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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Seeing and Feeling

Over the last couple years, I began painting on the stairway and upstairs walls.  There’s the koi pond, One Fish, Two Fish and the almost completed Seussian giraffe on TAB’s study door. He had special affinity for giraffes – they were tall and graceful. Like him!

The last one I’d begun, Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose is on our bedroom door. I was doing these whimsical murals to entertain, to cheer him up. It worked. He loved Dr. Seuss.

Also too – I did these in order to stay upstairs, close by in case he needed anything. His health, his mobility was on a major downswing these past five years. I wasn't comfortable being away from him, not even to go to the grocery store.

I also drew animals in Illustrator on my little laptop. I could sit with him in our living room, doodle away and then show him the results. It made him happy. I brought the laptop to the hospital so I could doodle for him there. Above left is my last one, a turtle, the only one I did there.

We talked of more Seuss – as he was spending more and more time in bed, I told him that I'd begin painting teetering stacks of Yertle the Turles around our wide closet door. He laughed. He was delighted. I lived to inspire smiles and giggles in him.

I’m moving my painting studio up here to the living/dining room now. My next big (4’x6’-ish) stretched canvas (and this may be the last one on canvas as I’ve been planning to switch over to all water based medium on paper) will be of that last scene in TAB’s ICU room – the Avalon-esque one.

Some of my artist chums’s have, in turn, given me some of their work and, boyhowdy, they've given me big fat smiles.

Linda Baker Cimini sent me two mega awesome prints – Grande Jette and Toadalisque. Christ almighty, I love her work!

Holly Sears made me a wild, bittersweet yet waggish pair of earrings. Chagall, very happily, always comes to mind when I see her work.

Ellen Huie brought me this gorgeous, dream-like plate (below)

God, I'm lucky.

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.
~ Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

One eye sees, the other feels.
~ Paul Klee

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Distraction Action

Just as I need to experience, really feel my grief and sorrow in real time – repression’s a sucker’s game – I DO need distraction. Ya know, all woe and no joy makes Donna a psycho kind of gal. Can’t have that, mon ami.

So then, I’m working again. The simple layout and small design jobs help. My mind is completely focused when I’m Creative Clouding away. It’s a balm.

I went to see another movie – The Secret Life of Pets. Very cute but it may still be too soon for me to be able to enjoy a movie in a theater surrounded by, ya know, PEOPLE. I found, in this one and in Ghostbusters,  that I wanted to get up and go home almost immediately. Yes, I wanted to see the flicks (and I did stay) but I yearn to be home surrounded by Bob things, Bob smells, Bob-ness. What to do? Get my DVD player fixed and watch sci fi, animation and such here at home.Workin' on it.

I’m planning a trip to see Daddy in late August.  This one’ll be slightly more leisurely since I don’t need to race back to Valhalla and The Amazing Bob (*sniff*). Jen and I will stay overnight in a town close-ish to where my father lives so that we can have lunch with him on two consecutive days. Two shorter, less taxing visits.
Sadie, Trixie and Giselle Cumulus
Brother, George Cumulus
Jen, Oni and I are making a plan for my upcoming birthday, the first without my TAB and I’m dreading it. The idea is to do something completely different from past years.  We’ll drive out to Mass MoCA in North Adams, MA. I’ve never been and I hear tell the place is fabola. As long as we’re at the far western edge of Massachusetts, we’ll zip up to Hoosick Falls – just an hour further north – visit Helen and fam, have a little dinner party and stay the night.

I’m starting to have longer stretches where the grief’s not dialed up to eleventy-billion. What this means is that I think mebbe I can trust myself on the trike again. In the past, when consumed with worry or anxiety, I’ve been less than careful and observant. I've rolled the trike… twice. Yeah, fucking, ouch! So then, I’ve been off my beloved three wheeler for almost a month now. Time to get back on. I’ll take it easy at first. Short rides, just around the neighborhood.

The weather report says that the next four or five days will be in the 90s. *Oof City* What this means is that I’ll get out mega early to trike or walk the beach and then I’ll be home to hibernate in the ACed boudoir. I can get back to cleaning, sorting, organizing and discovering forgotten bits from my long shared life with TAB OR I’ll indulge in trashy mystery novels, hippy dippy sci fi (rereading Stranger in a Strange Land) and Vonnegut. Probably both.

