The Day’s Bounty of Hope, Cheer, and Friendship

This morning I was awake long before the neighborhood rooster was preening and strutting and greeting the dawn. He is easily the Town Crier for his harem and his merry band of waltzing cockerels.

My iced coffee was already in place on the table, near my chair, and close to the television. My Thursday displays all the indications that today, this very Thanksgiving, will be quiet and civilized.

Henry scoffs at my use of “civilized” since he and the two mollies are known to pace with wide, bright eyes. Those of you who are gifted with such creatures can attest that poultry is the “crack” in any proper or improper pride of pusses. I refer to their behavior as the feline “twist and shout”, although Jon swears it’s more like jonesing.

(Remember that prior to his retirement a few years back, Dr Markle was a therapist for dual-addicted homeless individuals. His clinician persona seizes the reins at a mere mention.)

The bottom line is that all of the merry mammals of Marklewood anticipate a tender and savory bird.

So, as I ponder the preparations that await my attention, I wanted to wish all of you a joyous day. May it be filled with laughter, music, camaraderie, and satisfying foods.

A smile is sneaking into the room. I am visualizing past celebrations, recalling details that make each one special. You best be spared any anecdotes of mishaps, odd recipes, or misbehaving guests.

Everyone should experience at least one raucous gathering and one, dignified. We all need benchmarks for reasons we’ll explore at a later date. Perhaps, we’ll attempt that in 2015.

For now, I just want to thank everyone for supporting Tartuffe’s Folly. Many of you even followed from our previous home on the now defunct and Twitter-dismantled Posterous. My navigation of such networking can be rather oddly threaded, if not obsessive.

Celebrate. Be kind. Be reflective. Be appreciative. And phone those loved ones who are absent or with whom a re-connection is past due. I will.

(Images: Assorted still lifes by Spanish artist and photographer Leticia Felgueroso.)
http://www.letitiafelgueroso.com

Groovin’ On a Saturday Afternoon

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Long before my days became a long train of misspent Saturdays, the day was special. I usually worked but, if not, I’d at least try to enjoy that sassy NPR programming, perhaps go see some obscure British film, and later enjoy a meal out. There was a wickedness in the air as if Jon and I were playing hooky and sneaking around Main Street.

These days, however, I am almost always at home, unless one of us has a doctor’s appointment. Jon does all the marketing and “fetching”. Two hours is my limit, before the aches and yawns commence. I seem to save my energy for a day that never comes.

Recently, my Saturdays have become quite the tragic “comedy of errors”.  There might be ample coffee in the cupboard, but I am out of half & half. If I should need to shave, there won’t be any shaving cream to be found.

If we’re watching some terrific Masterpiece Mystery, our cable might flutter and blink, at least until the credits are over. We are out of kibble for the pusses. Either Jon or I might be out of our pain medications: he, for his acute neuropathy, and for me, that damned stubborn pinched nerve. That nerve even has a name now — a too, too familiar Bruce.

I could continue but you certainly get my point. Mind you, I am not complaining, just sharing observations. Oh, did I forget to mention ‘Accu-Fill’? It drives me crazy. If I type a word, I mean to type that word!

And Siri? I guarantee mine went to a different school than the other tablet or phone personas. He ( yes mine is a ‘he’) probably never graduated and has drifted from Prodigy to Compu-Serve to an endless run of forlorned retail chains.

I have voice recognition on my devices, which should make the very recognition of my voice an easy task. Siri’s must have been distracted for much of these many years with my iPhone. Still, he has a poor vocabulary, poor sense of directions, and seems content just to admit ignorance. Siri has no idea what real traffic looks like. And he knows not the quaint custom of punctuation.

Today, however, on this very Saturday, none of that occurred. I blissfully savored my iced coffee while reading some captivating articles on 19th century art. I filed away an embarrassingly daunting stack of receipts, information, statements, and the endless run of  “My Copies”.

