That’s cousin Joey on the left, Brooke on the right, and I’m holding Baby Bryce, born April 27, 2013. Brooke turned 3 three weeks ago, Joey will be 3 in three weeks, and Baby Bryce is 5 weeks old. We’re standing in the ‘driveway’ of my daughter’s new house in Wildwood, a gated golfing community forty-five minutes from the city. I’m very happy about the good choices my twenty-four-year-old daughter is making.
Last day of 2012. What a year. Lost my blog in February, got it back in October but never got back the urge to put something new online every month. No urge to write, to share. Just a gentle giving away of something formerly held in fond regard. Buddhists call it non- attachment. Letting go.
So that was my year–a real letting go of all kinds of stuff. Looking forward to the new year and a new grandchild.
Well, here it is, the end of February 2012, almost six years into betaphilings, and my blog is broken. Gone are all the boxes that let me choose bold, italic, lists, links, etc. Gone is my ability to upload pictures. All the things that let me customize and make my posts pretty are gone.
Maybe someday they’ll return. If they don’t I’m stuck with plain text and nothing more. Straight text is just not very interesting.
I’ve been on the WordPress help forums. Apparently, I’ve waited too long to update this blog and now my version 2.2 is simply outmoded.
Crap. I rather enjoyed playing with this blog. It has been consistently there for me when I felt like sharing something or needed something to do.
I’m going to lose interest if all I can do is type. I don’t have that much to say, and what I do say is not all that interesting. I’m into images at least as much as words.
Maybe it’s time for me to start something new.
Maybe I need to start playing with Pinterest.
Pinterest is one of the hottest things online these days. I was going to post a link to The Bloggess’ pin boards when I realized this damn thing is broken.
Pinterest seemed very commercial when it first came out, a dream board of sorts where you place all the things you want to acquire. That didn’t interest me since I’m long past the acquisitions stage. The Bloggess showed me how to use it much like I use this blog, minus the stories. She still has a blog for her stories, but she and her people share some really neat stuff on Pinterest.
OK, this is where we find out if I can even publish this post. Bye bye, dear bloggie. It’s been fun.
Whenever something raises your energy or makes you feel good, you have to hang on to it, whether it’s a picture, words, a song, a video, whatever, in order to have a good collection of those things so that you can use them when you need to raise your energy. — Gabriella Kortsch
A grandchild is all the proof you need to know you were doing it right all along. — Brenda Phillips
Brooke, 22 mos.
I’ve been blogging since May 2006. These two bloggers also started blogging in May 2006. This may be as close as I’ll ever come to belonging to a tribe — bloggers who began blogging in May 2006. I hope to find more of my tribe as time goes on.
I discovered this red-haired mother of four through Bayou Woman. Pioneer Woman channels Lucille Ball, Viviene Leigh, and Ethel Merman in her daily blog from a ranch somewhere in the American West. She’s been posting almost daily for six years, no small feat when you consider she has four children under age six. At some point along the way, Pioneer Woman’s blog became heavily monetized.
This Florida newspaper photographer named Jeaux quits his job and takes up blogging, a perfect little pastime for retirees. With sentences such as the one in Great Sentence #1 below, this blogger has me looking forward to spending more time there. I discovered his blog through Shrinky’s Shrink-Wrapped Scream.
In the case of all these bloggers, their pictures and their words are what they make to share with others, because making things is what God does and therefore what we should be doing, according to this guy named Chris whom Jeaux discovered at the beach one day. Chris’s message is profound, and this whole thing feels staged. Jeaux tried his hand at three or four little moviettes before realizing he has no talent for moviemaking, but he still has a great eye for stills.
I post this on February 7th and on February 11th Whitney Houston dies in a tub.
“The Tub” by Edgar Degas (1886)
There’s a funny/sad story in me wanting to get out. It’s about a fat lady who can’t get out of a tub.
The fat lady in the tub is a figment of my imagination, of course, as I lie limp in my own bathtub, wondering how I’m going to get out now that the warm water and VitaBath have rendered me helpless. I’m as tender as a marinated pork chop. Beyond relaxed, though, I’m seeing stuck scenarios playing in my head. That is so creepy—someone stuck in a tub by the weight of their own body.
