icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Mom went with her book club on safari to Kenya for her birthday.

"Take lots of pictures!" her friends begged.

She made noncommittal noises, oh hmm, yes, that would be nice.

In thirty-five years of marriage it had always been her ex-husband behind the camera. Anyone who knew her would expect a roll of pictures of the hotel--and maybe the airport--all shot on the last day. No way was she sticking a camera between her and what she'd come to see.

But surprise, surprise. On her return, she posted dozens of gorgeous professional quality pictures of the animals and places she saw ... along with one or two crappy snapshots of the group.

I teased her about one with a National Geographic watermark. "I didn't notice that," she admitted. "It's a nice photo, isn't it?"

She didn't take any pictures. Not even at the airport. When she got home she just googled the places she'd been. "Oh, yes, that looks like the hippos we saw!" -- and posted them to Facebook. "How can you experience anything when you're behind a camera?" she explained.

"Great photos!" her friends said.
"They are, aren't they?" she answered.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Is it wrong?

When a friend's wife had her first kid, I got properly enthusiastic.

But now that they've been popping out one every year or two, as the baby pictures make the rounds on Facebook (again) all I can think is, "What? Another?"

I can see they planned to have a big family. It just brings home how fast a year goes and the remarkable rate of speed humans can reproduce.

At least we don't have litters.

ETA: So of course, what's posted on Jetsunma's blog today? A teaching on how we automatically judge. Ow. And Heh.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Dad's a funny guy.

He emails that he's going on vacation to California! Enthusiasm! TMI about his plans there. Lots of cancellations at some hotel in Yosemite where Steve Jobs had his honeymoon, ain't it swell?


This Yosemite?

I send him links to satellite photos of the fire. "You might want to rethink that, dad."

He writes back, "Don't worry, it6 says right on the receipt – it's a non-smoking room."
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Regarding my cousin Savion, who committed suicide March 1st:

I'm declaring a moratorium on the phrase "don't blame yourself" (oft repeated to family members who've had a relative commit suicide). That phrase is now being shipped to all people going through divorces instead: they could use it. In a divorce everyone one's blaming everyone else.

But fantasizing about what you could've done differently I find is inherent to the grieving process in the case of suicide. It's natural. It's normal. It's to be expected. It's not something you can prevent or, I think, should prevent. And it feels terrible to be told that I shouldn't do this.

So. Good intentions accepted. Phrase "don't blame yourself" for future reference: delete it. Stick with the time-honored "I'm sorry for your loss." It's a good phrase, none the worse for having been used before.

Unrelated: In Keystone XL pipeline news ... I'm putting this link here, where I can find it later: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/globallaborinstitute/research/upload/GLI_KeystoneXL_012312_FIN.pdf

Now if the purring cute kitty would just let me get dressed so I can go out to my prayer shift, that would be good. (Ooooh, but he's so sweet. Maybe another minute or two. Who needs a shower?)
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
I love my little apartment. The kitty boys are great. My aunt and uncle and I seem to get along well; I appreciate all they've done for me; they appreciate that I pay my rent and am quiet and unobtrusive.

Then my cousin and her boyfriend moved in with their new baby.

Picture getting pregnant the first week of dating. Picture a boyfriend from a hick town in West Virginia, orphaned, raised by his grandparents, who's only nineteen (she's twenty-three). Picture the grandparents kicking him out when they learned he got a girl pregnant. Picture this is the second child he's fathered since he was seventeen -- and you both find out about child number one when he's served papers. Picture living in a trailer with him while he works at the chicken factory where you met and his falling asleep with the baby unattended. Picture almost rupturing the stitches from your C-section because you're not getting much help. Picture moving in with your parents because you've come close enough to injuring yourself that the doctor won't let you even pick up the baby. Imagine then diving back and forth to stay with your boyfriend on weekends and your parents during the week (it's an all-day drive there and back, and your parents foot the very expensive bill).

Then picture the slumlord of a trailer owner fumigating some mice, but leaving the bodies to rot and stink the place up. Every time the heat comes on (in November)....

So she and the boyfriend move in, though he has to leave his job at the chicken factory to do so. There goes their one income. He is nineteen and immature and handles his departure from the job badly, by not showing up several days in a row and declaring to his employers that he's looking for work in Maryland. Being fired for cause means he's penalized on his unemployment -- can't collect it right away -- and declaring he's living out of state means he can't collect it from his former state at all. He doesn't understand this and just feels screwed over.

