Friday, February 8, 2013

While I slept for 26 hours...

While I slept for 26 hours, taking a few breaks, apparently, for water and such, our sweet Freakishly Large Maine Coon Kitten, Mr. Buddy, carefully piled on top of my dozing form, sometimes tucking them safely in the folds of one of several quilts, and once placing a sample so close to my snoring mouth, it's a wonder I didn't inhale it --

Toys.  Cat toys.  And small offerings of kibble pieces, as well as two beloved treats.

The message was clear:  Why won't you wake up and play with me?

Two mice.  Two balled up red mohair leg warmers, ready for tossing and a game of Fetch.  A bit of bubble wrap.  Three balls, one felt, one yarn, and one that I contend was meant for budgies, but what do I know -- it's hard and has a bell in it.

I am grateful for all these gifts, except for the tiny seafood treat an inch from my mouth.  Had I inhaled that sucker, all might have been lost.  Hmmm.

In a play for pity, not hearing a sound back here in the soundproof area of Marlinspike Hall -- one of the perks of living* in the executive suites -- I sent Fred an urgent email begging for caffeine.

*Okay, so technically, we are squatters, but since we've been caretakers, as well, of this magnificent manor for years now, and even were mentioned in the Haddock Corporation Annual Review, albeit as a misleading footnote, I think Fred, Bianca, and I can claim to live here, as well.  And since the Feline Triumvirate lives wherever we live, well, they have rights, too.
Which they abuse, constantly, but no one seems to mind.  Fred and I?  We can't get away with nothing...

Mais je divague...

You'd think Buddy would want a heavy-duty, intense play session after loading me down with all his beloved goodies, but no!  He sat there, staring at me, his back about as straight and rigid as a baby Maine Coon can pull off, and said:  "Look, have a little coffee, wake up, think about what you have done, and *then* we'll talk."

I am discovering, via their profound engorgement, lymph nodes heretofore unknown to me.  My respiratory tract is artfully producing colors and textures that Benjamin Moore would die to have in its line.

Once Buddy and my email alerted Fred to my consciousness, he came in to join in the make-fun-of-prof brigade, greeting me this way:  "What's wrong?  Are you sick?" He could barely get it out, it cracked him up so much.  He wasn't laughing after I beaned him with the big blue hard plastic ball we use to hide treats in... that Buddy had tucked into the crook of my elbow during my extended rest.

He makes the best coffee, does Fred.  So now I am wondering where my appetite might be.  It's gotta be around here somewhere.  I know yesterday was a day of yogurt, apples, and pepperoni slices -- ugh, alors.  (The French are all the time saying that.  "Ugh, alors.")  Right now, I am thinking that I will have to consume my daily requirement of probiotic yogurt, but even that usual pleasure makes me nauseous at the mere thought.  "What's wrong?  Are you sick?" Very funny, Fred, very funny.

He is, you know.  Very funny.  With my foreign language background, you'd think I could do a fair imitation of at least most Romance Languages, but no.  I have a great accent when speaking the language, but cannot do the pretend-while-speaking-English thing.  But Fred can, and does.  Often when he thinks no one can hear him, which is the most hilarious.  He bends genders, too.  He breaks into this grandmother's Irish brogue that kills me.  That usually emerges while he's cooking. Then there's a Germanic/teutonic (Viking, Swede, Finn) mélange that every damn body gets to enjoy whenever Fred faces The Moat in the never-ending Algae Bloom Battles.

Lately, he worries about having Alzheimer's Disease.  I never pooh-pooh anyone's health worries -- well, except for ridiculous people who take to Twitter when they think they are dying, in lieu of, O I Dunno, calling an ambulance -- but want to pooh-pooh this one.  Fred is older than me by 15 years, but sharper than a very young Yogi Bear.  No, seriously, his mentation is to be envied, his memory, divine.

On my birthday, when I sent him flying around Tête de Hergé after sundown in search if Indian delicacies, he found himself in an unknown area southwest of the Lone Alp, and panicked.  Just because he is New York City born-and-bred does not mean that he has innate savy taxi driver know-how when in new territory.  Anyway, that started the Alzheimer's Watch.  Kind of like how a soft winter rain triggers Tante Louise's News Outlets to put the entire region on StormWatch 2013.

