Is Manderley Still a Polling Place?

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I dreamt last night that the November ballot for President had Democrat Martin O’Malley facing Republican John Kasich.

As I rolled over and returned to a deep sleep, my dream at once continued, without so much as a pause or a recount. Rahm Emanuel, Sarah Palin, and all of the obvious suspects had all been slapped with a lifetime ban on holding elected office. Further, they were no longer permitted to appear on any television program.

However, if they were clever enough to design their own jewelry, they could apply for a limited waiver to appear on QVC.

Although my dream offered no specifics as to potential VP candidates and so on, I could hear the Democrats theme song in the background: a tune penned and performed by Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, and Shamir.

In contrast, the Republicans had soundtracked their campaign with an Engelbert Humperdinck duet with Anne Murray. (Hey, I’m only the messenger here.)

Well, it all could happen. Couldn’t it, Mr De Winter?

(“Spread your tiny wings and fly away!”)

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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.),

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.

Dice in the Voting Booth

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My cardiologist recommended that I stay clear of CNN or any other forum that might fuel my blood pressure, steal my breath, or make me swoon.

Naughty, naughty me! To catch up on news of the world that surrounds Marklewood,  today I quietly and nonchalantly turned to Channel 29. I swear it was less than an hour when I realized that watching “Criminal Minds” would fare much better in restoring my faith in humanity.

Commentator after reporter, again and again, the topic was the U.S. Presidential race, especially in terms of a Republican nominee. Who would likely win in Iowa? Who has gathered the mightiest war chest? Who would likely stay afloat for the season’s duration? Who was the most homogeneous? How does each candidate stand on a conspiracy theory regarding 1963?
Oy vey iz Mir!

After 59 minutes, I turned nervously turned the channel and sat back in my chair. Henry would calm me down by purring on my lap. Jon might do so by sharing an anecdote. But they were upstairs. Both of them.
I looked out the window and, appreciating the privacy and remoteness, started pondering. Such “thought trains” or “stormed brains” are dangerous.

The notion hit me with a slap:

What if we, as American voters, lived in a commonwealth of sorts, in which the only (and do I mean ONLY) candidates for President were:
Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal,
Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump,
Rick Santorum, or Ben Carson?

Oops! That isn’t such a far-fetched or fractured possibility. Even a Clinton or Duck Dynasty would be a safer option our page of Humanity’s fable.

In my players’ handbook, there is noted as a Savior of Modern Democracy neither a Christie, a Paul, ne’r a Cruz, nor even a Perry! It is clearly stated somewhere in the preface.

The very subject is terrifying. First is the horrific proximity and reality of such a pool. Secondly, how could we, as American voters, reach such a nadir of options and spirit?

The word “nadir” has titillated me since fourth grade. That was the year Sr Edward Patricia coached me to a Scripps event in Raleigh. That word never came up. I did, however, leave with a word.

I digress. We transgress. The future of our collective health, happiness, and safety are in the hands of a very few.

Let’s get started. Who will fetch the mattresses and some green peas?
And pour the Kool-Aid.

I jest not. If only we could go back in time and … Oh, never mind. Another episode of “Criminal Minds” is queued.

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.

That Being Said

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My cardiologist warned me about excessively watching CNN. It is the indulgent, fatty, caloric, and indigestible element of modern television. My arteries start to throb and send me mixed messages. I must learn to exhale.

That being said, most of you either know firsthand or assume that I am liberal. Not only is it in the truest sense of my socio-politico-theologico humanist views. It suggests how I maintain my soapbox. Mostly, however, it keeps my humanity safe and governs most of my daily life.

THAT being said, what the hell is going on in Ferguson? The combative attitude of its citizens is deplorable. One is to assume that the electorate, make that “residents”, must be complacent, lazy, or just living in another era. How is it that Law Enforcement can truly monitor crimes and keep folks safe with racist, non-inclusive, and denigrating behavior?

I just don’t get it. The system there is broken. Fire the obviously “guilty” members of the FPD and review the rest. Then bring in the National Guard with a positive directive from Congress. And let John Boehner think it was all his idea so that he doesn’t lead a resistance.

Further, it is inappropriate and offensive for the media to constantly repeat inappropriate and offensive jokes and emails. Repetition gives the hate-mongers more credence and air-time. And it fuels the issue on a national level, while the solution is the burden of the local and state communities.

I have watched a media institution air Ferguson’s dirty laundry. Repeatedly. I suspect it is true with most news rerouting services.

The ugliest side of humanity continues to thrive.

THAT being said, is there a Twelve Step program for news junkies?

Doctor’s orders.

(Image: “Cardinals of the Venetian Cornaro family assisting to the ecstasy of St. Theresa” by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in Rome’s Cornaro Chapel, 17th.c.)

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.)

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.)

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)

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.)

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.)

Egads! My Soapbox Has Splinters and Stains

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Best of Augustine Friday evenings to you, my friends.

In this crazy world, may you find some sun-drenched moments of profound beauty, discovery, or human connection that gets you through at least until bedtime. Enjoy the savor.

