My Dad

Better Half and I had the most wondrous afternoon. It was a total pleasure waking up late, without a care in the world in regard to schedules. The only solemn shadow was a fair bit of miserable news from Colorado.

I woke up to find that Better Half had already prepared the celery and onion for the stuffing mixture, and had toasted all the bread. It was a simple matter of combining everything together (with five dogs desperately hoping we would accidentally drop morsels) and getting the capon washed and loaded. Our other side dishes were quick to make, and we opted to put work on them off until later that day.

We had just settled down for a quick game of cribbage when the phone rang. I was not expecting any calls today, and so I was rather surprised to hear my Mum’s voice echoing through my Dad’s business cell phone. (They had gone to Sonja’s house for the holiday, and were not due home until much later on.)

“Dad’s in the hospital,” she said, and it took a fair bit of questioning to sort everything out.

Apparently, after the dinner, he had missed a step while carrying two loaded platters of food to their friends’ kitchen. He fell forward, smacking the countertop headfirst, which shattered the porcelain plate, lacerating himself in the process. First of all, my Dad is as cute as a button, and the thought of him incapacitated in any fashion sends chills down my spine. At this point, the news was that he had cut his hand and face.

That was bad news Round One.

Round Two: he did not just “cut” his hand and face. The porcelain severed a nerve and tendon in his left hand (his dominant hand, and the very one he had recently has surgery on!) In addition, they had to remove bits of china from his face. One of the guests, who had EMT training, helped to stabilize my Dad (who is prone to going into shock over the sight of blood), and their friends called 911. The paramedics and firemen walked in to view a scene of absolute gore: a nearly full plate of turkey scattered all about the kitchen floor and blood everywhere. They assessed the situation and transported Dad to Penrose in an ambulance. Sonya drove their car so my Mum, who has panic attacks in traffic, could be with him.

My father is a noble man, and I think that his pride was the worst casualty of the evening up until that point. We are very well mannered as a rule, and I could almost visualize him apologizing for ruining a cherished china plate (and for making a mess on the tile) as he lay on the floor. I certainly know that he felt terrible for it, and rather embarrassed. He tired to make light of the situation by offering a polite laugh about “never thinking he’d spend the afternoon laying on their friends’ floor”, or something like that, according to Mum. At the hospital, he also asked how long it would be before they would discharge him, as he really had hoped to have dessert.

Round Three: (our dinner is over by now, and we are eating our pie) The surgeon attending to Dad has urged him to call Dr. Bach ASAP, as the damage to the hand is extensive. Dad went through two hours of suturing, both to his face and hand, under local anesthetic. They removed the porcelain from his face, and reattached the flap of his nostril where it had been severed at the septum (that is the middle of your nose, where it attaches right above your lip.) He also had lacerated the inside of his mouth (no broken teeth), and those wounds needed to be addressed. His cheekbone is intact, but his face is terribly bruised. They placed a temporary cast and Ace bandage on the hand, and Dad needs to return to Penrose tomorrow so that the Attending can reevaluate the sutured areas; there is concern of blood supply to the torn nostril.

I am stressed. I would fly in to Colorado Springs in a heartbeat, but booking a flight would be near impossible as there is nothing convenient for them. My father is 71, and still works, and they have only a few vacation days left. My mother can not drive in traffic (she is a road hazard, in my opinion), and if he has to undergo surgery, they will have to rely upon cabs or friends.

A very large part of me wants nothing more than to get in my car, drive to CO, and load all their possessions into a U-haul. There is no reason on God’s green earth as to why they can not move in with us, other than their protest of “not wanting to be a burden to us.” My frustration at this situation goes beyond simply “not being able to help”. They are clinging to “proper”. PROPER, do you hear me? They must have a separate office for my mother, who is a writer. They must have a separate TV room, as TVs do not belong in the parlor. They must have a parlor. They must have this, they must have that – and my father, at the age of 71, is busting his balls to make certain they have things set properly.

I will keep you updated, Dear Readers. Should you not hear from me for a few days, it is because I am in Colorado.

