A brotherhood of trees

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The wind rummages through the branches of a stand of aspen. A burden of soft green bends low to the earth. The music from a choir of a thousand murmuring trees rises on the afternoon breeze, interrupted only by the faint hum of a passing plane. I sit and witness the passage of time, growing older with each second that briefly announces itself, and then is no longer.

Yesterday I belonged to the exclusive club of youth, but time, jealous as a spurned lover, surreptitiously stalked and then claimed me, just like everything else she fixes in her cross-hairs..

Long ago, life and death entered into a gentleman’s agreement. In the moment they paused to shake hands, I became doomed to roam the desert like a lonely bedouin, seeking asylum in someone else’s eyes.

I am forever running towards the moon with open arms, desperate to embrace its cool, silvery light, and forever singing to the stars, crooning the only lullaby I know.

I confer with angels, but they never reply.

I fall on my knees and my prayers travel heavenward, borne aloft on the wings of butterflies. How can I truly know anothers desperate longing unless I have first plumbed the depths of my own? How can I ascend a mountain of hope, when my feet are still mired in yesterdays valley of doubt. How can I soar on the wings of love, when they have long since been clipped by life’s cruel circumstance?

Truth is a lamp capable of lighting even the darkest corners.

I have yet to decipher the language of the wind or lyrics of singing trees, but one day I am certain I will crack their code.

Love is as fickle as quicksilver. Ethereal, and weightless, it flees into a waiting biosphere.

Night arrives on stealthy, silent feet, and yesterdays ghosts huddle together in dusty corners, gossiping amongst themselves while pointing crooked fingers. They have yet to realize they belong to days long passed, and therefore wield no power.

I’ve been falling like a cold, grey rain, banished by a disturbed darkened sky. I fall and fall to the ground in exaggerated slow motion.

My tribe has long since perished.

I’ve been claimed by the brotherhood of trees.

I like it here.

Kill me now and call it euthanasia…

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They say that necessity is the mother of invention, which is why I recently found myself watching a Youtube tutorial regarding how to change a lawn tractor battery. Let me be the first to declare that a mechanic I am not.

Three days previous to the Youtube tutorial I had commissioned a neighbor to jump start the tractor, thinking the battery was dead because it had sat over the course of the winter. Alas, it was not the case. Despite cutting the lawn for two hours, and as logic would dictate, re-charging the battery in the process, it was completely dead the following day. I turned the key, hope springing eternal and was rewarded with the sound of wretched silence. Not even a cough. Nada. After several choice cuss words, I abandoned all hope and drove to Sears.

You’d think the battery would still be under warranty being less than a year old, but no. Three months is apparently all you get. Bev, the male sales person who sold me the lawn tractor last May, made a fair pretense of being sympathetic to my plight, but simply would not concede that a battery should last longer than a season without crapping out. While I was pondering the question of why any mother would think it a good idea to name their son Bev, he suggested I meet him at the outdoor compound where he would divest one of the new tractors of its battery, seeing as they currently had none in stock. Sixty dollars later, plus HST, I was homeward bound with the precious cargo.

After my safe arrival at my domicile, and after watching the Youtube tutorial in the comfort of my livingroom, I realized I did not own a wrench. In my own defense, I do own a hammer, a screw driver, and an axe, none of which are useful in loosening bolts. Rather than making the twenty minute drive back to town in a westerly direction, I remembered that the service station down the road located in the opposite direction, being east, boasted a tool section. I decided to chance it because it was closer than going back to town.

Nope. No wrenches. Now I was that much further from town having traveled in the opposite direction. I remembered that the next teeny-tiny town heading in the same easterly direction had a small, family operated hardware store.

A grumpy looking proprietress followed at my heels as I gazed at the shelves. Nothing vaguely resembled a wrench, and when I inquired where I might find one, she advised that while they were in fact a hardware store, they did not carry wrenches. I bit my tongue lest I sound sarcastic.

On to the next even smaller town. I checked the local gas station’s hardware section,which contained an assortment of painting supplies, rope, glue, and engine oil, but of course, no wrenches.