But in a way, his worry is a blessing, for I am using it -- as women will -- to encourage the scheduling of a check-up.  I feel like a crafty District Attorney, countering the Defense's objection with:  "But, Your Honor, the Defendant opened the door to this line of inquiry with the mention of Alzheimer's Disease." And the presiding judge nods sagely, with eye-brow raised, and curtly notifies my drably-dressed legal opponent, "He did, you know.  Proceed.  Objection overruled."

I'm being gentle about it, thus far.  Of course, thus far, the only thing that my suggestion has produced is that Fred took all three cats to the vet.  Two of them more than a month early.

We'll get there.

What worries me, but not him, is all the falling down around here.  It may be fine with my half-siblings back in the States to let my Mom go *boing* once a day or so, but I have a problem with all the *kabooming* Fred has been doing.  After hours of snazzy contra dancing, he fell down the steps of the high school gym on the way out.  Walking by the bed, he ran into the annoying knobby end and *bam* -- down he went.

Okay, there are extenuating circumstances.  He blames his glasses for the gym steps' descent -- something about how the bottom rim obscures his vision when he glances down.  Hmmm.  Okay, okay.  The bed?  That was somehow my fault, as his immediate response was:  "When are you going to do something about that?" Hmmm. Nope, that's a no go.  The other occasions involved him donning thick wool socks and then rushing over polished floors.  And yes, Bianca has once again fallen prey to the old "wax the stairs" fixation...

Speaking of The Milanese Nightingale, has anyone seen her?  Maybe she felt such guilt after waxing everything within sight that she's run off to hide for a bit -- not wanting to face the pile of orthopedic bills that Haddock Corporation is refusing to pay.  Or... maybe I should check to see if she's been impounded again, like some stray car.  Fred -- oh, how to put this -- Fred "disabled" her bedside alarm clock, which plays "her" aria in an unending loop, after six hours or so of:
"Je ris de me voir..."

Still, she's my girl.  She wouldn't make fun of me right now.  She'd find Sven and Cabana Boy (oy!) and order up some tea and buttered toast, get a Duke F'blastic Ball game on the telly, put on her giant #1 finger, get into a suitable f'blastic ball outfit, and everyone would pile -- ever so carefully -- so as not to cause moi a bit o'pain or spill the Jameson, I mean, the Earl Grey -- in bed with me, the kitty babes included... and we'd all engage in an extensive purr-r-r-r-r-r.

Or I could roll over and go back to sleep.

Probably wake up, this time, with a litter box on my head.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Britt Merrick: "When Sparrows Fall": Matthew 10:28-31

To see previous posts about Daisy Love Merrick, click HERE.  For lots of info on Daisy, her family, and background to their story, visit Pray For Daisy.

This is a 55-minute long video of a sermon delivered by Britt Merrick* at one of the network of churches he founded called "Reality." This is, I believe, his home church, in Santa Barbara.  You can learn more about Reality churches and missions HERE.  They see their growth as part of a process called "church birthing," to emphasize their own emphasis on family, as a reality and as an idea.

Reality is a family of churches. Reality Carpinteria was born on September 7, 2003. Since that time we have birthed churches in Los Angeles, Stockton, and San Francisco, CA. We also have a grandchild in London, England, that was birthed from Reality LA. Our next church will be in Boston, MA and is scheduled to start in the fall of 2012. God has called Reality to be a church planting movement.  We never sought to be this, but it has become clear that this is what God is calling us to do and be, and it is something we are passionate about.
Though planting is the common metaphor for starting new churches, we prefer to call what we do church birthing. Birthing is more labor intensive and relational than the planting metaphor suggests.

Britt is on a leave of abscence from his pastoral duties and this is a sermon that he felt called to deliver to update the community about his daughter, Daisy, Daisy Love, Daisy Love Merrick.  A very cool, brave little girl who is actively dying, trying so hard to die with grace, within the love, grace, and faith of her family, whom she knows to be around her here and waiting for her in Heaven.

The Merricks took Daisy to Israel over the summer for some treatments not available in the United States -- immunotherapy, cancer vaccines, much of which involved the transfer of cells from Britt to Daisy.  They road camels.

