A brief obit notice here, with, so far, 19 pages of guest book condolences (which made me cry).
My aunt and cousins are sitting Shiva this week. My Dad, in a nursing home up in the unfamiliar to him wilds of Downeast Maine, is in shock at this sudden and unexpected loss of his younger brother--who has been a rock for my Dad. I feel so sad for him, and for my aunt and cousins--especially my aunt. She and my uncle had been together since high school.
(This loss has also, predictably I guess, opened the vein of my own failed family issues--my cousins' family is so solid and there for each other--and brought the lovely 'I'm a pointless failure' monologue to the surface. I've pretty well punted that, but the sad, and the crying off and on, continue--which is totally fine and proper.)
To a lovely man who took great care of his family and had compassion for all.
Very tired and rather full of sad, for various reasons, on return. But all is well.
There are only nine more days of the Clarion West Write-a-thon, only nine more days to sponsor me or some other lovely writer. (Also, eek there are only nine more days for me to finish this draft!)
My values. What do I value? I value, first, compassion, kindness, and love. These, I believe strongly, are the most valuable and highly evolved of humanity's ways of being. Second, I value creative productivity of any kind--meaning the arts, yes, but also other creative endeavors from city planning, architecture, and community organizing to cooking, farming organically, and creating a good restaurant--that deepens, enriches, betters and/or makes more enjoyable the lives of those it touches.
What I don't understand is how compassion and kindness are not everyone's values.
Was up at 4am fretting over my mom and step-dad losing their home (ballooning mortgage they never should have had), and, my mom being 79, her health in the face of the stress of the situation. Of course, 4am fretting does no one any good, and now I have underslepted brain.
Realized I had already put something I needed in the draft under cover of another something. That was probably the slepted brain that did that.
Made my first crab boil of the summer last night, corn, little red potatoes, asparagus (near end), and snow crab legs...so much mmm. Leftovers tonight.
My mom has always been more the waterwoman mother (also known as the dragonfly mother) than the earthwoman* mother. I've had abandonment issues, as it were, since six. But I love her very much, and I'm very glad she's in my life now. And really, would I be the me, and the writer I am, without her? No.
*from the poem by Denise Levertov, included under the cut
( if you feel like a spot of poetry )( from those Levertov poems (sans proper spacing, sorry) )
( if you feel like a spot of poetry )
Some difficult things in the last couple of days have been ameliorated by the kindness of awesome people, one friend, one stranger, and one family. So, although I was exhausted by the unhealing sores and pain in my fingers before I even got dressed this morning, and cried on the way in to the dayjob, there is a lot for which to be thankful, and I am.
Dear GOP/Tea Party/Corporate wealthy: perhaps the reason more of "mainstream" institutions and media don't reflect your "values," as you seem to think is the case, is because so many of your attitudes and values are hate, fear, and intolerance-based, are regressive, lacking in empathy, and would, frankly, be dangerously sociopathic if you were a person. (in reaction to something Mike Huckabee said on The Daily Show the other night)
I'm almost finished reading McKillip's The Bards of Bone Plain (I may have mentioned, mostly my only reading time is before bed, which means it takes me awhile to get through a book these days). Next up: Deathless, because I've been jonesing for the rest since reading the preview online weeks and weeks ago.
So this doctor uses a magnet thing and extracts bits of shrapnel that have been in my poor step father's inner ear for 42 years.
Also? This kind of explains some things.
78 yr old mother still doing pretty well; made the best corn chowder ever, plus other food. Will hot tub and swim this morning with mom and sister. Weather perfect.
Wish you were here.
Brother's large garden provided a bounty of salad veggies, lettuces, beets, green beans, cucumbers...so good.
My dad shuffles around with his cane. He's had some cognitive loss, but he's still in there. He's very intent on food; he enjoyed our lobster meal immensely. But the biggest smile he wore all week was when we got him to use his walker (which he is not resigned to using yet) to go outside in the deep dark night to see the star-heavy, Milky Way swathed sky and spot Perseid meteors with us. He announced every one he saw. (To be fair, we all did.) We saw quite a few. No northern lights, though.
