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Daughter still goes out in the morning and doesn’t come back till noon. She comes home and talks about things that have happened. You just have no idea what a relief it is.

Here; this will give you an idea how drastically different this is. I cleaned, today. That’s right; I cleaned. (I was stunned myself.) I found things I’d forgotten about, like my salt cellars, and yet another box of pens and pencils. Apparently, I’ve been hoarding for years. This is like the 15th box of pens/pencils I’ve found in the last eight months. (I have eight boxes and pencil cups within arms reach of where I’m sitting.) It’s weird and unnerving, but it’s also sort of affirming, in that I have always been going in this direction. Now I’m just admitting it.*

pensI like how the pink one is snuggled up to the green, like “hey we’re colorful let’s avoid those boring pens.”

From the far right, my mother’s Parker, which is the champ. I fill it once a month, and write and write and write. My Rotring, which is secondary champ. I used this one at school, and filled it up once a week. It leaks a little, and it has burgundy ink in it, so I frequently look like I’ve lost a big battle. The third one in is my dad’s, a big old Sheaffer.. I had it overhauled, but I haven’t gotten an appropriate ink. Beautiful, with a lifetime guarantee on the nib.

The rest are miscellaneous pens I’ve picked up over the years. Mostly used, except for the Sheaffer cartridge pen and that pink one, which supposedly has a calligraphy nib on it, but what really happens is the ink just runs out of it.

The “Made in America” in the back is a bottle of ink from Noodler’s. I like their ink (everybody likes their ink), but I’m not sure about their politics. Last thing I got had a screed on Free Trade with it. But the ink is good. Don’t get it shipped when it’s -20º out, is all. There’s stuff on line for fixing old pens, so I’m going to have to go for it one of these days, and return the beaters to working order. These are totally not your cheapo “refillable” ballpoints.

*I told Daughter a while ago that it’s fine with me if she just backs a dumpster up to the house and pitches all my stuff when I am no longer available. It’s got no meaning for her. She doesn’t know any of the people connected to most of it. But she has to keep my fountain pens.

I am reading geography. I am crabby.

I’ve switched to an almost totally plant-based diet. Still more meat than I’d like, and nowhere’s near enough butter and sugar. Also, decaf. It’s really weird. I feel like a traitor to something, and I’m sure I’d backslide in a minute if I didn’t feel so much better all the time. I was going to say my hands don’t hurt, but they do. My fingers don’t, though, and that’s almost as good, and the thing with my hands? Quit playing internet solitaire! And I did indeed put on my pants standing up today.

Also, you know you’re getting old when putting on your pants while standing is a big deal.

In knitting, which I never talk about but actually do quite a bit of the time;

The black socks that I thought were irredeemable and ripped out the toe on the first one and redid it in an angry way, fit better than all my other socks. So, that’s weird.

I started a pair of fingerless mitts. And ripped them out. And started them again. And ripped them out. And started them again and got maybe half-way through and realized they were crazy when they were talking about gauge. And ripped them out again. My will is nearly broken.

I bought sock yarn on line, that was so pretty and yellow, and I got it and opened the package – and there were sparkles. I like sparkles, but NOT ON ME. But, I am working on changing my mind.

6 weeks left of school, more or less. I’ve already started nosing around about jobs. The sun was out beautifully today, and we’re supposed to get 17″ of snow starting tomorrow night. This one is not pushing me closer to the edge. This is normal end of the season snow. Hopefully it will melt slowly enough to not cause floods.

The best news; Daughter has a job! It’s a training grant thing, and funding is only for 3 months, but having a person who goes out and does things rather than sit around getting more and more depressed is fantastic – as good as the spring that is finally coming.

I’m studying for a geography quiz. Hello, my brain can only do 100-level for so long before I have to go in search of big words.

So. The difference between the Ted Cruz’s and those of us who live in the real world is making me want to scream.

Here, read this.