So she gets a low-paying job while he haphazardly looks for work. He gets a job at Sam's Club, but at one that's too far away, there's no public transportation from here to there, and he neither drives nor has a car (she does, but she has to go to her job). Instead of explaining this to the company and turning down the job (he thinks he'll get in trouble for it), he just no-shows for several days and gets fired. His child support of the other baby is piling up and he hasn't followed the advice to inform the state that he's unemployed.

I talk to the two about going to community college and taking advantage of their incredibly low rent ($300) to lay a better foundation. She's filed her FAFSA. He's interested, but also talked to me about how he could be a pro wrestler or, if he could put the stories in his head on paper, a writer who'd have plenty of money.

Picture the two not exactly joyously in love, her overreacting to little things in his handling of the baby (but it's not about the baby), his yelling and slamming things. Add to the tensions his sending texts last month (on her cellphone) looking for girls who are "feeling nasty." She broke up with him, then took him back the following day.

While we were away at the funeral they managed to break the footrest on the couch and screw up my aunt's laptop.

I work nights and weekends. People are in bed or calmly watching TV by the time I'm home. Usually.


This morning I was cuddled under the blankets with a kneading and purring Rothy kitty. I had to rearrange a sweater to protect my stomach from the sharp, picky claws of an enthusiastic happy!catTM. The gas fireplace was on. Junior popped up onto my pillow, not realizing Rothy was under the blanket (or hoping to get in on the snuggle action), so was caught off-guard and got yowled at by Rothy.

That's when the argument started upstairs. His voice: swearing, shouting at her (I could hear it through the floor and a closed door). He slammed his fists on what was probably the kitchen counter. Her snapping back at him, haughty and victorious.

Now the fireplace is back on. I'm snuggled next to Junior thinking their relationship is doomed. Their fights are vicious, not aimed at a resolution, but fighting each other to win. There never seems to be an actual end to the fights, just a temporary truce.

I just hope they both manage to finish college or at least a technical certificate before it all blows up. In the meantime, it's a crappy way to wake up in the morning.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Mom grew sick of hearing my stepdad brag. He'd driven DC to Detroit in eight hours (normally a ten hour trip).

"No one'll beat that!"

There's only so much smugness you can take.

She borrowed his 300Z (same car he'd made his own record). It was a night drive so she knew traffic would be clear. The Z had a radar detector. (Another reason for his record.)

She didn't say she intended to shut him up. She just made sure she had witnesses at both ends -- the first witness being him.

In the car she'd packed food, shaving off all food stops. Night meant fewer times she had to slam the breaks at the bleeping radar detector. Cops like their sleep.

But it was the pit stops where she truly made up time. She had the money prepackaged (those days you had to go in and pay) and ran to the bathroom while the car filled.

Any pit crew will tell you: records are made in the pit.

Her record: DC to Detroit in seven and a half hours.

He refused to believe it, but had no choice.

He never knew she did it just to shut him up.

...I wonder how my 69-year-old mother would do in Top Gear's "Reasonably Priced Car"?
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
My dad hasn't had much contact with mom's family since their divorce in the late 70s. And I'd met my cousin only twice (once to help him with the MVA). At the memorial I learned more about my cousin. And now miss him more.

I introduced dad to Savion:

Savion was the likeable, all-around nice guy. Everyone's instant best friend. He and his girlfriend were The Couple the last two years of high school. Sandra and Wayne [his parents] had had a pretty messy divorce, and Savion was there for his girlfriend when her dad had an affair and her parents divorced as well.

Savion was on the football team, a lineman even though he was only 5' 5". He worked as a personal trainer at health clubs, lifted weights, a very burly, bulky guy. To supplement that he worked part-time as a waiter. He'd take time out of his day for anyone, right down to the wizened old man he was workout partners with -- which made Savion 20 minutes late for everything. At his funeral, people turned up who'd only met him once or twice. He was someone who made time for people.

On a personal level, things weren't quite working out for Savion. He'd had his heart set on getting a football scholarship, but never made the starting lineup. His best friend, who hadn't even planned to go to college, was just finishing his degree this year.

Sandra and his little sister Ataia moved to Nashville a few years ago, while Savion tried to stick it out in Maryland attending community college and working. But Maryland is an expensive and unkind place to live. There's an absolutism in this area and he ran afoul of the MVA and ended up owing the state more money than he could afford. So he moved back in with his mom and Ataia in Nashville.

