Those Soulfully Tailored & Sun-Kissed Saints

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There are quite a few future Saints running around these days. None have hats in a ring. None are on a reality show. None are grandstanding on CNN, although a few others might be.

But for the sake of this post, those TV mavens neither need apply nor stand by. Henry salutes the humble souls who quietly work for change and betterment, with compassionate and realistic goals.

One might be a blonde Republican South Carolina state senator whose swell of tears stopped the gavel and prompted a vote. In my mind’s ear, just left of my mind’s eye, I heard a weary voice pleading: “Why can’t we all just get along?” The emphasis should be on the last two words, evoking a passionate resonance.

Another might be a film actress who tirelessly fights for starving, hurting, or oppressed children. Her drive suggests a number of victims the extent of which should shame the global community as well as each of its breathing, seemingly oblivious souls. Her hair may be often askew with a Cubist’s tussle, but she never mentions it in either polite OR bawdy company.

I hear her stress the realit slap that hundreds of millions of children direly need help like hers. Few folk deign to answer, let alone carry her voice.

Here at home, we refuse to face a grim and devastating curse of our modern-ness. Horrific percentages of the elderly are sick, alone, isolated, and terrified. I easily can imagine a few fraternity boys scoffing at the seniors’ plight: “Oh, they’re old and at an age that is eons away our own reality.”

Yet, across the hall is a duo of exhausted, but fearlessly compassionate young scholars. Around their chaotic schedules and extracurricular demands, they find time to spend precious hours each week … just visiting and showing an untainted humanity.

Those conversational threads of words alone can save lives. They may leave a dusting wake of hope or simply help someone just get through a bleak and hammering day. Each day is to be cherished and is never too little to give someone.

Oh, how I do proselytize on my rickety “Calgon” Soapbox. As my words slow to a still, I beseech those bubbles to “take me away!” I best turn my attention around to household missions. Every now and then let me forget the woes of the world.

But there is one thing I always try to remember. There are indeed kind and compassionate egalitarians out here that fight for humanity in quiet, sereptitiously ways.

Those “saintly” types just don’t raise their hands or grab a megaphone.

They value their focus. They seek and spread authentic kindness.

At the end of my day here in the hinterlands, that is what it is all about: kindness. It is a word that, shall I say, “begets”!

(Image: “Announcement of Death to Saint Fina by Saint Gregory the Great” by Domenico Ghirlandaio, 1475.),

A Blistery Pink & Parched July

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There is very little that is poetic about an air-still produce stand and its baskets of wilted mornings and sweltering afternoons. I can barely eke out a rhyme against the fading wails of droopy hydrangea heads. But, as they sometimes say in the deeper Southern backforties: that don’t make no never mind. July’s weather weighs less and less on our weary minds.

Jon and I rejoice in waking up each morning, trying not to be first to check if the other breathes. We pay attention to our pets and nurture them as they, us.
We catalog our medications and scoff-little at their dispense. Whether we rank, alphabetize, or create some new pharmaceutical order, we quietly tend to our meds. It’s an activity.

My beloved and I just try to pass each day with smiles and kind words. We celebrate those rare days when neither of us is under a thunderstorm or, as you’d probably say: weather.

On every third Thursday, we venture into town. We seem to rejoin some surrealist circle of humanity. We wrest validation on some silly notion that to see our therapist, the same but separately, preserves any remaining social skills. Jon and I enthusiastically make it a day: marketing and fetching prescriptions. It’s an activity.

We never, though, ever take our eyes of the prize. We muddle. We putz. We dawdle.

It’s an activity.

September is nigh, dressed in new colors, ripping that pink from the rafters! Our mornings once again will get dressed before noon.

Jon will have his vampires. I shall have my zombies.

Ah. Indulgent, naughty activities rock with a “right” racy roll.

(Image by Aleksandr Kostetsky.)

Singing Hallelujah In the Shade of Ancient Pines

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This afternoon I had my typical whirl of a Physical Training session. Still giddy with oxygen, I turned to CNN as soon as I walked into the house. I was mesmerized by the string of commentators that were encouraged to either remark on: the President’s evangelical bent in Charleston, S.C. or today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

On the list of social changes that I never expected to witness in my lifetime: marriage equality. Not same-sex marriage. Not straight marriage. Not LGBT marriage. It is now “just marriage” for everyone. We have yet to even imagine the scope and impact of that landmark decision. Is it a dawning of sorts?

We in the United States are experiencing  rapid change. Well yes. It as rapid as social change can indeed take both place and hold.

We should add to that miraculous and long overdue judicial milestone, the President gave one hell of a eulogy. He is best when he emotes. Today, he seemed almost evangelical as he spoke.

Who knew? I woke up today rather late, showered and dressed rather quickly, and tried to find meaning for my day.