Differences in mortality rates are not just a statistical concern— they reflect suffering and pain for very real individuals and families. The higher mortality in the United States is an example of what Paul Farmer, the noted physician and anthropologist, calls structural violence. The forty-seven infant deaths occur every day because of the way society in the United States is structured, resulting in our health status being that of a middle-income country, not a rich country.

Structural violence. Structural. Violence.

The U.S has an infant mortality equal to Liberia and Papua New Guinea.

It goes hand-in-hand with the thing, “A budget is a moral document.” I don’t know where I got it from, but yes.

Maybe I’ll get buttons made up; “Ask me about Structural Violence”, complete with smiley face.

Learned more than that.

It was “expressive figure drawing,” and that’s what we spent the bulk of the 8 or so hours on. But just at the end, the teacher said that she would quick show us how to handle faces, and she did this thing, with watercolor and pastels, and in 20 minutes had a face. I swear, some of this stuff is alchemy.

So I tried it myself.






Watercolor, pastels, charcoal. I can’t take it any farther, really, because the paper is giving out. But it was encouraging, to say the last. And spooky, like developing a print from a negative and watching the image appear on a piece of paper in your hands. Like magic.

I’m tired of writing silly stuff; or more correctly, I use facebook for that function. And I haven’t figured out what I’m going to do here.

My fish didn’t die. Don’t believe the Wiki when it says to euthanize your fish that has swim bladder disease. It was pretty bleak there for a couple of days, when it would eat and then lay on the surface to rest up for a couple of hours. But then the next day it was eager to eat again, and only rested for an hour and a half. And now, it mostly can keep its balance. I couldn’t figure out a peaceful euthanasia, and I figured anything that involved removing it from its tank would be horrifying, as far as a fish can register things like that. Hey, “they” proved that dogs do love people, so what do we know about fish? And I swear scientists have never owned dogs, for all the stupid things they say.

I took a quickie figure-drawing class, and it was great. I have a sketch waiting for me to figure out what comes next, lying on my table. Did some sewing, did some cleaning. Now spring break is over, must function tomorrow.

I’m trying to survive gen eds. Enough on that. I have high blood pressure and a fatty liver, and I’m trying to survive that, too. Major overhaul of my diet, which is turning out good, because I feel so much better. Except for the no-red-wine part. No drinking at all, actually. Not like I did a lot anyway (she says, glancing at the bottle that’s been sitting there on the cupboard for months).

Have a picture.

redon woman and centaur

I’ve never seen this part of Redon’s work before. It’s really just orange and blue. Very beautiful. I wonder if the centaur is the orange – no, he must be the blue mountain, and she the orange sky.

“All those people on tv are getting paid to say that.” Just saying.

A certain amount of the Debate In The World is fallout, like in The Hobbit® movie where the big stone guys are throwing stuff at each other and our merry troop of dwarves and wizard and hobbit nearly get creamed by the rockfall. Authority figures are standing up in rows opposing each other and tossing sound bites at each other and people are lining up according to what stuck on them, or landed nearby, or was shiny and they picked it up, and everybody is yelling/cheering for the authority figure they’ve been kind of arbitrarily tagged by.

And remember, they’re getting paid to say that. In what currency?

There’s too much to know, to understand, forcing us to make a decision on incomplete information, and pick the authority figure that seems likely. Our movies, our public stories, are all Myths and Jungian archetypes now because Hello! There Are Rocks Falling From the Sky!, and we need a bigger umbrella Right. Now.

Even just stepping out your door is incredibly dangerous because you might get swept up in the stream that’s going by, carried off to slay a dragon living under a dead volcano.


I like my dragon, though. We go out flying when the weather’s right.

Yes I am in school and yes the level of stupid in 100-level classes is overwhelming. (I have to write an opinion piece on nuclear power. Fair enough, but I’m only supposed to write three paragraphs. I don’t think I can blow my nose in three paragraphs. Still, one must persevere.)

Anyway. Alongside the heart-stopping stress that is statistics, I’m reading all the crap in the world. Believe me, we suck. Okay; they suck. We’re all cool here.