Back inside my PT cruiser I checked my pulse. It was racing. I swore through clenched teeth and headed further east to Souris.

At long last I found a hardware store that actually carried wrenches among other things, and the wrenches abounded in various sizes and shapes. I played the dumb card and several male employees clad in red shirts bearing Home Hardware logos who were hovering around the cash register in the pretext of working assisted me in selecting just the right wrench for the job. I smiled and left.

Back inside the PT cruiser I re-checked my pulse. Normal.

Loosening the bolts and changing the battery was easy. Nothing to it. However just as I was finishing up the job, my wrench inadvertently made contact with something that caused a spark and then an ominous popping sound. A plume of smoke followed. I swore again and dropped the cover of the tractor hoping I wouldn’t blow myself up when I turned the key to start it.

As they say in the movies, all’s well, that ends well.

Invisible ink.

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Time slashes at my roots with a silver scythe. With each turning and revolution of the world I grow a little older.

The sky is a grey shroud that hides the portals to heaven and hell. It’s opaque haze cannot be pierced or rent, not even by the cries of the abandoned and lost.

I am enamored by the night. It wraps its dark mantle around my shoulder and draws me in. It flings cold stars against an inky horizon where they pulsate and glow like a lovers earnest heart, and I lean into the sky-light, barefoot. I silently entreat the sky to impart it’s ancient secrets, but it never does.

I return to my empty bed and gaze at the ceiling, the sheets binding my ankles fast. The ceiling falls away in the darkness of my room, and I suddenly remember another life time. My fingers falter against the foreign landscape of my face, now no longer familiar. It has become the dark side of the moon. I close my eyes and breathe.

My nocturnal sojourn pulls me into a narrow corridor, a passage way that exists between awake and asleep; a place where the impossible is freed from its shackles and granted an unconditional pardon.

I like it here because each time I arrive it is a fresh new home coming.

He waits for me dressed in soft raiment and boots of Spanish leather. His face bears a sickle shaped scar just below his left eye, a scar I have memorized along with the shape of his brow and obsidian sloe eyes. It is here that love lives.

In my current waking life, I walk alone, and it is the night time that pulls me back to a time and place where life tattooed both hardship and joy on my skin with invisible ink.

The will to go on..

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Gus, the orange tabby is spending more and more time outdoors these days. Sometimes I join him on the deck with a morning cup of coffee, and other times we stroll around the yard together, checking out the growth of perennials hesitantly poking their way out of the ground. They are right to be cautious as the weather remains fickle, teasing us one moment with seasonal temperatures, and the next, sending forth flakes of white doom.

Trust me when I say winter is a trollop.

Sure, she’s pretty enough when she’s all gussied up in her pale finery, her lacy gloves stamping filagree on icy window panes, but be on guard for the moment should she happen to get you alone. You’ll rue the day soon enough when she entices you into flicking your tongue against an icy flagpole.

And don’t even try denying that you haven’t done it at least once, if not a second time. We’ve all been there one time or another. I’m so over her, and her lusty minions from hell that she sends forth like those flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz.. I’ve been trying to initiate an amiable divorce from her citing irreconcilable differences, but she has sworn to make my life a veritable Dantes Inferno should my petition be granted.

Sometimes I dare to dream of wintering in Arizona. In my somnolent state I live on the edge of the Grand Canyon in a colorful gypsy caravan. I basically survive on locusts and wild honey, but unlike John the Baptist, my garments are not fashioned from camel hair. Camel hair and the heat of the desert creates an undesirable, and might I say, lethal olfactory disturbance of perspiration and wet fur.

Basically I am braless in my dream, and perpetually sitting in one of those folding camp chairs, sporting a “wife beater” tee-shirt, and flouncy boho skirt that doubles as a tea towel. I don’t require TV or internet, and because cell phone service is a no-go owing to the enormous abyss in front of me. The beauty of it all is that I have no requirement whatsoever to communicate with human kind, which is fine by me because the longer I live, the less I like people.

