valentin, 2006.)

There Is No Medium-drive, Goldilocks: You May Quote Me, Miley! LFMAO

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I had quite the afternoon jolt this afternoon as I perused my very backyard, the weed-strewn Internet. Jon was napping after an early and hectic Wednesday morning dealing with electricians. Man of opportunity that I am, the two hours were spent downstairs with Leopold II, my iPad.

Working on an involved prosaic piece unrelated to this humble post, I started searching for quotes and double-checking my use of foreign texts. As I kept looking out the window to survey the magnificent rain, I glanced down in horror and mumbled loudly. Jon would’ve heard and begrudgingly awakened had it not been for his deep and unshakeable slumber.

A new generation of people is already impacting our literary and grammar culture’s changing voices. We all know the web-derived and often sang-based lexicon of this current millennium: tweet, cougar, selfie, bromance mp3, cloud, blue tooth, tweak, grill, cunnilinge, smart phone, texting, and sexting.

Im some cases, a word may just be used as a different part of speech, my least favorite being, for example: “To message or de-friend one’s friends while orientating them on how to cunnilingue or while tweeting or skyping” would surely offend Miss Manners and several generations of Vanderbilts and stodgy grammarians.

Admittedly, my fun-loving, CD playing, and insurance-challenged Baby Boomer buddies are not innocent of such a slip or mix a word. They freshened the vocabulary with approachable new jargon: yuppy, cell-phone, email, hard-drive, soft-drive, Reaganomics, sound-bite, microwave, and Dixiecrat.

Neither reserved wordmongers nor cautious futurists, our parents’ peers combined the hipster musings of a counter-culture beatnik with the grooviness of flower-children. And thus, hippies, as a concept, were reluctantly, born. Physicians and researchers also coined the myriad medical terms that help define a field’s advancement and render thesauri obsolete.

Who speaketh of adjectives and nouns and verbs upside-down (and I was!),  let he confess now and reserve his judgment. Mind you, that last “J” word will never accept that blasted “e” that folks try to force upon it.  But I digress and ramble as I after do in the wee-est of morning hours.

I decided to remain mission-driven and medal-worthy, spending my final internet time continuing my quest for a quotation. Perhaps, a clever literary passage or excerpt from a pertinent political speech would perfectly fit the bill.

Optimistically, I two-stepped right over to Quotations and googled several search words and was aghast at what I discovered quotations by the likes of Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Lady GaGa, R. Kelly, and an Olsen twin. I forget which one. I tried “BrainyQuote”, “Think Exist”, “Good Reads”, and “Think Exist”.  I won’t promise you a “Quote Garden!” Grumbling, mumbling, and altogether fumbling, even I dusted off those heavy, unwieldy tomes by the Messieurs Roget and Webster.

My last option succeeded just from its simplicity … as well as some innate resistance that I might have for the language that we all speak.

In both fabulosity and “gammarosity”, I bid thee a satisfying slumber, Gentle Reader.

P.S. Apple’s Siri never had either Mrs Stella Whitlock or Ms Sue Medley for school teachers!

(Jean Cocteau directed the French adaptation of “A Streetcar Named Desire” in 1949, casting legendary French actress and singer, the legendary Arletty, and, originally, his occasional boyfriend and once soulmate, Jean Marais. Cocteau ultimately had to replace Marais in Williams classic, casting Yves Vincent. Cocteau obviously designed the programs, posters, and stage sets.)

The Throb, A Pinch, and a Wee Ballyhoo

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As I stifle the throb and muffle my shriek, I ponder my left arm’s worth in an armless state. I have bargained with the devil and now sigh in relief at the Universe’s quick dismissal and refusal to cooperate. Now in my third week of such a pinched state, I scream out for both ease and an answer to my pain.

Yet, I know I must simply ride this storm from its eye to its edge. One morning, when I least expect resolve, I shall stumble to the office, brew my coffee, and smile in sweet realization. The ache is untangled. Order is at once restored to this bolstered shell of a body. And I shall, then, dance an interpretive tango.

Until that most welcomed time, I shall daydream of voice recognition and the miracle that transcribes without stroking, spaces without a flex, and most likely punctuates with little understanding of the noble comma. In my most dramatic trademark of sotte voce, I will surely attempt to cheat the program that spares my arm, then, and laugh at my own mark-foolery. Siri seems both mentally-challenged charlatan and academically-challenged.

