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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Sticking in My Craw

On top of all else, it snowed again last night!
What’s a craw anyway?

Craw [kraw]
1. the crop of a bird or insect.
2. the stomach of an animal.
3. stick in one's craw, to cause considerable or abiding resentment; rankle:
She said I was pompous, and that really stuck in my craw.

So then, what’s rankling me and/or wedged in the “crop” of my sparrow?

This to start—seen on one of the Facebook neurofibromatosis2 groups that I belong to (perhaps I'll be leaving this one too):
I just spoke with Dr X on the phone. George is out of surgery and it went great! He said they got the entire tumor out and his facial nerve is stimulating beautifully. He said the hearing test had horrible results but that the pre-op testing of his hearing was horrible as well, so we won't know how his hearing is until they test again later. Praise God!
“Praise God?" Yeah, go ahead and thank the god you believe in but, for fuck’s sake, how about giving the surgeons a little credit too, eh?

Next up, there’s the deranged asswipe, Matt McLaughlin of Huntington Beach, California, who should DIF. Repeatedly. He's the poster boy for why we need real, comprehensive mental health care in this country.

And then there’s the BS with the GOP Insane Clown Posse inviting Netanyahu to speak.

My hero, Senator Elizabeth Warren had this to say:
"I strongly support Israel, and I remain deeply concerned about the prospect of an Iranian nuclear weapon, which I discussed in detail with Prime Minister Netanyahu when we met in Jerusalem last November," Warren said in a statement, according to the Boston Globe. “It's unfortunate that Speaker Boehner’s actions on the eve of a national election in Israel have made Tuesday’s event more political and less helpful for addressing the critical issue of nuclear nonproliferation and the safety of our most important ally in the Middle East."
Representative Katherine Clark of Melrose:
“Speaker Boehner has poisoned a critical foreign policy discussion with partisan gamesmanship,” Clark said in a statement. “I will continue my full-throated support for Israel, but I will not be part of Speaker Boehner’s attempt to divide our Congress and country over one of our strongest allies.”
And Al Franken:
"This has unfortunately become a partisan spectacle, both because of the impending Israeli election and because it was done without consulting the administration,” Franken said. "I’d be uncomfortable being part of an event that I don’t believe should be happening. I’m confident that, once this episode is over, we can reaffirm our strong tradition of bipartisan support for Israel."
Giving the event a pass in advance were these forthright folk
Mister Charles P. Pierce, as usual, wraps things up brilliantly:
Republicans in the Congress, heedless of the principles on which their party stood 30 years ago, and on their own initiative, invite that same Benjamin Netanyahu to come to the Congress to give a speech aimed at undermining the president's policy toward Iran and sabotaging any deal. This, say these members of Congress, is necessary to maintain Congress's role in helping to manage the foreign policy of the country.
They were fine when it was Reagan doing a deal but not when there's a Democrat in charge. Got it.
A number of Democratic legislators -- including, from the Commonwealth (God save it!), Senator Professor Warren, Congresswoman Katherine Clark, and Worcester's own Congressman, Jim McGovern -- absented themselves from the chamber. They missed nothing more than a performance piece by a desperate politician hanging onto power by his fingernails.
This was about the "right" attempting to fuck up Obama's ability to do his job (sedition—it's what's for breakfast, lunch AND dinner!) AND about getting their buddy in unbridled hawkishness, Bibi reelected. This large scale dog and pony show had nada to do with making the world a better, safer place or protecting America. It was grandstanding, win-at-any-cost politics AKA business as usual for the Republican/Tea Party.

I was hoping, though not expecting, all Democrats to boycott this Look-I’m-A-Big-Treasonous-Swinging-Dick Show en masse. No such luck.

So, yeah, these are the things that wake me up in the middle of the night.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

What a Week!

AND it's only Tuesday fer Bast's sake.

First off, I’m still having a sad over Leonard Nimoy moving on to the next, other, great galaxy. Yes I KNOW, he was 83 years old and had lived a big full glorious life. He was an artist and a champion—Mr. Nimoy did a lot of good in his 83 years on the planet.

I won’t sing more of an honor song beyond saying that I wish he was still around taking pics. I saw a show of his, years back, at the Michelson Gallery in Northampton. Just blew me away.

So many, who actually knew him AND are much more eloquent than I, have done the job wonderfully. There's Richard Michelson of the R. Michelson Gallery, Zachary Quinto (AKA new Spock), Wesley Crusher (AKA actor Wil Wheaton), and William Shatner to name and link to just a few.