Cousin Trinnie Stratocumulus
I’m trying to enter this new TAB-less life. I don’t want to. I want to stay in my cozy home with him here. So much of the time I find myself still stunned that he’s gone. I just don’t get how we could be happily hangin’ at home one day and the next we’re on a horror ride. The Mantle Cell Lymphoma was supposed to be just a piffle and then all of a sudden it was Godzilla stomping through his body like it was a cardboard Tokyo. Pneumonia piled on and then his heart decided to get into the action. My man was ganged up on! NO FAIRS!

Hell’s bells, I get it – his body passed its expiration date. Check. Did it have to flame out so fast and spectacularly though? Could we not have had something a little slower, more peaceful or, at the very least, just ONE damn disease at a time?

Sometime in the past year, TAB was in pain from a crushed disk in his spine. He just couldn’t get comfortable. Sitting in his recliner with a heating pad on his back and Coco on his lap, he pronounced that, in a better universe, we wouldn’t occupy these meat sacks. We’d be Free Floating Sentient Cloud Beings.


Friday, July 22, 2016

Advice and Cats

Coco and her pet human, TAB
The Amazing Bob gave me brill advice over the years. In going through all his papers, I found this one, below, from 2008-ish. This was in the days of BOP (Big Orange Pumpkin) before we became Tux Central.

An aside – TAB was especially fond of large orange tabbies. Jen has suggested that if reincarnation is a thing, TAB’s gonna come back as an orange tabby who’s adopted by a certain cat lady (*cough* me) here on the Neck.

Yes, yes this would be good.

In any case, here are his words of wisdom imparted on that day:
You’re not required to like everyone in your family or all your in-laws. I didn’t and I’ve never met anyone who did.

No one – including you – is expected to win over people who show you no respect.
You’ve got plenty to cope with already. Like what?

Like dealing with your neuromas, your deafness, your full-time job in a failing economy, your fight to keep your increasingly svelte figure, creating and marketing your works of art and taking care of BOP and me…to name a few.

Lighten up your load, my sweet.
Yeah, my man was wise – not just a wise guy.

If you're really a mean person you're going to come back as a fly and eat poop.
~ Kurt Cobain
TAB, as a cat, will have nothing but Fancy Feast Grilled Tuna and Catnip Fever treats. Of course.

An interesting take from Faulkner:
You know that if I were reincarnated, I’d want to come back a buzzard. Nothing hates him or envies him or wants him or needs him. He is never bothered or in danger, and he can eat anything.
and I like this, from Nuno Roque:
I love the idea of reincarnation, so just in case it doesn't exist, I decided to be different people in the same lifetime.
TAB and I mebbe would've done this but, ya know, that's a lot of work and we have a herd of cat to feed and cosset!

Thursday, July 21, 2016


Jen, Oni and I went to see Ghostbusters last night.

Maybe it was too soon after my mondo, horrific loss for me to go to a big, summer, happy, blockbuster. Just FYI – this, that The Amazing Bob is gone, blows gargantuan Gamera wang. Or maybe it was that there was a shit ton of dialogue so I had to keep lifting the 3-D glasses to read the little closed caption display. Maybe it’s that we went to an evening show versus a matinee and, as ya’ll well know, I am most def a morning person.

The flick was fun. Definitely. We’ll rent it when it comes out on vid (or download or whatever it is “we” do now) so’s I can view it again, not in 3-D and at an hour that’s more in keeping with my current, wonky sleep/wake patterns. I’ll assuredly catch more of the repartee then too.

Here’s what stood out to me big and mega bold – the inventor Jillian Holtzmann played by Kate McKinnon. Holy flaming shit, she was incredibly awesome!
“Most great comedy people like to live on the edge,” Feig told Vulture this week, “but Kate lives about ten feet past the edge, suspended in midair with no parachute.” (source)
I want to be McKinnon’s Jillian Holtzmann when I grow up. Ya know, should that ever happen and don’t hold yur breath.

