persimmonfrost: (caddy)

 

Gustave Doré's illustration to Dante's Inferno...

Gustave Doré’s illustration to Dante’s Inferno. Plate XXII: Canto VII: The hoarders and wasters. Oh yes, there’s a place in hell for the likes of me.

I spent all last week cleaning my bedroom.  A week, you ask in horror, imagining a scene from “Hoarders?”  Well yeah, and there’s a reason why.  Several, really, that I’ve been thinking a lot about as I schlepped and dusted and mopped and sorted.

I’m coming up on the five year anniversary of moving here.  Before that I’d spent about fifteen years caring for my parents in a home that became increasingly cluttered due to… well a lot of things.  They were in the antique and resale business for more than 50 years, and kept quite a lot of wonderful stuff for themselves (and me.)  When Dad retired, a lot more stuff came upstairs, got stored in the basement or out in the garage. (I don’t even like to think about the fact that I walked away from a full garage and a half-filled basement when I moved.)  And as their health deteriorated, we added a lot of home health clutter to the mix.

Housework became an exercise in simply keeping up with the increasing mess, keeping critical things like kitchen, bath and bedrooms clean and relatively neat.  Dementia, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression and a host of other, more minor ailments are not tidy afflictions.  You don’t cough delicately into a lace hanky and swoon on a velvet couch.  There are pills, and ointments, syringes, bandages, adult diapers, walkers, hospital beds, oxygen concentrators, canes, gait belts, commodes, and more dirty towels and garbage than you can begin to imagine. There are the useful gadgets to help with routine tasks and the not-so-useful gadgets that waste time, money and emotional energy.  There are piles of magazines and newspapers, piles of laundry and mail, stacks of games and toys intended to, if not improve cognitive function then at least slow the loss. We even had some sort of machine that was supposed to help Mom’s hip knit. (The bone never solidified.  Or something. What I recall of those days is imperfect.)  In short it’s a long, messy business and once it’s over there is a fantastic amount of stuff left, in this case on top of an already fantastic amount of stuff.

All of which is to say nothing of my own clutter, all the stuff I had, all the stuff I bought to make myself feel better.  (Bad habit.  Working on breaking it.)  When my folks passed I was left with a over 4,000 sq. ft. of stuff piled on stuff.

I promptly got about as sick as I’d ever been in my life, and while I was in a decongestant-induced haze I had a dealer come in and take what amounted to about 1/3rd of the stuff to sell. The money stopped coming a year or so ago, so I assume it all sold or has been given to charity. I sold a bunch of stuff on eBay.  And when I moved I still had about 4000 sq. ft. of stuff to move into about 2200 sq. ft. of space.  So for five years I’ve had boxes of stuff

Caddy looking down at his momstacked almost everywhere in this apartment.  Why? Well chalk some of it up to being lazy.  And depressed.  My family was gone and about eighteen months after I moved, my beloved Caddy died, too.

But I also think that some of this reluctance to get on with living here was because I simply didn’t know how or even if I wanted to.  It was an enormous change that I never really wanted to make.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I did, all things considered.  But the whole process was something I never felt ready to cope with.

Our Alter Egos

Little by little I’ve been easing into this new place. We have a garden, and every time we plant a rose bush it’s really an act of faith.  The basement is finished.  We’ve gotten to know our neighbors. (Many of whom we both love to pieces.)  I’ve got a couple of rooms painted.  And last week I got everything in my bedroom squared away.  (Okay, to be fair, I still have one tote to empty, but it’s the odds and ends of cleaning. And the room needs painting.)  I’m building a sense of belonging that I desperately need if I ever want to feel at home here.

I love this place.  I don’t ever want to leave.  I think if I ever needed to leave it would kill me.  I suppose that would solve the problem, wouldn’t it?  I just need to let myself feel like it’s home.

This is what helps:

Spring

Glinda and the bathtub full of coffee

Glinda and the bathtub full of coffee (Photo credit: Tracy Rowan)

Christmas 2012

 

 

 

 

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persimmonfrost: (caddy)
Brian Blessed

BOLLOCKS!