His father, Wayne, died unexpectedly a couple of years ago of something similar to mad cow, leaving a lot unresolved between the two of them.

There was no sign of any trouble, other than the usual growing pains of a young man whose life wasn't working out quite as planned, coupled with the blow of losing his father. Cut because some friends I know have lost people to suicide and this might be hard for them. )


Mar. 2nd, 2013 09:04 pm
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
It's 9am.

"I'm late, I'm sorry. I was looking at the numbers and they didn't make any sense."

"What numbers?"

"The numbers on the clock."

There's reality, and then there's the stuff I have to do. Trivialities: I'm supposed to be at work. Reality: How did my cousin get the gun?

In the car: speeding to work. Thinking: My brother had been sure he'd be okay. I'd been sure. I wanted to go to the funeral. But we hadn't been close. How do I explain that I care? There'd been no sign of it before.

The practical: All eyes are on me as I walk in. The reality: My cousin had been found in the front yard with a bullet in his head. My first thought had been, "How considerate of him." No mess to clean up. I didn't say it out loud.

I had a cousin yesterday.


Rest In Peace, Savion Gabriel, age 22. I don't know why you did it, and don't have the right to ask.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Folks, don't forget to sign up for SGA Santa!

Yes, it's already that time of year.

Sigh. I miss writing fic.

Here's Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche on writing, painting, art, and creativity.

Choice quote (paraphrased from memory because it's 4am and I work in a few hours):

"I hear many people before they become Buddhist practitioners they were ballet dancers, artists, painters ... and then they think that this is frivolous and they give it up, but that they still miss it. I think that is the wrong attitude. Of course, there is a change in priorities, but that is an incorrect idea."

He talks about art being the soul of humanity, the best of humanity, and how artistic expression arises out of the natural state, how when he's painting, the colors and everything, it is a surprise what comes up.

Other than Jetsunma, I think there is no teacher who has been more helpful to me than Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche. He can say five words and unknot an entire knotty problem.

Mom and I were talking about being "busy" with Dharma, that people who think one has to be always doing for the temple or else are "plinking," being shallow in their perspective of Dharma. I explained that I can't do what some people do, workworkworkbusybusybusybusy. My mind gets rock-like and mean, resentful, and just tough, like beaten dried up leather. I tried it last spring and it just didn't work for me. Doing more Buddhist stuff made me less Buddhist in outlook, oddly enough. It sucked the joy out of life. So I've backed off from doing all that, and have tried slowly recovering my practice.

Still, I'd been slightly sheepish about what I've been doing: refinishing furniture for my little apartment, crocheting a lace tablecloth (and scarf, as lace is the crack of the knitting world), latchhooking a massive fluffy rug. I've written a brief fic about pudding cups here, sneaking it under the table with the excuse that it's for [personal profile] sarka. Ha.

I went to S.'s dance competition tonight, and something about it made me feel human again.

Finally, I can breathe.

(Or not, since I'm at the tung oil phase of the furniture refinishing.)

And now Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche's timely advice, explaining why this is so. I need writing and creativity like air. (Or like my bathroom needs air -- tung oil fumes, though I've had the fan on.)

I'm writing whatever fic I darn well please. But I'm avoiding those final coats of tung oil till Sunday. Did you know you can get a hangover from tung oil fumes?

*signs up*
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
About that thing with the cute guy and his mother the nun grilling me....

Well, let's back up a bit.

J.'s a nice guy. I noticed he'd gotten rid of the beard (it had looked good on him, but I hate beards). He said he'd lost some weight. I said I'd never noticed the weight, which made him blush. Honestly, he's an attractive guy all around.

I asked him to help me with a painting project, he said sure thing, and let me know his schedule was wiiiiiide open.

It had been a tough week: his girlfriend had been cheating on him with her ex, she was pregnant and it wasn't clear if the baby was his (I'm wondering about those birth control recalls, because that's two women I know who -- ooops! -- got pregnant this year).

On top of it, he'd just lost his job, was forced to sublet his apartment, and so had temporarily moved in with his mom (who's a nun). He was feeling pretty low. "I'm thirty-three years old and living with my mom. I feel like a total loser."

I explained my own situation with WG in 2009, that I'd found myself in a similar situation. At age 42. These are tough times.

Cue the "no way you're over forty, you look younger than me" conversation, which is waaaay more fun than the previous version "no way you're twenty-five, you don't look old enough to work here."