Daisy and her brother Isaiah
They surfed and swam.  (The Merrick family is, well, a surfing dynasty.)

Daisy surfing in Israel
Matthew 10: 28-31 reads:

28 Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body but can’t kill the soul. Instead, be afraid of the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell. 29 Aren’t two sparrows sold for a small coin? But not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father knowing about it already. 30 Even the hairs of your head are all counted. 31 Don’t be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.

I look at this picture -- among others -- every few days, when I wonder what is happening within. and to, Daisy, Daisy Love, Daisy Love Merrick, Daughter of the Surf. Freckled Little Girl of Inspiring Imagination, and I don't pray.  I prayed for Daisy once, and that -- from all I understand
about omnipotence and stuff -- ought to have been enough.  Whenever Britt or Kate call for prayer, I bow my head, think of them and their terrible pain, of Isaiah's probably anger and confusion, and always, in that dumb bowed head, see Daisy's face, which, although I know its beauty must be greatly changed, I forever see this way:

And while no prayer comes out, I try to send them love from my heart, and I imagine holding their hands -- thin, dry, damp, sweaty, clenched in a fist, open in a stroke, seeking -- scuttling hands, worrying thumbs, wavering fingers.

*******     *******     *******     *******     *******     *******

*His biography at the Reality Santa Barbara website reads:

I am the founder of Reality and the current Pastor for Preaching and Vision. This means that I do the bulk of the preaching on Sunday mornings for all three campuses, that I guide the church doctrinally, and lead the effort to discern in community (with a plurality of elders) Christ's leading for Reality. The passionate pursuit of my life is to enjoy Jesus. I love my wife Kate, my son Isaiah and my daughter Daisy. I also love surfing, guitars, motocross and books.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

i believe! i believe!

Renaissance Grilles / Registers /  Vent Covers  - Rectangular

it's two in the morning and my body needs rest.  the mind, though, oh, *blank* and *bleep* the mind -- like all three cats, it thinks it's time to play.  damn the kona coffee we thought it would be great to drink around 10 pm -- "it's like drinking sweet warm chocolate milk." next time, i say let's get the beans shat from the toddy cat, that shriveled civet.  let's make it worth the insomnia.

i've been low sad and high happy, and all to the tune of old music all day.  i've also had a major episode of g.i. bleeding, avec pain this time, and it has put my resolve to the test.  god's big red pen is still hovering over this day, ready to scribble all over my margins, advise an adverb for my already outrageous adjectives.  god can be a little much when it comes to composition.  someone should snatch that red pen away, just for giggles.

i stopped using red pens those last years i was grading, bleeding ink.  there is something so awful about getting a paper back with red all over it.  but then, when i began teaching in high school, i was faced with some pretty ugly results -- because the students used pens of many colors.  sometimes my red pen would have been a relief to their greens and purples and, heaven help me, even silvers and grays.  you know that sage advice -- "pick your battles"?  well, when you have kids breaking your hip, threatening to kill you, submitting suicide notes as compositions... well, the color of the ink isn't usually one of the battles worth fighting.

so low sad, high happy, all acted on a stage by an orchestra pit from which boomed old songs, most of which were not even favorites.

Truckin' - got my chips cashed in

Keep Truckin - like the doodah man
Together - more or less in line
Just keep Truckin on

Arrows of neon and flashing marquees out on Main Street
Chicago, New York, Detroit it's all on the same street
Your typical city involved in a typical daydream
Hang it up and see what tomorrow brings

Dallas - got a soft machine
Houston - too close to New Orleans
New York - got the ways and means
but just won't let you be

Most of the cats you meet on the street speak of True Love
Most of the time they're sittin and cryin at home
One of these days they know they gotta get goin
out of the door and down to the street all alone

Truckin - like the doodah man
once told me you got to play your hand
sometime - the cards ain't worth a dime
if you don't lay em down

Sometimes the light's all shining on me
Other times I can barely see
Lately it occurs to me
What a long strange trip it's been

What in the world ever became of sweet Jane?
She lost her sparkle, you know she isn't the same
Living on reds, vitamin C and cocaine
all a friend can say is "ain't it a shame"

Truckin' -- up to Buffalo
Been thinkin - you got to mellow slow
Takes time - you pick a place to go
and just keep Truckin on

