A Mourning Struggle

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We never met in person. We never skyped. We never even chatted on the telephone. Nonetheless, the loss is already overwhelming with intermittent gasps of tears.

She had been an internet chum for over five years. And today she will be removed from any life support systems in her hospital room, having suffered a stroke on Sunday several weeks back.

My friend Karen always, yes always, had a witty and engaging response to any queries or statements that were poised and posted. She was a compassionate, dreamy, and clever child of the Sixties, in both demeanor and reality.

Although she was from Kansas and I, from North Carolina, we were at the same place in life in both expectations and priorities.

I don’t know what else I can mention. That’s one of the greatest frustrations with internet relationships: we never learn how to define them. We flounder in any attempts to mourn or grieve appropriately and to our satisfaction.

In a perfect world and on a perfect day, it would be wonderful to be able to boast that our more meaningful relationships are with neighbors, relatives, co-workers, … and folks that live down the road and can meet us for a spontaneous dinner at a downtown bistro. (I use the term “bistro” in the broadest and most forgiving of senses.)

It’s very likely that a few of the most honest, compassionate, and rewarding friendships we have today are with those met on social media sites. We can text back and forth all night long while we’re dressed in worn robes and with hair, a fright.

Although I know that I often struggle to isolate any innuendo or sarcasm. Any discourse can blossom even in the glistening charcoal stillness that frames the moon shadows. And we now carry the internet with us 24 hours a day.

Unfortunately, I still flounder when it comes to resolution or even just blowing the dust of of relationships. I just don’t know what to say or how to say it.

Except that I miss my friend from Kansas and teeter on heartbreak.

(Image: “Shakespeare’s Ariel” by Maud Tindal Atkinson, 1914.)

Naomi’s Winter Holiday Cut Short

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Conventional wisdom suggests that one doesn’t wear diaphanous dresses in late February. Such heady credos also advise keeping the French doors closed, keeping the chill at bay and the little ones a-foot.

But it was Paris and Naomi was intoxicated by the view of the Eiffel Tower and the sweet and pungent bouquet that wafted up from the bistro below.

Naomi was relaxed. The city was guided by the Gods of love, not by any lifeless rhetoric of staid and sober jargon.

Besides, Jean-Guy’s four year old nephew had that unfortunate accident with the railing yesterday. One gloomy day was entirely enough! Was it finally time to play tourist and go to the Moulin Rouge?

What a drag it is being sensible. Salut.

(Image: “Love’s Awakening” by Louis Icart, 1933.)

Sharing the Unspeakable

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“See how the sacred old flamingoes come,
Painting with shadow all the marble steps:
Aged and wise, they seek their wonted perches within the temple.
Devious walking, made to wander by their melancholy minds.”
(William Butler Yeats)

When I lived in Ft Lauderdale, I would often sit at the end of the pier. My daydreams hopscotched from one ponderance to another. Usually my thoughts were based in neither rhyme nor reason, as I had readily allowed myself to be completely engulfed in a beachy lifestyle.

Yes, I was unshaven and disenfranchised, but I nonetheless still read books and ate green vegetables with lots of gusto and lots of butter.

Of course, I’d always have unspeakable, unsharable, and unshakable visions. Despite my fervent intent to remember the more salacious details, they’d linger on my mind entirely of their own making. The imagination is a skilled marksman, though a strategist of uncommon reason.

My responses would most often be out-of-control and inappropriate in an untimely, unseemly manner. One, referring to myself, can’t always control the awkward stares, unflattering jaw-dropping, and overstated erections, as it were.

But at some point, my imagination would once again become fixated on one of the Universe’s great concerns: What if the world were caught up in the damnation of an aerial apocalypse?

I’d then see pelicans as winged zombies and flamingos as the regal protagonists. Blue Herons were always some wise and gentle force of arbitration.

Flash forward to a more reserved, calm, and even-keeled version of myself. I am no longer given to drop a jaw or allow a stare to halt the spin of my world.

I, however, still experience the random erection. Thankfully, it no longer requires a grand and heralded introduction.

And I haven’t walked along a pier in twenty years.

The Evolution of Resolution or the Deconstruction of Dissolution

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Sometimes, the well-mannered, politically correct, and logical response pales in comparison to the alternatives, all of which at once appear unseemly and unthinkable.

It can even be proactive to be obnoxiously aggressive, overtly manipulative, or even illogically wired like a Trans Am in Daytona. It is funny, though, that it is the unshakeable and ever-mediocre establishment that chases after us with its cattle prodder of rhetoric. If not cautious, that alone may define the State of Our Reunion.

We only see results when the event chain is spiraling out of reasonable control. It is at that very moment that resolution starts a forward stride with behemoth steps. And we realize that “said” prodder is already in a shirt pocket, along with some extra batteries.

What Becomes of the Broken-Hearted?

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This transplant business seems to have gone from a bureaucratic process to a game for the absurd. Mind you, it is a business for neither the faint-hearted nor the young at heart. Carefree, frolic, and future are all words I never hear anymore. They no longer become me.