It’s so absurd it has to be funny.
- She’s naked and constantly wet and losing weight fast. A single spigot of running water keeps our damsel alive until someone finds her a week, maybe two weeks later.
- She’s stranded in a tub with running water for a month before she’s found/before she drowns.
- She dies a silly death in a tub.
- She loses enough weight that she’s finally able to stand and pull herself out of the tub.
- She’s finally able to pull herself to her feet, but as she attempts to step out of the tub she slips on the wet tile floor and knocks herself out cold.
- She dies right there on the floor after going through that whole month-long ordeal.
- She wakes up on the floor and stands up and sees a much thinner version of herself; quite a bit of time has passed since our missus first climbed into that tub.
These are things I think about when I’m soaking in VitaBath.
I have never been a fat lady before. I have no prior knowledge of dressing and bathing a fat lady. Who knew it would be so hard to pick yourself up off the bottom of a tub and put yourself upright? It’s never been a problem before. Getting out of a tub has never been a problem before.
But I’ve never been this large before, and I’ve never been this old.
It’s like those Life Alert commercials. “Help. I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” It’s real. That shit happens.
Hardwood flooring keeps me on my feet at my house, but my daughter’s new carpet pulled me right down on the floor the other day to play with Brooke. Guess what happened on the way up? Nothing. I couldn’t get up!
This bigger, older version of my body is throwing me off my game.
I don’t know how to fully operate this new model just yet. Knowing exactly what to do in any given circumstance seems to get harder as I get older, so I’m just going with the flow for now, hoping not to get stuck anywhere or injured.
The lesson in this story is to never give bath products to a senior citizen. Go to Etsy.com and buy them a fancy new shower cap instead.
Now Whitney Houston is dead and Life Alert has come out with a commercial about a woman who has slipped while showering and can’t get out of her tub. Seems women with tub troubles are everywhere these days.
I want to die on a bed, and I want death to be a dream state/dream scape that goes on and on and on.
My mindlessness project is moving along swimmingly. Much like the mighty Mississippi below, all I do is flow.
This picture was taken from the Natchez bluffs near where I grew up. I am still as directionally challenged by this area as I was when I lived there. In order to get to Texas from here, you cross the river into Mississippi and drive south. There’s a very westward feeling about driving east and then south to get to Texas.
The Mississippi side of the river is much higher than the Louisiana side. It’s also more beautiful with rolling hills and sprawling ancient oaks. Whatever oaks grew on the delta side were long ago removed for cotton farming. There were mansions to be built on the bluffs beside those sprawling oaks, and ball gowns had to be made. Cotton created the cash needed to build a city with a cultured class.
Great fortunes were made on the cotton plantations that lined this river. Northern states and England couldn’t get enough of the fluffy white stuff. Cotton trade built historic Natchez, a place mired in its antebellum past.
When I lived there in the 50s and 60s, two industrial giants called Natchez home—International Paper and Goodyear Rubber. A port facility stayed busy all the time. The Miss-Lou area was thriving and a great place to live.
Then in the 70s the tide shifted and the plants began to shut down and the port closed. Out of desperation, the Garden Club ladies figured out how to promote their heritage with events that produced tourism dollars. Their hard work for decades has kept the town afloat and created yet another tradition in a place already steeped in traditions.
Until industry returns to this area, tourism is vital to its economic well-being. Some might call all this tourism a bit corny and old-fashioned, and they would be right. But sometimes the right thing to do is to make use of what you have, no matter how hokey it seems.
Here’s a pretty good video of modern Natchez from a tourist’s point of view. There’s even a shot from the bluff that looks just like my picture above. In my mind New Orleans will always lie in that direction.
‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’ — John Keats
Brooke 21 months, Brenda 61 years
My two best friends in life, Tom and Martha, both died when they were 61 — and I am 61. I’m doing everything I can to stay alive until the end of March when I turn 62.
Mostly, I’m not taking any chances with my health, especially in this home stretch. I figure if I can make it three more months, I’ll be 62 and past the possibility of dying at 61. That is my plan—make it to 62. Until then I’m a fallow field.