The absolute highlight, however, was a satisfying telephone “catch up” conversation with a friend in Greensboro. We have been friends for over forty years. We misbehaved together. Campaigned together. Worked together. (She hates the anecdote of when she hit another car while driving mine in an otherwise empty parking lot, so I shall skip it.)

Later, I watched a SciFi standard: a B movie about zombies and an apocalypse of a different color. This time, however, the undead could run, climb, and turn doorknobs. I loved it and promptly sat through a second such film.

By dinner time, I was ready for both PBS and an innocent, long-overdue iTunes adventure.

The ancient pines and thick brush shielded me from any harshness of the world “out there” and its harsh realities and givens. The front yard was still, except for a few chatty birds.

The world seemed happy. I was happy. And it was even Saturday

(Image: “The Naked Man” by Joseph Hirsch, 1959.)

There Really Is a “Burnt Sienna”, Virginia

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“It’s hard to live your life in color, and tell the truth in black and white.”

Of course, most of the folks I know are oblivious to life’s infinite hues, as well as the concept of “gray”. They simply allow colors to blindly sweep them away on some utopic highway. When they reach a black & white moment, they become flustered and unable to reach resolution.

True, some wise or open-minded people may understand Crayola’s reach, but that is “Baby Aspirin” in the medicine cabinet.

They blush. They turn red. They become blue. They turn green with envy. They turn white as a ghost.

What a pity we are never taught the power of color. I blame thee not, Sr Edward Patricia.

Life paints us in more than primary colors! We have no clue on how to really see and interpret them.

As songstress Buffy St Marie once said: “There are sixteen million colors.”

Dan Barry’s Art: My First Recall Of Pansies

Most people I know either condemn social media, secretly rely on it, or just refuse to contemplate change. Even the diehard protesters, though, seem to have come around. They may never admit such, but will all know that secretly they explore Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Once that happens, the die is indeed cast.

I have been on Facebook since the summer of ’09 and on WordPress since early last year. (Prior to that I posted my blog, Tartuffe’s Folly, on Posterous which was bought out and dissolved.) In the five years I have established many new relationships or rekindled others. Many are with artists from all over the world of Hopeful Surrealism.

Austin artist Dan Barry was the first such new friend. The introduction particulars escape me but, as they say in the South albeit deeper than here: “That don’t make no never mind.” Since then I’ve “met” many people and respond usually to those that share my obscure aesthetic or humor.

Dan’s collages at once stirred me with their emotional nostalgia and the gentle, extremely thoughtful assembly and ink details. They are wonderfully augmented with modernisms and often conflicting points of reference.

The first of Barry’s ethereal collections that reeled me in was one involving pansies, rich hues, and meticulously printed and tiny text. Anthropomorphism is, perhaps, my favorite type of Surrealism, at least in that it often appeals to the child within. Many of the older, Victorian examples can be more clever and detailed than contemporary ones.

But I digress, as is my nature.

I will skip my sweet, initial recollection of pansies, their faces, and their world. I’ll save my initial feelings about being an older brother. My sister Polly was a newborn and I was in kindergarten in Chapel Hill. The elderly couple across the street devoted their entire front yard to their love for the deceptively sturdy flower. They were my best friends at the time, at least until I was in first grade.

The 1500 sq ft lot became a brilliant, multicolored, and intricate canvas, save for the cobblestone path. I could sit on that patchwork bed for hours. I’d readily imagine that I was in some magical kingdom, safely tucked away in Chapel Hill. (Mind you, that “elderly” couple was probably in their 40’s at the time.)

Their surname is long lost in the cavernous recesses of my memory. As I mentioned, I won’t bore you, Gentle Readers, with further details.

I do remember, however, visuals that evoke my young emotions and wonderment. A snapshot of our neighbors’ flowers is on page five of my life’s secret album. There might even be one of that velvet bower’s infinite blooms pressed between pages.

I’ll also always remember Dan and his beautiful work. And the subtle paths our friendships follow.