Sitting and staring out of a hotel window 
Got a tip they're gonna kick the door in again
I'd like to get some sleep before I travel
but if you got a warrant I guess you're gonna come in

Busted - down on Bourbon Street
Set up - like a bowling pin
Knocked down - it gets to wearing thin
They just won't let you be

You're sick of hanging around and you'd like to travel
Tired of travel, you want to settle down
I guess they can't revoke your soul for trying
Get out of the door - light out and look all around

Sometimes the light's all shining on me
Other times I can barely see
Lately it occurs to me
what a long strange trip it's been

Truckin - I'm goin home
Whoa-oh baby, back where I belong
Back home - sit down and patch my bones
and get back Truckin on

i did accomplish something momentous, however.  i tried to pretend, for about a minute, that it was a touching thing, a heart-mover, but hell, who was i kidding?!  unless you are a longtime dear, dear reader, you know nothing of my beloved cat sammy (sam, puddin' head, stinky head, but officially "sam-i-am") and unless i want to dissolve into tears, we'll just leave it at that.  i am sure that if you enter "sam" or "sammy" into the blog search, you'll find posts and pictures of my beloved boy.

well, sammy struggled with many things.  paranoia.  mostly of marmy, whom we thrust upon him when she was 8 months old, feral, hugely pregnant, and decidedly mean.  okay, okay, she was a street urchin and had seen some damned hard times, and was wayyyy out-weighed by the five kittens inside her, so we will say instead that she was decidedly... no, i'm sorry, she was the meanest animal i'd ever met.

sammy was sensitive.  like me.  {shut up, shut up!  honey badger don't care!}  we had to pick him up and carry him past her to the litter box or he would not go.  no, instead, he would relieve himself somewhere in my vicinity, because, in sammy logic, i had brought this vicious girl upon his head.
eventually, i was feeding him in the one corner of the bedroom where he apparently felt safe. is was absolutely ridiculous but i loved him all the more for his weirdness.

later his erroneous peeing was attributed to a failed neutering, or to hyper-territoriality, or to whatever our vet's theory of the month turned out to be.  too bad that sucky vet didn't consider kidney/urinary tract disease, because that is what it was... and by the time the sucky vet figured it out, poor sammy was doomed.

we kept him alive and happy for more years than anyone thought we could -- fred and i have a knack for that.  we hope to do it for one another, but it's not working out so well.  anyway, after the horrible day we euthanized my sammy boy, on a merry fourth of july, we discovered lingering gifts when the seasons changed and we turned on the Manor's furnace.

from two vents, in particular, issued forth a smell that said "sweet sam-i-am was here" and "my goodness, how cloyingly, sickly sweet... like a terrible chablis" -- but eventually devolved into "oh god, it stinks!"

i clean like a cleaning maniac.  there's no dirt in Marlinspike Hall that isn't meant to be there -- exceptions must be made for areas of deteriorating daub-and-wattle, and some odds-and-ends of medieval stuff.  the furnace heats only the newer extensions, built by Captain Haddock's third mother-in-law, who had a thing against icicles inside her quarters.  and sammy managed to pee down at least two of the primitive registers... my sweet sammy.

well, by jove and by minerva, i solved that problem today.  we had -- ever thinking -- put a huge bookcase over the worst of the stinky registers, and made sure to close the vents.  so i removed book after book, starting out two at a time, then rapidly regressing to one.  circumstances of space dictated that i use the arm without the shoulder, so that's when the day's soundtrack first started getting a bit strange.

Night time sharpens, heightens each sensation
Darkness stirs and wakes imagination
Silently the senses abandon the defenses

Slowly, gently night unfurls its splendor
Grasp it, sense it - tremulous and tender
Turn your face away from the garish light of day
Turn your thoughts away from cold unfeeling light
And listen to the music of the night

Close your eyes and surrender to your darkest dreams
Purge all thoughts of the life you knew before
Close your eyes let your spirit start to soar
And you'll live as you've never lived before 

Softly, deftly music shall caress you
Hear it, feel it secretly poseess you
Open up you mind let your fantasies unwind 
In this darkness which you know you cannot fight 
The darkness of the music of the night

