And I say a hearty farewell to August. I can't say I'm sorry to see you go. For one thing, it has been unbearably hot most of the month. Of course if we are honest with ourselves, there is no surprise in that for us here in So Cal. I hear it has been just as miserable in the midwest, the northeast, the south...well just about everywhere. I think the Europeans have the right idea: close down everything you can and go to the Mediterranean, or anywhere cool. Yet here, in the US, we send our kids back to school during the hottest time of the year. What the...
Anyway, for me it was a mixed bag of events. Several deaths turned my world upside down. Death, it is apparent, is our constant companion. It is a specter haunting us all along life's way. We can resist it, we can fight it, but sooner or later, it seems to win. But yet, I wonder, does it ever really win? No one ever dies who has been loved in this world. And I truly believe there is something we transition into that is much better than this proverbial "veil of tears."
Honestly, I do not believe life here is meant to be all sadness. It is really more of a learning experience. The month of August this year emphatically reminded me of that; what with good friends, beloved pets, and world events with so many senseless deaths. August had them all.
There is a lesson in all this. It is a lesson sometimes I forget, but in months like August usually I come back to the understanding that life is for living. Death is a teacher. We each much come to grips with the fact that earthly death is inevitable. No matter how much it hurts or cause us anguish.
But life goes on.
So its with that is mind, I say a hearty farewell to August this year. I hope when you return next year, you will behave yourself. I really want to like you, but you have to meet me half way.
Sometimes I get ideas that just won't lay still. Sometimes I get inspirations that disappear as soon as I look at them. Sometimes ideas take their inspirations and hide. I know they are in there somewhere, but they just won't come out and play. Geez, it can be hard sometimes. And I'm not sure whether its worse to have a plethora of multi-faceted bona-fide super dooper ideas competing for my attention or to have one vague yet intriguing gem of a brainchild that just won't get itself born. In all of it, there's always a blog in there somewhere.
Just look at the previous paragraph if you don't believe me. The word plethora is just such a rich word. I can imagine writing an entire essay about the plethoras of life. Or I could talk all day about how its so hard to just sit down and wrestle a great inspiration onto the page for your consideration. And brainchilds! Isn't that a delightful concept? Just waiting to be born...for sure. And it is just like giving birth sometimes. And no matter who we are, we all have some idea how painful that can be...and how rewarding it is once the birth has occurred.
Sometimes it takes a sorting of it all out. Its a matter of coming to and understanding and finding and reason solution. That is when you find that illusive blog that's always in there somewhere. It works for just about any creative endeavor. In fact anything that takes a bit of internal reflection. Its in there somewhere. It just takes a bit of looking, kinda like I just did here...
I often find myself sitting behind a car at a stoplight, trying to figure out just was the personalized plate means. This also happens on the freeway at fifty or sixty miles an hour or while stuck in a freeway slowdown (much safer). YAKTYYAK. OMG MOOV URBHND. Sometimes it takes a while to cypher them out. Sometimes they get away without resolve and of course I can't remember them by the time I get home.
This started me thinking about all the places we use ID Monikers these days. Passwords and email addresses. Cell phone locking. Security codes. Passwords are the best. They say never use PASSWORD. Duh. What about DROWSSAP? Probably not. 123456 is not good. I use three main ones with slight variations. All are mixes of letters and numbers.
But there are those sites that require a symbol. I usually use the same symbol, but sometimes I forget I use it. Then I end up changing my password yet again. Especially for a site I don't use that frequently like Social Security Admin, or Zillow. Even for sites I do use a lot, like Facebook or Google. That's a pain. I did create a list and printed it out put it in a top secret place. Its very handy, especially when I can remember the top secret place.
When I create a list of my passcodes and monikers, I usually put a password on the document on my computer and pray I remember it. That's when I use one of my favorites. But even then, if I forget, I guess that documents is rendered useless.
How about names? Many years ago when I was with Earthlink (remember Earthlink?) I had to chose a "handle". You know, the name that comes before the ".com"? For some reason it was more common not to use you real name. So there I was, staring at the keyboard, wondering what to use. The top row of letters on the keyboard begin with QWERTY. Hmmm. Not exactly right. So I came up with QWERKI, because, as staid and stodgy as I feel like I am, I thought might be nice to be thought of as, well, quirky. It stuck.