The Grand Canyon as you probably are already aware is a big ass fissure located in the Colorado Plateau. It has had many admirers over the years, which means that me and my gypsy caravan are not first to be in awe of its natural beauty. The oldest human artifacts in the park are nearly 12,000 years old and date to the Paleo-Indian period. Ancient people have continually occupied the park since that time, and there are more than 4,800 archeological sites that include the following cultural groups: Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Basketmaker, Ancestral Puebloan (Kayenta and Virgin branches), Cohonina, Cerbat, Pai, Zuni, Hopi, Navajo, and Euro-American.

Because there is scarce development at the Grand Canyon, I have a panoramic view of the stars each evening. I position myself in my sleeping bag atop the roof of my gypsy caravan, as the idea of sharing the surrounding terra firma with a rogue snake does nothing for me. Nothing.

Revenue Canada does not exist in my dream world where I reign supreme in my army of one. Here in the canyon, they cannot tax me at 30% on RRSP’s that I have already paid tax on prior to investing. They are worse than loan sharks. I’m surprised they don’t keep burly men on their payroll adept at breaking bones.

Like any dream, eventually one has to wake up and face bitter reality.

In the world of bitter reality, I owe revenue Canada five hundred smackeroos. Prednisone is the super glue currently killing me while also suppressing the symptoms of this yet undiagnosed auto-immune disorder. In tandem with this, there is a diabolical and scary sound emanating from underneath my car which translated, can only mean spending more money that I don’t actually have.

I’m burnt out here in bitter world. I have two novels to promote, but the idea of doing so makes me want to take a long nap, and just dole them out freely to passerbys on street corners. I’ve been my own best customer thus far.

On a brighter note, there is lobster here in bitter world, and lots of it. It gives me the will to go on.

Kill the envious moon…

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The prednisone taper has commenced in earnest and I am currently at 25 mgs, a reduction from the previous 60 mgs I was taking. My body has become a battle field, and most days I feel like pure shite. It is difficult to discern if the auto-immune disorder is causing some of the problems, or the prednisone, itself. Whichever is the case, they are engaged in a nasty game of tug-of-war, my body being the play-ground where la guerra is being waged.

At work I break out in spontaneous heat waves several times a day, and at night I marinade in my own juices. In tandem with this is an arrhythmia that suddenly manifested out of nowhere in order to torture me further, and which is sure to kill me. It occurs at least once a day if not several times, and generally persists for several hours at a stretch. I have been assured by medical professionals, (the same professionals incidentally who have yet to tell me exactly which auto-immune disorder I have) that the extra beats originate in the atrial chambers of the heart and as such are harmless. Try convincing me of that when I am unable to fall asleep because every third or fourth beat of my heart is abnormal or premature.

There is just no getting any shut-eye until my heart decides to return to a normal rhythm, which means trying to distract myself so I don’t go into panic mode and call 911. I’ve been averaging less than six hours of sleep a night, which means I am not at the top of my game at work.

Distracting myself from the all too obvious arrhythmia is not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination. I generally try to anesthetize myself with a good dose of Juan Diablo from the Mexican telenovela, Corazon Salvaje, but I can only watch two consecutive episodes before my brain begins shutting down from the arduous task of trying to assimilate rapid Spanish. After that I’m let to my own creative devices which typically means googling random things on the computer.

I generally like to start with myself. It’s always good to know what little gems are available on the information highway regarding ones self, that any stalker can bascially find with ease. Aside from my two recently published novels, and some flattering reviews regarding said books; a thesis written for my Master’s degree in social work; my profile on Linkedin; and my authors profile on Goodreads, I apparently lead a boring life. So, move on would-be-stalkers. Nothing to see here.

Armed with evidence that my life is mostly meaningful only to myself, I decided to move on to a new topic or person, with the hope that someone else’s life would prove to be more interesting than mine. I didn’t have to look far.

The brain works in weird and wonderful ways as we age. For instance I can’t for the life of me remember my lan line number from the last residence I lived in two years ago, but I can recall with startling clarity not only the telephone number of the house I lived in until the age of ten, but also that of my best friend, Patsy. I can also recite our civic addresses.