Please forgive the lack of usual polish to this entry.


Hello Blogland. This is your host, the Bemused Muse, signing in after several months of wretchedly sporadic posting.

I do feel badly that I have taken such a long sabbatical from this blog. I have lost several readers, to be certain. I wish to offer my admiration to those of you who have “hung in there” with me. Your thoughts, email, ecards and thoughtfulness are very much appreciated. Better Half gets my biggest hug, for he has taken care of me, and occasionally slips out to buy me the sweetest cards.

Quite a few of you have asked if this illness was a temporary thing. In all honesty, I can not say. Were we to study illness in a healthy person, the graphed results would be very similar to a “‘V”, with the lowest tip of that letter indicating the “bottoming out” of those feelings of being sick, and then a sharp rise back to peak health. I have calculated that my own graph would resemble a flight of stairs leading down. As I descend, I hit a landing and plod along at that level for quite some time before I eventually descend again. The well-wishing phrase “get better soon” seems to not apply suitably to my situation. I do have a dear friend, whom I call “The Ox”, that often states “Don’t get any worse soon.” I find that pretty much sums it up. Thank you, Ox.

I have been somewhat discouraged recently. That is not to say that I am feeling depressed, but rather that I am encountering frustration in that I seem to be unable to get anything done around the house. I am one of the few people who would prefer to convalesce in a hospital, as it has room service and remains fairly clean! Thanksgiving is right around the bend, and I hold back tears as I glance around my office: dog fur rolls on the gentle draft from the heater vent, a layer of dust smothers all my books, whilst papers and articles (SHIT and SCHMUTZ) are piled on the floors. My bedroom fairs no better, with its own coating of dust. The upstairs hall makes me wince. The bathroom resembles (in my mind’s eye) a shrine to a truck stop men’s room. Debris rules the top level of this home, and it will take some exertion to set things to rights.

I can take enormous pleasure in stating that my downstairs has remained pristine. It required little else but a good polish and vacuuming in the wee hours of Saturday morning, and although I was left rather fatigued for my efforts, I am pleased that I can invite company inside without fearing stern calls to my Mother over my lack of good housekeeping. (Said guests shall hold their pee, as no one will be permitted to use the bathroom upstairs!)

When one has no control over their own body, one is often in a situation where one craves control of other things instead. If only I could get Better Half to comprehend how much easier I would breath knowing that the office, bedroom, spare room and bath were clean. HINT HINT to Better Half. For Christ’s sake, throw me a rope, will you?

I shall be fair and say that much of the debris by my desk is there because of my own doing. I have newspapers that I had intended to read, as well as a mix of books ~ they are only on the floor because Better Half piled shit in front of the bookcases. My bedroom nightstand has it’s own pile of books in front of it, and I actually am reading all of them. The bathroom counter has a few odds and ends cluttering it up, and a bit of laundry on the floor. My house is not disgusting by social standards. However, I am a “neat freak”, so even one stray glass sitting on a table will piss me off. As I look around, I can count (in my office, which is also our TV room now): 2 glasses, 4 mugs, several plastic water bottles that have not found the trash, and my bowl of soup (which I am currently eating.) I tremble just having to type this.

What would it take to grab up all this junk and haul it downstairs? Unfortunately, it would take a hell of a lot of effort on my part, as even the simple act of breathing hurts.

Now we come to those landings that I mentioned earlier. I create them, in part. I get to the point where I actually do say, “Fuck this!” I allow my stubborn side to take over, even if it kills me, and I “DO” whatever it takes, not matter the cost to me. I believe the best term would be “Suck it up and drive on.” The alternative is to allow depression to creep in and settle.

I faced this challenge yesterday. I was almost to the point of admitting defeat, of giving in and not bothering to try anymore. I had pushed myself to my maximum level on Friday, and had emerged from the struggle bearing nasty wounds and sharp reminders that I am not able to push myself as hard as I used to.