At the time QWERKI was uncommon. I even had a personalized license plate with QWERKI1 on it. That was fun, but expensive, so I surrendered it. Anyway, I left Earthlink and went with AOL for a while, then Google came along and I went with Gmail. Somewhere in all that, I duplicated the Qwerki too much, so I had to become Qwerki.rob. The rest is history I guess. TMI maybe, but I think its funny how these things progress.
I just did an Google search, oh, wait, now we say we "googled" it. So when I googled it the word "qwerki" I found a site that offers advice on Reddit, a site on Twitter that offers a "Qwerkibox is a Monthly Mystery box full of goodies from Movie, TV, Animation, DC, Marvel, Starwars, Funko Pop". and a singer calling himself Qwerki on Reverbnation.com with two recordings. You can sample it by clicking here: Qwerki Playlist. Not bad actually. I think its techno-rock, so listen at your own risk.
Anyway, that's what I was thinking about this morning when I sat down to write this blog. I'm sure there's a moral to this diatribe, but I haven't figured it out just yet. Maybe it's just to learn to accept change, go with the flow and live in the mystery of never knowing why anyone would put ZYXWVUT on their license plate.
Yesterday I had the (mis)fortune...all in how you look at it...to find myself in the Urgent Care waiting room at Kaiser. I had put off too long having someone look at what were apparent spider bites. One bite was big...on my left leg. It hurt like a sun of a gun for the first few days, but I didn't want to find out I was dying, so I waiting. Shortly after that, another bit appeared near the back of my right ear. (Traveling spider?) I suppose it was during the night, but who knows? Anyway, I finally decided it wasn't healing fast enough, so I got myself to UC. Long story short, the Physician's Assistant gave it a glance or two. "Insect bite. I'm prescribing a steroid creme, K-Flex, and an anti-biotic." I said spider bite. He wouldn't commit, but his notes said spider bite. Sigh.
So there's the how and why I ended up in Urgent Care...reluctantly of course, but it was quite the experience in people watching.
I found my way to the registration desk. I was standing in line, waiting the HIPPA mandated six feet (or?) away. A male voice called out, "Next Member!". He was hidden behind a pillar, but I finally found him. Unsmiling or welcoming, he asked for my member card and why I was there. I described what I had. He made notes, didn't say a word. He gave me a sheet of paper to take to window B and deposit through the slot. "Next!"
I dutifully did as the reception clerk directed. The waiting room was probably 95% full. Not too bad. Lots of seats. I chose one next to a lovely old woman, well dressed and very polite appearing. Sitting down, I said I would try not to bump her. "You won't," she smiled. "Lots a people here needing attention. Some of them sick," she said. I decided to break out my Morning Pages journal and just write.
As I wrote, I could overhear the young couple to my right talking about her "needing to pee so often". "Well," he chided her, "You are pregnant." "Yes," she said, "I guess that's it." They were called in shortly after that. Not to long after, they came out. "Where is X-ray?" he asked. "This way," she said. And they were gone.
Just then another woman sat down. She was on her cell. "Betty can hardly walk," she was explaining. "I had to wheel her in and they gave us a big old wheelchair. It wasn't easy, poor thing. They told us it would be two hours. Two hours! What can you do?" The woman decided to go get Betty and wheel her in next to where she was sitting. Betty didn't look comfortable, but seemed in good spirits. They kept repeating "two hours, its gonna be two hours! Did you tell her?" "Yes" "Well, I guess all we can do is wait." Good choice I guess. Emergency is right around the corner, but I bet you wait there, too.
I surveyed the room at that point. It seems like every other person waiting had the hand held devices out. Playing games? Facebook? Email? Very serious expressions on their faces, too. Life or death it appeared, but most likely just their zombie faces while engaged in electronic communications.
I also noted there were people from every stripe of life. White folk, black folk, brown folk, old folk, young folk, folks alone, folks with the whole family. A few who appeared financially secure and a few who would appear to be worried this might cost more than they had.