That out of the way, we talked for a while about cheating boyfriends/girlfriends, the economy, what it's like being a kid at the temple and then coming back as an adult, his rough times down in Florida, his brother, my own surprise of first seeing him in 2009, quote, "Who's that solid-looking guy -- oh, wow, that's J.? I remember him from when he was eight years old." That was the edited version. I didn't say that I had really thought, Wow, not my usual type, but definitely good-looking--oh my god, that's J.?? I feel rather naughty now, hee.

We decided to start the painting project the following week. Well, the supplies I'd ordered didn't arrive in time, so it got postponed a few more days.

Then I bumped into his mom, the nun, outside the grocery store. I apologized for getting ticked off at her about her pressuring me to change the time of my Tibetan class (we had a difference of opinion about the value of Tibetan for new people). She said it was nothing. That settled, I asked the natural, "Oh, hey, how's J. doing?"

Big. Mistake. I wish I'd asked about the weather.

She tells me that things are looking up, he really enjoyed working with me on the project (it hadn't started yet) but he'd found a new job right away.

"Oh, that's great," I said, really happy to hear it, with a snap of my fingers that I'd moved too slow.

Then she tells me, "And J. said, '[Icarus] is soooo pretty!' She looks younger than me." Ah, someone else was doing a little editing I see. That much was fun.

But then it spiraled into weird. )

At the end of the conversation as I stared at her, wide-eyed, she was all satisfied, "Oh good, just friends then."


Aside from her being an over-protective mom, she's a nun, and that comes with a particular world view. )

So that should be as weird as it will get, right?

Nope. To ice the cake-of-weird, J.'s ex-girlfriend friended me on Facebook the following week. She and I had met, I think, once. J. introduced her, "Hi, this is my gf." I said hi, nice to meet you. And that's it. She's friended seventeen people at the temple, mostly monks and nuns, and she friends me why?

WTF is going on in J.'s world?
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)

[livejournal.com profile] wildernessguru got curious watching me read Half-Blood Prince this weekend and started reading the first book. His first comment (after five pages), "This is a lot better than the movies."

He stopped reading and I thought that was it. But we cut a deal that I would read one of his books if he read HP.

He was going to start last night, but did military research instead.

Running out the door at 5am this morning, he asked me, "Hey, where's that Harry Potter book?" We looked everywhere and couldn't find it.

We gave up, kissed goodbye, but I kept looking -- aha! It was by the stereo!

Raced down three flights, out the door, book in hand, and caught him on the way to the car. More kisses and a ridiculously soppy morning (we're ridiculous... how long have we been together?), waving and smiling, hovering at the door to see him off, WG's glancing back to see me go inside. Egad, all we needed was a sunset.

But he's reading it! *punches the air* I couldn't even get him to read the Lord of the Rings. The only part he was interested in was Tolkien's detailed historical notes (yes, yes, strange man).

Wait. I'd better start reading his Outdoorman's book now.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Stolen from the trunk:
1 pair Snow Shoes (gift for Christmas - this one hurts) - $150
1 blue zippered horseshoe case for Snow Shoes - $50
1 twenty degree synthetic North Face sleeping bag - $200
1 200 weight fleece jacket, size large, black - $100
Coleman red and white 48-quart ice chest - $60
2 stainless steel outdoor cooking pots - $20
2 steel pot grabbers - $5
2 Nalgene jars - $5
2 hard hats, white - $20
One pair extra-tough leather boots (from Alaska trips) - $80
40-piece Craftsman socket set (both metric and standard) - $75
20-piece Craftsman socket set (metric and standard) - $40
6 propane outdoor stove fuel canisters - $40
6 quarts oil - $12
1 case power steering fluid - no idea, $50?
1 package AA batteries - $6
1 Eddie Bauer green zippered duffle bag - $30
Misc. canned food - $10
1 car jack, plus plastic cover - ? $60?
1 star lug wrench - $40

Damage to exterior of vehicle:
Scratches on trunk - ?

Stolen from the interior:
1 Forest Service Annyal Trailhead pass (new, just bought) - $30
1 cigarette lighter - ? $30?
1 back shelf covering car speakers - $75
2 Honda floor mats - ? possibly as much as $40 each since is a dealer item
1 damaged interior dome light, missing plastic cover - ? $50, possibly more if destroyed
Parking meter change - $8
1 AA mini-maglight flashlight - $10
1 first aid kit - $8
1 battery terminal cleaner - $5
Car registration - $8, plus a day off work to go to the DMV
Proof of insurance - on its way
1 12-pack box of tampax - $5

And I'd like to know what the boys need the tampax for.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
The kitty likes marshmallows.