And I had that incredible, spiritual moment that occurs when planets and inhabitants alike align.

The air was ripe with honeysuckle and a wayward and mammoth gardenia bush. The breeze of change made me look up toward the sky and bask in a moment of profound change.

Van Jones eloquently surmised: “the President stepped into his legacy today.”

Indeed. The fig trees are weeping with joy.

Time is More Than an Alan Parsons Song,

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Time waits for no man, and it certainly never has for me. I ponder its diminish and gain in importance. It frustrates me. It scares me. It humbles me.

The Universe owes me nothing but hope, the “walk-away” of Divine interventions. Yes, hope is still mine although, increasingly, less visible and less called to the game.

The universe owes me nothing. It would be foolish, ignorant, and arrogant to suggest that it does.

I must own my recidivism. Yes, that is the very recidivism that a university professor once accused me of using as a bartering tool. Not that he accused me of not achieving. As he suggested by his demeanor:

My dedication, motivation, confidence, and compliance would soon erode and eat away at each other. At least that’s what Dr McC indeed suggested.

That damning prognosis perhaps went self-concluded. Today time seems just beyond my grasp.

Okay. Okay. I’ll sneak in through the Jail’s side door, mind you, directly or otherwise. My pace, these days, is mine.

Those salad days of gray-less ways. The briefest of reminiscence evokes a chuckle. There was once a time when time itself seemed more important that any we’d ever encounter. Twilight days of love, lolligagging, looking to our periphery, and unlocking the secrets of the past … they were certainly deferred to the yes-so-distant future.

We’d savor that luxury and toast the clock, don’t you think, Hope, Vicki, Doug, Charlie, and Albert? Yours was a friendship destined to be the one to endure and survive. But it didn’t.

The Universe’s joke is on ME once again. Life back then, at least as we knew it, was frothy and airy.

It is today that brings with it all the trials of yesteryear. The challenge is head on and the resulting decisions, critical.

Some days, I wonder. When did life get so difficult? When did time become the most precious of commodities?

Yikes! I best begin the hunt for a walking stick.

(Image: “Through the Time” By Gyuri Lohmuller, 2013.),

That Silly Rose is Still in Bed

On some summer afternoons, I step into the front yard and see several rose blooms … open, full, and ripe for the picking.

Other days, I catch a glimpse of only one, almost hidden from easy view by a birdbath.

Finally, there are times at which I sit on the stoop and see nothing but green leaves, russet pine needles, and gray fur. That is when I must scan the front yard thoroughly and search for an elusive flower here at our humble Marklewood.

It seems I am constantly reminding myself that, even if see neither a rose nor its remains, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there isn’t one there.

This time of year there is always at least one dark antique claret rose in splendor by the front door. Or there’s a splendorifica of them!

(Images by: René Magritte, Salvador Dalí, Anna & Elena Balbusso, Jim Tsinganos,and Vladimir Kush)

A Rainbow Wrapped in a Sigh

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Yesterday was a cerulean day that became the sum of exceptional and precious moments:

I had another great hour with my rarely-mentioned therapist. Where Drs. Chase and Hoffman had failed years ago, she succeeds every other Thursday. With neither pretense nor pretext, we simply talk.

My life appears woven from tattered, faded strips of a Persian blue Fortuny silk with some moth-eaten chartreuse Dupioni. Like many of the Universe’s twists and turns, a trade discount does a metaphor proud.

My sister and I swapped stories from Life’s grand “tea party”, with at least a few bites of both earned and learned leftover scones of carefully portioned nostalgia. We talked of the sins of our parents — the ones that we inevitably repeat. And we imagined life in our doting 80’s. As if!

Finally, there were many, many random laughs. My Tom Bergeron pick would be when I was chatting with a dear friend. Ben Carson’s name came up. With no hesitation, I responded:

“Republican, African-American, Johns Hopkins educated, Detroit physician in 2015! What was God thinking?” The party is over; it’s now a raft of fools, as it were.

Lastly, I had a manly salad with blue cheese dressing for dinner, neither of which I can have post-transplant. It’s an unfortunate trifecta of bacteria, virus, and mold issues.

And now? I want candy. Pink candy smelling of clove and tasting of midnight.

Henry indeed loves his wee hour music references. Yes. Such a puss has his Bow Wow Wows. He’s the Candy Man and he certainly can!

(Image: “La Houppa” by R. Choppy, 1926.)

Re-Discovery Day: Statement and Rewards

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“Their courage nerves a thousand living men (and women).”  Minot J. Savage

Enjoy the day, friends.

Of course, Henry is spearheading the celebration here. Nothing too heavy or intense.

Gratitude. Nostalgia. Inspiration.

Mind you: there shall be no Criminal Minds marathon queued. They are often mindless, but always “up in thirty”.

(Image: “Scalia Reggia Di Caserta” by Ignacio Goitia, 2015.)