There was a muffled commotion in the entry hall. A man was moaning, breathing hard. I glance around to see a burly hispanic man in one of those guerny/wheelchair contraptions. I was wearing sunglasses, a black tee and there were a few tatoos, but not many. A woman was with him. They wheeled him in, just a few seats down from me to the left, just beyond the elderly lady I had first encountered. (This is when they called her in).
The poor guy, all big and buff, was in misery. He complained he was cold. Could he have a blanket? His companion knocked on the door to the locked examination area. Someone emerged, came near him. "Sorry, we can't give you a blanket." "Why not?" "You haven't had your vitals done yet." "I"m freezing," he pleaded. His companion asked, "Please, he's so cold." "Not until we do his vitals," the nurse assistant said, and turned back into the exam room. The scene was repeated with another nurse assistant. He was remarkably restrained, but was obviously chilled to the bone. He kept asking, "Why? Why no blanket? Who ever heard of that?" Shortly after that they took him in. I hope he got his blanket, poor guy.
It was finally my turn. One hour wait, but between writing my pages, and observing my fellow waiters, I was in. A nurse took my vitals. I almost asked about a blanket, but decided not to. The nurse warmed up as we chatted about having worked or nearly worked for the coroner and in hospitals.
Once I saw the PA, and he gave me the prescriptions, I trotted over to the pharmacy. The first young man must have had the same training as the receptionist guy in the UC. No smile, no acknowlegement to "How are you?" Just, "Three? Give us ten minute." I did. I waiting by the board of flashing names. When your name appears, you're rx's are ready. I waited. Ten minutes (more or less). My name appeared. I snapped a picture. I went to the line and was called up by a friendly, smiling young lady. "Here you go," she said sweetly. It felt good to hear a friendly voice. "The pharmacist will be right over to go over these with you. Anything else?" "No, thank you." I wanted to compliment her on her demeanor, but held my tongue. She might think me sarcastic, which would not be the intention.
The pharmacist, obviously overworked, or busy, or just a bit grumpy, mumbled a few words about each item. "Apply this creme sparingly," is all I remember really. And I was done!
I wanted to put on the creme and take the first doses of the meds right away as the itching and burning was starting up again, but I refrained until I got home. But when I did apply the creme and take the meds, it felt like the healing had begun. I thought you would like to know. I doubt the UC staff would be all that concerned, so I won't call them.
There is an element of truth to that old saw, "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride." Of course they would have to find a way to care for and feed the horses. Would they use the horses to travel to where there is work? Would they use the horses to help plow a field to raise crops for food? Well, we may never know since wishes are not horses, at least not in the literal sense.
Last night at my Friday Night Writes writing group we did something a little different. At the suggestion of our host, we did an exercise from Julia Cameron's book, The Right to Write. Cameron is usually spot on with her observations and methods of breaking through blocks. Her book Artist's Way has helped me break through some of my personal blocks to being a creative. Of course that doesn't mean I don't back-slide or make u-turns now and then. But when I practice what she preaches, I usually find myself back on the right road.
The exercise was to number a sheet of paper from 1 to 25. Then, as quickly as possible, write down 25 personal wishes you have...no censoring...just what you would wish for at that particular moment. We all did the exercise as directed. As I wrote mine down, I was surprised how many of the wishes were the same old wishes I have been making for nigh onto a half century: to travel, to write more, to read faster with comprehension and up the intake, to exercise more. There were wishes cook creatively more, entertain friends more, find activity support groups that work for me, go to the theatre, the movies, take long baths, on and on. I wished to set solid boundaries and say no when that's what I want to say. I wished to do more artist's dates, work on and complete my languishing memoirs.
As you can see, those are things that I have been wishing for, for what seems like forever. Hmmm. I once heard it said that as long you are trying to do something, you will never actually do it. That means you get caught up in the trying and not in the doing. I imagine wishing is like that. What I likes about the exercise is that it definitely is a way to set your intentions. Intentions are the beginnings of deeds. You have to intend to go to market before you actually go, for example.