As a fallow field, I take it upon myself to think, feel, and do as little as possible. Just be, I say, like an unseeded field at rest for a season. New seasons will come, new seeds will fall. I will be productive again. If I’m lucky, I will live to be 90 or more like Uncle Fred and Ilona Smithkin.
I wish Tom and Martha had been luckier. Sixty-one feels like the wrong time to die.
I love kooky old ladies like this.
I’ll be back to listen to this again. It needs 1 hr 47 mins.
Please join me in imagining a Louisiana coastline that is healthy and thriving.
This is one of my new favorite blogs. Deb Taylor lives in Central Texas and posts something small and artful almost daily. Check out her beautiful, inspiring blog at Deb Did It. I don’t know anyone more madly in love with her life. Deb makes things, like this heart with wings, then photographs them. She’s a talented and interesting woman.
Brooke isn’t falling for it. Something’s wrong with this picture, she seems to be thinking. Most little ones are scared of Santa, yet we resurrect him year after year. Here’s what Keri London thinks about all this Santa stuff.
“Seriously? How is humanity to evolve if we can’t give up these archaic myths? How is a big dude in a red suit who comes down the chimney to put gifts under the tree relevant these days? When my son asked me if there was a Santa, I didn’t have the heart to lie to him. I don’t get these weird rituals. That is just what they are, rituals. What does this have to do with Jesus and the Bible? Every year we all go through the same rituals, that were invented so long ago that we even forgot how they came about. Think about it, does this really make sense for the present day? We can’t evolve if we keep recreating the past every year. It’s part of the system, in order to change it we have to create something new and different. A new energy or frequency. Why do we keep doing the same things over and over every year even though it no longer makes sense?” — Keri London
This is my new friend Wendy who writes about life in the Louisiana wetlands. Check out her blog at BayouWoman.com.
We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations. — Anaïs Nin
John Piscatella lost his wife to cancer in 2006 and spent the next four years writing the most amazing love poems I have ever seen.
John posted those poems on Reflections of Florine, and I happened onto them one day while clicking “next blog” on Blogger. I’ve since scoured the internet trying to learn more about this man and his wife but can’t find anything. I wrote him an email and got no response.
John and Florine met and married in college, had no children, and spent forty-six years together. If ever a man loved a woman more, I would like to know who. I’ve had Reflections of Florine opened on a tab, and now that I’ve read all the poems, it’s time to close the tab.
Below is the last poem John posted on July 29, 2010. There are hundreds more love poems on his site. I would love to know more about this devoted couple. One thing appears certain in the poems: John really, really loved Florine.
We dance the dance
of eternal harmony,
like a first kiss.
we dance fiercely
like tigers unchained.
Movement on movement,
breath on breath,
decanting liquid life
beneath the rhythm
of a single heartbeat.
we are one with the night,
to the moment
and the music
in each other.
© JOHN PISCATELLA
My granddaughter seems to have inherited my hypersensitivity to certain sounds. Here she is showing obvious alarm at the sound of an airplane overhead. I see this same look on her face throughout the day, whenever the central air conditioning unit kicks on, whenever a dog barks or a train whistles or a siren goes off.
If she is like me with regard to loud noises, then she also wakes up throughout the night, which can leave her feeling tired and restless in the morning. I have suffered through this waking in the night my entire life. I’ve bought squishy ear plugs to wear, but they always fall out.
Yesterday, however, I found a package of industrial grade ear plugs at my daughter’s house that her husband wears at work. Last night I wore them to bed and actually slept peacefully through the night.
Whenever Brooke grabs my finger and pulls it, I follow her anywhere.
This is my new favorite thing — being led by Baby Brooke. I am crazy in love with this little girl!
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— by Rumi
I decided one morning to test sobriety,
to waken at dawn to sparrow chirp and dark clouds
blowing seaward from the Bultaco factory,
to inhale the particulates and write nothing,
to face the world as it was. Everything
was actual, my utterances drab, my lies
formulary and unimaginative.
For the first time in my life I believed
everything I said. Think of it: simple words
in English or Spanish or Yiddish, words
that speak the truth and no more, hour after
hour, day after day without end, a life
in the kingdom of candor, without fire or wine.
—from Black Wine by Philip Levine
Children sweeten our labors, but they make misfortunes more bitter. ~ Francis Bacon
Brooke is sixteen months old today. She stays with me on Fridays. Here’s what she likes to do.