I should explain:

Better Half had to undergo a root canal on Friday, and his clinic is up in Pittsburgh. He would not be able to drive himself due to pre-treatment medications. This meant that I had to not only drive him, but I also had to operate the vehicle sans any pain medications. I have already been suffering the muscle spasms for several weeks, but fate decided that I should also go through my normal 28-day angst. (See this entry here for an explaination of that hell.) It was with a insincerely chipper face that I loaded Better Half into the Vue and sped off to Pittsburgh early Friday morning. I maintained my dignity, chatted cheerfully with the doctor and her assistant, and smiled kindly as we stopped off at the Harp after he was through. I had tuned out my body; this mental state is critical when things Must Be Done. Is it a skill that I mastered long ago, and it consists of 3 parts meditation and 1 part theatrical talent. In a social setting, no one will hear me scream.

I sucked down my meds minutes within arriving at home, and retreated to my bed as better half hunkered down in the spare room to rest after his ordeal. Needless to say, I spent several hours crying and rocking, my mind too weary to play the “I don’t feel it” game. There is a numb feeling one’s mind experiences when one is in pain. It is called shock. Although my muscles were relaxed and my physical pain had subsided, my mind was still shocky when Better Half got up from his nap. I thoroughly appreciated that the apex of his molar was throbbing like a son of a bitch, however I just was in no condition to do anything about it (and were I in such a condition, there would be little that I could have done as it is.)

Better Half opted to sleep in the spare room (no skin off my nose, thank you very much) and I found myself feeling the first twinges of depression as I looked around the upstairs. There are walls to be painted, in addition to the need for general cleaning. I had hoped that we would at least have all the painting done prior to Christmas this year. I did what any normal person would do at 3 am. I went downstairs and rolled up my sleeves, determined to let the pain fuel me instead of sucking at my resolve. “Besides,” I lied to myself, “I took my meds. I won’t feel it.” The upstairs, as a matter of principle, would have to wait until Better Half was awake and feeling more like himself.

Saturday, I awoke with the intense desire to beat the living shit out of myself for my spontaneous cleaning efforts earlier that morning. I glanced at the clock, which proclaimed it to be well after 10 am, and rolled back to sleep. I decided to just give in to the depression.

At 2 PM, Better Half came in with a smile and a box. “Wake up! Wake up!” What a curious thing! He found a pair of scissors and helped snip away the packing tape, and I opened the lid to find the most beautiful bouquet of mixed roses and a vase.

Needless to say, I was floored.

I have a delightful friend in Canada, whom I affectionately think of as The Fabulous Miss M (TFMM or MM, for short, though many know him as Mw or Michael), whom had heard that I was going through hell. His timing could not have been more perfect! I love roses, to begin with, and having over a dozen of them arrive in the post yesterday afternoon was just the thing to beat back any silly notions of “giving in”.

Better Half snipped the bottoms of the stems for me and I did my best to arrange them in a pretty fashion in the vase. (Note: for those who do not know me well, I will tell you up front that this is a feminine skill that I apparently lack.) We placed them on the bar in the living room (and I have found all sorts of excuses to go all the way downstairs in order to look at them or inhale their aroma.)

I had no choice but to get out of bed and call him, of course! I couldn’t locate his number, and I made the resolve to pick up the books and papers and look for it later that day (but I did go online and offer a quick email of absolute gratitude!) Then it occurred to me: I had resolved to do something.

It was not a resolve made to stave off depression; it was an honest resolve spoken from my heart out of a desire to achieve something. I had a tiny goal.

What other tiny goals could I build upon that single desire? It would not be too much effort to ask Better Half to help me sort out the bedroom and bath. It certainly would be no effort to bake that pumpkin bread on Monday. As a matter of fact, Better Half and I made a huge pot of chicken soup yesterday evening, and then I rested my body and worked on a short review of a friend’s book for Amazon (Pastor Rad, it posted this afternoon.)

Tomorrow, I shall endeavor to get the upstairs straightened out. If Better Half would be so kind as to bring up some boxes on Friday, we can begin decorating for the Holidays, as well.

I am not back fully, but I have returned. Thank you, TFMM!


Sunday Scribblings #34 - Hero

"Hero". That is the topic of Sunday Scribblings: #34.