So now I have a list. 25 items. Cameron suggests updating or re-doing the list about once a month. She suggests that you will find yourself pondering your wishes and actually making some motion toward them as you go about your day. Today I do know those things I wished for have been on my mind. And many once again sound actually doable.
So what are you wishing for? Maybe you should make a list. There is something about the brain-hand-pen-paper connection that makes dreams become reality. At least it brings things into focus. Take it from me, I may not be a beggar, but the horse seems to be ready to ride.
The mind is a funny thing. Sometimes it just doesn't want to settle on any one subject. It jumps all over the place. They say meditation (and maybe medication) can help this "monkey mind" phenomenon. I say sometimes you just need to flow with it. Let the mind go where it wants to go.
Thinking about anniversaries. The 16th was the anniversary of the day I met one of my best friends and the direction of my life changed forever. We've been through good times and tough times and we are still friends. Some relationships shape-shift and morph over the years. This one has persisted and I think is good for the duration.
The 18th was the 33rd anniversary of the death of my grandmother. The 19th is the 37th anniversary of the death of my granddad. Don't ask me why I always remember these dates so clearly. And how many years. My mind (and heart) just seem programmed that way. But don't ask me why I can't remember weather I've take my morning ginko biloba (ironic) and other meds without one of those pill box minders. And even then... But as far as my grandparents, well, I know it was the end of my family as I knew it.
Its been one month since we had to put Tater to sleep. Miss her every day. She was a trooper, a love, a source of support and one of my best friends.
On being sentimental: I am glad I am. I treasure my memories and enjoy my frequent trips down memory lane.
I'll be glad when the really hot weather is over. I'm not a hot weather kind of guy. I really belong in the bay area, but my danged roots are firmly entrenched here. And the thought of moving makes me have an anxiety attack! LOL
Anyone else looking forward to November 9th? (Election Day is November 8)
I'm happiest when I'm gardening or tending to my yard, writing, capturing images. I like going to the movies, live theatre, museums and going for walks. Makes me wonder why I don't do any or all of these things more. Could it be that dang Puritan Ethic? No one is watching. Hmmm.
Meandering is good. It is what an old river does after many, many years of rushing to the sea. It kind of subsides into an easy flow, taking the easy course through well worn beds of sand and stone. There comes a time when this is how it should be. No hurry to cut a new course through rock or woods. Old man river, he just keeps rolling along.
Hmmm. I could continue. I remember when I was a teenager I would write these long one line maze-like random thoughts. You'd need to turn the paper around each corner until it got to the center. That was fun. I used to play with words more. Time to start again. Watch out.
Okay, that's enough for a Friday. Glad I didn't just shine it on because I "didn't feel like it." That is my frequent excuse. Don't buy it. If you do, all I will have left at the end is excuses.
And there you have it. Another random session of thoughts and musings!
Tonight a fire burns in the Cajon Pass, not far (enough) from my home in Riverside. The chances of the flames reaching my door are somewhat slim, but still, the fear is real. Last year there was a fire in the riverbed of the Santa Ana, within walking distance of my house. It was a miracle someone wasn't killed or a home or two lost. I seem to remember and out-building did burn. It was tense for a while. And it is tense right now with what they are calling the Blue Cut Fire. I know people who live in some of the communities affected. The pass is closed. Commuters can't easily get home without long detours. Homes have burned. Evacuations are mandatory.
So I have to wonder why I stay here. I have to wonder why some many people stay here...and more come every day. It is somewhat beyond my comprehension. It is like we are all in a big crap shoot, betting against the odds, and if we are lucky, we come out intact on the other side. But why?
The weather is temperate, except for some extended periods in the summer when the heat rises so high you don't want to venture outside. And there are earthquakes, winds, floods and more. Yet we stay.
In the midwest they have floods, tornados, electric storms. Same in the south. In the northwest, they, too, have much the same kind of acts of nature as we have here. It seems no matter where you go, there is some type of risk of encountering the wrath of Mother Nature. It does make me wonder if maybe we are too busy trying to conquer and bend Nature's will to ours. Surely Nature naturally rebels. Not out of spite, but out of self defense. Just look what we have done to the Earth so far.