My nephews, both in college, one a classics major who's making extra money doing translations of ancient Greek philosophers, the other in his first year as a government major, were lovely. They and my sister and I all discussed how much we love The Daily Show, and how we were all fans of John Oliver, in addition to Jon Stewart.
Swam in Cathance Lake (the lake on which the lake in my story "When the Ice Goes Out" is based), used the hot tub, stargazed, napped, and read, in addition to spending time with dad and going into Machias to check out the veterans' home he's on the waiting list for.
Read Gail Carriger's Soulless, and now reading Changeless (b-day presents); really enjoying them.
Excellent dinner alfresco with sister in Portland Friday evening, at King of the Roll. I did most of my undergrad in Portland, and I still really like it. A small, lively, arty city, with buildings of a nice age; there's always a scent of salt in the air, with gulls coming up into downtown from the port.
Some pictures from the woods and my sister-in-law's flower garden. A few more if you click up to the Maine gallery.
The stars last night! No moon up, so dark out there, the sky was just heavy with little lights, the milky way, and meteor streaks. Serious awe and wonder. So beautiful--and something I never see in Austin. The Maine woods on a moonless night are one of the darkest places, nothing to distract from that great sparkle studded sky.
Brother and sister currently swimming in univ pool; then we're going to look at the Veterans' home here, which is where my father might go to live at some point, though he's doing mostly okay at my brother's currently.
We had lobster last night, which were acquired the day they were trapped, at boat price, $3.50/pound. Maine is really the only place to have lobster.
Was a lovely, low-key birthday weekend. Took Friday off, took care of the usual Saturday chores and had an awesome nap. Gotten out of bed Saturday morning by phone call from a friend singing HB to me. Went to breakfast with usual Saturday peeps, got many phone calls, tweets, facebook, and email birthday wishes. Dinner with N&C& the kids that night (chicken mirabella, my request); the kids all made cards and they gave me lovely presents and made me feel very loved; then we had strawberry shortcake and watched Coraline, which they hadn't seen yet and I was happy to see again. Sunday, friend and neighbor B took me out for brunch; we went to the Woodland (where I really want to go for cocktails sometime). Spent the rest of the day reading, cooking, and writing, capped off by viewing of Trueblood w/B. Had a couple of good convos with my sister, who called me several times instead of the traditional one. (My poor mom, who had the flu, lost track of time, thought today was the 8th and called yesterday.)
I feel quite refreshed. Who knows how long into the dayjob week it will last, but still, yay. (Plus, this is short week for me, Friday being the first day of ArmadilloCon. And impatientape is in town and will be coming to stay later in the week, so, yay!)
And, you know, there was cake.
I want to share the bit of Pablo Neruda one beloved friend sent me as a bday wish:
Today, this day was a brimming cup,
today, this day was an immense wave,
today, it was all the earth.
Very glad to be home in loft with cats now, though.
I wish I had some sort of exciting writing news to post, but it's been a little quiet on that front. I'm looking forward to Wiscon; it will be my first! I suggested a panel, which will hopefully go, and have gathered an awesome group of folks for a reading; have some stuff related to that to get to work on now that the big trip is done.
I've been very light with lj comments and general presence the last week; apologies if I missed anything important.
An interesting Charlotte Bronte quote, with bonus word I'd never seen before:
Feeling without judgement is a washy draught indeed; but judgement untempered by feeling is too bitter and husky a morsel for human deglutition*.
*the act or process of swallowing (you, you smarty pants, probably already knew what it meant)
In late March, beginning of April of next year, my brother, sister, and I are flying to Buffalo and renting a car to take our father and ourselves on a pilgrimage back to Philadelphia, hopefully to visit the house my sibs and I grew up in, and other old tromping grounds and sites of note. This is kind of an unprecedented thing for my long-splintered-in-all-directions, not very family reunion-focused or organized siblings and I.
Looking at what's been done (via Google Earth) to the beautiful 1880s fieldstone and oak house of our childhood by the Korean Presbyterian church that now owns it is a little depressing. So many huge, beautiful trees gone--all of them, in fact. Crazy.