I shall then put down that mental list and both proudly and defiantly once again count my blessings for that day. One. Two Three. Four. While I best never bid a silly farewell to arms, I anticipate that I shall soon again be armed and dangerous. But on my honor and as Henry is my noble late hour witness, I shall never take my humble arm for granted nor scoff at pain’s sword.

Whatever possessed me to utter “pinch me!” that Friday morning? Though they may resemble the goddess of the midnight melody, the Lady Vicodin a neither muses nor amuses, and  merits only a wee ballyhoo. She is merely a reluctant ventriloquist who has learned to usurp intent.

(Image: “Discord of Analogy” by Michael Cheval, 2007.)

Hans Christian’s Winter of Discontent: Priceless Montage Masterpieces

Once in a mythical and indigo sunset, I stumble, if not crash, into an artful find that excites me. Yes, Gentle Reader, you indeed know me well. Suçh a discovery sobs to be shared. Such is true for Hans Christian Andersen’s rarely discussed Victorian bedroom screen. The Copenhagen (kʰøb̥m̩ˈhɑʊ̯ˀn) artist, author, and dreamer meticulously created the eight images over one Winter: 1873-74.

Anderson had been declining steadily. The jaundiced, arthritic, colic, and depressed  storyteller became belligerent, angry, and altogether hateful. Gone were his refined nature, pleasures in life, sensitive nature, and appreciation of others. In correspondence that Christmas, he admitted: “If this is how old age comes, then it is quite terrible.

His blend of disease and malady kept him indoors and prisoner in his Nyhavn apartment for months. To occupy himself in his isolation, he crafted a reversible four-paneled screen to function as a moveable wall. hide his bed. The surfaces measured almost unwieldily 5′ x 2′.

He devoted weeks to each panel creating magnificent collages of images of buildings, familiar landmarks and icons, and miniature portraits as well as his own “paper cuttings”. Each incorporated representations of both a country from among his journeys as well as tributes to significant relationships. In his pastime, Andersen had already enjoyed a great deal of time manipulating paper into images similar to those of paper-dolls but made more difficult by keeping the perimeter intact.

I have had no thought of any creative writing; my only occupation has been to make a screen. I have tried to include a poetic idea or a historical representation in each section and one could say that the whole effect is that of a great, variegated fairytale. Although I would rather have committed such a tale to paper with pen and ink than simply cut out pictures and juxtapose them to suit my train of thought.”   (
Hans Christian Andersen in a letter to Mimi Holstein, 17 March 1874.)

Sadly, “The Little Mermaid”, “Thumbelina”, and “The Little Matchstick Girl” impresario died the following year, released from his almost all-consuming suffering. Anderson was so debilitated that he had reached the dreaded state when only a multitude of morphine can offer relief.

In fact, he has over a hundred of these works of reverence and imagination on display in the Odense City Museum system. Also included, naturally, is his boyhood home.

I purpose omitted most of his pertinent bio-bits. Most of us know at least same of his 156 fairy tales, many of which have brought many dollars to  Disney Corp.’s coffer. Some may also have seen the 1952 film with Frank Loesser’s music that made actor/dancer/singer Danny Kaye even more of a household name and increasing the Dane’s celebrity and worldwide impact.

A Peculiar and Zoloftig Metamorphosis

I do not know what stars ascended or whose prayers were cited, but I awakened yesterday feeling terrific. Beyond that actually. I was energetic, lucid, and motivated. Hmmm. The agony of my pinched nerve was already beginning to subside. Frankly, if I had closed my eyes and allowed my imagination its passage, I’d probably guess it was back when I worked with Evelyn and Chrysanthemum (actually Nancy and Chris) in the most surprisingly stressful business of interior design.

We were all, as they sometimes say in the deepest of Southern annals, “decoratizers” back then. Jon and I were both happy, healthy, financially secure, and extremely employed.

And so it goes. And so it went.

Saturday morning, I didn’t feel like “the guy that lives down that long drive and needs a heart transplant.” I started to actually count my blessings, albeit it on only one hand, the one not communing with my pinched nerve. My dreams had been vivid and emotional with my mother and grandmother, the key players.