I await a new heart, officially since May of ’13. I no longer count any minutes anywhere at any time. The clock hands pass “GO” far too quickly for any of that falderal. There doesn’t seem to be much time waiting for me down the road either.

It is official and, thus, proclaimed as truth by the UNC Memorial Hospital’s web-friendly modern update to the job description for the millennia-old town crier. Once 1-A, I am now 1-B and not as likely to make the final cut for a new heart … at least for a few years.

Their reasoning? I am too healthy. Although my energy plummets after two hours, I am too healthy. Even though my memory, reasoning, and comprehension all seem to be on hiatus, I am too healthy. While I may not be able to leave the house for little more than a hospital visit, I am far too healthy.

I am now caught up in a Kansas cyclone, watching my house, pets, and car just flying past my rapidly decreasing line of vision. I can’t laugh-off a scene from a film I never liked.

There is no heart in sight. I am told I need a transplant, but there is no heart in sight. I sense Hippocratic doom that I may never hear those words again: carefree, frolic, future.

The world indeed seems heartless these days.

As I am. Heartless.

The Loved One But Not the Waugh One

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One’s loved one can evoke a smile in so many ways. That person may do or say something funny. Or release a smile that might suggest being amused, in agreement, or simply for reassurance. The best, however, is the wide smile that we don’t see coming and we don’t really know what coaxed it to fruition. It’s an oasis, summer rain, a kitten’s wonderment, and rediscovering an old friend all wrapped into one feeling in one moment of existential bliss.

Such is the situation with my beloved. He makes me smile and laugh with unabashed gusto and confidence. He can usually and quickly draw me away from my worries so that I can concentrate on more positive issues.

Mind you, Jon holds tight to his chest a rather thorough arsenal of humor. And often, as with water or candles, he will store some laughs somewhere in the kitchen. Where I have no inkling. Perhaps, he has finally found a good use for his larger and lidded Frankoma pieces.

I am certain that I do a great many things that lead to Jon responding with a sizable guffaw and chortle but this is my post. And “I’ll post what I want to. You would post too, if it happened to you!”

Nothing in life makes me laugh harder or longer in that robust manner, that which moves one’s entire torso, than one particular peccadillo of his. He talks to the cats as if they speak English and sometimes even French or Spanish.

He’ll have lengthy conversations with Henry (and now Marigold) as if he understands every word, nuance, idiom, even irony that roll off of Jon’s tongue. Henry, in turn, responds with a series of meaningful meows and cries of relief. I assume Henry believes that Jon understands Cat-ese, or whatever a feline language is named.

He does this every single day from the morn’s more forgettable moans right up until he calls the pusses to bed. Yes, he thinks those furry little divas will stay asleep all night. They won’t wake up at 5AM and lick your cheeks. And that they’ll repeat the process every hour until all the people at Marklewood are stirring and savoring that first cup of java. Satisfied, they then go to the empty bed and luxuriate in privacy.

Of course, Jon will sternly scold Henry for bothering him and waking him before dawn. Henry doesn’t miss a beat. He turns and licks Jon’s other cheek. He aloofly responds as if every word goes blissfully over his head.

That’s how I know that Henry actually does understand what Jon is saying.

Happy Valentines Day, everyone. Enjoy what minutes remain. And mind your language when you’re in front of your pets. Just in case.

The Image Love Paints

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“If you press me to say why I loved him, I can say no more than because he was he, and I was I.” (Michel Eyquem de Montaigne)

It is now only 30 hours until the ever-anticipated recently renovated Valentines Day.

Regardless of the direction of tomorrow’s Friday the Thirteenth, my beloved and I will be celebrating in the wee hours of Saturday. It will be long before we sleep and rest up from the day before.

We choose not to explain with embellishing details to protect our weariness, privacy, and perhaps even ignorance.

Make the most of the day, My Friends. Keep in mind, it comes but once a year.

(Image: “La Mano Ubbidisce All’Intelletto” by Carlo Maria Mariani, 1983.)

Seven Days in February, Unrelated to Those in May

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“Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction.”
(Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)

Only SEVEN days until Valentines Day, O’ Gentle Reader. It is a day that indeed enriches us. In doing so, it grows closer toward the sun each year yielding blooms, reflection, empathy, and of course love. For the two of us here in the Hinterlands, it simply involves honoring each other.

My beloved and I will be celebrating a Baker’s Dozen of such fêtes together. Mind you, that is a testament to patience, respect, and compassion.

The pusses are such match-makers, as well as purveyors of a spiritual and cerebral love.

The day is all about our spouses, partners, significant others, and in my case, Jon. He has taught me the true meaning of a “holiday” and I anticipate a fine Saturday hence. The day, once frivolous, has become sacred.

“Feliz Día de San Valentín”.

Oh, Martin! Painted Perspectives of Versailles Panoramas

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This post is teeming with irony. Our house is modest but surrounded by a forest of ancient pines. It is sublime but rickety and crotchety. It endures the storms and swelter of a mid-Atlantic summer. It’s venerable in spite of its condition and neglect.

