Monday, December 30, 2013

Still A Monday

I don't know why, but I have never been that excited by the arrival of the New Year. To me, it symbolizes putting the wrong year on my checks for a month or two. No amount of glitter and sparkle can gussie that up. So here we are. I am much more excited about the fact that I can still turn the tree lights on, in the early morning and evening.

It is the quiet time of the morning, on the street I now live on. But the unicorn meat eating cats are in full swing. Max, the dog, has taken to sleeping under the covers, as winter sets in. And me? I have a stunning case of bronchitis that may or may not be moving in, for the winter.

I enjoy my new apartment, but yesterday was a bit lonely. But I can feel lonely in a crowd, I am just that talented, so...

Not much today. 


Friday, December 27, 2013

And Counting

It's now two days after Christmas, and counting. The tree is still lighted at night, and the cats still love to sleep under it. It is as if each small light were a sun, giving off a planet's worth of heat, for them to bask in. And yes, it is the quiet time in the morning again; just about an hour or so before dawn. It is more quiet and still now than any day I have lived in my new digs.

I overdosed on some chocolate last night, for the first time in my new apartment. I have been successful at avoiding it, but got some for Christmas. That's the last of it. Believe it or not, I was not raised knowing the delights of chocolate. It was too rare, and unknown, from too far away, to be affordable for my grandparents. Although they did drink coffee. It is a puzzle to me to this day...

Anyway. So, chocolate, is has a 'foreign' taste to it, to me. My rare experiences with it in my childhood were limited to Tootsie Rolls, received on Halloween. A treat was a piece of raw potato, fished out of the water my mother dropped them into, when she made potato salad, or beef stew. As a child, I loved the candy called Sweet Tarts, that came as necklaces or bracelets. Or the marshmallowness of yellow chicks that came in an Easter basket. My particular favorite is orange slices; all that sugar, with a citrus overlay...

We got our candy from the candy store, that also sold cigars. It was a log cabin, on Main Street, in Gloucester Courthouse. There were cinnamon fireballs, and butterscotch candies, and wax bottles filled with flavored syrup. A cheerful, old man behind the counter would fill a sack of candy for us, for half of a dollar. Then a modern 'drugstore' opened up down the road, and the candy store disappeared.

Where this is all going, I don't know. But I will let the last of the chocolate go, and not buy anymore. This apartment is truly, a great deal like the Manse, and the old, familiar furniture passed down through the family, is arranged as if my Mother had visited while I was moving, and set each piece down where she saw fit. It is as if the pieces themselves, had come home.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

In A Fever

It is my wish that all of you that meet me here, had a wonderful day yesterday. My tree has been lit for 2 days now, the gifts opened, the special foods eaten. Extra treats for the animals, as the first heralds. A slow down in the days, to talk and eat together.

4 o'clock to 5 o'clock in the morning, is the quietest time in this small city I live in. At least on the major road that I live on. It is the time of the fewest cars, the early morning travelers not yet out, the late night revelers, already in bed. There is a phenomenon in Roanoke that is called, "cruising." I'm sure, if your town is big enough, there is some tradition of it there, too. Fixing a car up and taking it out for display...They cruise every night on the road I live on. Of course, the big night is Friday and Saturday. That's when I get to hear the loudest stereos, the biggest engines, the hearty version of 'hail, fellow, well met' that still exists: "Yo".

It comes perfectly at the time of morning I am most likely to be awake in. It also happens to be the time that I am most likely to be in the deepest sleep. It just all depends. But this morning, I am awake, and I enjoy the light of the tree, and the tokens of affection that are gifts, that lay under it. There are gifts yet to be given, that extend the holiday as well.

The kitchen is a well organized chaos: the baking went on into Christmas Eve. And I would be failing those of you who share my disorders not to mention the effects they had on Christmas.

I hoarded food. I bought pounds of flour and sugar that I have no real plan for, just some nebulous dream of making bread. It's not that I cannot make bread, I love to. But I got this flour and sugar with the idea in my head that I faced a 'long, hard winter' and only crusts of bread stand in the way of my death from starvation. I feel a bit like the first English settlers in Jamestown, or Laura Ingalls Wilder, who set out pioneering so long ago.

Then I got physically ill, with some stomach problem. I still run a fever at night, and in the morning. I am fatigued a good deal of the time, and want to go to bed quite early. Christmas Eve day dawned, and I realized I had done no baking, or cooking of any kind. I had all I needed for vast quantities of treats, and a complete paralysis of the mind and body.

Somehow I forced myself to eat breakfast and take my meds. A number of friends wanted banana nut bread. I had forgotten to get the ingredients. How could I have done that? A rush to the local store, twice, and I started to make the breads. First one loaf, then two. Clean the pans, add the eggs, find the tinfoil. My hands seemed separate from my brain, and they were cold.

Years of bread-making helped, as my mind got foggier, and foggier. I wrapped and decorated the first loaf very prettily, with the ribbons and bows I had gotten. I put one bow on the second loaf, and gave up on decorating them after that. I tried a blueberry loaf. I had forgotten to unfreeze the berries. I had to throw that loaf away.

I had wanted to make sausage balls for Christmas morning, and custard. How had Mom done it all? In the middle of the day, I lay down for a bit and slept. I felt nothing was done and the presents were still unwrapped under the tree. The numbness now extended from my hands up to my chest. But, somehow, the loaves kept popping out of the oven, without having fallen. Nice, round loaves with brown crusts. Friends came over to watch a James Bond movie. I excused myself and went to bed at 7:30. My understanding friends let me sleep. When I woke and hugged them goodbye, I was feverish.

I slept in my clothes for several hours after that, and woke to wrap the presents. I surrendered to the unmanageability of my life, went back to bed and slept well, for a time.

Christmas morning: an anxiety attack to start the day. An overwhelming feeling of, "What the hell?" beat me down, and I started to clean, as I do when I panic. The world righted itself a bit, when I realized that there was no more hope of baking anything else, and no more last minute trips to the store were possible. What would be, would be.

Slowly the morning began. I might live through it all.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Nearby

Dear Mom,
I hung the ornaments you bought me over the years, last night. The wooden ornaments shaped like cats, with bells and ribbons on them, the red and the gold apples, the clear oyster shells with a picture from a long-ago holiday card pasted in the middle of them...

I miss you and Dad at this time of year, especially. Through the poverty and drinking years, and then the healthy years, the both of you kept the magic of Christmas so alive, we happily left the myth of Santa behind. You gave my brother and I the still mystery of bringing the tree in from the cold, with its aura of pine scent. The most holy moment of the season was stringing white lights on the tree, like lighting the last white candle of Advent.

I miss when Dad built a fire in the fireplace, and turned off all the lights in the house, except for those on the tree. It was an essential part of Christmas that I keep in my heart. I remember your delicious custard, crafted carefully over a day.

I miss the year of the "red" tree, nothing but apples and cardinals and red bows hung by the white lights. I miss the year of my childhood, when you bleached the oyster shells in the bathtub, and had a hole drilled at the top of them to string from the tree at our home on the Chesapeake Bay. I miss the year you made everyone search for their presents from clues written on paper, and hung from the tree. I loved the year you thought of wrapping all the presents with the funny papers, from the Sunday editions. Or the year you wrapped everything in tin foil.

I remember getting simple gifts, toothpaste and toothbrushes, combs to hold my hair, sometimes a sweater, or earrings. My favorite gifts were the books: Little Women, the complete set of the stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Silmarillion.

And so, this year again, I have my own tree, with your ornaments on it. And I string the lights with Dad nearby, and you roasting a turkey in the kitchen. I make your favorite banana nut bread, for my brother. I bake breads that you and Dad loved, and cakes, and cookies, the soft ones, for you and the crunchy ones for Dad and I.

And I have the people you loved visiting on Christmas Day. There are some new ones, I know that you both would like, in my life, and they love your ornaments, too. And some have gone to spend Christmas with you.

Until we meet again.
Your loving daughter,
Alise

Friday, December 20, 2013

OMG


I have moved. I live now in a new apartment, in a very lively part of town. It reminds me of the Old Manse, the house I lived in as a child, growing up in Gloucester, VA. The apartment is in a building that is over 100 years old, with plaster walls, and wide baseboards. There are very tall windows and wood floors, throughout. I will have a house warming party in February that absolutely all of you are invited to.

I am now surrounded by City. There are no woods or fields, but there are trees. Down the street is a church, and Max and I stroll through their grounds every morning and evening, now. It is exciting to be in the heart of this small City, and it is my first experience of living in a city in my life. I am fascinated by the goings on around me: the people stopping at the 7-11 across the street, the cars slowly moving past. There is always something to see. Every once in a while, an ambulance or police car screams by.

The unicorn meat eating cats are indoor cats, now. They are too entranced at all the room and the windows to put up much of a fuss now, but I can tell that window seats will go in when Spring arrives. Max no longer has a yard to play in, but he gets much more walks than he has ever had, and time spent with me on an adventure around the block is better than being tied on a run in the backyard, any day.

And me? I am delighted at the change. I love tall windows and wood floors. Of course, moving was very stressful, but I took my meds and plowed through with the support of more people than I can list here.

Of course, I will continue to write of the meadow and the forest. After all, it is not where you live, but what you carry in your heart, that is the true dwelling of every person.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen

Don't be alarmed. I am simply taking a vacation at Christmas for the first time in years. My blog will restart on Wednesday, December 18th. Thank you for your patience and know that I think of all of you everyday.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Love That Surpasses

I know I am slacking on my posts...forgive me. Life can be busy and overwhelming this time of year, even if it is 'happy' overwhelming. For instance, it's time to send out Christmas cards, and I have yet to pick them out. I have a collection of unused cards from years past, of course. I am tidy that way. But losing the envelopes makes sending them difficult, sometimes. So every year I get some new ones...