- play with my computer
- play with my cell phone
- eat and drink
- pick up rocks, sticks, and leaves
- take a bath
- play with her cardboard books
- watch me work in the kitchen
- dig through my makeup drawer
- play with Hunter
I took this picture some time ago. It’s not very good but it is interesting. You can almost see the pain on my face from losing my boyfriend this summer, then dealing with a family deception, then learning that my “daughter” has cancer.
It has not been an easy summer.
Jenna was Jay’s girlfriend throughout high school, she was a bridesmaid in Jill’s wedding, and she was at the hospital when Brooke was born. She is beautiful and brilliant and has always been like a second daughter to me.
On July 30th she turned 23, and a week later she had a massive seizure that sent her to the hospital, where a golf ball-sized tumor was removed from the top right part of her brain. The news that followed was devastating.
Jenna has stage III malignant brain cancer.
I have cried more this summer than I have in years. In fact, years have passed without me shedding a single tear because life was just so darned good. This blog is a testament to that. Looking back over the six years of my blogging I can find very little sniveling.
But shit happens and some things make you cry and some things make you angry and sometimes you just feel sad. This thing with Jenna has hit me hard. What I have learned this summer is that NOTHING, absolutely nothing that anyone can say or do to me compares to the difficulty of potentially losing a child, even a grown child. A new mantra has come from all this. It’s a prayer, a hope, and a longing.
Thank you, my beloved Jenna. Healing energies surround you and infuse you with perfect health.
And thank you, Jay, for bringing beautiful Jenna into our lives. She told me the other day how in 10th grade she walked by the computer lab one day and saw you sitting there and decided she wanted to date you, so she began stalking you, sitting by you in the cafeteria every morning until finally the day came when you began to open up and talk to her.
Thank you, too, for coming in on Wednesday to check on Jenna. She begins chemotherapy on Tuesday.
If we are always arriving and departing, it is also true that we are eternally anchored. One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. — Henry Miller
Boyfriend should have taken an interest in my blog and he would know I’m over here posting his Miller1971 password so anyone who sees it could seriously disrupt his Gmail and Facebook accounts. I set both of those accounts up for him, and I could delete them both in two seconds. Anybody could. He’d never know what happened. He would think it was a virus or a bug.
Too bad I’m not the vengeful type. I could totally put an end to all the pictures and sweet stuff he has piled up in Gmail. I could totally wipe out his nice collection of female friends on Facebook.
How do I stop reading his mail when the sordid details of his affairs are sitting right there daring me to look? This stuff is solid gold. Yesterday, for example, one of his Facebook buddies asked him where he’d been and he sent the guy a private message saying, I’ve been up in Dallas, fixing to move up there, met a sweet lady, thinking about getting married.
What? My boyfriend’s getting married!
I bet this Dallas woman he’s thinking about marrying doesn’t know about Diane, the woman he spent the 4th of July with. He’s been flirting with her on Facebook for a while, and on the 4th she sent him a private message: You just left my house. I feel good about you. You are a real man. Yes, Diane, and he’s also a real player. That’s why he didn’t text you back when you asked him if he made it back to Dallas. He’s about to marry a fat girl there, and you were just a holiday fling.
Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music—the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. — Henry Miller
Last summer when we met we admitted that the thing we wanted most was to be in love again. We agreed that there’s nothing like it, nothing in life makes you feel as good as being in love. We decided to take a giant leap of faith, go all in, and be in love for a year, which is exactly what happened. He took a player break and focused his attention on me. I knew where he was all the time, and I adored him.
The one thing we can never get enough of is love. And the one thing we never give enough of is love. — Henry Miller
Then his dad called and asked him to come to Dallas. I encouraged him to go. He has spent his whole life here. We talked about me joining him there. I never imagined he would go up there and get engaged, but it makes sense now. He needs someone to pay for materials so he can work. He has a business partner here who does that. If he wants to move to Dallas, he needs to find a partner there.