Main Entry: he·ro Pronunciation: 'hir-(")O
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural heroes
Etymology: Latin heros, from Greek hErOs
1a : a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability b : an illustrious warrior c : a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities d : one that shows great courage
2 a : the principal male character in a literary or dramatic work b : the central figure in an event, period, or movement
3 plural usually heros : SUBMARINE 2
4 : an object of extreme admiration and devotion : IDOL

I am sure there will dozens of entries concerning God, fathers, husbands, mothers, wives, sons, daughters, siblings, grandparents, teachers, mentors, coworkers, firemen, policemen, friends, sports stars, pets - a nearly endless list!

Rather than participate in hero worship ~ become a hero yourself. Heroes are necessarily strong, brave warriors with noble qualities and a Dudley Doright winning grin. Heroes do no swoop down in the nick of time, plucking you from certain doom. A hero is someone who humbly steps out of his own walk in life in order to be of benefit to another. A police officer helping a young child would certainly be a hero to that child. A fireman saving a kitten from a tree is likewise a hero. A mother who tenderly kisses her child's kneecap after she cleans a skinned knee? Hero!

Do not look for heroes in the world around you. Instead, become a hero. Seek not glory, fame or recognition, but act out of the goodness of your heart.

1. Volunteer to read to children - that child may grow to love books.
2. Go
to a senior center and offer to sit quietly and listen - you may be the last
person who takes the time to visit with them before they pass on.
3. Mentor
someone - teach them skills they will use for a lifetime.
4. Donate a toy
for a Christmas toy drive, or donate food - your gift may be the only treat they
have on Christmas day.
5. Offer to give someone a ride to the dentist or
doctor - you might spare them driving in a bad state.
6. Allow someone to go
ahead of you in line at the grocery market - those precious extra ten minutes
might get them home to their family much quicker.
7. Offer to hold a door
for someone - your lesson in manners will help the younger generation learn that
one should never be so busy and self-absorbed that courtesy can be tossed aside.
8. Look for ways that you can improve things around your community - there
is always a need!
9. Set a good example by living the good example - never
ask more from someone else than you would be willing to give personally.
10. Laugh often.

That is my two-cents this week.

REVIEW: Triptych of Terror

It is with trembling pleasure that I give you (FINALLY) my review of Triptych of Terror, a horror anthology featuring the works of John Michael Curlovich, Michael Rowe, and David Thomas.

Michael Rowe's "In October" is by far the most enthralling of all three tales. It is delightfully disturbing and dark, with realistic main characters and a well-paced plot line in which readers find themselves drawn into Mikey Childress' world from the very first page. Michael Rowe is the Rembrandt of his genre, painting a mosaic of teenage angst amidst the backdrop of a small town insular high school populace subjugated by pitiless tormentors. His approach is both superbly erotic and chilling, and the ending unquestionably tugs at the heartstrings.

I graciously recommend this anthology. Rowe fans will not be disappointed.

Triptych of Terror - buy it now at!

Triptych of Terror


Sunday Scribblings #33 - I don't want to be a passenger in my own life."

The prompt for Sunday Scribblings this week is a quote: "I don't want to be a passenger in my own life." (Diane Ackerman, picture on left.)

Ackerman has a few quotes out there, and of course it is always best to read her entire works to obtain a better grasp of the concept she is attempting to flesh out. She is an intriguing author to me, if only for priceless gems such as "When I go biking I am mentally far far away from civilization. The world is breaking someone else's heart."

I have chosen to focus on the quote, rather than launch into her work itself. Whereas we could interpret the quote from a variety of angles, contemplating everything from our desire to maintain control of our lives to allowing a supernatural force function as our co-pilot, I think it's best to consider how we often surrender our lives to the winds of fate, be it by our own will or by a cruel twist of life itself.

Long ago, I discovered that I can not become the master of my own destiny. I could set a goal for myself, and strive to complete it. If I poured my life energy into that task, I would certainly achieve my desires, but at a cost. We, as humans, demand order. We desire stability. We thirst unquenchably for the ability to take the reigns and set our own pace. We, as humans, are fools, for we beat our heads on the wall when our pathway to achievement is interrupted. We allow ourselves to become depressed - to have something depress us into a state of non-doing. We thrash and lament and scream curses to God, or fate, or our neighbor.