The worst parts of last night’s big this-is-supposed-to-be-fun-dammit outing?
A) We went to dinner beforehand and I ordered something called The Pain Eraser. Yeah, with a handle like that, I HAD to order it. FYI, didn’t work.
B) Post movie, as we exited the fabulously comfortable Braintree cinema, I realized that TAB wasn’t waiting up for me at home. I wouldn’t be walking in the door, breathlessly telling him all about how utterly cool McKinnon was. I wouldn’t be vogueing any of her awesome moves for him or pestering him to buy me a pair of goggles JUST LIKE HERS!
Do you know how completely full to the brim of hot molasses covered, bloated maggot carcasses that was? Yeah, you might and I’m very sorry if you do. I was a big ol' sobby mess the whole way home in the car. I noticed the beautiful, not quite full, deep orange moon and remarked that TAB was alive at the last full moon. He was here to view my fuzzy pics (I just can't manage to take a good night shots) and encourage me to try again next month.

I’m not giving up on the movie escapism yet. I’m gonna go see a matinee of The Secret Life of Pets  maybe today or tomorrow. And Star Trek Beyond opens TOMORROW! Suicide Squad which looks like all kinds of big, skeezy fun, opens on August 5th.

Hollywood blockbusters as broken spirit salve – this could work!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Whoever's calm and sensible is insane!
~ Rumi

The only order in the universe is just a cycle of calm and chaos.
~ Toba Beta, Master of Stupidity
Spent Monday at the smartcar dealership where Bix was having his annual physical. This check up woulda cost just north of $300, expensive enough, BUT they discovered that Bix needed new brakes too. The bill came in at just over a grand. OUCH! The very nice folk there also let me know that I’ll need 3 new tires in about 4,000 miles too. More ouchy.

Ya know, I just wanna know how come life doesn’t come to a full fucking stop (or at least a full fucking pause) because MY HUNNY PIE DIED!

Rilly now, if this was a just universe, it would. I wouldn’t need to jump through a thousand and one half hoops to cancel or get my name alone on various accounts. My kitchen and basement wouldn’t, molto inopportunely, flood. For that matter, bills should just flat out STOP for a coupla months. I should get a free ride because, fer fuck’s sake, The Amazing Bob is no more.

In a world that made sense, I wouldn’t, now, need to lock my doors and windows. The strawberries in my fridge should NOT have withered and gone fuzzy – what were they thinking? I was gonna put them in my yogurt this morning. Oopsie, that's gone past its expiration date too. This ain't right.

On that note, the grocery store’s just chockfull of heartbreak triggers.

As I’m sure I’ve already mentioned, TAB and I had very different eating habits. Every single morning for brekkie, he had a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats and a cup of tea. Me? Leftover sushi or Sichuan Asparagus, sometimes oatmeal and, always, COFFEE!

I can’t go down the cereal aisle now –  it sparks a big fat round of waterworks.

Same with the cookie aisle. TAB loved him some Milanos (especially mint!) and Nantucket Dark Chocolate biscuits. When he baked (which used happen, minimum, a few times each week), he’d make himself regular old chocolate chip – his fave. For me, he’d magic up some wondrous oatmeal, spinach and butterscotch chip babies. It’s been at least six months since TAB employed his kitchen wizardry at all and well over a year since he cookied us up with any regularity. Given this, I was in that section of the grocery a few times a week. Yeah, do recall – my man was a serious Cookie Monster – I had to keep a big supply on hand. So then, that lane’s a no-go now too.

The bakery section where I’d pick up TAB’s sammich bread and his beloved pumpkin pies is off limits too unless I want to indulge in a fit of public weeping and wailing.

Really now, just about every lane in the store holds solid sob kindling. It ain’t fair.

The ideal of calm exists in a sitting cat.
~ Jules Renard

It's so hard to forget pain, but it's even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.
~ Chuck Palahniuk, Diary

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


While going through my wonderful, sweet man’s papers, I found part of a notepad. It was a diary, of sorts, from a few months in 2004/2005. This was back when I was majorly illin’. It was from when I was undergoing stereotactic fractionated radiation – the hope was that it’d shrink the bully-boy neuromas and, thus, preserve my hearing.