(All images are by Dan Barry.)
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dan-Barry-Art/133020120046257

Barry’s 2014 Shows Include:
Welcome to the Dreamtime – Stephen Romano Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
DISCOS IMPOSIBLES
– Galeria Safia, Barcelona, Spain
Mysterium Cosmographicum – Stephen Romano Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
Small Indignities – Red Truck Gallery, New Orleans, LA
Post-It Show
– Giant Robot, Los Angeles, CA
Don’t Wake Daddy Group Show
– Feinkunst Krüger, Hamburg, Germany

That Ugly “D” Word: Unleashing the Beast Within

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Jon’s cellphone rang at 10:30 this morning, with his loud and excruciatingly bothersome Abba ringtone. Normally, that wouldn’t make any difference to us. However, we went to sleep around 5:00am so we were both in deep, deep REM slumber.

The call was from the Transplant Coordinator so she “had us at hello.” She went on to inform us that I’ve been removed from the heart transplant list. I’ll remain in such an uninsured purgatory until I either get health coverage, most likely either from the Affordable Care Act or Medicare, Part D.

Trust me, neither option is affordable at least to Jon and me. The coordinator just doesn’t understand that a $457 monthly premium is a large portion of my disability check. The Medicare plan is almost as expensive and unrealistic. Sacre bleu! Perhaps, an emphatic “Zut Alors!” is more appropriate.

I guess what followed resulted from the stress of the situation, its incurred bureaucracy, and the three month Medicaid runaround. Every Wake County employee has given me conflicting answers from those from the previous caseworkers. Let me skip further details of Medicaid woes and get to the heated phone conversation.

Both Jon and the UNC representative were soon lashing out at each other in a tone that was just this side of a shout. Jon just wasn’t having any of it. The beast within was awakened and released from self-control and any semblance of calm.

Within a few hours, Jon had written and sent extremely detailed emails to anyone from Medicaid as well as the NC Dept of Health & Human Services. His letters are epic. They have been known to give representatives from Progress Energy, AT&T, Time-Warner, and our two US Senators pause to even initiate a challenge to his queries. His “epistles” are fiery, thorough, and about as loud as the written word can be.

Add to that: Jon called a local TV affiliate to present the situation to the advocacy reporter. Of course, any resulting news segments always pull heartstrings and incense viewers.

It is now almost time for “Jeopardy” after over six hours of frustration, anger, sorrow, and the endless stream of empty words from unsympathetic government workers. Here I am, my heart functioning at only 10% and the state administration gives the idea that they jockey their responses until the client either gives up or dies. Seriously. My beloved and I use the “D” word cautiously and sparingly. Today, however, there might as well have been a banner on every webpage, text, or email with a big fat scarlet “D” emblazoned on the heading.

We both know quite well that the battle will continue tomorrow and into the weeks to come. Seeing is believing.

Jon is now exhausted if not spent. His dander is up, up, up. His aura is tainted and spoiled He is, however, poised for the fight ahead.

Welcome to my world, at least as it’s been since early last summer.

On this warm autumnal evening, I thank the Universe that I now have a better bark and growl.

(Image: “Tyrant Lizard King” by Andrew Sullivan, 2014.)

Pining Away to Spruce It Up

Marklewood could certainly use a little updating, remodeling, or at the very least, a dust and a spruce. If Jon and I are finally emerging from the emotional paralysis of financial woes, any changes might perk us up. They might signal that we are embracing the concepts of future and hope. The mechanics of our daily routine might, by default, become more efficient. If we should have visitors such as Evelyn or Janet, any perceived message would be positive, and not the gloomy lackluster mediocrity that has made both our separate and joint convalesces disturbing and worrisome.

Of course, should we have some sort of real estate emergency, we’d be closer to being “prepared”. Dr Markle’s Finishing School for Erstwhile and Wayward Pusses graduating pride would have a renewed pride, as it were. (“cloudier” can be such an awkward word.)

Unfortunately, our priorities are still of pragmatic nature and intent. Although we will have one day moved beyond the scope of such tight living, our health situations currently still demand rigid regimens and management.