 Next The Amazing Bob’s third (of six) chemo infusions is this Thursday. There’s been some shifts in his meds which will hopefully head off another post chemo heart attack (he's two for two now). Trying to remain calm. Triking would surely help. In lieu of that, I’ll mall walk (sigh) and start painting vines and sunflowers on the kitchen walls today. Maybe some more work on the koi.

And then there’s Jen’s beloved Aunt Pat. She’s just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and now she has pneumonia. Things are looking bleak.

Oh and those Yaktrax that I've been singing the praises of?

They're fabola on ice BUT nothing else. They've GOT to be removed the minute I go inside and attempt walking on regular, not frozen, snow and ice covered, floors. Why? It's like walking on skyscraper high geta for fuck's sake!

Have I done that in this last month of wearing nothing else but my yaktraxed boots? No. I'm out and about running errands—not in any one place for more than 30 to 60 minutes—so, shortsighted, lazy-ass me, no, I haven't. The fucked up gait I've been rockin' has done a job on my hamstrings. I've been in stupid amounts of pain. I switched back to my sneakers, have taken a couple days off from mall walking and have increased my stretching exercises. The aches and cramps are lessening BUT I've fallen on the ice.


Also too—Rocco is awfully fond of my heating pad. I have to gently shift him over or tempt him away with kittie weed and treats when I want to take advantage of it.

bitch, whine, snivel, kvetch, moan.
the slowly shrinking snowpack

Monday, March 2, 2015

In like a lion

and out like a lamb.

Well, I sure as hell hope that’s how March plays out. I'd like a little more of that lamb action NOW though, thanks.

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”
~Charles Dickens
The early Roman calendar designated March 1 as the new year. The calendar had just ten months, beginning with March. That the new year once began with the month of March is still reflected in some of the names of the months. September through December, our ninth through twelfth months, were originally positioned as the seventh through tenth months (septem is Latin for "seven," octo is "eight," novem is "nine," and decem is "ten."
Interesting, eh? Makes a ton of sense to me. After all, March is when spring begins. Rebirth and shit don'cha know.

"The Anglo-Saxons called the month Hlyd monath which means Stormy month, or Hraed monath which means Rugged month."
~The International Cyclopædia: A Compendium of Human Knowledge ..., Volume 9

I like that—makes a ton of sense.
 How did March get its name?
The name of March comes from Latin Martius, the first month of the earliest Roman calendar. It was named for Mars, the Roman god of war who was also regarded as a guardian of agriculture and an ancestor of the Roman people through his sons Romulus and Remus.
March Gardening Tips for the Northeast from Better Homes and Gardens
(clearly written in past years OR by optimists who are able to ignore the six solid feet of snow covering their gardens OR by folks who live nowhere near Boston)
If you left any perennials or grasses standing over winter, cut back the dead stems before or as the plants put out new growth
Make sure your tools are in good working order before you need them.
Divide many of your perennials later this month as they start to emerge from the soil.
 So, March is about pruning, dividing perennials and prepping tools for the coming days when more can be accomplished. The author left out this rather important tidbit:
When the snowpack has reduced such that you can see over the top of it, begin shoveling snow into rain barrels for use in less damp days.

“By March, the worst of the winter would be over. The snow would thaw, the rivers begin to run and the world would wake into itself again.

Not that year.

Winter hung in there, like an invalid refusing to die. Day after grey day the ice stayed hard; the world remained unfriendly and cold.”
~Neil Gaiman, Odd and the Frost Giants

My, how cheery. That better not be our fate!

“Joy is not in things; it is in us.”
~Richard Wagner

Sunday, March 1, 2015


I read an op-ed in the Globe the other day that brought up some old rage. Rage against the crazy inequality, the nutso double standard that tears us apart.

“Slut” is a slippery term; it can be applied to almost any girl or woman. And it is.
When an adolescent girl is called such names, very often she is not sexually active at all.
I wasn't.
Today, when female bodies are constantly displayed, tracked, tagged, and “liked,” many young women have come to believe that their sexualized bodies are their primary source of power, so rationally they flaunt them. They don’t yet realize that the old sexist belief that women must never be as sexually active as men are continues to shape cultural attitudes. 
We live in a culture where Viagra, vacuum constriction devices and penile implants (!!!) are covered by most insurance companies without qualm BUT the entire "right" wing goes rabid bat-shit over the Affordable Care Act covering birth control methods used by women.

What’s this tell you? What’s this bullshit say to our daughter and our granddaughters?
Men get a free ride to Boner-istan but us Vagina Americans, the ones who can, ya know, actually get preggers, with all the risk and pain that entails? What about us?