Searching for Guacamole on the Moon’s Vast Dark Side

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I spend entirely too much time culling images, looking for one that might best illustrate a blog post. There was a time that those energies were directed toward Facebook. My focus has been narrowed by my very own internal control center: “My Achy, Breaky Heart.”

The key is to study directions and, as cousin Damian reminded me, comply and remain positive. My memory, cognition, and communication skills are in horrific disrepair. Both my health care provider, UNC’s Cardiology Department, and my beloved, who has my Medical Power of Attorney, simply manage my medications and various therapies.

Yessir. Yessir.
They take reign of my swoons and throbs, and keep a vigilant ear for the beat of a new heart. My new heart.

Meanwhile, I still post on Tartuffe’s Folly, but at the pace of an “out of breath” and compliant snail. And I search for the perfect image to stimulate visuals and “accessorize” the written word.

It would follow then that, at April’s baton hand-off, I’d browse through my May Day file of vintage B&W photographs and scans of relative paintings. By the time I had my hands on this pink Puck Maypolitical cover caricature, it was May 4. The post was mired in that swollen spiral of missed opportunities and deadlines.

The image still dressed my iPad with well-cropped wallpaper. After a few days’ studies. I realized that the publish date was May 5, 1908. My beloved would likely have to assist me in creating a relevant segue from sassy maypole satire to Cinquo de Mayo toasts and cheer.

I looked at my iPhone to confirm the date and it was May 9. Such projects were and are increasingly sucking from me any energy and optimism that I still hold to my chest, and its faint patter. Yikes! Egads! Zut alors! Damn.

Accepting defeat by details is excruciating for a 58-year old over-analytical, perfect risk “heart transplant” candidate.

As I scanned Pinterest to correct mis-taps, I found the answer:

My “Nod to Pink Freud” album was the ideal solution, albeit one that simply generalizes visuals of colors and hues.

My mission was finally complete. I was exhausted with a long-lasting pant. I was ready for my afternoon ritual of a Criminal Minds marathon.

Okay. Okay. I’m complying.

Wheels up in twenty.

Loosening the Restraints on Prometheus Unposted

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There are Thursday nights on which I believe that the Universe is toying with me. Ha. You’re right, my friend. It is indeed the norm to teeter in my weeklong struggle between Herr Hope and Frau Frustration. But tonight is Thursday and I can only resolve this one day.

Granted, five years of daily episodes is surely a bit much, even in this zombie-ridden anti-apocalyptic world. Since the powers that “be” and doctors that “prescribe” are all in agreement, it seems that I shall be admitted to UNC’s Memorial Hospital in six weeks.

There, for some unpredictable and unknown duration, my privacy, home comforts, and companionship will be replaced with a marathon series of monitoring. Don’t get me started, at least not until the first Tuesday in June.

After the horror and dread subsided a bit, my game plan became clear. The tine could be wisely spent with audio books and a change in my social networking habits.

Less time on Facebook would create an opportunity to explore Pinterest and Twitter. Besides, posting images on Facebook has actually become exhausting and stressful. My image archive, then, could actually be housed in the dim and smoky back rooms of Pinterest.

I plan to spend those quiet days and even quieter nights becoming one with the Universe’s modern stratagem for successful networking.

And I will try to ascertain how, after four years of decent readership statistics, I can revamp this very blog, the object of Our Dear Prometheus’s compulsions.

It’s difficult to believe that a few of my friends scolded me recently. They assured me that I am not the least bit obsessive!

Have you evuh?

Mourning Jewelry: Morticia’s Prized Evening Bling

Ah, Mme M. A. Frump Addams always had a discerning taste for those decorative and often decadent commemorative or memorial pieces of jewelry. Such nostalgic bounty was always “to die for!” And it always seemed to suit our lady’s porcelain, yet pallid complexion, as well as that fashion staple: a little black dress.

She has forsaken what was once such a family tradition: intertwining the deceased’s hair into a ring-framed brooch. She even gave away her bracelets that were braided post mortem.

Naturally, dear Cousin It was relieved at milady’s decision. He no longer felt like a walking jewelry box and could, once again, parade his bouncy flouncy combings and teases.

But this is enough of such uplifting and maudlin circumspect. This first of April’s Tuesdays needs to regroup, nap, and prepare for Wednesday’s imminent arrival.

Today though, if you please, call me Angel of the Mourning.

“Oh, the thorns are lovely this year!”

A Good Day, Good Friday

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Were tomorrow Friday, my thoughts might be somewhat more relevant and my posting, timely. I apologize for my internal clock which has newly changed batteries and yet seems to be skipping beats to make a point.

The best of Friday felicitations from the sandbox, my friends. For some of you, tomorrow is a reflective holy day, a solemn step toward pending joy.