Now back to googling other people. In 1968, Franco Zeffirelli’s, Romeo and Juliette, which starred Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting (both names of which I can also recall with ease) was being shown in theaters across the country. The Shakespearean vernacular spoken by the actors was difficult to navigate through, but at the time I was wholly preoccupied with the unrequited lovers theme, and what appeared to be the flawless beauty of both actors. Barely understanding what they were saying to one another in Olde English seemed a moot point at the time.

Last night after bidding an affectionate buenas noches to Juan Diablo and googling my boring self, Olivia Hussey randomly popped into my head. With time to kill, I began wondering if the passage of forty six years might have altered my fourteen year old perception of flawless beauty. In 1968, the North American standard of beauty was narrow and ethnocentric. Television and the modeling industry were dominated by Caucasians, and almost a half century later we’ve yet to see parity.

I won’t lie to you, I’ve worshiped beauty like a golden calf, but in my own defense, not just the beauty of the human body. I also admire beautiful flowers, rainbows, the way things looks after a summer rain has fallen, and wide open prairie fields.

With regard to the beauty of humankind, it begins with the face, and particularly with the eyes. Whoever coined that old adage, “the eyes are the windows of the soul,” knew precisely what they were talking about. The eyes appear to say it all.

When I was fourteen, I couldn’t imagine two more perfect looking people; Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting. They subsequently became the standard of beauty by which I measured myself, and in doing so found myself miserably bereft.

When my mother left when I was ten, I lost the logical female role model who would have guided me gently through the rocky shores of adolescence. I was subsequently left to my own devices to try and sort things out. When my older sister suddenly announced one day that I was ugly while we were in the midst of doing dishes, me washing, and she drying, I therefore had no maternal recourse in which to solicit bull-shit assurances that it wasn’t true. Let’s face it. No mother thinks their child imperfect in any way.

From that day forward, I morphed into what I believed I was. Unbeautiful.

The mirror perched atop our cluttered dresser only served to back up my sister’s claims. I was too thin at a time when skinny was in no way considered vogue. My face was far too pale, my nose too ethnic, my hair a tangled birds nest, and my chest sub-standard in its refusal to put forth breasts. I was the girl those mean boys laughed at, making snide comments about my being flat as a board that no carpenter or anyone else for that matter would ever want to nail, and something about two fried eggs on a platter, an analogy lost on me at the time. I decided then and there that if I couldn’t be beautiful, then I would at least become invisible, folding into myself like a fan.

Then there was the issue of my school clothes, most of which were passed down to me from my older sister, who although only a year older than me, stood inches above me my tiny frame. By the time she had outgrown her apparel, they had become a hideous shade of tattle-tale grey, having been washed along with the whites. They were also too big for me as I hadn’t grown a single inch, and they were no longer in fashion, not that they had ever been to begin with.

The housekeepers my father hired when away for months at a time flying jet ranger helicopters in remote places, frankly couldn’t give a fiddlers fart about my wardrobe malfunctions, or the fact that my clothes were perpetually wrinkled due to never being ironed. The housekeepers were as perennial as summer grass and had been hired on the basis that they were women, somewhat attractive, had basic cooking skills, and agreed to sleep with my father from time to time. I am certain that nary a resume was ever handed in, and criminal record checks were virtually unheard of back then. Luckily for us, the housekeepers were mostly kind, nurturing, and interesting.

While Ruby could read the cards like a practiced charlatan, and explain the finer details of the facts of life to me, she was no help whatsoever with my flagging self esteem and notion that no boy would ever want me, so I kept my worries to myself. I was never going to be beautiful like Olivia Hussey, and would never net a prize like Leonard Whiting.

Last night after googling Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting and waiting for my heart to settle down into a regular rhythm, I was immediately rewarded by photos taken of them circa 1968, during their respective roles of Romeo and Juliette. Despite today’s changing standards of beauty, they both still took my breath away. They were as perfect as I rememberred them to be.

I hadn’t been wrong after all.

When I finally fell into a fitful sleep, I dreamt I was trying to leave my body so I could astro travel.

Yeah. I know.

Let’s talk boyz….