 If the GOP gets it’s way (and like a tantruming child, they’ve tried 56 times now), those of us who weren’t born in an endless money patch are shit outta luck. (FYI—that’d be the vast majority of us along with our daughters, sisters, nieces and grands)

The republicans are telling me that I’m substandard, a second class citizen whose body, whose needs are to be controlled by men. Hells, the shitstains of the “right” are telling me and every other woman in America that we are nothing more than chattel—property to be managed.

Christ on a FemCap, is this really the life you want for your daughters—to be so ridiculously unequal? To only be able to make choices about their own bodies IF the men in their lives allow it?

I knew a man (he was more of a fetid, loose stooled, slug’s trail on a humid, August Bakersfield sidewalk) who said, (not confessed mind you but stated as though this was AOK and normal), that he couldn’t get it up unless he was certain the woman could get pregnant. Yes, yes, he actually said that. Was he saying that he wanted kids, to be a dad and he wanted it desperately? Was he all set to be emotionally, financially, parentally present for all the kids he sired?  Eh, no. Not at all actually.

A disgusting, control freaking, miscreant like this should have his Viagra paid for by insurance but I shouldn't have my pill covered?

//snort// yeah, that makes loads of a Bizarro Universe.

But back to that word...”slut.” Men are never called sluts. If they behave in a floozyish manner they're lauded by their peers. Women? Precisely the opposite. How does this even begin to make sense to any but the most entitled, insecure asswipes?

It seems a common enough complaint amongst my married male chums that their wives aren’t as interested in sex as themselves. Of course they aren’t! We’re taught from bairnhood that good girls don’t, that only slatterns, tramps and whores actually like to go mattress dancing. We’re taught to “submit” and be enthusiastic, especially if there’s a diamond in play. After the big white wedding? *shrugs*

Game playing and denial of our very natures is instilled in us from childhood. How is this good for anyone—privileged male, second class citizen females OR any potential children? This is warped fucking shit mon ami!

When I finally stopped trying to be the sex shunning, “good girl,” when I finally decided to be me—not some uptight, insecure, suit and tie wearing, middle American salary man’s version of womanhood—well, boyhowdy, I began to like myself a whole lot more.

Granted, I also had to learn how to defend myself. Most of the time “defense” was just saying no and being OK with someone not wanting to be “friends” anymore because I turned them down (note bene: just because a woman may generally enjoy sex doesn’t mean she wants to do the sweaty Twinkle Tango with everyone. Duh!). Sometimes I had to endure the slings and arrows of outrageous insecure, defensive anger. There was name calling and nasty-ass rumors circulated. Once or twice I had to get physical—that is, I had to belt a dude and run.

Was this fair? No, 'course not. All I can say is this—embrace equality and teach your children well.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Comfort Zone

Before adjusting to indoor life
It should come as no feckin’ surprise to me or anyone else that Rocco, who sleeps with us every night now and, in fact, can be found sitting or napping in bed all damn day, has established our bed as his domain.

Yes, our long time former feral, our erstwhile timid Sargent Rock has gotten all comfy. Pushy and proprietary even. Last night he even swatted me one "bitch, you just rolled over onto my tail and I had it all fluffed just right, too. MOVE over!" And I did.

He's also discovered how best to wake me. A soft nudge? A gentle push to my shoulder? Nope. Like Coco, he leaps on top of my mid-section with all of his 500 pounds (a cat's weight in the early hours of the morning is bizarrely, preternaturally greater than at noon. There's a Harvard study or something, somewhere proving this. Maybe). Effective. Very effective.

Also too, I only mention it but I think this 14 year old boy has grown. Swear to Bast he's taking up WAY more space than he used to.

To A Cat

Cat! who has pass'd thy grand climacteric,
How many mice and rats hast in thy days
Destroy'd? How many tit-bits stolen? Gaze
With those bright languid segments green, and
Those velvet ears - but prythee do not stick
Thy latent talons in me - and tell me all thy frays,
Of fish and mice, and rats and tender chick;
Nay, look not down, nor lick thy dainty wrists, -
For all the wheezy asthma - and for all
Thy tail's tip is nick'd off - and though the fists
Of many a maid have given thee many a maul,
Still is thy fur as when the lists
In youth thou enter'dst on glass-bottled wall.
~John Keats

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Marrakesh Express

My buddy Hillel's brother, Efrem Bromberg, is taking some time off between jobs. Lucky man's in Marrakesh!

None of my pre-travel reading prepared me for the heart of the Marrakesh Medina (old  city). It is a circus - a nightly spontaneous theatre of snake charmers, trained monkeys, musicians, storytellers and Moroccan clowns.