For others, the day becomes a euphemism as the start of a process, an ultimate new beginning, a resurrection if you will. For most of us, it will be a Good Friday indeed … regardless of its definition or intent.

And for an unlucky few, the day becomes unfortunate and simply a day of thus-pegged and rather pixilated irony.

However you may interpret, plan, or simply allow your day to unfold, may it be what you want it to be. And, more importantly, what ever you NEED it to be.

One lone Friday is but one day. 
I will spend my day in my own manner. I shall pay silent homage to Easters past and those folk who anxiously laid my foundation, and its many subsequent refurbishes.

Henry and I will revel in the brilliant relationships that grace my life today.
 It is those connections that fuel my soul, give me hope, and define my humanity. They also keep me stocked in sweet iced tea, okra pickles, and fresh pineapple.

My soul, my hope, and my humanity (as I humbly understand them) are going to make the most of the day and I shall call it a good Friday.

There is no such measure of time that is “JUST” a day. All days have measure and worth. Believe that!

What ya think, Lillian? Dark chocolate “peanut butter” truffles? Fruit-shaped marzipan? Jelly Bellies?

Doctor’s orders!

(Image: “The Last Supper” by Adam Lister, 2014.)

This Silly Spring

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“Poor, dear, silly Spring, preparing her annual surprise!” . (Wallace Stevens)

Alas, the real Spring has tossed its Marseilles wrap onto the steps and finally settled in, at least since 6:45 last night. My beloved and I humbly await a season of rejuvenation, rebirth, reconciliation, and a hefty bolster of hope. The season here in the Hinterlands is not as I’ve ever seen.

Earlier, bouquets of Star Magnolias announced the Majestic Bartlett Pear Festival, the weeklong event that traditionally ends with neither fanfare nor souvenirs. The only remnants of such a celebration are the strewn and still moist petals, poised to wither.

Weather alert and advisory: the ever-tardy April showers signed the guestbook on May 22.

(Image: “Self-Portrait as Skyscraper” by Julie Heffernan, 2009.)

The Fidget of Father Time: Changing the Calendar for Good

Or so it feels. These somewhat beige days spin like an electric fan set to “HIGH”. The dizzied Gēras is tossed aside like picnic orts.

There once was a bit of an aesthetic and pride in time and its keeper. Calendars of yore, however, have since become obsolete puzzlements.

Calendars now remind of us of a time when:
the world seemed calmer,
the cityscapes were filled with marvel,
a single flower was noticed, and
details really mattered.

We don’t see much beauty these days, frankly, because our eyes are tightly shut. If we truly scrutinize the world around us, somehow humanity loses its power, or so we’re surreptitiously told. God forbid we ever acknowledge the majesty of the Universe and its creation.

Yes, I am still a liberal Democrat. And I am frightened that Time will go the way of Beauty and Kindness.

It’s tragic how more and more of our daily lives are controlled by a server. The forgotten Gēras would be mortified.

Such are the Days of Our Lilies

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As spring sneaks into the yard from the brambly woods in the back, one thing is certain. We will have flowers soon, probably of some new cross-bred curiosities of Roses, Lilies, Impatiens, as well as Henry’s and my favorites, Lobelia and Nasturtia. The Lilies, of course, are of the garden or glade varieties, not what we in these genteel parts call “Ditch-lilies”.

I have lived out here in the hinterlands of outer Raleighwood for almost thirteen years. I had two dozen peony bushes in the back yard, mostly white and yellow, and a few black ones to confuse folks when we had outdoor parties. They would’ve survived neither the drive nor a new home. I never even confessed to my perennial confidants that the dirt at Marklewood is actually NC Red Clay, with a smattering of added topsoil where needed.

Thank God for the invincible 4′ Cast Iron plants I bought, perhaps fifteen years ago, from my dear friend Peggy. She was my plant guru and wholesale contact, but she passed away the season immediately before both my father and a close lifelong friend had passed away. I shall stop with that as to keep any melancholia sealed until another day … except that despite neglect and drought, they still thrive. Perhaps, if I’m not having health coverage issues in April, I shall quarter them. The yield would be a majestic overstatement of twenty-four plants that would span just shy of 100 feet.

I am rambling I know. It is late and I’m overwhelmed with thoughts and words and artwork tonight. Some hot tea while I decompress would be perfect.

The image I included here is of a painting by the iconic French actress Leslie Caron of “GiGi” and “Lily” fame. I always found her to be lovely and shy and genteel and compassionate and … Oh I wish I could find a better word that sweet! I like the almost childlike innocence of the flowers and the torch-like hand holding them, as well as the blue hues.

Tonight I shall think about my Columbine and roses that now dress their beauty for a family of four.

“I sit at the window and watch the rain,
Hi-Lili, Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo.
Tomorrow I’ll probably love again,
Hi-Lili, Hi-Lili. Hi-Lo”.