I look forward to 'A Dickens of a Christmas' which is the local, downtown celebration of the season; complete with a parade, pet costume contest, and tables of local artists' and artisans' wares set out for sale on the Farmers' Market. Cat toys, handbags, jewelry, polished rock, photographs: all and more are for sale. White Christmas tree lights hang over every stall, and the air is scented with handmade candles, soaps, confections, and holiday breads.

The service from the vendors is so very happy and personal. Families bustle by with brown paper packages; they chat happily. Excitement is in the air and sparks like electricity between the walking shoppers.

I don't usually buy the breads; I make my own. Cranberry-orange, blueberry, date-walnut, banana nut; everyone has their favorite. For some, I simply make loaves of fresh, crispy white bread. Served with honey butter, hot, it is nothing to sneeze at. Chocolate chip cookies are a specialty of mine as well. My Father loved them crispy, and Mom loved them soft. So I still make both. One year, a neighbor and I made several pounds of fudge. I stacked fudge on the kitchen counters until I lost sight of the walls. I gave it away in bags with ribbons, and tins. Everyone got fudge that year.

I make butter 'thumbprint' cookies with blackberry preserves in the thumbprint. Shortbread is a favorite of my friend, Dark Star. My brother loves getting anything with nuts in it. (His wife and daughter are allergic, and he only gets nut breads once a year.) And of course, at the end of it all: the breakfast casserole for Christmas morning.

One year at the Old House, that I remember with great fondness, I picked sour cherries and made preserves for Christmas. I loved giving the small, brightly red, pint jars with the dark green ribbon around the lid. I kept one for myself, to test, and enjoyed the jam well into January. A bit of summer evening held over into the winter to enjoy.

I don't have the trees anymore, but I make my bread, and cakes and 'bark' with nuts and berries. The kitchen becomes covered in a fine drift of flour, and confectioners' sugar. Walnuts crunch satisfactorily in the hand, while the countertops are decorated with the blueberries and cranberries and oranges that I use in my recipes. I dress the finished goods with tinfoil and gold ribbons. One especially happy Christmas memory is that of an senior lady and I making 'Russian tea' in batches for her friends. I was 8 years old, and I have no idea who the woman was now. Probably one of my Mother's geriatric patients, long ago. But she told me stories of her grandmother and her Russian tea, all afternoon. That was the day that I realized that one day, I too, would grow old. She told me she hadn't been born with white hair, or as she appeared to me. She insisted that she had once been a child, with parents and grandparents, just as I was. It was the biggest discovery of my life, up to that time, that first glimpse of mortality.

So, this morning, I pull out these Christmas memories, and I remember what her kitchen smelled like, making gallons of citrusy tea. My coffee this morning is Tanzania Peaberry, a dark roast. My ceramic Christmas tree shines with its colored lights. And outside, in the dark, the storm is coming. Lights gleam in the streets and from windows, a symbol of hope, and the love that surpasses all.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Roses With Other Names

I woke early again, today. Despite what I would like, I think this will be my pattern until after Christmas. Fortunately, I have company. Cats are nocturnal, and one or the other is always awake and demanding attention. If I was asleep, they would simply walk on my face for it. Max, the dog, is not nocturnal. He sleeps no matter what. If the light on the bedside table is too bright, he shoves his head under a blanket, or the bathrobe, to shield his eyes and goes right on sleeping.

I have decided to consolidate the five, plastic 'totes' full of Christmas decorations past, into just one or two. 3 years ago, when I left the Old House, I saved so many things I just couldn't part with. Five boxes of Christmas things were part of the load. But I no longer need the plastic magnolia leaves and flowers to remember my Mother and Father by. I don't need the several string of lights with only one bulb that doesn't work, or all the sets of the Nativity figurines that my Mother collected. It's a great time to donate those things to a shelter, or to friends that may want a remembrance of Christmas Stewart Past.

My Mother's favorite decorations were her statues of the Madonna that she set in greenery every year. My brother and I split them when she passed, and I remember that, no matter how little money we had to celebrate in a year, a Madonna would be set in a dish of water, and cedar and white pine, nandina and its red berries, would be set on the oak dining table, to shine like a candle in the dark. Indeed, more often than not, white candles and cloth that looked like snow, would also be set somewhere in the house, to hold the Nativity scene.

So, for me, Christmas is not Santa figures, or candy canes, but lights and candles and the Nativity and the Madonna. It is a tree in a cool, dark room, strung with white lights, with ornaments made of oyster shells that gleam among the boughs. It is all the mystery and wonder that such sights evoke, with the miracle of birth added.

Don't get me wrong. I think Christmas is big enough of a celebration to handle a Dutch saint and some color, and toothsome candies, or "stockings hung by the chimney with care." Whatever traditions your religion holds for this time of year are worthy of celebration.

After all, Light is light, by any other name...


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tuesday, Giving Tuesday

For the second time in 33 years, I am moving. My time here is up, and I spend each day on the search for a new place to roost. And for the unicorn meat eating cats, and Max, the dog, to roost, too. I am sad, scared, excited, happy. One would think that I would be used to the emotional roller coaster, but this is an enormous adventure for me. It hasn't palled.

So, as the adventure continues, I will let you in on what happens. Too excited today to write...

Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday, Monday Fa La La

It's the Monday after a holiday weekend, but it's not as bad as, say, the Monday after the 4th of July. Because December is a month of non-stop celebration for those who celebrate...Advent Sundays, carol rehearsals and performances, the pretty lights, and, for me, baking. I am generally very happy at this time of year...I like the weather where I live, I enjoy the sight of nature at her most exposed, and I love the lights. For a long time, my Mother's birthday was in December, the 12th, to be exact.

I still commemorate her birthday by doing something extra Christmassy on that day...extra baking, or a special trip to see the trees on display downtown, or a drive around to see the light displays.

It is beautiful here today. True, it is overcast with clouds that look like rain, but the temperature will be in the mid-50's F, and that's pretty mild, and typical for this time of year. We don't usually get the cold Canadian winds until January or February, and then spring is just around the corner.

I am happy again today. I have eaten, and bathed, taken my medications, without which I am lost. I have no thoughts for drinking or cutting. I will walk Max, the dog, today. He always looks like what the British would call a "Bully Boy" and rolls along on his walks, with an eye for company, and a leg lifted for fun. The only limits to our walks is my stamina, and he enjoys every moment, sniffing, peeing, rolling, walking...it's all in the game for him.

The unicorn meat eating cats are disconsolate about the weather, though. There will be no sun-basking today...but I think they have accepted the inevitability of the winter. There really is not much of a choice for them. I will never move to Florida, or out West. I like rain and a bit of winter during the year. I have seen aspens, and think they are pretty, but I prefer weeping willows, and they love water.

Anyway, the "start of the Season" is here, and my heart is glad.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Quiet Darkness

It was colder yesterday than predicted, but the sun appeared along with cotton ball clouds, and so Max, the dog, and I walked. He has put on a bit of fat since I sprained my ankle, and so we walked longer than usual. He was frightened last night, so he got a bit of extra cuddle. He will get an even longer walk today, I will take him to the Hollins campus. I'm an alumnae there, and I take advantage of the beautiful, marked walking paths to get some exercise, sometimes. It was THE walk for my service animal, Eddie, and I.

It is December, the month to remember. I pull out all the old Christmas tree ornaments, the same small red, ceramic boot to hold candy canes that my mother had. I put up the last wreath I bought her for her birthday, December 12th, with the angel doll on it, the one with the dark green velvet dress, and the gold tissue bows. I know, it sounds hideous, doesn't it? But it has majesty in its Victorian air, and it is a good memory. I remember her delight at receiving it.

There are the 'oyster shell' ornaments, made of real oyster shells, bleached and dried, with a picture from a long ago Christmas card glued to the shallow bowl that used to hold pearls. She made those when I was 7, and my brother and I 'helped' her.

They are a memory similar to what you share, perhaps, of some holiday vision, whatever your religious persuasion. Some memory of someone who raised you, or befriended you, that explained the holiday with some sort of tradition attached to it.

For me, this special holiday means the colors of burgundy and dark, dark forest green. It means old stories of supernatural events happening because of the sacred nature of the day: miracles. It smells like citrus, and raisins, and rustles like dried fruit and nuts. It will end with one small, quiet morning. It should be a cool morning in the house, to preserve the tree. It will jingle with the 'cat' ornaments hanging from the lowest boughs of the tree. 'Ave Maria' will play softly, and there should be a fire. Candles will do this year, in a pinch, as they say.

Quiet whispers of talk will drift over the room with the tree, and we will bask in the miracle of its lights, and the scent of white pine. We will connect with each other, absorbed in the miracle of being, and the special event of being together.

There will be time later, after coffee, to hand out the gifts under the tree. Time to eat eggs, and bacon, sausage, breads made for the occasion. Time to spill out into the cold and to enjoy the sun, and the beautiful world made clear by the winter.

But, above all will hang the quiet of the fire, and the silence of the tree. The presence will come in from the forest, and cross the field, and rest in a room, for a small space of time. It will rest on the branches of the tree, among the lights. It will center in the air between us, as we casually talk about the rest we enjoyed or didn't, the night before.

Now this is all a dream and delight, but I have had Christmases like this and it's a plan. For the past 17 years, since the onset of severe mental disability, I have usually woken about 2 o'clock in the morning, fired by the white heat I generate at the onset of the season. By 9 o'clock in the morning, I am exhausted, mentally and physically. So, for this one year, I would like to sleep decently for Christmas.

My goal will be remain emotionally and mentally well for the holidays. No extra caffeine in the afternoon, my medications taken on time, and food when time for food comes. No mania or depression, no drinking or cutting, less white heat.