I've heard it said that here is southern California, we have no seasons. Yes, we have spring, summer, winter and fall, but those are definitely overshadowed by these other biggies: Fire Season, Earthquake Season, Flood Season and Santa Ana Season and our latest extended season of Draught. Each feed into each other. The fires burn the brush and vegetation necessary to hold back or absorb the waters of winter rains and melting mountain snow. Floods wash away the same vegetation and undergrowth along with the very earth and sand that we build our homes and businesses on. Then of course earthquakes come along and shake everything up, knocking things down and severing transportation arteries along with other destruction. Sometimes earthquakes cause fires. And the Santa Ana winds come along and stir everything up.
And so here I am, feeling a bit on edge, yet strangely secure, watching the flames rage on in the Cajon Pass about 25 to 30 miles from here. The residents know, as the newscasters say, to be ready to move at a moment's notice. Possessions, animals, other valuable. Always have a plan to pack up and run. And so I wonder, what if that fire, or another, sweeps into Riverside? Seems unlikely, but still... And yet I sit here, seeing the smoke of this latest (not so) distant fire, and keep my hands folded with no thought of moving out of So Cal. After all, it is home.
Sometimes, just sometimes, but not all the time, you have to do something just because. Kinda like picking up the (metaphoric" pen and just letting it take you wherever it wants to go. This is one of those times.
Sometimes I wonder just how I got here. You know, to this particular age in this particular city, doing this particular sort of thing, in this particular way. I know, I know, its all the result of all the choices I've made up until now. No decision in particular, but the bottom result of all the decisions up until now. You know, just as whole is greater than the sum of its parts, my life is more than the sum of my memories.
Okay, while you ponder that, I have to tell you I have been wondering about some other stuff. What the heck is going on with the world? Is it just me, or have things begun to spiral out of control? I have to wonder if, hold onto your hat, we are all going to h-e-double toothpicks in a hand basket. But I really don't want to talk politics or moral imperatives tonight. I was just wondering.
I like to walk the dogs in the morning. Lately it has been getting hot way too early and I'm way to lazy to get up way too early to take them before it gets...well you know. I'm ready for the cooler weather, but, bite my tongue! I am not ready for Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Didn't we just go through all that? Yep, its true, time does go by faster as you get older.
I kinda like being random. And I do like thinking and musings and all that stuff. But I don;t want to go on too long. It's Monday night, and the truth is, I wasn't into blogging, but I didn't want to let too much time go by before picking up that metaphoric pen, you know.
Better things ahead, I'm sure. In the meantime, keep thinking, keep musing, whether randomly or not.
It is Saturday noon. I am at my place on the deck in my side yard. It is getting very warm. The shade of the umbrella over the table where I sit keeps it a bit cooler, but it is only going to grow hotter as the sun leisurely strolls across the sky. I am lacking imagination right now. Or perhaps I am just weary. Not really sure. I got up and started the laundry, watered, had breakfast, etc. Decided that waiting to walk the dogs in the cool of the evening was the prudent thing to do. And so here I am, sitting at the keyboard, waiting for lightning to strike. But there are no clouds, not even a chance of rain. No thunder either. We continue in a draught here in Southern California. Rain is not on the agenda again today.
When I was growing up in Michigan I remember we would experience something called "heat lightning." It is a flash or flashes of light seen near the horizon, especially on warm evenings, believed to be the reflection of distant lightning on high clouds. Or so the old wives' tale goes. It really is just lightning from a distant storm, a storm so far away the thunder is not heard and no rain shared. So I guess so much for the prospect of even heat lightning igniting any creativity at the moment.
Yet I did sit down. I did do my morning pages. I did open the blog and begin to write. So something did move through me onto this the latest entry in my blog. See? The muse moves in mysterious ways. Even when you don't think you are able to squeeze even a drop of inspiration out of your sorely weathered soul, it moves on seemingly without you, as if to say, "Get out of my way, I've something to say." Ah, muse, you are so clever and so illusive. I'm so glad you show up when I least expect you.