Our house is not unlike an elderly person who has never had the pleasures of another person, listened to music, nor nibbled on some wonderful newly discovered cheese. And it’s home to my beloved, all the pusses, and me. There is always room at the Inn for a stray.

These grand, breath-taking, and meticulously detailed paintings essentially “show off” Versailles from quite a few vantage points. Louis XIV insisted that Mr Martin focus on perspectives so that they’d convey a truth of sorts.

He certainly succeeds in at least half of the renderings. Sadly, I doubt whether such a mammoth undertaking would ever be assumed today. Yes, it’s another sad sign of post-1999 apathy and disenfranchisement. (I apologize for that beast of a last word.)

I still study the minutia of Martin’s opus. Naturally, I wear trifocals, have zero depth perception, and have a rather fuzzy periphery.

How can I speak badly of a modern device that offers voice recognition?

Again, I am truly sorry for that word. Henry thinks I’m due a flogging.

(Yes. I, too, immediately thought of the groups Madness and Crosby Stills Nash & Young and their songs “from another mother”, as it were. That is, for the duration of paragraph 2.)

(Image: Perspective View of Versailles, Jean-Baptiste Martin des Batailles, Completed in 1696.)

A Culture of Gold Stars and Demerits

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Wednesday marked Marigold’s completion of her first week’s studies at Dr Markle’s Finishing School for Wayward and Erstwhile Pusses. She is certainly an able ward or mentee, to Jon’s mentoring, if you will. Best of all, Jon is obsessing over her. That should offer significant consolement after Pfluffer’s untimely demise last Labor Day.

Thus far, Jon has taught her to discreetly use the litter box. He has had phenomenal success with his unusual and pioneering technique. He’s also taught her the value in quickly running to his side when she hears a treat package shake. And she answers to her name.

Jon seems to think that Marigold is picking up bits and pieces of English. Henry and I believe that he’s projecting, hoping, and determined. Perhaps the joke will be on me and she’ll exhibit the appropriate behavior in response to Jon’s cues and scolds. Or the joke might be on Jon and he becomes fluent in “Cat”. We’ll see by term’s end.

Overall , Marigold has had an extremely active seven days. Bear in mind: she went to the see the doctor last Friday to get the “cure” and her booster shots. Nonetheless, she was pert and bouncy all day long … every day.

Yes, our Little Miss Marigold has had a good week. Yet, I can’t help but think she enjoys recess the most. She can certainly hold her own against sisters Hermione and Claudja, the two of which are clearly attempting to lead her astray. I refer to their antics as the puss version of “Mean Girls”!

I suspect that before long, that pudgy grey and black long-hair will feel every bit a part of our home as all the other cats. They were once referred to as the Twelve Noble and Apostolic Pusses of Marklewood. Unfortunately, the enrollment is down to nine felines. In any case, unless the planets become out of sync, Marigold will be No. 10.

At the other end of the Cat Behavior Continuum, she’s an early leader in future Kitty of the Month pageants and reviews. Don’t worry. The pusses are neither exploited nor objectified.

I best sign off. There is stirring in the sun-room indicating there’s a curfew violation in progress.

(Image: “Belling the Cat” by Lisa Falzon.)

I Beg Your Pardon, Ms Anderson

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“I have a white rose to tend in July as in January;
I give it to the true friend who offers his frank hand to me.
And for the cruel one whose blows break the heart by which I live,
I cultivate neither nettles nor thorns. For him, too, I have a white rose.”
José Martí, 1891

Alas, in my modest garden, all blooms are equal and treated such.  Regardless of sweet bouquet, “a red rose is a white rose is a yellow rose.” My apologies to Mr Shakespeare if my segue seems weak or my paraphrase made trite by the recitals and poring of time. I reach. I stretch. I stare at book titles from across the office.

The greatest truths, at least to Henry and me, are: essentially most people are kind and good. And when the apocalyptic county crier finally reads its horrific and unforgiving proclamation, the only thing that matters is our relationships.

I don’t use the word “relationships” lightly or flippantly. They might suggest: family or perhaps even friends. And although at times quite challenging, even acquaintances and strangers factor into the most ultimate of Universal mixes. If you feel so inclined, please pause here and add your favorite quotation, Gentle Reader. The words may differ but the sentiment is always the same.

Perhaps it’s the perfect day for your roses and my roses to finally commune in some sort of ethereal or surreal patch of earth. Okay. Okay. You’ve got me. Roses can’t actually commune too readily.

We can, however, plant a red rose next to a white rose. And when they bloom, share their splendor.

You, too, might just spend a chilly February night with metaphors and similes, prompted by discovering a new painting … after just re-reading a favorite passage. What’s the all the fuss about? It’s all good.

All people, except for maybe one or two, are good as well. Most, however, refrain from indulgent prose on a Wednesday.

(Image: “Five Roses” by Steven Kenny, 2014.)