Let your mind start a journey through a strange new world
Leave all thoughts of the life you knew before
Let your soul take you where you long to be
Only then can you belong to me 

Floating, folding, sweet intoxication
Touch me, trust me, savour each sensation 
let the dream begin let your darker side give in 
to the power of the music that I write
The power of the music of the night

You alone can make my song take flight
Help me make the music of the night

so i finally had all the shelves emptied that were within my reach... and even progressed a little farther with the aid of the handy-dandy ubiquitous grabbers stashed about.  maybe i added an hour to the task because i had forgotten that these were mostly fred's very fine small library of photography books.  by which i do not mean "picture books," though they certainly are full of pictures... but they're more like histories -- of magnum, and war journalism, studies of weegee and cartier-bresson. good stuff.  i barely noticed the smell of sammy's overheated piss.

fred buys all kinds of crap at places like the dollar store.  oh! no!  even more often, he picks up these 99 cent amazing cleansers and magical elixirs at a nearby thrift store, where we buy our best fiction.  i confess to have fallen into the nasty and off-putting habit of sighing and rolling my eyes when he presents his latest detergent-oriented finds.

i am gonna go ahead and just put this squarely on the pointy heads of MEN. if a product promises that all you need do to clean something like, say, a shower, is spray their usually blue stuff religiously onto the shower walls for 84 weeks -- no scrubbing required -- why, you'll have to sport wrap around ray-bans to avoid the glare of those pristine tiles!  never, ever, is scrubbing or exertion of any kind required.  that's why god made magic enzymes and proprietary formulas that you mix yourself in spray bottles.  WOMEN know better.  that's why we sigh and roll our eyes so much.

you're welcome.  glad i could clear that up for ya!

however, fred moved on to internet ads as his sanitary inspirations and one day recently a box of Fizzle, about which testimonials swore amazing results on anything foul resulting from any excretion from any part of your pets body -- arrived.  a plain paper box.  he mixed some up straight away and with the next liquidy sort of hair ball, promptly sprayed nearly an entire 3 x 5 foot area rug with the stuff.  never mind any precaution like carefully testing some unseen corner of a fabric before drowning it in chemicals not identified on the packaging...

and it worked.  he reveled in his cleaning superiority and i became used to seeing spray bottles of Fizzle placed strategically around Marlinspike Hall, as he used the bottles to "mark the spot," so that he could point out that the Fizzle bottle marked... nothing!  whatever offensive piece of pet organic material had been there, Fizzle had made it disappear.  some mornings, when i am still bleary, i get the sense that they're lined up like traffic cones and i am supposed to rev up the wheelchair and run some strange, timed x-treme Fizzle bottle obstacle course.

so after i hurt myself badly shoving the bookcase out of the way, and after prying up that nasty, nasty register, and after washing/scrubbing said nasty register, and sticking the vacuum nozzle as far down as i could cram it, sucking up i do not even wanna know what... i sprayed almost an entire bottle of Fizzle down the dark, deep hole.  i waited a bit and added a strong mixture of rubbing alcohol and water.  i topped off this cocktail with white vinegar that had been waved over vermouth.  alone and possibly reacting to the fumes, i emptied an entire can of lysol -- "crisp linen" -- into the register duct's gaping maw as well as over my head, on the piles of books, and in the general vicinity of everything.

i had, of course, turned off the heat.  i ain't stupid, and being a Fizzle convert and a longtime lysol adherent, i wanted to give these fine products hours and hours, if need be, to kill the last remnants of my darling russian blue's last gift to us.

you guessed it.  it got pretty cold and as i am perpetually doing the i'm freezing dance from my daily blessèd fevers, when fred came home, i used concern for *his* comfort as a cover, and cranked on the heat.  (you can add that to my gender lesson from above -- WOMEN do that kind of thing -- we get what we want by claiming our MEN really need it.)

and... no smell!

also, it turned out that the second register had not been baptized in sam-i-am's tainted waters -- rather the outside edge of another bookcase had been so brought to the lord.

i hate to say it, though i sure do say it a lot, it seems, but fred is oblivious -- and often -- to when i need help.  maybe it's a good thing, in certain situations, as it forces me to become inventive and to ask more of myself.  but in this case, i am pretty sure i broke another damn rib.