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It’s Friday, so let’s talk boyz, and by boyz, I mean men. You know….. the hopefully mature variety.

When I arrived at work this morning I noticed that my waste basket hadn’t been emptied in almost three days and evidence of at least three forbidden food groups were spilling over the top. Just before lunch a woman from house-keeping arrived to empty it. We got on the topic of me trying to sell my house, and I happened to mention that the house was far too big for me, and that after I had bought out my sister’s interest in it two years ago, decided to down-size. The house-keeper asked if I had a partner and I said, no. Then she said, ” And I bet it’s just as well that you don’t.” My immediate response without applying any filters was a definite, “Hell, yeah”.

It’s been almost two years since I’ve dated anyone, and in my mind I was clever enough to ensure the last dating adventure ended on a high note, with me leaving my delightful Cuban friend in Havana with an adios para siempre, augmented with a hug and kiss, and hasta luego……. or more to the point, let’s just be friends spiel. I know, I know. Cruel, but kind at the same time.

I live alone with an orange Tabby named Gus, who is somewhat needy and eccentric. I am required to keep his food bowl filled to the brim with Kibble, as well as keep a supply of fresh drinking water on hand. He possesses strange habits. For example, he routinely climbs up onto the bathroom counter and goes crazy on a bar of a soap the way a cow might go after a salt lick. The soap is perfumed, like most. Anyone who has ever had the misfortune, and might I say, inappropriate punishment of having their mouth washed out with soap as a kid, knows that no bar of soap is appetizing. Gus has yet to figure this one out, however. Another habit of his is to sit on the rug beside the bath tub whenever I am about to bathe. As soon as the taps have been turned off and I am comfortably stretched out and in relax mode, he stands upon his hind legs, staring at me with huge dilated pupils, insisting that I dribble hot bath water onto the edge of the tub so he can lap it up. This strange ritual requires at least 20-30 repetitions before he is willing to leave me alone.

Other demands and duties include the twice daily cleaning of his litter box, picking up the sundry toys that he has hauled all over the house and then discarded when he has grown bored of them, as well as my doling out ear scratches and pets, assuring him that he and he alone, is my one true love.

I know, right? Labor intensive.

Irena Dunn, an Australian writer, social activist and film maker once coined the phrase, ” A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” which was later co-opted by the feminist, Gloria Steinem.

During bored moments and during times in my youth when I briefly flirted with radical feminist ideology, I have to confess that I’d given this adage more than a little air-play. If I am being truly honest with myself, however, I have to admit that some of my choices in men may have been ill advised. Life has taught me that you can take a frog and dress him up in princely finery, but at the end of the day, he’s still a frog, and lord knows, I’ve kissed at least a bakers dozen of them in my time.

Don’t get me wrong, they still attract me with whatever”je nais se quoi” thing they’ve got going on that I’ve yet to figure out , and which I’m assuming has something to do with a perfect storm of male pheromones, tight pants, and my own brand of euphoric recall which allows me to conveniently forget why they are best held at arms length.

Which brings me to my attractive mechanic. Luckily for me I did the research and he is married, and probably happily so. What God has joined together, under no circumstances do I tear asunder, because I am NEVER going to be that woman. The home-wrecking kind. I leave those tactics to those less than desirable women belonging to the sisterhood.

Tonight the mechanic is taking off my snow tires and replacing them with summer ones. I gird myself in advance by putting on my best poker face, and allowing no aspect of my body language to indicate the increase in blood pressure, respirations and pulse when he takes time out from greasing axles to chat me up in the waiting room. I can be pure ninja, like that.

So, I don’t know if this blog has a point or not, but I’ve been recently casting about for a blog topic that excludes my whining about my ill health and prednisone, and my fear of developing a goatee over night. When the housekeeper conveniently provided a topic, I seized on it.

So there you have it. My thoughts regarding men.

In summary, even if my mechanic was single and available, I’d be secretly doing a reconnaissance and assessing for frog behavior. Is the tongue sticky, for example, and does he have a penchant for insects, spiders, and earth worms? Does he punctuate his sentences with croaks and ribbets, and are his natural enemies bats, racoons, turtles and snakes? A yes answer to any of the above would be an automatic no-go.