Not very romantic for Christmas, is it? Not particularly traditional; and adding candied cherries will not pretty it up. It will not fit into any stocking, hung with care. But it's the best gift I can give myself, and those who love me. To be as spiritually clean as a winter swept forest. To be rested, and taken care of enough that I can hear the presence in the room, echoed in the whispers and the old, Catholic hymn. To be still enough to enjoy the small lights that represent so much, and acknowledge the existence of the quiet dark.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Saturday After Thanksgiving

It is a quiet morning, with the grass as white and stiff as can be. The ground is not iron hard, yet. It does not have that ring to it with each step, but the grass is, and crunches satisfactorily underfoot. The wind is still today, but there is a whole day to come.

I, personally, am happy today. Some days are up, some are down, and this time of year I fight for every good feeling I can; but today is good. The unicorn meat eating cats roost on the bed, or near the small, electric heater near their food, and the dog warms his butt on my leg. My old dog, the service animal known as Eddie, would never have done that: he was large and fat, and liked the cold, but it's a new day. And so now, I have a small, hound-like dog that likes to snuggle and positively takes my breath away, sometimes, with his warmth.

Harry Golden, the author, once remarked that it's not that we like adverse weather, but that we enjoy the feeling of proof against it: how lovely it is to cuddle up and watch that snow storm, or driving rain, outside, knowing that we do not have to go out in it. I cannot think of a time that humankind would not have felt that way...

And that's how I was able to take Max, the dog, out to his line this morning, and search for Ratty, the chief of the unicorn meat eating cats, who went out at the same time and decided to tour the world, while he was at it. I knew I would come back in to warmth and a white, ceramic Christmas tree, with multi-colored lights, and a hot cup of coffee.

Of course, being of worrying kind of mind, I wish well to those animals and humans who had no proof against the cold last night, and spend some time thinking of how to alleviate that situation.

One year, I worked in a soup kitchen. One year I gave a shopping bag full of new, warm clothes to a woman I saw sitting outside a nursing home, every morning. One year, I took in a cat, who promptly had her kittens in my laundry room. (I had her, and her son and daughter, Frodo and Bilbo, forever.) One year I bought luxury groceries for a friend on a very tight budget; strawberries, meat, that kind of thing.

I haven't figured out how I will soothe my conscience this year. But I hear Catawba Hospital, over the mountain, is a mental health institution for the poor and otherwise indigent. They need small gifts of clothing, and toiletries for those patients who have no caring families, or families at all. I think they will be the 'giftees' this year. And I might be able to throw in a toy, or blanket for the local pound...

I have already warned friends and family that it will be a 'tight' year for me. But, as proof against the hardening of the world, I will bake the cake loaves I usually bake, and make some room in the stable of my heart for those who have less and need more. Even one $5 rope toy, for some lost dog on death row in the local pound, alleviates the burden of suffering that the world bears.

I say this as someone who has not had 2 one dollar bills to rub together---as an artist, I took a vow of poverty at the age of 12. And there have been years, as a person with disabilities, that I have not been able to afford to help others. But this year I have shelter and food, and my animal loves have food, so it's a year I can.

So I warm myself by that fire this morning. I live in the luxury of coffee, and plenty of food, and shelter. I have cake mixes and nuts and dried fruits that I will brandish at the world in defiance of its seeming coldness. I will read Tasha Tudor's tales of her corgis and Swedish-like Christmas, and the ragged book of Christmas stories that my Mother got for her birthday, during WW II. I will spend time with Truman Capote's "The Christmas Story."

I will smell the scents, and walk on the hard ground, and touch the rapidly cooling trunks of the trees. I will hold a pine branch and breath its sharp scent, and marvel at its smooth and yet prickly texture. I will rustle the leaves today, all ground colored now, and fallen. I will note the blue hue of the sky, and think about the deep, deep secrets of the fragile earth, and in particular, the brightness of the red berries that come in wintertime, here.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Believe

I am blown away this morning by the amount of people who "shared" my post yesterday. It both humbles and inspires, which is a good way to start the day of Thanks. I will not shop today for Christmas gifts, and I urge you to protest in your own way, as well.

Yesterday, the wind howled and the snow blew, but I took Max, the dog out for his walk anyway. About an hour later, poor Max had a seizure, two actually, back to back. He is recuperating today, and slept well. He assures me that turkey will set him straight.

Today, I will cook some and eat less, and visit friends, and be grateful for my life, and all that it encompasses.

The water is frozen this morning in the cat bowl outside. The grass is stiff in its winter gold and green, and the trees darken with the rain and snow. Somewhere, turkeys roam the wood on the edge of the field. The evergreens shine with ice in the new sun, and the field is golden. There is not a breath of wind, today. The heart of the wood is soft with fallen, rust colored needles, and warm, moist breath hangs in the air.

Today is 'Thankful for the Harvest' day, really. I am not sure that there is a better celebration of the Earth, than to just be thankful for another harvest. I am happy to come from a line of farmers, and to know the meaning of a successful season. I will step on the ground today, probably to walk the dog, in some meaningful way, and thank it for bearing for me. I will eat its apples and sweet potatoes, and green beans with celebration. I will be grateful for bread and its crumbs, and the sweet, tart deliciousness of cranberries.

Believe me, the coffee is particularly good today, and the water tastes refreshing...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Evergreen

Today is a snow day, in this small valley. The dog, Max, only likes water in the bowl, so it's a struggle to get him out, but I did. The unicorn meat eating cats are happy to bask and sleep, all day long. An occasional trip to the food bowl, or the water bowl, and they are complete beings, happy in simple existential existence.

Me? I think ahead to the season to come. The large morning with the multicolored lights from the ceramic tree, the whispers of the Christmases past, perhaps someone besides a burglar tapping at the window, and the Tasha Tudor Christmas book I will read on Christmas Eve.


My heart will be gathered in a snow covered forest, on the edge of a still field, looking at the symbol of the evergreen.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thank You

Despite the bah-humbug of my attitude about Thanksgiving, I am happy to receive some gifts at this time. One is a 'hello' from a loved cousin, my Uncle Brad. He was my Dad's best man at Mom and Dad's wedding.

My Mom and Dad grew up with boat loads of cousins. My brother and I barely know ours. I would like to have grown up with a large, extended family nearby, but it was not to be. Anyway, I love Uncle Brad and his family, and send them a lovely hello from his favorite 'niece'.

If you read my blog regularly, you know what I think of shopping on Thanksgiving, at this point. As pointless as a holiday as it has become, I see no need to add an extra load to the lost meaning, by adding a shopping day to the Christmas season.

I will boycott all shopping on Thanksgiving Day, and I always boycott Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. I try to shop year round, to keep Christmas in my heart. No sale beats the savings in January, after all.

And besides that, my friends? We are 'unseasonably' cold this year. The temperature during the day is about 32 degrees Fahrenheit.  That's 0 degrees centigrade. It's bearably if the wind doesn't blow. Since our wind comes from the Arctic, and only stops long enough to ruffle the Great Lakes on the way down, the wind blows cold here.

I like a cold winter. I hate that the time has changed so that it is dark at 5 p.m. The famous 'midnight sun' is what makes Alaska look so tempting to residents of the East Coast of the U.S. along about this time of year.

Today, in this small corner of the world, my ceramic tree is lighted. I took the dog, Max, out to pee about 4 a.m., two hours ago, and he sleeps peacefully now, and dreams of the doggie treats in the form of turkey he will soon be blessed with. I have a roof over my head, my babies around me, heat, and something to eat this coming season. The coffee is especially fine this morning. The water is even better.

Even better, I have the thought of friends and loved ones to warm me.

It rains now, but is too warm yet, to freeze. We love the look of snow on the ground in this small valley, which tips all the green gold of the grass with white. It outlines the tree limbs, and the feathery needles of the pines and cedars. It paints a picture of seeming placidity in this busy holiday season. Did you know that sometimes, snow has a sound? Sometimes a gentle hiss, or the quiet drop of ice crystals as they hit the ice on the ground. Did you know that sometimes, when the wind blows the ice on the windows that, it is the sound of that you hear?

I know all this from my free spirited Father, desert born, who loved the snow and ice all his life long. For him, the tale of snow and ice meant hours outdoors, tramping in the snow, just watching it fall. He would meet others who lived with the snow there: the deer moving to shelter in a wood, or squirrels running out for one last trip to the grocery store, before it was time to go in.

And now, somewhere in Virginia, quite near Roanoke, I imagine, a she bear is curled into her winter sleep, comforted by my trashed blueberries and strawberries. She dreams of licking the bacon wrappers, and hamburger containers of yore. It's a shame she has gone home so early. I would imagine she would like turkey bones, and leftover gravy. And cranberry sauce? She would dance.


Monday, November 25, 2013

It's Monday, Right?

Another blow to the PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) over the weekend, and I try to recover by eating well, and taking my meds on time. I do not want to drink or cut.

I went as far out on a mental limb yesterday as I care to, helped along by the steroids I take for a rash. Due to the actions of my Love, and the ears of several others, I made it through without drinking or cutting. That's a win, my friends. That's a win.

Today I see my therapist, and will check in with my shrink to see if he has any input. I have written before about what it's like to live on the fine edge of nothing, and I don't see any reason to try to describe it today.

And, of course I ate too much chocolate last night. Way too much. This is from a woman who has sucked down a pound of fudge in one night. And, such is my metabolism on the steroid, that I think I lost 5 lbs.

Anyway, I am a bit numb this morning, but all my arms and legs are moving and I can take a shower after some time with you.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Tree

I can face my day with gratitude, today. A friend has forgiven me, and the stark relief stands like a lone wood with no leaves to keep the branches from swaying on their own. The beautiful season of winter is upon us, with it's stiff, gold grasses, and clamoring branches rimed with frost.