On a different note, may more of the Universe’s mystery unfold so as to explain a few ever-burning queries:

How is it that there is a national hip recall? (Yes, as in ‘hip replacement’)

How is it that Bristol Palin is handed further celebrity by being invited to compete in the all-star edition of “Dancing With the Stars”?

How is it that there are several dozen reality shows (in production) that explore and exploit some of the worst behavior in television? The telly’s ugly underbelly keeps its clench with such fodder as: bounty hunters, trailer park melodrama, Amish kingpins and their enforcers, kiddie beauty pageants, filthy restaurants, filthy bars, filthy homes, brides “behaving badly”, swamp lords, and extreme hoarders.

How is it that the Republican Party here in the U.S. exalts hyper-conservative politicos like Rand Paul, Michelle Bachman, John Boehner, Paul Ryan, Scott Walker, and North Carolina’s own Virginia Foxx?

How can an alleged murderer claim “assisted suicide” as his defense when the victim was beaten by four people, struck in the head with a pick axe, strangled, given an overdose of horse tranquilizers, and then finally had his head duct-taped inside a plastic bag?

How is it that social networking sites fail to realize that it will be their corporate arrogance and failure to provide consumer advocacy that will ultimately be their downfall, unravelling their subscribers?

How is it that a new line of UK paper towels (with a tattoo-inspired motif) can actually sell for $9 (USD)?

Finally, how is it that, here in the United States, quite a few civil rights, freedoms, and liberties vary from state to state? I am 57. Jon is 67. And we’d be much better off if we packed our tired selves into the Jeep and moved out of North Carolina.

Those are my “soap-box” issues for this glimmering, yet balmy dusk. There is yet the chance opportunity to find a random bloom in my pine-needle strewn garden, a new friend, or some sublime “work” of beauty that is an inspired and unexpected creation. Those, my friends, are indeed often the best of moments.

Regardless of Henry and Pfluffer’s valiant and relentless efforts, I know that such “moments” do not include stowaway tree frogs that burrow inside house plants … that will soon return to the sunroom.

Be gentle and be kind. If the stars, cell phone minutes, and Facebook “pokes” all align, perhaps tonight the pusses will host one of their famous candlelight soirées at Marklewood. Thank you, Hyacinth.

(Image: “Millennium Burial Mound” by Julie Heffernan, 2012.)

The Honor of His Presence: Holding the Peace

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This week, the U.S. Supreme Court offered their two much ballyhoo-ed decisions. My LGBT friends in California can return to their nuptial planning that was cut short the last time around. Those in politically moderate states can now move ahead with the hope and passion that is needed to achieve marriage equality. And those of us who live in the South must remind ourselves that our journey here is still uphill. We can never take for granted any pertinent electorate effort, nor can afford to gamble with our civil rights and futures.

It is certainly a given that the states that comprise the core of the old Bible Belt will most assuredly be the last to legalize same sex unions. It will, however, at some point engage the majority of states. Today’s polling suggests that 57% of adults (18+) are supportive … nationally. For the record, I believe that North Carolina and Virginia will buck the geographic trend and will indeed approve marriage equality, as long as any referendum or proposition is worded clearly spelled out. California’s Proposition 8 and NC’s marriage rights bill contained esoteric double negatives and oblique wording. They results were thus tainted by trickery, ignorance, or bigotry.

Of course, my generation views such issues quite differently than those between 18-40. Even though I was never a victim of bullying, there was always an undertone that such a declaration of sexuality would leave me vulnerable. My generation, for the most part, struggled with coming out. We had to worry about safety, job security, and maintaining opportunities. All the while, however, we lived life from the outside, noses pressed against the window pane and our bodies chilled from the isolation. The concept of marriage never seemed a possibility, especially when we realized that our civil rights were, in many instances, violated and not legally protected. In some states, it is still legal for an employer to fire someone for being gay. In others, it is illegal to sell liquor in any establishment that “caters to homosexuals” unless the business sells enough food to pass 50% of its revenue. Even in large metropolitan areas with these ordinances, only beer can be sold.

That actually introduces the last point that has been brewing, stewing, and primed for spewing all day. We still have a political system that allows civil rights and liberties to actually be voted upon. LGBT adults can adopt in some states and not in others. We are more equal in Maryland or New York than in South Carolina or Wyoming. It’s mind-boggling to think that the LGBT community works hard, pays taxes, and is an integral to the development and maintenance of the arts. Yet we are treated as second-class citizens.

Don’t get me wrong. The two decisions were thrilling and quite emotional, while the balmy breezes wafted with a delicate scent of freedom. I pray that we will have full equality before today’s children are grown. It is also heart-warming that, on this very day, more U.S. residents can secure a partnership, as well as benefits. Although my beloved and I never talk of marriage per se, we have hopes that someday we’ll have tax, insurance, health benefits, survivor benefits, and so on. We still only dream of filing joint tax returns, having survivor pension entitlements, and of being able to walk away from those sticky, fetid, and oozing family issues.

I best close now, gentle reader. My dander is in need of some pre-slumber de-ruffling … and Henry is pacing in front of my monitor.

(Image: “Wedding Bells” by Felix d’Eon, 2013.)