So here’s to frogs and men! God bless them every one.

As I live and breathe….

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I woke up this morning with a strong desire to euthanize myself. Is euthanize even a word?

From the moment my eyes popped open, and the room came into blurry focus, I could tell that my health, which incidentally has been the bane of my existence for the past two months, had further decompensated, accelerated by the fact that I have been trying to lower the dose of prednisone I am currently taking.

Prednisone is bad stuff. While it is suppressing the immune system in a bid to stop the body from attacking its own organs, it is also destroying said organs. It leaches calcium from the bones, thins the skin, causes acne, and makes the face swell, causing one to resemble Humpty Dumpty, or Mike Duffy (take your pick). Worst case scenario? I could wake up one morning to discover I am sporting a moustache. Kill me now, and call it a mercy killing.

I have an auto-immune disorder. To date the doctors cannot determine which particular one, because apparently there are hundreds, or possibly thousands of them. Mine has affected my eyes, lungs, throat, joints, heart and neurological system, creating weakness in my left leg and arm. When in an acute phase, I am rendered useless.

For anyone who knows me, useless and sedentary are two states incompatible with my character. When well, I am in constant motion.

Nap? What’s that? Napping is something that my friends do. They frequently extol its virtues on their Facebook updates. “Going for a nap, catch you on the flip-flop”. ” Just had a glorious two hour nap. Feel so refreshed now.”

I can nap at my leisure when I’m dead. Right now I’m bent on living. I have important shit to do, not the least which is maintaining a house and property, which requires mobility, dexterity, strength and time, all of which are needed in full measure and particularly after the winter from hell we recently experienced. In addition to those sundry tasks, I have a third novel to finish writing, new songs to record, and a strategy to devise for promoting the two novels I recently published. My house is also currently on the market, and once it sells I will be scouting for new digs. Packing up a house is no small task.

I was off work for a week and a half before I somewhat stabilized on the prednisone. All I could manage in my infirm state was to sit in a rocker and watch back to back episodes of the Mexican telenovela, Corazon Salvaje (Wild Heart). At first I followed along with the Spanish sub-titles, trying to read and interpret while the actors were speaking in rapid-fire Spanish. At episode 30, the sub-titles ran out and I was forced to pump up my listening comprehension. It didn’t take long before I was understanding almost everything that was being said. A strong motivating factor was my inability to do little else other than sit in a chair, and the fact that I was passionately in love with the main character, Juan Diablo.

Prednisone heightens emotions. One moment I would be weeping over Juan Diablo lying on a table from a gun-shot wound, and crying out for Monica, his one true love, and the next, raging at the cat for tangling himself underneath my feet whenever I would try to ambulate my way to the kitchen to grab more tissues. The litany of swear words that came out of my mouth was truly awe inspiring.

I’m edgy at work. Small things irritate me. I have a co-worker who likes to emphasize a point whenever she is sharing a charming, but boring anecdote, by jabbing at my side with her index finger. It’s all I can do not to break it.

In tandem with my prednisone driven irritability are nasty random episodes of heat flashes throughout the day. When they erupt out of nowhere, I am forced to cool myself with the help of a paper fan given to me by my mother (may she rest in peace) during those tropical moments when I was going through menopause. Were I not located in my office, guaranteed I would be shucking off my clothes right down to my underwear, a clearly inappropriate solution given my location.

When I’m not showily fanning myself and panting at my desk, I am doing random checks in the mirror to determine if my face has expanded or begun sprouting chin hairs.

Not to be undone by all of this, I am fighting back tooth and nail. When taking latrine breaks, I use the opportunity not only to tinkle, but to leverage myself off the sink with 50 push-ups, finished off by three sets of deep knee bends. Because I use the wash-room several times a day, I get in some serious work out time.

Before bed, I unroll my yoga mat and do 200 abdominal crunches, plus several routines of butt enhancing exercises. If the prednisone or auto-immune disorder decide to take me at some point, at least I will be in fighting form when I go.