The bear is gone and the cold she fled from is coming down and up, from all corners. It's windy, today. And while I love the wind in the Spring, and on Summer nights, and I love the cold weather coming in, the bluster will make walking the dog harder today. It's not that he has a hard time staying on the ground...he is 50 lbs. It's that he has a hard time keeping his ears down and his eyes turn to slits, trying to filter flying leaves out of them.

The unicorn meat eating cats have come to the realization that it is winter. After an entire day outside, yesterday, they do not clamor to go out this morning.

And for the first time in several years, since I moved from the Old House, I will have a tree this year for Christmas. It will be Georgia's first, that I know of, and we will see what she will make of it. My last girl cat, my beloved Echo, used to roost under the lights at nighttime. I have ornaments my mother bought me, that also serve as cat toys. Hung from the lowest branches, they dangle with enticing ribbons and bells. The ornaments for further up are shaped like cats, and I remember every Christmas my mother bought a new one for me.

I also have several Star Trek ornaments, and love to hang The Enterprise, with its working lights.

My body is stressed with the prednisone, and its own natural processes, but I struggle to maintain it. I would like to keep using it for a while, and it deserves some care, as a tree in a living room deserves the cool air, and water. So, I walk the dog, and I am grateful for friends and forgiveness and my AA program. I am glad for the roof over my head, and food that I eat.

I am glad of the winter solstice coming, and the miracle of the evergreen, and the festival and remembrance of Light.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Selfish

The great thing about taking steroids is that when I am awake, I am really, really awake. Fortunately for me, I can also fall asleep at the drop of a hat. Don't know how I manage that one. Just sheer luck, as far as I can tell.

I didn't write a post yesterday because my power cord died on the laptop. One swift trip to Best Buy later, and I am up and running again. Happy times.

I hate Thanksgiving, and its feeling of excess, and exhorting Americans to be even more excessive on that day is a bit over the Roman Empire edge, in my opinion. Of course, I talk about the greedy stores that will now be open for Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving Day, itself.

It's not that Americans seem to be blinded by consumerism. But that's what the big chains want us to think. That we can't wait even one day, surrounded by family and friends, to shop.

Of course, the idea is larger profits, but the reasoning behind it is subtle. Americans don't need a day off to reflect on their bounty and loved ones, but must be prodded into spending what they have before they die.

In a few years, of course, stores will be open on Christmas Day. What better day to save on next year's savings by taking advantage of the post-holiday, no-holiday sales than Christmas Day itself?

It seems suitable that the word "selfie" a picture taken of oneself, is added to the dictionary this year. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Unpacking the Ornaments

Today is therapy group day and I am glad about that. I am on steroids for a rash, and I am having a hard time concentrating; maybe group will help. I worry about my mental health and stability as we head into the holiday season. Now, it's complicated by prednisone.

What I hold onto is my AA meetings and taking life "one day at a time." I ask my higher power for help every morning and during the day, glad to have something concrete to hold onto. I walk the dog, clean the apartment, set out Christmas decorations. I admire the sunlight, and the full moon by clouds. A small, white, lighted Christmas tree sits on my bedside table, a memory from childhood. When I turn off the lights, at night time, the colored bulbs throw rainbow colored shadows on the walls and ceiling of my room.

I have been awake for 3 hours, it's about an hour before dawn. Soon, it will be time to take another dose of prednisone. My poor body, first bombarded with antibiotics, and now steroids, has taken on a life of its own. It moves about 60 miles per hour, my heart racing, with my thoughts not far behind. The only way to slow the world down is to breath as slowly and steadily as I can manage. I eat on time, to keep to some kind of routine, and take the other medications, as well. I have cut back on coffee and cigarettes, just to keep me from flying into a million different pieces. My hands shake anyway.

I feel raw. I talk to as many people as I can during the day, about how I feel. I acknowledge my instability and feelings of insecurity. I try to slow each day down, by being deliberate in my actions: bathing, dressing, eating, talking. Sometimes I run hot and cold. I freeze at room temperature, but sweat in the cold breezes outside, when I walk the dog. My face tingles.

I feel as if I have written a novel this morning, but the post seems small when I reread it. I have been crazy like this before. I know the things to do to conquer it: walk, eat, attend AA meetings, don't drink, rest, sleep.

Time for a break.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Anticipation

As if an injured leg and pleurisy/bronchitis wasn't enough, Saturday I developed an all over body rash. I just itched in agony until I went to the doctor yesterday, and she obligingly put me on steroids. And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is how I roll.

It is cold enough, in this small corner of the world, for it to be painful when I take Max out in the morning. The unicorn meat eating cats go out in intervals to enjoy the sunshine. They are still angry at me for changing the seasons on them, but I really had no choice. It's cold and crispy enough to see my breath when I go out, and the grass sparkles with frost. The lavender is still green and silver, and it crouches by the dead zinnia, like a dog beside a hunter.

Yesterday, I was too busy scratching to type; and benedryl seemed to have stopped working. And, since my doctor didn't test for allergens, I still have no idea what I developed a reaction to. We simply treat a symptom and hold our breath that whatever it is, will pass over me like the Angel of Death passed over the Israelite households when Moses brought the plagues on Egypt.

Whatever happens, it looks like I will be manic for Christmas.

Since I tend to like to bake a good deal at that time of year, it could turn out to be a good thing. Lately, I haven't had the energy to fold my laundry, or clean the dishes. But I have been taking the dog for his walks, concentrating on getting the maximum amount of sunlight in a day. It's an accomplishment.

I usually do a spectacular crash and burn for Christmas, having been taught that the holiday can be a perfect experience for the family and friends. It now takes all my energy to focus on the fact that Christmas is not, and never will be, perfect.

If I can stick to my routine, and walk the dog everyday, I may make it through the holidays with relatively little discomfort and no cutting or drinking. My major disappointment with Christmas is that it has to end, in a way. Just as the sun shine gets less and less, we take the lights down, banish the tree from the living room, and put up all the scented candles until next year.

One year, I left the tree up past Valentine's Day. It was very cheerful. Especially since I hate Valentine's Day, but that's a post for another day.

But today, I will walk the dog and take my medications. I will pull out some Christmas decorations and scatter them about the apartment, like so much glitter.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Grace

Today, I wonder how it got to be the ides of November already. With one thing or another, I am no where near being prepared for Christmas, and cannot believe that it is a little over a month to go. Valentine's Day is the worst holiday, I think, but Thanksgiving comes in a close second.

Thanksgiving is a hold over from the days when the Romans had vomitoriums, and feasted each other on exotic wines and foods, like hummingbird tongue, until they got sick, and then started all over again. It's not the idea behind Thanksgiving that seems excessive, just the custom of gorging until one is comatose in front of the t.v., where an excess of American football is being played.

This holiday was a real blessing when the first European settlers in the country were starving to death, and that's after eating all the rats and grass around. Legend has it that the Native Americans bailed them out, thereby ensuring their own destruction, by bringing them food.

Since then, the myth of "more is better" has ruled the holiday, until today, we plan meals that will carry us until Christmas Day in leftovers. Indeed, I once tutored an Arab family that I invited to the annual feast. Upon seeing the turkey fresh out of the oven, the father said, "Alice, this is not a bird, this is a sheep!"

I suppose the sappy idea that families get together and bond has something going for it, but the reality is that usually, football and alcohol occupy the families' time until one is released from bondage of an ideal whose time has come and gone.

I prefer the unexpected Thanksgivings: the simple meal with some time on the Parkway, communing with nature. Volunteering at your local animal shelter, or homeless shelter. A walk among the trees, a day in front of the fire, or simply avoiding the day altogether by schlepping around in pajamas.

In other words I can only wish for you what I do for myself: a day filled less with food, and more with Grace.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Winter of Lights

The coffee this morning is particularly good, and I creep slowly back to health. It is unseasonably cold for this time of year. But climate change works. I will resume my walking schedule today, nothing else makes me happier in the winter. Max, the dog, will like it, too.

The unicorn meat eating cats tend to howl at the door about 9 o'clock in the evening. I suppose they have not adjusted to winter, yet. They carry Spring in their hearts year round, and I warm myself on that fire through the coldest and darkest of months.

But our Saturnalia is just around the corner, Christmas, the Festival of Lights. I have a neighbor that put up their tree the day after Halloween. I have never been so glad to see a Christmas tree in my life. It's all white, and shines from their front picture window every evening, a beacon in the dark.

We are assuming the bear has gone back to her winter den. Our garbage remains whole, and bagged. I held her presence as some kind of miracle, but do not miss almost running into her, night after night. Although she did add an air of mystery that fits the season.

I am happy to be writing again. I am glad for the routine, on which death and life have intruded. Oddly, I embrace my medications. They, too, serve a purpose and are part of the routine. I have extra medications at this time, but swallow them dutifully, a good patient. Or I inhale them, and think it's about the time to think about giving up smoking.

I admit that I am frightened by the brush with death that passed over me, and landed on someone else close by. I am almost 50. Although I remind myself that I could live to be truly old, and perhaps, my greatest accomplishments are ahead of me. I certainly hope that my best writing is ahead of me.

But, for now, the winter sun shines, and there is a promise of snow. And one tree of lights shines where many will come to be.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Remnants

I am surrounded by a birth and an impending death, this week. No, not the cats' reactions to the weather; a real birth, and a death by alcoholism. The disease is a particularly miserable way to live, and ends in an even more horrible death. I thank the Presence that I was brought to this house, to witness this way of dying. It's a good lesson for me, and an example for the future.