So about seven this morning I’m awakened by Brian Blessed shouting “BOLLOCKS!” which is my text alert.  It took me about a minute to even process this since the only person who ever texts me is Glinda who should have been on her way to work.  Turns out she’s outside, freaking out about the hissing sound coming from the new gas meter/pipes outside. I step out in my tee and undies (Yes, I sleep in a tee and panties, deal.) with my wrist braces still on, listen, hear the hissing and race back inside before anyone else sees me.  Promise to find out what’s going on.

Now every other morning since the dawn of time it seems, the gas company has been out here by 7:30 or so, tearing up the street, but today?  No sign of them.  So finally I call and talk to a woman who keeps asking me to describe the noise.  I keep saying “Hissing.” She keeps asking.  Says to call back when I hear it again and hold the phone to the pipes so she can hear it too.  I hang up, text Glinda that I think it’s okay because nobody seems very worried.  She remains unconvinced.

About 8:45 the workers show up to install the meter next door.  I race out — yes, I’m actually dressed by now — and ask the guy who I talked to a couple of days ago when the thing was installed.  He’s about ten feet away and I say, “Is this thing supposed to be making this noise?” and he knows exactly what I’m talking about.  Turns out it’s totally normal; it’s the sound of the pressure being reduced as the gas goes from medium pressure external lines into lower pressure internal ones.  So good, we’re not going to blow up today. I email Glinda to that effect.  She asks if that came from the crew.

LOL, I thought I was the paranoid one.

Anyway now I’m up.  I’m not really what you’d call awake, but I’m up and I keep thinking I should do something constructive.  I’m trying to finish a book (3000 words to go) and for a particular reason it’s got to be done this week.  But I’m so tired I don’t know that I can think straight.

House on Haunted Hill

I stayed up late last night because I got involved watching The House on Haunted Hill which I’d never seen before.  A William Castle horror extravaganza, it was one of those big, dopey horror flicks in which there’s not an IQ over 50 in the bunch which is good because if anyone had a brain there’d be no movie.  And here’s the thing that really made me want to fling my shoe at the TV: Through the whole film one character spends all his time warning the others about the ghosts.  However virtually everything that happens is as a result of human not ghostly action, so when at the end he says “They’re coming for me next.” I’m like “Dude, are you high? You just got told who did the murders and it wasn’t ghosts.  Get a grip!”

Why did I start watching?  Well I’d caught the last half of The Haunting earlier in the evening, and when that was over,

Cover of "The Haunting"

The Uninvited came on.  The Haunting is one of my favorite films, and for my money one of the best horror films ever made.  I refer, of course, to the 1963 original with Claire Bloom and Julie Harris, not the horrifically bad remake which turned a wonderful, tight, scary story by Shirley Jacksoninto a nonsensical hack-and-slash fest.

 

The Uninvited came on right after The Haunting, and it’s been years since I’d seen it, so I thought I’d make a night of it.  It wasn’t as good as I remembered, but it was fun.  By the time it was over I was pretty much stuck to my chair which was why I stayed up.  I very nearly decided to follow up with Dead of Night but common sense prevailed and I set it to record instead.  The Innocents was on after that, but I’d seen it recently, and much as I enjoy it, I wasn’t in the mood to rewatch it again this soon.

I think I had a point somewhere along the way about the nature of horror and real-life fear, but I’m not quite remembering what it was, and what I do  remember doesn’t seem nearly as profound as it did when I was stumbling around here in my underwear trying to find a number for the gas company.  I think the bottom line, for me anyway, is that like any  other kind of movie, horror just makes me forget that there is anything bad out there.  I suppose that’s why Glinda and I have a pact.  If either of us is ever in the hospital dying, the other will make sure that the Lord of the Rings trilogy (And probably The Hobbit) is playing as non-stop as we can manage.  If I’m going to go like that, I want to feel as if I’m headed towards Middle-Earth, not some hole in the ground, thank you very much.

 

Cate Blanchett portrays Galadriel in The Lord ...