Stalls are packed with every food you could want and plenty you don't want. Figs, dates, every kind of dried fruit and nut, fresh fruit juices, snails, turtles, bite sized pastries, candies, cactus fruits, pressed sugar cane juice... everything. (The snails are boiled fresh on the cart. I have no idea what they do with the turtles.) Moroccan families sit at long tables around a tented makeshift kitchen cooking-up Moroccan favorites: cous cous, tajine, sausages (best not to ask what's inside). Horns and stringed instruments blare, donkey carts amble and from everywhere motor scooters zoom right past pedestrians, diners and performers. "Unregulated" does not begin to describe this town. The streets are full of men selling wind-up toys, "Rolex" watches, jewelery, cell phones, even plumbing  fixtures. And, of course, there are many beggars and many, many cats.

Mostly Moroccans go to the square after sunset but there are plenty of Europeans too—this is Europe's Disneyland but without the free parking. And restrooms are harder to come by.

Marrakesh is an Indiana Jones acid trip; high energy, swirling, spinning motion, awesome colors. I have become part of the non-stop motion because if I stop, even for an instant, I will be invited into someone's cousin's godfather's, best friend's carpet shop in the massive, maze called a souq. I've seen the souq in big cities like Istanbul and Jerusalem. But nothing compares to Marrakesh. There are tanneries right there... in the souq!

Teams of tanners prepare donkey, sheep, cow and camel hides. The hides are soaked for one month in ammonia. And then another month in pigeon poop. Really. Pigeon poop. Then the fur is scraped from the hides and turned into rugs. The hides are turned into Moroccan slippers. And ottoman-like seats called "poufs". And how have I become a maven on Moroccan leather goods? Today, I held still for one instant when I happened to meet my new best friend, Mohammad. "You are lost? Come! I show you main square. You American? Yes? Obama? Obama is good! I show you. We are brothers. Come." By a crazy coincidence, we happened upon a man who gave tours of the leather works. He hands me a bouquet of mint to smell to cover the awful odor of the tannery. And who would have guessed? My tour guide had a friend who sold leather goods in his shop. I did not wake up this morning thinking I would buy a pouf. But trust me, it'll look great in the living room. And I drove a hard bargain. I think.

This crazy party goes on until midnight. Every night. It's been this way for a thousand years. I'm pretty sure Roman centurions brought poufs home. And the Turks, too. I reckon that's why they're called "ottomans."

Marrakesh Express—Crosby, Stills and Nash

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Me and My Endorphins

That's Jen!
In today’s alternate reality I’m a runner. I know that runner’s high—that point where I break through the pain, the stitch in my right side, the twinge in my left hamstring. The endorphins are way over the floodgates and I could go forever.

You know what this is about, don’t you? I haven’t been able to trike since early January. You knew that though.

On my recumbent trike, I’m not hampered by my wonky, balance nerve free brain. On my trike I can whiz down the road or slowly peddle, keeping my eye out for interesting and alluring pic possibilities. On my trike, I can be riding along Wollaston Beach within 30 minutes (it takes an hour or so to walk there). 

I’m getting fabola exercise while riding my trike. I’m giving my sinuses a good work out too. And, oh yeah, there’s those awesome endorphins which do a far better job than any antidepressant ever did.

When I see runners out and about in 10º temps with three and four feet of messy, brown crusted snow and ice blocking all the sidewalks and bike lanes, I’m 99,000 kinds of envious. They’re leaping like gazelles over those pesky drifts and tall piles of plowed frozen shit. They dash on up the road without a slip or a slide in their bright winter jogging garb.

I HATE them all! OK. No. I’m just ridiculously jealous.

Next week the thaw action really begins. The highs will be at or above 32º consistently and after that we’re into the 40s. It’ll be April before I can ride again and, boyhowdy, I’m majorly outta shape now. I need to get back into things slowly (that’ll be HARD!!! *sniff*), pace myself and do a ton of post ride stretching. Gotta be smart.

After all, I’ve got a goal or three.

No Danny Macaskill, me but there’s the Isle of Skye—the Armadale to Tarskavaig and Broadford to Sunish routes to start. Dunvegan to Uig too.Then it's on to the Outer Hebrides.

‘scuse me, I have to go suit up for today's mall walking stint now. *sigh*

Technical Difficulties

I'm experiencing a sad, tragic even, lack of connectedness to the internet this morning. The gods of wifi aren't speaking to me. Hells bells, they're not even spitting in my general direction.

Was it something I said?

Did I cut the cheese a little too loudly?

Is it my breath?

My outfit's not hip enough? Hey, I just read that ratty, ripped old bathrobes are THE thing on the catwalks in Paris this season!

C'mon man, you can tell me! I won't bite your head off.