For now, Gentle Readers, Jon and I will forego any re-upholstery of the tattered Baker sofa that is desperately clinging to its heritage. We’ll make do with the current kitchen window treatments. In lieu of “faded or fraying”, I much prefer to call them vintage. We definitely cannot invest in new seating for the television viewing corner of our bedroom. We can neither repaint the living room, nor wallpaper the downstairs bathroom. For now.

What we can do, however,is dust … at least regularly and with greater enthusiasm.

Mind you, I am not complaining. My chipper demeanor has returned from its two-year hiatus and I am happy.

(Our mind can lead us on scavenger hunts and goose chases, especially when prompted by some internet keyword. I started mulling this post after stumbling upon some adverts for rare, vintage wallpaper designed by British artist and graphics impresario, Edward Bawden. Among his broad and prolific portfolio “bullets” would be these innovative wallpapers, mostly from the 1920’s and early ’30’s. The asking prices averaged in the aggressive neighborhood of £350. I can’t bring myself to verbalize such a figure or even convert it to US dollars.)

And He Laughed

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“Oh! darkly, deeply, beautifully blue, as someone somewhere sings about the sky.”

(George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron)
Tonight on the drive home, we had dark violet clouds, backlit with the last of the day’s sun.
I commented that the monumental and ominous sky seemed perfectly parted for angels to descend. That is, if we lived in a Pre-Raphaelite painting or such.

I then added: “Of course, such lighting will make the Angels look younger.”

Jon smiled, connected the dots, and chuckled. Without even a flutter of hesitation, he started taking a rapid stream of photos with his iPhone.

(Image: “Sky Blue” by Wassily Kandinsky, 1940.)

Yet Another Song Title: “Tuesday’s Dead”

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Today is Wednesday, the once inevitable and now most regrettable “morning after” found a stillness here at Marklewood. The pusses, Jon, and I were almost spent from watching election returns. Sadly, as Ms McGovern would agree, there is no pill to cure the ailment at this late hour.

So, upon waking, I stumbled downstairs, fetched a root beer, and checked far-too-neglected emails. At least I’ve learned one thing from over four decades of result-viewing with excitement, anticipation, and hope. There is never devastation in the situation. Time may not wait but change certainly will. My partisan world will not crumble. I will neither cower nor swoon.

I shall optimistically look ahead to 2016 and its different list of fools and their agendas.

Of course, for the next few days, it will nonetheless seem as though I’m listening to “Nixon in China” while munching on capers and trying to find both my phone and cable remote. The pusses need food and I, my coffee’s half ‘n half. To complete the scenario, let’s assume that my WiFy is down.

Fortunately, the month will unfold rapidly and with invigorated purpose. Thanksgiving is a few heartbeats away. And we so need a plump and well-stuffed turkey this year.

(For the record and perhaps CD, I packed away the originally recording of that 1987 Adams & Goodman opera with any nostalgia recollections of the anti-Christ.)

Talk of Dice and Dollars and Balls (Crystal or Otherwise)

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It’s the eve of Election Day ’14 and I’m already spent. I’m exhausted by the rabble-rousing scare tactics that all candidates seem to rely on these days. The stretched truths and ugly innuendos that have already run up an electoral tab of over one hundred million dollars. Yes, it would’ve been cheaper (and an easy, easy pill) if every registered voter were simply given a twenty dollar bill.

This perennially revitalized flower child is finally jaded. I just want it all to end. If there is an inevitability to Tuesday’s vote, I say bring it on. Take all of us once hopeful children of the ’60’s and just give us the name of the winning prize fighter. At least may it belong to he or she who hates less.

At this point, I have no partisan energy left. Frankly, the die was cast long before this week. All I ask is that if you are indeed registered, please vote. Vote along the lines defined by your conscience, values, and perhaps even an issue or two. If you are motivated by hatred, ignorance, or ulterior motive, just stay home and watch “The Price is Right!”

Of course if we had a few more dice, it would be an entirely different game, that of Dominoes. Thank you, Mr Morrison. Henry, Jon, and I will look for you on the early side of Wednesday.

(Image: “Merchant of Dreams” by Ray Caesar, 2004.)