A lot.

I've learned this because I left the bag out last night. This morning it was open, and there was a kitty-shaped dent in it. With a sticky well-licked marshmallow stuck to the couch.

And kitty's been a little jumpy.

I suppose an eighth of a bag of mini-marshmallows can't kill him.

ETA: Poor little guy. He's okay, but he's not feeling too good.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
After the break-in, which was most likely a failed attempted theft:

Auto-protection solutions!

[livejournal.com profile] icarusancalion: We could run 9,000 amps through the body of the car.

[livejournal.com profile] wildernessguru: I'm thinking we should take off the distributor cap.

[livejournal.com profile] icarusancalion: A live cougar in the back seat?

[livejournal.com profile] wildernessguru: And a silent alarm. That way I can break their legs while they're under the car trying to get it to work.

[livejournal.com profile] icarusancalion: My dad had a kill switch.

[livejournal.com profile] wildernessguru: In South Africa they had so many car jackings, the government approved two propane tanks under the hood. You just hit a switch and it shot flames out the side. I want one of those.

[livejournal.com profile] icarusancalion: By the time we're done, this is gonna look like Mad Maxx.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Another story for you from my dad. I know. It's been a while.


"Lovely. Here's something to reflect upon.

Don't know if I mentioned it, but several months ago I finally decided to bite the bullet and spend whatever necessary to get my old guitar back into shape. The years have been unkind to it. Its finish is cracked and marred, with little dents here and there, and one evil crack from the bridge to the hole where Bob Bonin kicked a dining room chair into it one drunk, stoned and clumsey day. The bridge had pulled away from the body, and the neck was warped and separating from the body as well. Unplayable, neglected, it's sat silent in its case for the last several years. Enough, I thought, I miss my music, it's time to act.

There is a guitar store in Toronto called "The Twelfth Fret". Many musicians and music producers have steered me there over the years, and so when the bearded old fellow upstairs looked at my instrument and pronounced it dead I believed him. He said it would take about twelve weeks (of fretting?) and $600 to take it apart with no guarantee he could actually put it back together again. Hearing that was a little like taking your cat in for a check-up and being told he needed to be put down. Worse, it was like the vet pointing out that the cat was already dead, I just hadn't noticed.

When I came back down the stairs everyone in the main part of the shop fell into a respectful silence. It must have been my face, perhaps the slumping head and shoulders. They went out of their way to be kind. "I guess I need to look at new guitars," i said to them. They took me to a room and brought instruments to me, and I sat alone playing them for a good long time. They could see me through the window, but mercifully, they didn't have to listen. I am rusty for lack of practice. But I played until my fingers hurt, I wanted them to hurt. My guitar rested peacefully in its heavy black case.

We went home. And months passed. A little while ago Annie mentioned someone had told her about a new guitar store, "Imagine Music" had opened right up the street.

Nothing to lose. I visited, and met a jocular young man from Manchester, whose life had "...always been about music," he said. "Bring it in. Never give up on a guitar."

My guitar is back as of day before yesterday. It's bridge is flat and fastened tight, the long crack is reinforced from the back inside the guitar, the neck is straight and the action is once again light as a sonnet. Light as my heart.

The young man did something else. As he loves guitars, he did some research and confirmed what I'd always suspected – that this is no ordinary guitar. It was built in 1950, in Sweden. It is nearly as old as I am. It is a Goya G-17 with a very low serial number. It is concert quality. He proved that by playing a little for me and I heard my own guitar for the first time in my life. I've a lot to live up to if I want to deserve this instrument.

I always new it was a Goya G-17, I never knew what that meant. It was like discovering the old fiddle you used to take to the hootenanny was a Stradavarius. The piano you were letting rot in the basement, a Steinway. Obviously, it's worth considerably more than I paid back in 1964.

So, I'm practicing away, hardening up my callouses, and trying to get back to where I was. Although, where I was no longer satisfies me. I'm bored with the old repertoire and the same old riffs. So if he'll take me on, I'm going to get lessons from the man who gave me back my guitar.

Stay tuned.

Love, Dad"


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December 2015

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