The birth is a happy one, as most births tend to be. I wrote a post once about Mary, the mother goddess of a woman, who was my helper during my mother's last 11 years. Mary is now a grandmother, again, to Noah, a 5 lb. 10 oz. tiny package of a boy.

And before I wax philosophical on the conjunction of these two events, I remind myself that the same thing is happening the world over.

I suppose the shocker about the death is the relatively young age of the person. She is 45, and I am older than she is by 4 years. As I grow older, I am surrounded more and more by those passing. It seems insidious. What was once uncommon in my life, has become common. It is a reminder that, with each passing day, I come closer and closer to the door.

It's a good thing my medications are working, that I am taking them, and it is not the tail end of winter. Soon, nothing will be left but the remnants of her life...her animals, and a portrait painted in a much happier day. The animals are provided for, and the portrait will go into storage.

I would rather contemplate Noah. The sun will be cold, and brilliant today, as he faces the second day of life. His mother and father are young and happy and in love. It's a good beginning.

I wish I could write clearly about all that has happened to me in the past 2 months, but, as my sponsor says, "...restraint of tongue and pen..." must govern my posts right now. That's a quote from the Big Book called Alcoholics Anonymous, and I hold on to my sobriety with the grip of a vice.

It is all I can do to ensure my continued health and mental wellness.

What will I leave behind?

So, just for today, I hold my friends a bit closer, and the sunshine, and the crisp force of the grass.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Paths

The days are cooler, but brilliantly sunny, and perfect for a cat stroll through the leaves. Of course, Max the dog, loves to sit in the sun as well, his butterscotch colored body settling gently on the grass. The goldenrod on the edge of the fields are nothing but reeds now, and stand straight against the trees. The underbrush of the woods is leafless, and the paths the deer make are clear. One day, I will go explore the path the bear made and left.

I spend part of each day in the sun, not wanting to repeat the mistakes of last winter. I can resume walking today, although not with Max. He pulls the leash; I have to get him a harness. When I lived at the Old House, I could walk with the cats, who followed me willingly. But I am afraid to lead what few I have left down the road in this subdivision, as safe as it is.

My body knits slowly under my doctor's care. My lungs clear and the ankle heals. I appreciate growing older anew; one of the housemates is close to death. She is younger than me, not a good sign.

But the birds still sing. The weather outside, and the Christmas commercials on TV are oddly at variance. It is simply not cold enough yet to appreciate the thought of snow. Many leaves are still on the trees, and the eye doesn't pick out the evergreens with ease, yet.

Today, I cannot look at the horse trails of the past, but must look at today's walk along Tinker Creek. It has been a while since I was there; the last time with my Love. If I am going to make it through this winter, I must start walking now, and I cannot think of a better place, filled with more beautiful memories. See you there.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Easier Said Than Done

Hercule Poirot sat by his fire, on the dark and stormy night, sipping a blackberry tisane. Georges, his faithful manservant, entered, saying quietly, "Sir, Inspector Clouseau is here." "Mon Dieu! Hide Georges! Let him think I am gone on the case impossible!"

I am, of course, not sure what your favorite mind candy is to curl up to, when the days shorten, and the winter sun turns white. Mine is Agatha Christie. Colonel Protheroe, Devon England, or whomoever she picks as the hero or villein, trip manfully through a short novel in no time. I know that no matter who is shot, poisoned, garroted, or killed in the library, no criminal can escape the egg shaped head of Hercule Poirot, with the famous mustaches.

It is a comfort, in this time of turmoil in my life, to reflect on Hercule and "the order" and "the little grey cells" of the brain. My PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) has been triggered twice in as many months, with a disastrous meltdown as the result.

When I was a child, I had the pleasure of going out on a catamaran. It's a sailboat, and its balance is maintained by its crew, sometimes by leaning on one side of the ship or the other, holding onto the rails for dear life. I remember the feel of the deck, the trembling of the ship, that spoke of another shift. It was supremely symmetrical, as things of nature tend to be.

So too, at this time of turmoil, does my mind and personality seek to overcome the effects of an uncontrollable nature, events, time. I cannot control the uncontrollable, nor can I manage the unmanageable. Acceptance is the key, the answer to the dilemma, "What do I do?"

Today, I don't have to live in a life where I "...light my candles in a daze, cause I've found God." (Kurt Cobain) The evidence of the Presence in my life constantly surrounds me. It is simply for me, to open my eyes, and more importantly, my heart, and accept.

Which is always easier said than done.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Winter Cardinal

The winter wind moves in, like the flash of a cardinal from a brown bush, sudden and miraculous in its appearance. The winds from Canada are high in these mountains the last few days, the winds that I love, the winds that push the geese South for the winter. The cats have become existential today, traveling, like the natives of Australia, in their spirit bodies to wherever the fields are green.

They are god-like in their anger at me, the god-slave. I, who provide food and water, have neglected to reset the year so that it is warm for them to go out. Max, the dog, is philosophical about the whole thing. If I breath, he is ok.

I am in a relatively good place today. I take my medications faithfully, including the antibiotics, because the winter wind has moved into my lungs. This is the second course of antibiotics and is no more fun than the first...

The sun is brilliant today, and I must move out into it for a while, for my own sanity. Just to feel the rays on my face for a bit! How many cannot do that! But I had to talk to you a moment, from sheer loneliness for you...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Mountain Wind

Georgia wanted out to eat grass, this morning, although it is now nearly all gold, like wheat in the fields. Silverlock has gone back to Forever Home Rescue to be prepared for a new life. We are quiet without her, like a winter following spring.

Yesterday, I was reminded of one of the joys of winter, that keep me alive: a flashing brown bird swept out from a pile of brown, fallen leaves, to take flight across the yard. The zinnia stand where they grew, full of possibilities and seeds. Only half of the hydrangea is alive. The half that is covered by the portico, and leans against the house. I don't forget the lavender, the evergreen, now greener against the silver leaves around it, the last of its purple blooms still stand.

The wood behind the house is red, with fall leaves, dark burgundy. The first line of trees marches toward the silver and gold field beyond. I have seen no signs of the bear for over a week, and perhaps she hibernates now. Dark black, curled up into a lighter dark of a cave.

I can't talk about my recent experiences yet. The memory is too tender to touch, like the first greening of a fruit tree, in the Spring. To disturb it now would be like frost. And like the new leaf buds, one disorder sprang open, to touch the next and the next and the next...

And, as if one limb caught blight, the whole tree stood close to dying. If the tree could walk, and who are we to say they can't, it would isolate itself from the wood, as I have isolated myself even from these pages. But now, the presence in the forest has tempered the blight, so that the tree may move back into the sunlight, and the sere winds, under the silver clouded sky. I am passed everything but standing in the sun, and feeling the winds that I love, as a mountain dweller.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tuesday

I have to write today, although I am not in the best of health right now, due to my own neglect. After a visit to the hospital on Sunday, I go again to my doctor to try to repair the damage caused by my disorders.

I will catch you up tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ugh

It's Virginia, and it has, once again, become warm enough to open the window in the morning, for the cats. Silverlock, the kitten, has become old enough to try to jump out of the cat's window; I just had the scare of the century when she pried herself up, and looked around at the natural world for the first time. There is nothing like vigorously yelling, "NO!" at the top of my lungs to get my blood moving.

I don't feel good anyway, and I have a full day ahead. But it's rainy, and warm, and I love the rain. It will be good to get out in it.

Here is the demon spawn child.
In one of her more relaxed moments. Now I understand why Mom gave my brother and I spoonfuls of whiskey and honey when we were sick. It was just an excuse to slow us down for a bit.

The bear still makes her regular visits. Hopefully, she will hibernate soon.

With the warm, moist air, it has gone back to being a typical Fall, for this small corner of the world. The grass is now green and gold, and the fields at the Old House are all gold now. Only the pump handle and the pitchfork are a muted red, against the darker rust of the side of the barn.

I wish this entry was longer, but I truly feel pretty horrible and have a long day ahead. I will write again tomorrow. Please meet me here...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Evergreens

It is officially too cold to open the cat's window anymore. They suffer, especially since Silverlock follows them around like a fart. All the flowers are gone, after yesterday morning's hard frost. The garden is done for this year. I have a basket of dried zinnias to plant next spring. And the lavender still blooms, being an evergreen...

The trees rapidly change colors, but the maple in the back yard is still green. With the frost, it will not be long before it changes, as well. The bear still visits us by moonlight. I just hope she doesn't come back with cubs in the spring, but moves on to greener pastures.

Bears aren't stupid. I have seen them crack Coleman coolers open, over a rock like opening an oyster, to get to the food inside. Our neighbor took bungee cords and secured our plastic trashcans. I unsecured them. I like my trashcan to work, and don't want it destroyed for the goodies inside.

I am good on my medications, and take them faithfully. I don't want to cut or drink, although the sunlight is brighter but shorter now. I am getting over pleurisy, with bronchitis.

I am happy that this week is Halloween. I take a child's delight in the wind, and the shuffling leaves underfoot. But I heard this morning of another lost fern kitten. She was 6 months old, and named Seafoam...euthanized at the local Regional Center for Animal Control. There is nothing to do in this year that the kitten litters did not end, but take up what tools we have, and try harder to save more.

Please adopt, spay/neuter.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Blueberries and Pumpkin Pies

The cats knew this morning would come, one day. The first day the window won't open for their morning perambulations. The bear ate well, last night. Some blueberries and several frozen pumpkin pies (don't ask) made it into the trash yesterday. If I tie the bags tight, she takes them whole, back to her den. Somewhere out there, in the forest, there is a circle of paper and plastic containers, where she sleeps.

Dooley got adopted last night. I am very happy for him, he needs so much more attention than I can give him...Happy Days, Dooley.
Now, only Silverlock needs a home, and I will be back to the original pack of unicorn meat eating cats...