For a few moments after I opened my eyes and stared down that darned alarm clock, the two women seemed real and not a memory’s folly. I had to grieve all over again for them, but was still invigorated from the “visit” as it were. In the oddly offered “one word”, I was happy.

As I took my many morning medications, my Zoloft stood out. Yet it had never really had much effect on me. 200mg of “not much at all!”

I had still not pinpointed the Universe’s purpose for my mood. It couldn’t be random, nor could I be getting well. It was time for my morning iced coffee with the rest of the day free to ponder.

My voice has been stronger lately and not the strained prolonged squeak it has been. It was, for a weekend, indeed effortless to talk. I so took advantage of my vocal enigma and talked with a few close friends, my sister, and my cousin (who was two years older than my mother). Catching up is always revitalizing, except for the repetition of pertinent health news.

It was time for a call to my friend Laurie, who recently followed a job to Albany. I was anxious to express and share my jubilation about the recent District Court ruling, making same-sex marriage legal in North Carolina. It was inevitable. The various counties already had the proper forms and our conservative governor announced his plan to respect the judge’s decision.

Of course. the elections are a month away and he might think he can still convince enough democrats to defect. Although that “ship of fools”, I believe, raised its rusty anchor and embarked on its doomed Kathy Lee holiday two years ago. Is it naughty and unkind of me to suggest a convoy of dinghies. “10-4, Good Buddies!” 

My friend Andrew and I had had a month of unfulfilling phone tag … until Friday. After a few minutes of exchanging both questions and answers, we were both ranting. About the upcoming elections. And the state of the Mid-East. And the horrific beheadings. And the inconsistencies from state to state. And how we were each trying to resolve family issues (regarding the ultimate death of a loved one). And, finally, how we had spent well over thirty minutes in heated discussion. The last being quite an inappropriate state for a mid-evening.

My conversation with Polly was particularly satisfying. I knew, when her daughters were 1, 3, and 5, that it would probably be a two-decade wait before she’d be able to have a lengthy conversation. Although they were usually well-intended, interruptions were endless. Friday night, the wait ended and we caught up, both committed to try to resolve any lingering family dysfunction. (Please note earlier reference to both the deaths and the funerals of loved ones.) It was time for me to assign to her a perkier, yet tasteful ringtone.

By ten o’clock Saturday morning: I had emptied the dishwasher, filed all of my papers, and other oft-skipped missions. Normally, any one of these activities would squeeze the breath out of me. But there I was, subconsciously putzing around downstairs while my ponderances were passengers on LaLa Land’s “local”.

I actually gave up trying to make sense of my mood. Perhaps, it was best to neither tempt fate nor make sense out of that which can never be sensible.

Oh, my. I love my iced coffee. In the past few years my java consumption has dwindled from ten or more cups to just one, if any.

The outside cats were gathering at the the double glass doors, pawing the glass. One was climbing a screen to the roof. Little Yorick and the growing Beamer, however, waited patiently for me to deliver their AM victuals. The others reminded me of zombies.

And that, Gentle Readers, reminded me that the season premiere of “The Walking Dead” is to be on AMC Sunday night. That made me smile (In a Chicago or even Cockney Rebel manner).

A stint on Facebook was imminent.

I continue to feel robust, perky, lucid, and motivated.

(Images: by Colleen Parker.)

I Salute Those Who Stood Proudly For Change

Stunned, yet prompted to pay tribute to my beloved . Speechless, yet babbling in unexpected joy. Tearful, yet raising my glass to a new union.

Forgive me, Gentle Readers, as my typing betrays the exuberance of the day. My pinched nerve (fie to any discomfort) limits my ability to both focus and type. But October 10 is now a spectacular day on humanity’s calendar of milestones.

As of this afternoon, same-sex marriage is now legal in North Carolina. “Who’da thunk it?”

U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn changed our lives in one historic moment with the final and resolute sweep of his ink pen.

“This is a historic day for freedom and equality in North Carolina,” said Jennifer Rudinger, Executive Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “Thousands of North Carolinians are now able to marry the person they love and receive the dignity and legal security that comes with having that marriage recognized in their home state. For countless couples and their children, this victory is nothing short of life-changing.”

Huzzah. Huzzah. Shalom, friends. The future awaits.

(All three images are by the fabulously nostalgic, playful, romantic Felix D’Eon, Mexico City.)