i moved the big bookcase we have been discussing back over the now unoffensive register, and then moved the table upon which i had piled all of these books.  the lovely photographic histories, and the three shelves of dean koontz and maeve binchy -- hardcovers, all.  not to mention what was normally on the damn table -- one buddha, many framed photos, including, ironically, one of the dead cat, and a pile of books that did not belong yet to any assigned bookshelf, as they were ones we were preparing to read.  one day soon.

i did it rapidly, hoping the pain would follow suit and quickly come and go. ha.

then i crammed the wheelchair between the shifted table and the offending smaller bookcase, because sammy, being sammy, had chosen its corner next to the wall upon which to piss.

i am sorry, stephen king.  my regrets, nevada barr.  my profound sympathies, as well, to shakespeare and ibsen.  and i cannot begin to apologize to my friend who actually published a novel, now sticky and diabetically-inclined to pure sweet stinkiness -- it was, i swear to you, still damp. i threw them all away.  it was the first time i'd ever tossed a book that *might* have been salvagable -- with the investment of days of labor and the likely result of still pungent pages, all oddly curled.

then, even as ensconced as i was, jammed, in fact, i could not reach the bookcase itself to clean it.
grabber to the rescue, again!  i took a handy-dandy kitchen towel, rinsed it in hot water and in a potent mixture of all the alchemy that had gone down the register's drain, and swatted and swiped until the smell was no more.

i am the queen of clean.

maybe now we will actually use the room as a library, its original designation.  well, after being our first dining room and then t.v./wii space.

the table remains where i left it, the books still piled upon it, and i have no intention of even trying to put things back in place.  my non-shoulder shoulder area is making grinding, squishing noises and my fever did a dance on top of what is usually its apex.

by then, my ears were picking up strains of mozart's don giovanni.  thank god, because i thought for sure i'd be stricken with the requiem.

Madamina, il catalogo è questo                                                                                                                                           
Delle belle che amò il padron mio;
un catalogo egli è che ho fatt'io;
Osservate, leggete con me.
In Italia seicento e quaranta;
In Almagna duecento e trentuna;
Cento in Francia, in Turchia novantuna;
Ma in Ispagna son già mille e tre.
V'han fra queste contadine,

Cameriere, cittadine,
V'han contesse, baronesse,
Marchesine, principesse.
E v'han donne d'ogni grado,
D'ogni forma, d'ogni età.
Nella bionda egli ha l'usanza
Di lodar la gentilezza,
Nella bruna la costanza,
Nella bianca la dolcezza.
Vuol d'inverno la grassotta,
Vuol d'estate la magrotta;
È la grande maestosa,
La piccina e ognor vezzosa.
Delle vecchie fa conquista
Pel piacer di porle in lista;
Sua passion predominante
È la giovin principiante.
Non si picca - se sia ricca,
Se sia brutta, se sia bella;
Purché porti la gonnella,
Voi sapete quel che fa.

My dear lady, this is a list
Of the beauties my master has loved,
A list which I have compiled.
Observe, read along with me.
In Italy, six hunddred and forty;
In Germany, two hundred and thirty-one;
A hundred in France; in Turkey, ninety-one;
In Spain already one thousand and three.
Among these are peasant girls,
Maidservants, city girls,
Countesses, baronesses,
Marchionesses, princesses,
Women of every rank,
Every shape, every age.
With blondes it is his habit
To praise their kindness;
In brunettes, their faithfulness;
In the very blond, their sweetness.
In winter he likes fat ones.
In summer he likes thin ones.
He calls the tall ones majestic.
The little ones are always charming.
He seduces the old ones
For the pleasure of adding to the list.
His greatest favourite
Is the young beginner.
It doesn't matter if she's rich,
Ugly or beautiful;
If she wears a petticoat,
You know what he does.

i had hoped the tale would wear me out, but her it is almost 4 am.

i do thank you very much, however, for allowing me this means of public distraction, which is great for ignoring pain, and public humiliation, which Abbot Truffatore always highly recommends as a general tonic for the soul.

talk at you later, dear reader.  hope along with me that some manor elves will put all the bookcases and books and tables back where they belong.  i believe!  i believe!