And Max? He loves the cold. Barking keeps him warm at 7 in the morning. And the neighbors love it, too. Meanwhile, the stress I live in has lessened, a bit. The pleurisy lives on, but I am coughing well.

It is very cold for this time of year, but not as cold as the weather forecasters said it might be. The leaves are still green on the trees, some of them are. There was a small frost last night, and it sets the lifespan of the geraniums that thrive a crisp red in the fall air.

Georgia counts the days until Silverlock has a new home. As I try to plan a way to keep her. I will not succeed, but it will not be for lack of love. The ghost kitten is part of my life now...fleeting and immortal.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Bear Dreams, Cool Mornings

My level of stress reached its inevitable conclusion yesterday, in the form of pleurisy, a lung infection.

 One of my Halloween pumpkins was starting to turn bad, so I put it on top of the trashcan, within easy reach. In return, the bear sent me a dream.

I was in the Old House, in Botetourt. Every cat I have ever loved was with me, and it was wintertime. The time I love best, at my old home. Where I could wake and see the distant mountains, at Eagle Rock, and the lovely winter field, below the house. The paths of the deer and the turkey wandered through the trees, whose trunks stood in relief against the sun. The field was gold, where the sun lighted, and the evergreen forest stood at the edges.

So, with every cat around me, I looked down into the woods, and saw a sawed trunk of a large tree. 3 bear cubs gathered at the trunk, as if it were a table, and one human child. The bear had borne a human. And I know it was me, by the auburn hair and curls.

I woke this morning very peaceful, although the trashcan is turned over, and the air turns cold. The winter kitten runs through the house.

Usually, my worst nightmares consist of very teeny cats, the size of kittens, who run everywhere and urgently need to be protected. In my dreams, I cannot protect them all. But in this dream, the cats are cat-sized, and they are companions, who run free at last. All my cats who are over the Rainbow Bridge were there, and ran circles around me, as now, the bear walks circles around the house I live in.

The bear was telling me, in last night's dream, that all my cats live with me still. The bear is enfolding us for the winter. The winter kitten now has a bear spirit to protect her, for life, wherever she may go.

I know this blog post can't give you the feelings the bear left me with. And it is a bit confusing, maybe. But, in my own way, I want to give back to the bear the comfort and love she left me with. My life has been up and down, lately. I have neglected this time with you. I have found a great love, and I have been ill. I have not drank nor cut, and have no desire for them.

But I come back to this beginning: writing. I rededicate my life to my sobriety and my well being. I dedicate myself in this most uncertain times, to the certain things that I love: the cats, my dog and my Love.

What do you dedicate to the bear, today?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Frustration

The post for this morning sucked, so I deleted it. I've reached a level of stress that isn't pleasant to live with: mainly, but not limited to, my living situation. It doesn't help household conflict, that the bear owns the yard, every night from about sunset to 8 in the morning. I have almost run into her twice now. I know she is afraid of me, as I am afraid of her. Max is the only reason for a night time stroll, and he seems more curious about the bear than anything. I have gotten a flashlight to defend myself.

I admire the bear, pity it, wish it well, but now, at night, a dream bear follows me in my sleep.

Some of my stress is seasonal, as the days get shorter and shorter. The window is open for the cats this morning, despite the cold, because menopause keeps me rolling in sweat, mostly at night. My leg heals but slower than I would like. Pain doesn't make me any more pleasant. I have also reached 'cat maximum' for my apartment, with 2 fosters.

So, I brush my teeth, and take my medications, and try to go outdoors as much as possible, during the daylight. I let the cats out to lower their stress levels. But they are more afraid of the bear than Max is. One night, I brought the brave hunter, Ratty in, and he was shivering and staring intently toward the edge of the woods.

I used to live next to a county where cougars killed house cats...I don't know about bears. But I am not willing to risk my babies.

It IS a Monday. On the good side, the sunlight is shafting across the green and gold lawn. The flowers still bloom, pink, gold, and blue. A hard frost hasn't fallen yet. And the leaves continue to turn: gold, red, orange.

Have a good Monday, wherever you are. And know I think of you.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Bears Eat Pumpkins

The year runs like a river, down to the sea.

I still open the window, in the morning, for the cats. The bear and the full moon make a lovely pair, in the evening. It's a bit like living in a campground. The grass is more gold, every day, and the birds still sing. I watch the orange tabby, Ratty, run past the marigolds, that are as fall like as he. The rusted cat shaped chimes hang year round, and drift with the wind.

Silverlock, the winter kitten, wants to follow the big cats outside. But her coat and size can mark her for a predator, and I hope she will be indoor kitten all her life.
It is horse riding time in the year, and time to drink. I did both long ago. I can't do either anymore, but I miss the horses on a fall day. I could lean against them to absorb their heat, on a frosty morning, and the stable smelled like hay, and sweet grain.

Dooley is ready for adoption. He went to the vet yesterday for a checkup, and he is healthy, although 4 lbs overweight. Apparently, he is just a massive cat.
You can't tell from his picture, but his feet are almost Max's size.

I have been sleeping solidly from 11 to 7, and it feels wonderful. I don't know what I have done to earn the blessing of sleep, but I am grateful for it. I will be an outdoor cat today, and the sun will shine, and the air will be crisp.

The leaves on the trees will turn a bit more, and the sun will set a bit earlier. And tonight, Max and I will go out to look at the moon, and watch for the bear, and think of Halloween.



Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Cats Disappear in Leaves

The moon is lovely in this October sky. Silverlock spent the night outside of the crate, last night. It's a good socialization for her, but wears on the nerves of the unicorn meat eating cats. I can't tell you how I feel, for once. I have had a large amount of stressors this month, but I love the season so much, trouble seems to slip by, until I start crying.

Don't get me wrong, I was out with the leaves yesterday, covering the pool. I tend to appreciate the leaves even while crawling under a deck. Change is still moving in the air, this fall season seems shorter than any other. The impatiens and marigolds fool me into dreams of summer, and if I close my eyes after mowing the grass, I can imagine that it is early Spring. I listen intently to the birds, as they make their way South.

The trees sigh as the sap rises. They know what comes, as well as we do, with all our clocks, and calenders, and holidays. The cats roam far and wide these days, as I leave the window open all day. It is their time, the leaf cats, the stream cats, the fern cats. In this time of year, they all blend in with the foliage...tabbies, orange and grey, and the dilute (gray and gold) tortoiseshell named Georgia. 

Soon, the grass won't need mowing, but the leaves will lie on the lawn to be shredded for next year's grass. They will dry and become weightless, float in the wind. I have isolated this month; I have been listening to the voices on the wind. And in me. I know the new medication is working, some days I feel numb. I feel willful, and reluctant against the tide of the stressors. I have been dropping things from my routine, that are good for me, this week.

I want to cocoon myself, when I need to be sunning. I need to be outside, watching the moon. I have been doing that the past couple of mornings, when the sky is still black, and the moon illuminates the clouds. Sometimes the stars appear.

I look toward today with an eye toward the leaves. Sometimes I can shut out the world by shutting out the noises, the cars, the clanks, and sirens of the day. The noise that fills our lives. If I concentrate only on vision, my eyes on the leaves, I can see the pine needles falling now. I am the leaves and the trees and the bear in the woods. I am on a forest path, riding a horse past ferns, past trees, past rocks. The ground soft under hoof, the thudding warns the deer.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Quiet the Day

It is cool and quiet this morning in the Blue Ridge. The kitten sleeps in her crate, so the unicorn meat eating cats can have some peace. Max and I went out last night, for a pee, and almost ran right into the bear. It's one thing to observe him/her from a window, but another to interact with him/her. I think I will think of the bear as a she.

She was ambling away from the house and I saw her by silhouette. I realized she was more than a dream when she turned her head towards us. In my fog, I had hoped that she was merely a bear shaped shadow moving: the moon was obscured by clouds last night.

All in all, the experience was very Halloween. A little fright, dark clouds drifting over the moon, and the cool, unreal presence of the dark. Perhaps we should advertise the bear's visits and set up some kind of haunted house for older children. We would need insurance waivers...

It was a beautiful, pink dawn and the grass still needs mowing, gold and green as it is. The storage shed, painted like a barn, brings up poignant memories of horses, and rides through the forest.

It's a good day for group therapy.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Lack of Focus

Now that it's later in the morning, I have had enough of a day to report on it. The bear broke into the trash again last night. The cats insanely jump in and out of the window, staying close by. Max, the dog, won't go out unless it is broad daylight.

I wish no harm to the bear. It's his/her Blue Ridge Mountains, too. I lived in the country for a very long time for a reason: I appreciate nature, in all Her manifestations. I am just worried about the animals entrusted into my care...

Silverlock is up for adoption in two weeks. My baby.
Whoever adopts her better treat her right, or Momma and Max will go after them...

Dooley is still up for adoption as well. Poor thing is not getting enough attention at my house, and he is a lovely cat, although there is a lot of him to love.
The dahlias are doing wonderfully. I didn't know they were a cool weather flower, having never grown them before. The marigolds hang on, and the impatiens have over run their bed to sprout from the gravel walk.

It's time to pull the fall clothes out. I am tired of the summer selection, and would like to change color schemes as well. I think that's enough for today. There is too much that goes on, at this time of day to write contemplatively about anything. Just my lack of focus.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Ghost Kitten, Black Bear

I stood 10 feet from a bear last night and it was a wonderous thing. Their fur doesn't reflect light. It absorbs it. It was a black shadow that walked across the lawn, carrying a bag of garbage. Max went insane, trying to get out of the window, and the mighty hunters, the unicorn meat eating cats, ran in, afraid.