But we still have Stevie Wonder.

Chair-dancing time! “I speak very, very, uh, fluent…”


School started again this week. I rearranged my classes so I can graduate this spring. However, I now have probably too much work, and I haz a sad on top of it.

I’m really glad this picture worked. nota bene; use your tripod.

There are people who want me there, and I could smoke pot. I think that would help my blood pressure.

(Speaking of said people, look at this picture! I just want to dive into it.)

So, online classes. The first thing they want you to do is Introduce Yourself Smiley Face Let Us All Be Friends! And I’m kinda not there, what with these people having these little tiny pictures and I can’t keep them straight, plus cranky and old. So, my intro paragraph to my remedial algebra class was maybe not so . . Good. We’ll call it maybe not so good.

Hello. I live in Ashland. I am older than, like, all of you put together. I’m an art history major, a field that has no need whatsoever for higher mathematics. There is a possibility that I might suffer from attitude. And sarcasm. I’m heavily blighted with sarcasm.

Yeah. Maybe not so good. I apologized, both in the discussion board and in an email to my teacher.*

Plus! For no apparent reason my English class is tied into Cengage! a company that filed for some level of bankruptcy last year, and you have to download an app (which I really resent) and even so, I can’t get to the syllabus, which, you know, is just a simple little word doc.

And now I’ve gotten distracted, and I can’t remember the end point of this rant, except blood pressure, and maybe it would be nice if it wasn’t so cold. I think the years of warmer winters have made me a wimp. I think I’ll just go downstairs to my art cave and practice painting. I got a thing I want to do. Or maybe write. There’s some things I want to write. Yeah, let’s get out of here.

And by the way, my horoscope told me to not mouth off. Oops.

* But I polled all my art teachers, and they all said there isn’t that much need for math, except stuff that I’ve been doing for like the last 50 years. Plus, $100 text. for a remedial class. Thank you so much.

I went to a good funeral this week. The service was simple; the songs and the text, the musicians and the singer and the pastor and Freda and everyone there and everyone gone woven together. Hardanger, maybe, or maybe lace, the empty spots part of the pattern. The flowers were white; not daisies but chrysanthemums and lilies and roses. I think it was the lilies that smelled so good; deep and powerful, full enough of spring and insistent life for you to pause, for a moment, there by the casket, inside away from the dark and the cold.

People were pretty much ready for this one, because Freda was A Hundred and Six Years Old. She lost her husband at 94, started forgetting her name in her late 90′s, lost the memory of her married life, lost the memory of her daughter, her granddaughter. Maybe she kept on for so long because she forgot what was supposed to come next, maybe it just never occurred to her.

She was old country, I suppose you’d call it. First generation born here, and Born Here Back Then. Parents come in from Germany, and a farming background. Natural talent in painting put aside, or moved on from, we don’t know; she kept her hand in with needle arts. All of the needle arts – tatting and crochet and knitting and sewing and masterful counted cross-stitch – maybe not embroidery, but I think I’m probably wrong with that. Big garden, canning, bread on wednesdays, working in the shop. Artisan is the word I’m using, people who connect with you some when they’re talking, but when you see them doing you see their whole being engage.

There was this story, about how she punched a 90-year-old guy. Course she was about that old herself, and like her husband said, “She never really liked him anyway.” Maybe some people don’t mellow, or maybe this is Not Aging Gracefully. Doesn’t matter; it was about a minute of her life and it’s funny as hell, and maybe it showed a big part of Freda but mostly I remember her turning away from some task or coming in to light in a chair or passing a bowl at the table with this brightness in her eyes, and a certainty in her step. She wore serious shoes, I remember. Or call them sensible, pragmatic; ready to do what needed to be done.

In the gray light at the graveside, while I watched the pallbearers and the people and studied the workings of the lowering ratchets, the scent came to me again from the flowers like a memory. We let the balloons go into the darkening sky, and let go of Freda, and moved back into the web of our lives.


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