Every man has his own destiny: the only imperative is to follow it, to accept it, no matter where it leads. — Henry Miller
So an overweight A&M accounting instructor who adores him gets the job. That’s her kissing him in the pictures. Her maiden name is Bedgood, I swear, but it should be Bedfull because she is definitely a bed full from the looks of her. I don’t know where he found her but I do know why he wants to marry her. She’s a working teacher and teachers have access to all kinds of credit. Financial necessity is a valid reason to marry but not a good one.
Let me be, was all I wanted. Be what I am, no matter how I am. — Henry Miller
I wanted to spend my birthday with you, he said when he showed up unexpectedly on July 1st. The kids and I were about to leave for the holiday weekend. I cried when he kissed me, knowing he’d been kissing other women. Confronting him on his birthday didn’t feel right, though, and there wasn’t time, so I choked back my words and they stuck in my throat and I couldn’t breathe or speak or swallow. My throat burned and my heart ached and tears filled my eyes. I knew I would never see him again.
The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware. —Henry Miller
Last night, just to see what would happen, I sent him a picture of me. He deleted the picture but sent me a message saying, I love you and I will always love you.
Saturday night I got two text messages from him: Want some company? Want some company? I didn’t reply.
As for what happens now, I see three choices.
- Keep reading his mail as I’ve been doing. The pull to keep spying is strong. How often in life do you get such incredible access to a person’s private life? It’s more interesting than what I generally do at 4:00 in the morning when I can’t sleep. Besides, minding your own business is overrated. Facebook encourages us to check on the people we care about. If I hadn’t accidentally blocked him, we could be Facebook friends.
- Confront him with all of this, in which case he would surely change his password and my snooping days would be over. This is what Ernie thinks I should do, only I can’t quite put it all together in my head just how this would work. It might be too late for a confrontation. I haven’t talked to him in two weeks.
- Delete both of his online accounts. This is what Susan thinks I should do, only he doesn’t need another lesson in non- attachment. He already knows how to let things go.
I don’t know what I will do.
On the meridian of time there is no injustice. There is only the poetry of motion, creating the illusion of truth and drama. — Henry Miller
Your favorite author and the year of your birth is not a good password. I guessed it on the very first try. Now I almost wish I hadn’t because I found these in your mail.
These pictures make me sick.
I thought you were my boyfriend.
My mind is racing thinking about this. How do I calm down enough to get this off my mind? Out of my mind is how I feel. It comes and goes relentlessly like waves slapping the side of a boat. I almost want to throw up.
Just breathe, Brenda. Everything will be alright eventually. You have to ride the waves a while is all. It’s going to be painful and scary. Breaking up is always painful and scary.
So I deserve whatever I get for looking at his mail, right? Apparently so because I got slammed big time this time and therein lies the story: Attractive older woman gets duped by handsome younger man.
Poor guy doesn’t have a clue that I know what he was doing in Dallas last month when his dad called him up there to work on a house. Doesn’t have a clue that I’ve been following this whole sordid month-long mess — the messages, the women, lots of women, lots of pictures. The pictures of them kissing hurt the most.
I don’t even know what to think about this. My brain is throbbing. My heart aches. I know I could fall deeply in trouble emotionally because I loved this man. We spent a wonderful year together. We shared every holiday and birthday and major event in the last twelve months. We were a couple.
So who is taking pictures of him kissing other women and why? No one ever took a picture of us kissing. Where is the honor in running around on your girlfriend like this? Why are there no good words in this scenario? I know he didn’t do this to deliberately hurt me. I did it to myself by reading his mail, thank goodness. He didn’t even have a computer or an email address when I set the gmail account up for him and showed him how to use it. Oh, he screwed up alright, if losing me counts as a screw up. But I don’t think he intended to lose me. I don’t think he has a clue why I won’t talk to him. If I tell him that I saw the pictures, he’ll change his password and I won’t be able to spy on him anymore, which is probably what should happen so I can get over this man. He would never think to come here and read this. He said he’s moving to Dallas. There’s more work up there. Yeah, and more women.
If he knew I’d seen these pictures, he would probably say you’ve got to forgive me because that’s what love does. It forgives. It doesn’t judge; love forgives all things.
No it doesn’t. It can hold grudges. It can cut people totally off when they’re caught kissing other girls. Despite the fact that we may have been put here to learn how to love unconditionally, few relationships survive infidelity.
Goodbye, boyfriend. I will miss you.