In this very suburban neighborhood that I live in, we are afraid of this bear. But I count it as a marvel to have seen it so close.

Cool has set in, in this most beautiful of autumns. And the days are properly suited to Halloween: dark, rainy, with lowering clouds. The cats spent the day outside, yesterday, scudding about in the woods, like garden wraiths. The field is damp, the color of cut hay. The tree trunks are dark brown now, and run with water. There is a ghostly mist above the field, and the rocks turn blue and black. Tinker Creek is dark grey, and subdued, with the misty rain.

The sacred, white ghost kitten, moves over the grey carpet, like a cloud moving over a field. It is almost her time, invisible in the snow kitten. She will be up for adoption in 2 weeks.
Her pictures cannot do her justice. She has the most enormous blue eyes, that follow me about the apartment.

The leaves change color overnight, and some fall right then, in their solitude. Others linger, to be shaken down by the wind. Or they float listlessly down, in seemingly simple ennui, to their resting place.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Dogs That Bark, Claws That Clutch*

I try to think of a word to describe my day, my mood, my ambiance. The word is irritated. I am irritated for the same reason many women all over the world are irritated once a month. I am also in pain. I have pulled a hamstring, and a leg muscle. They happen to be the same ones I pulled in Scotland, walking the Royal Mile...

I have a seven week old kitten, gawd love 'er, and a dog who runs after her, and barks and chases the other cats, to protect her, which she doesn't need. She does need to stay off the keyboard, which she can't manage. When I swat the dog on the rear, for chasing the unicorn meat eating cats and barking at them, he looks at me like I just took a pound of flesh off him with a cat o' nine tails...he is so betrayed.

One of the cats needs a steroid shot for her allergies, before she loses all her hair, and I can't lift the crate. The new foster, Dooley, is stuck in one room, although he has made himself at home; of course, he wants out. I can't vacuum or lift the laundry, without my back, down to the foot, creaking and sighing and shifting like a mast on a ship at sea. My breath sucking in when this happens sounds a lot like the sails moving in the wind.

My kindly osteopath worked on me yesterday, and I am healing well, but I am still creaky. With pain. And tiredness. And Evil on my heart, like a cat wears fur. Today is a good day not to f**k with me. The bright spots in my day are the marigolds outside my door, and the fall-drooping zinnia. My apartment isn't clean enough, the state of the world sucks, and Georgia is half bald.

Did I mention I am in pain?

The good things about today: strawberries, the love of the kitten and cats and dog, company coming later, clean laundry, and the indecision of when to get the winter clothes out. Marigolds, fall scarves, the cool in the air, and the trees slowly turning color. People love me, I mean I have real friends, who really love me and call and tell me they love me. I have a life that includes animals, and fall colors, and friends.

Just found a place, on the antique mahogany  table, where the cat barfed.


*With a nod toward Lewis Carroll


Friday, October 11, 2013

Morning and Marigolds

It's a busy day for me today, and I am grateful for it. I love these cool mornings, and breezy afternoons, with the leaves shuffling underfoot. The bear got into the garbage last night, and took his booty off somewhere, I don't know where.

My old therapist is back. Not the old, old one, but the more recent, old one. And I am vastly comforted and relieved again to have someone to whom I have nothing to explain: he has heard it all. Dooley will be joining us today as a foster. I am desperate to place him with someone, but his time is out where he is. He is laid back, neutered male, UTD on shots. You remember me talking about him:

Please, if you live near Roanoke, VA, and know someone, arrange a meet and greet with Dooley today! Simply write me.

Perhaps I am simply stocking up on my cats, for the winter. But I have too many males as it is.

The grass is truly golden now, and the dead leaves drift across lawns and fields. They are caught in spider webs, and drift aimlessly to gather at the forest's edge. Some of the trees have caught fire, but their leaves stubbornly stay in place. No one has pumpkins out; bears love them, particularly the seeds.

But the trees and the weather decorate for us, and celebrate this hibernation we approach, called Winter. You know I love winter, I love to clean the ground in the garden down to the bones. I leave mulch down, leaves, to warm and protect the earth.

Yet, I look right now, at this bit of Spring called Silverlock. Or maybe, she really is a Winter kitten, with her coloring. She is a snow kitten. A winter gift. She has the energy and restlessness of the winds that blow in winter. And yet, she has the heart full of spring.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Cabbages and Chrysanthemums

It is a cool morning, and the cats have been out and back, again. It is a return of those days in the year, where there is an argument whether it is better to open the window, or to leave it closed. For my sanity, it has to be the depths of Winter before I will leave it closed. The unicorn meat eating cats circle me like vultures in the morning, around the door, and I give in. They eat unicorns, humans are next.

I have a rather largish apartment, but it cannot replace the 100 acre farm the Old House backed onto, in Botetourt. They had a cat door there, open 365 days out of the year. To say they are mildly discomfited by the restrictions placed on them now, is understatement. But one does what one can...

Silverlock has learned to nap with her foster human, and dog. I am always afraid I will roll over on her, but she manages to escape that fate.


I need a foster for Dooley: Dooley's parents moved into a restricted condo for their retirement, and couldn't take Dooley. He is very laid back, UTD on shots, and neutered. How can you not love this?

I sleep well, which I am grateful for. I do not want to drink or cut. I draw more strength from my women's AA meetings then ever I did the mixed ones.

Max has become obsessive about the kitten. He defends her against all comers, read: the unicorn meat eating cats. As always, his heart will be broken when she leaves...

I absorb the silence this morning like the trees breath in the cold. The leaves turn on each tree, but not enough to see when you look at a mountain. I feel wild in this cool, like a horse does. I want to sun myself in the autumn day, while the squirrels pick frantically through the leaves. I cleaned the garden yesterday, with a look at putting in some winter cabbages. Their leaves turn scarlet against the cold.

All of my childhood memories rushed back on me, when I saw a yellow, and then an orange, chrysanthemum, as they hung over the golden leaves in a yard, yesterday. They are set off by the grass, which is still green. I know the field at the Old House will be golden now, and the night is cooler there. The turkey will be walking the paths around the House, as will the deer, heading for winter pastures.

The bear here has not appeared in several days, it's time for another appearance. The cats fatten themselves for the coming winter.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Scary

A blog post in the afternoon. Well. I feel like Queen Elizabeth is stopping by, and I am naked. We all have those dreams...

This morning was just too Halloween to be awake for...lots of rain, droopy orange and yellow flowers, and dripping trees. While that was enjoyable, and the day is lovely, the bear still raids the trashcans in the neighborhood. Eventually, she/he will hibernate...let's hope it's before Halloween night, when all the kids run around.

I binge ate last night, all night long. Just general anxiety. What's new?

I am happy to report the government shutdown hasn't affected this page...I don't know why, I just write here. I am here on 2 days of mood stabilizers, and hope it kicks in pretty soon. I seem to do well as long as I stay away from humans, but I just can't arrange that, forever. This day has turned into an 'isolation' day, where I don't have to look at anyone else, but fuzzy people.

So, right now, I will continue to peruse Facebook. Scary.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Short Day

The sky is pink and the air is foggy this morning. The bear has come and gone, and left fond tokens behind. The unicorn meat eating cats have been out since 3 hours before dawn, and I am up to talk to you. Grab some coffee.

The mere illusion of relief from my new mood stabilizer makes it a good day. I'm supposed to take it at bedtime, but took it as soon as I got the prescription in my hot, little hands, yesterday. It will take several weeks, I am sure, to take effect. I need it to work faster. I don't want to spend Halloween going through some haunted house in my own head.

The autumn kitten, Silverlock, grows like a weed. At 5 weeks, she seems like an adult, already. Such a change from the first day, when she reacted in horror to the dog. Now, they are inseparable. Tiny scratch marks run down my chest and back; I am Mt. Olympus.

It is Sunday, so I will keep this short. See you tomorrow.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Does a Bear Poop in the Woods?

It is very dry here, and the bear is still on the loose. What an upside down year this is! I am simply glad it is cool outside. The cats' window is open, and this morning, Ratty, the orange tabby sleeps on the bed with me. I think Max is beginning to understand about the bear...he no longer asks to be let out in the early evening. We did go out this morning, together, and had a wonderful view of the stars, in all their glory.

My post traumatic stress disorder, ptsd, has been triggered. I feel hunted. My stomach is the first system to go, and I deal with that, this morning. I no longer feel physically safe. I worry about my mental health, especially during this turnover time, with the abilfy leaving and the new medication starting. It is a miracle that I have managed to stay grounded this morning. I was not so lucky yesterday. But I did keep in touch with my therapist, by text, and my AA sponsor, and managed not to drink, or cut.

I must admit, I do let myself by distracted from my problems, by the sunshine, and the cooler days and nights. I feel a deep need to walk beside Tinker Creek today. The tops of the trees are on fire, and I want to be there to see them.

I feel too guarded to open my mind to the stars this morning, but I can see them; the skies are clear and a planet is out. I wait for the maple tree to catch fire, but it delays. It gets full sun, and doesn't want to admit the summer is over. The grass is fine, just as it is. It has not rained in a while, and I miss it.

Out there, in the woods, a bear goes to sleep, after a night of riotous living. The birds don't mind, they sing as always as the dawn sweeps over the tree line. It is a quiet morning, with the birdsong, and the tick of the golden clock on the dresser. Ratty and Max are with me, two notorious snorers, but make no sound. If I leave the door to my room closed, and just listen, I can fool myself into thinking it is early spring.

I have often thought, that I don't know what time of year I will die, but I hope it is Springtime. Fall will do in a pinch.

Usually I love the dawn, more than the sunset, but last night was an exception. The air was so clear and gray, and the grass so fine, and the sun so perfect, I stood outside with Max for a while. I remember a night spent floating under the stars, in the pool.