I am a firm disciple of
Tao and Chaos Theory. To hell with being in control.

What exactly is chaos? The name "chaos theory" comes from the fact that the systems that the theory describes are apparently disordered, but chaos theory is really about finding the underlying order in apparently random data. To make a long story short: it's the butterfly effect. It's fractals. It's setting out to do one thing, and taking a side journey. It's a pool table where the ball never rolls exactly the same way twice, due to imperfections on the surface of the ball as well as the felt on the table.

Does the flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas? It is quite possible. Is it Tao? Most certainly.

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao;
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
These two spring from the same source but differ in name;
this appears as darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gate to all mystery.

Please do not confuse the philosophical thinking of Tao with some strange Buddhist chanting or religion. To be Tao is to be one with everything, while being one with nothing. It is to bend like a blade of grass in the wind, but to also be the wind that bends the blade. Tao is the way. All things are Tao.

Chaos itself is a buffeting, hard-to-project force. A = B = C and eventually C will divide into C1, C2, C3, which in turn each shall branch into C1AB, C2AB etc. We can not hope to plot the entire course, as we do not always know when life will toss in a fractal. In a single sneeze, a parallel universe can be born or destroyed.

Tao (the philosophy) is the ability to go with the flow of chaos theory. If your favorite tea cup shatters, all the screaming in the world will not restore it. You have two options: you may scream and rant and pick up the pieces, or you may acknowledge that the cup is forever broken, grieve a moment for that cup, and continue with your life.

For the benefit of my own sanity (for my mother will surely call and give me an earful!), I will also address a principle that helps many people deal with the chaotic nature of life: faith. To a Christian, Faith is Tao, for God is Tao. God is all things, and the Way. Only God, a supreme being, can know the order of Chaos, for it is his hand which sets things in motion. His will is done because his intelligence far outstrips our puny, mortal minds. When Christians pray, they should pray to seek an understanding of God's way; to be one with his will. We will never receive what God does not already have in store for us. That is only Tao. We are trusting God to get us through the chaos in motion.

Ackerman does not wish to be the passenger in her own life. I prefer to sit back and experience things as they happen. I go with the flow, and hence I have very little stress. I could never be so foolish as to think that I can drive my own fate.

As an example: I have been working on several short stories, with no real agenda, timeline or purpose. I am ghostwriting an adaptation of a three-act play my mother wrote, as well as working on some Paleontological musings, in addition to a fantasy genre novel. I have certainly felt as if I am beating my head on the wall, for there isn't enough time in the day to do it all, and I have felt no real desire to write anything. Chaos takes over, and I throw up my hands and say 'it is Tao'; I ride the winds of fate and allow the stress cause by my inability to focus to simply melt away. I give in to fate, and apply a little faith.

A week or so ago, a dear friend, Michael Rowe, read through a parody I was toying with (for shits and grins. No real desire for it to ever see the publics' eyes.) He offered to include me in the third series of a well-known horror anthology that may or may not get off the ground (it's up to the publisher and other powers-that-be.) First, I was honored and humbled that he believed in my talents. Second, I have never written horror, and the challenge to do so has inspired me. Third, by focusing on this new genre, I have allowed my mind to settle concerning the other works in progress. I can now flip back and forth between the horror short story (which is quickly becoming a damned novel unto itself as I fill in the outline - send in the editors, please!) and the project that I am ghostwriting. My chaos has order once again. The experience will allow me to gain experience with the actual writing for publication process, which in turn will allow me to flounder less as I strive to complete The Decision for publication.

And so, with all due respect to Ackerman, I am more than willing to be the passenger in my own life. I not only have the chance to enjoy the views, but I am swept along the scenic route against my will, and the enrichment obtained from it is indeed breathtaking.


Sunday Scribblings #32 - Mornings

I don't do mornings.

The end.