Go back to bed

 

 

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persimmonfrost: (caddy)

First big news is that I’ve sold a novella to Dreamspinner Press.  The title is “The Vampyre’s Revenge” and here’s a little teaser for you:

Frank went out one night to pick up a pizza and came home a vampire. It wasn’t what he’d imagined. He’d assumed vampires would be scarier, like the ones on Buffy with their game faces and all. But the vampire who turned him was Mrs. Carlson, his sweet-faced, elderly landlady who lived downstairs, grew roses and fed stray cats.

That night, as he was on his way up the stairs, she stopped him and said she thought there was a cat in the garden who was hurt and would he please help her? And then she’d lured him out to the old garden shed where she’d said “I’m terribly sorry to do this to you, Franklin, but I’m afraid I need to drink a little bit of your blood.” Then she’d held him down, this tiny little white-haired lady who looked like his grandmother, and she’d bitten his neck and drunk his blood.

When she finished, she wiped her mouth on a red-flowered handkerchief (“The blood doesn’t show as much.”) she’d had tucked down the front of her plaid house dress and said “Thank you, dear. Now you won’t tell anyone about this, will you?” Then she patted his cheek.

“Is that it?” Frank asked as he followed her out of the shed. He didn’t even feel much different. A little weak, but otherwise unchanged.

“Is what it?”

“Well, I thought there’d be more to someone drinking my blood.”

“Really? Like what?”

“I don’t know… that you’d be scarier or I’d feel different. Or you’d get all young-looking after you fed.”

Mrs. Carlson laughed. “Franklin, how long have you known me? I’m an old woman. “She shook her head. “Why don’t you come in the house and I’ll give you some tea; you’ll feel better after a nice cup of hot tea. Bring your pizza along, will you? It smelled awfully good and I always get a bit peckish after feeding.” Frank didn’t know if he found that funny or not.

I’m pretty juiced about it.  It should be coming out in late winter/early spring.  I’ll post more details when I know them.

Souvenir de Malmaison

Souvenir de Malmaison (Photo credit: Tracy Rowan)

Also, I finally got the rose I’d been coveting for decades now.  The name is “Souvenir de Malmaison” and it’s a very old Bourbon rose with a heavenly scent.  Stories about the rose vary from source to source.  I’ve heard it said that it was Josephine de Beauharnais‘ (The Empress, Josephine, the “godmother of modern roseomaniacs” ) favorite rose, and also heard it said that it was only named after her rose garden at Malmaison.  This information comes from A Guide to Antique Roses:

“Originally known as ‘Queen of Beauty and Fragrance’ this rose received its present name when one of the Grand Dukes of Russia obtained a specimen from the gardens at Malmaison for the Imperial Garden in St. Petersburg. ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ produces large, flat, quartered blossoms with petals of pale, almost flesh colored pink, and a delightful fragrance. The compact bush rarely grows more than three feet, seemingly spending all its energy on blooming rather than growing.”

Français : portrait (inachevé?) de Josephine d...

Français : portrait (inachevé?) de Josephine de Beauharnais par Prud’hon, situé à la Malmaison (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In keeping with our habit of giving our roses names, we’ve named this one “Josephine” in honor of the woman who is her godmother in spirit if not in fact.

The Japanese beetle adult--an attractive pest....

Alas, all is not mazel in Roselandia. Glinda noticed that Therese was being chewed, and this afternoon I discovered the culprit, a gorgeous, golden Japanese beetle.  I confess I dispatched him as quickly as I could, but hopes for an easy fix were dashed when I read about their mating habits.  So it’s milky spore and nematodes for us in the spring, and a couple of beetle traps for us now.  I put up with a lot in the interest of having a welcoming garden for our bees, butterflies, birds, etc., but I will not have my roses eaten, even if the diner is as handsome as the bug I picked off of Therese today.

Ornamental Chives

Ornamental Chives (Photo credit: Tracy Rowan)

Karen rose

Karen rose (Photo credit: Tracy Rowan)

Our Alter Egos

Our Alter Egos (Photo credit: Tracy Rowan)

 

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Tracy Rowan

August 2013

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