I will leave you here, with my uncollected thoughts, and hope to see you tomorrow.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Peaceful Puddle Place

I have no excuse for not writing this week, except the overwhelming nature of life. And the onset of situational and some seasonal depression. Let's face it, my motivation is around my ankles somewhere and I cannot reach them anymore. Also, for the first time in a good many years, I sleep through the night, now. And still take naps during the day.

I wake exhausted and rummage for food. Clean a bit, play with Silverlock and back to sleep we go. It's a shame I have to come out of mania just as my favorite season starts...the trees are turning the most marvelous colors.

I have been lazy about starting my new mood stabilizer, and it shows. But I do have this beautiful season. Yesterday, I bought a glittered pumpkin and put it out on a table. It's amazing what decorating for the holidays can do...at least for me. I love this month of apples, and pumpkins; of wild winds that blow from the north. A large flock of starlings encircled the parking lot trees at the AA meeting last night, and the group watched them in wonder, exclaiming at their songs, as we exited the church. How the earth still manages to enthrall us!

My therapist has come back from leave, and I did not know how much I would miss him, when I spoke to him yesterday, and almost wept. It is strange to think of my remote, frozen heart, still having unknown emotions. I am so good at lying to myself. The house I live in, is in chaos at the moment. I won't go into details, they don't matter. But suddenly I find I am at odds sometimes with a housemate I had counted as a friend.

Disagreeing with someone is one thing, but my peace is shattered at the sound of slammed doors and screaming. I don't really feel resentful or angry. I feel that I am being abused, in a physical and emotional way, and I have lived through too much to tolerate it. My boundaries are being stomped on, and I feel it in a very visceral way.

Of course, it triggers my post traumatic stress disorder, ptsd. I have to fight for balance with all the skills I have learned over the years, and my spiritual program. And now, there is a bear to consider as well. No more roaming about under the stars in the early morning. No more letting the dog out in the early twilight. I rarely watch the sunset now.

I do open the window for the unicorn meat eating cats, but it is much later in the morning. I know how fast bears can run, and black bears can climb. Georgia is a peaceful puddle at my feet.

May you find your peaceful puddle place today, and lie in the sunshine, while you can.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Later and Later

I know, I know, this is late. I woke with too little sleep and too much to do. Silverlock looks very wide-eyed being shoved into a crate, after a few hours of sleep on Current Mommy (Me). My prozac is stuck half-way down my throat, despite the coffee I pour on top of it, and the dog sleeps to get away from the frenetic kitten.

My tags are expired on my vehicle, I have no money for gas, and I wonder if I will be paid this week, with the government shutdown? The bear didn't hit the trash last night, the can is still upright on the walk. Silverlock takes an antibiotic for an upper respiratory infection, and I desperately need to vacuum the carpet, dust, wash some dishes, change the bed linens and try to come up with a pumpkin for one of my favorite holidays...

I need to do three loads of laundry, and yet, it's the time of year that I don't know where to put them when they are clean. Do I load them into storage bins now? Or wait several weeks? Do I wreck the storage room by turning out one of the winter clothes bins? Or just wait several weeks? Do bears eat pumpkins? Should I just try to get by on some jackets until November?

Will my dog be eaten by November? The pool is lovely now, and only a polar bear would swim in it. Do bears enjoy swimming pools? The zinnias are slowly dying, and only the dahlias and hydrangeas are doing well. Leaves just start to turn, and it is hard to take Max out in the mornings.

I am booked for the rest of the week. But I will see you here in the morning. 



Monday, September 30, 2013

A Tree Turns

The bear visited us again last night, twice. I let the angry cats out very late every morning. And poor Max doesn't go out unless he is on the end of a leash. Even then, when I take him out, he seems to search for the bear, as he sniffs the garbage and pulls me toward the woods.

Silverlock suckles the blanket, when she grows tired of play. She eats enough; I think it's the equivalent of sucking her thumb. And who can blame her? Only 4 weeks old, and without a mother, except for Max and I.

The air is cool and still and wet with dew. I venture to let Max out on his line, and trust he will have the sense to let me know if he sees the bear. I can see him from the window, anyway. The kitten loves the laptop: it's warm, and it purrs. She burrows under it to suckle.

It was a lovely, lazy weekend. There is a poetry reading tonight, at the Jackson Park Library, off of Ninth Street, in Roanoke. We need rain, but we hardly notice, the days go by in such a bucolic haze. They are complete with fluffy clouds and the bluest of skies.

Here and there, on the mountains, a tree turns colors. The marigolds are gone, but the dahlias have come back, in the coolness of autumn. The hydrangea are as blue as the sky, and the impatiens underneath have spilled over their borders unto the slate of the walk.

The red water pump handle and the red pitchfork tell a tale of what is to come.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Angry Cats

I know you wonder why I don't post more pictures of the kitten, Silverlock. She is just so very mobile. I tried to make a video of her this morning, and of course, she kept her back to me the entire time. Apparently, Roanoke is having a rash of bears this season. Besides the bear in our neighborhood, there is one more that roams in Roanoke, and looks for a free meal. I can think of no reason for this sudden interest in the suburbs except that the berry crop was poor this year, from so much rain.

The angry, unicorn meat eating cats are out there in the dark, with the bear...as soon as I open the window, the kitten comes out of her crate, and off they go. They visit, of course, for nourishment, when they are fatigued with the hunt.

I have been more tired since coming off of the abilify. I don't know if that is the cause, or it's just a natural cycle. I have been asleep during my normal blog hours, 3 to 5 am, and then I am too tired to blog when I wake. I fell asleep with the kitten on the bed last night, and she was very pissed when I put her in her crate, for the night.

And now I need more sleep. I wish you a good weekend.





Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Bear

Trying to write while there is a kitten loose, is next to impossible. Perhaps you have had that experience, as well. So back in her crate she goes.

I saw a bear last night, returning home. My headlights picked out his?her? form against the backdrop of a garage door. I don't know how it made it from wherever it came from, I just wish the city would catch it and release it into the National Forest, so I can tie my dog back out. To me, there is no sadder sight than this bear, forced into a neighborhood, for food. Although it does make me feel as if I live in Sitka, Alaska, and I wait for a glimpse of a moose ambling down the road.

It is dark, and quiet outside. I figure that the cats run fast enough, so I have let them out for the morning. They are snack sized for the bear, but not honey flavored, so...

The crickets make a lovely sound this morning, and I hear the soft, crisp crunch that comes from the adult cat food bowl. I don't know what will happen today, but I know I am planning to go to an AA meeting tonight, come hell or high water. I have yet to start the trileptal, which is the new bipolar med I will be trying. Anything to help my shrink sleep at night.

The side effects listed, include loss of appetite but possible weight gain, which is interesting, to say the least. It may also interfere with my prozac, which is an antidepressant, and any contraceptives I may be using. If I have to have side effects, I wish that it were my choice. I mean, we can design a baby to specs, why not medication?

I hope today goes much like yesterday. It was a quiet, foggy day with my dog, the unicorn meat eaters, and the kitten. No bear involved. No feuding friends. Just pleasant company when I tired of absorbing the quiet.

And I have to say, as an introvert, that it was the most pleasant of days that I have had in a while, now. AA tells me that I cannot force my will on everyday, nor should I try. But when I am rewarded by a day like yesterday, I feel extra special to my higher power.

It's how I feel in the morning: just you and me and the dog, while the cats jump in and out of the window. Tranquil, and mysterious in the quality of dark. Only the sound of the crickets interrupts the circle of stars and clouds.

Today will be a little more gold than yesterday, a few more blades of grass will turn, and I will bring in some goldenrod from the field in front of the wood. I will let the blend of sun and clouds caress my face, and I will revel in the breeze. I will look for the red dogwood, and its berries, and compare them to the pines. The lavender blooms a bit more, and will look well against the goldenrod.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Just Wednesday

Today, Silverlock is active as soon as I wake. I do not want to set a bad precedent for her...waking at 3 am, just for the next caregiver who may not wake at 3. However, her cries to join me when I wake are pitiful, and no one can resist them.

It was a lovely fall day again, yesterday. I take joy in writing that sentence, too. The leaves have not even started turning, yet. And yet, it is so obviously autumn. It's the refreshing brisk feel to the wind, and the golden grass among the green. The temper of the field slowly changes to gold, and sky blue. The goldenrod is the color of fall, and the dogwoods are red, now, ahead of the other trees. It brings me happiness just to look at the sky and to smell the wind.

I always feel like a child before the changes of season. I had enough of the happinesses of childhood, that I remember each season, with its own celebration, with joy. The new Mary Janes and white gloves for Easter, the bicycle for summer, and the school days in fall. I was fortunate to have them all. But I must say spring and fall are my favorites.

Some turmoil in my life was the topic of the AA meeting last night, and I feel strengthened today. My prayer and meditation this morning was good, and the coffee is excellent. The water is even better. It is a shame, that a wandering bear is in our small part of town. I cannot tie Maxwell out, in the dark, too late at night, or too early in the morning. He must get his time of freedom in the daytime, and I keep a close eye on him, then, too.

But for now, I do not want to cut or drink.  I am not having drinking dreams, and it has been 2 days since I have had a nightmare. The days are broad, and full of sunshine, and the nights are cool and full of stars, and the waning moon. There is an excitement in the air, at this time of year, that I associate with school. And, believe me, going back to college as an older student, was a resurgence of joy. That has been 13 years ago, now, but I still feel the thrill of it. I look for new adventures in the fall and, if they are not forthcoming, I am sorely disappointed.

But, as I grow older, I learn to accept that everyday is a new adventure, with its own excitement. Sometimes, too much so. But this early in the morning, with the window open to the air, there is enough serenity to go around.