Nope. Didn’t work – just made me, 24/7, sicker than a binge drinking college kid but without the fun, sloppy protestations of LURV or ill advised hook ups. I’d get up in the morning, shower, dress, puke and head out to the car for the inbound commute with Jen and Oni. At that point, reliably, I'd lose my cookies all over the driveway and then head back to bed.

This went on for an obscenely long time – six months to a year mebbe? (yes, there were breaks in this lovely routine but not many) In that time, the docs played with the beam so’s it wouldn’t hit the hurl portion of my brain quite so much. They weren’t entirely successful BUT I was able to, eventually, make it to work for a few hours on most days.

In any case, this was a bad time. I slept an awful lot and TAB wrote to me. He said that he wanted to record what was going on in our world just so’s I would know. It was also his way of continuing our endless, ongoing convos and reflections.

From January of 2005
I was just thinking that a lot of shit has happened in our lives, mutually and respectively, since we got hitched in that wonderfully bizarre ceremony in 2002.

Since then, we’ve moved from East Cambridge to Quincy (AKA Valhalla) and become house-owners versus exploited tenants. And since becoming house-owners we’ve dealt with replacing a water heater, a gas furnace, sewer pipes and the Little Big Dig between our houses.

Since then, I went from full to part-time to laid off to retired and you’ve dealt with new employers and tons of responsibility with no help.

In February of 2002 we had our last ASL class with Bob (AKA Sign Language Bob).

In March, on Jack Kerouac’s birthdate, you had spinal surgery. In October of 2003 I had a stent stuck in my heart, followed by useless artery exploration and later a colonoscopy (which was definitely a pain in the ass). And in August of 2002 your mother had her surgery.

In May of 2002, Miles started his job at Channel 8 in D.C.

Oh and we had that tree chopped down and hauled away (it was huge and, very sadly, diseased).

I’m sure I must be forgetting a lot of other significant stuff but it has been an eventful three years, has it not?
Yeah, this wasn’t the most cheerful or snarkarific of his notes but it’s the one that really hit me first. My man was feeling the weight of our vida loca which'd gone into overdrive.

I’ll be sure to post his reflections on Hunter S. Thompson’s death, gamma ray shooting neutron stars (and how that could, possibly, have effected us), our crazy cat herd, contractor woes and more, soon.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Vonnegut Monday

I've been going through The Amazing Bob's bookshelves. What to keep, what to sell? Kurt Vonnegut was a fave author, along with Shakespeare and Twain. I believe it's time to get lost in a few good books.

From Slaughterhouse-Five:
- Why me?
- That is a very Earthling question to ask, Mr. Pilgrim. Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is. Have you ever seen bugs trapped in amber?
- Yes.
- Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.
Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops.
That's one thing Earthlings might learn to do, if they tried hard enough: Ignore the awful times and concentrate on the good ones.
All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist.
It is just an illusion here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone, it is gone forever.”
When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in a bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is "so it goes.”

And so it goes...
From Player Piano:
I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center.
From The Sirens of Titan:
I was a victim of a series of accidents, as are we all.
From Slapstick, or Lonesome No More!:
Love is where you find it. I think it is foolish to go around looking for it, and I think it can be poisonous. I wish that people who are conventionally supposed to love each other would say to each other, when they fight, 'Please — a little less love, and a little more common decency'.
From Hocus Pocus:
Just because you can read, write and do a little math, doesn't mean that you're entitled to conquer the universe.
From Breakfast of Champions:
I couldn't help wondering if that was what God put me on Earth for--to find out how much a man could take without breaking.
From Bluebeard:
All right - I'll tell you what you did for me: you went for happy, silly, beautiful walks with me.
From Mother Night:
And yet another moral occurs to me now: Make love when you can. It's good for you.
Random words of wisdom:
The practice of art isn't to make a living. It's to make your soul grow.

Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter could be said to remedy anything.

I really wonder what gives us the right to wreck this poor planet of ours.

Until you die .. it's all life. 
Do you realize that all great literature — "Moby Dick," "Huckleberry Finn," "A Farewell to Arms," "The Scarlet Letter," "The Red Badge of Courage," "The Iliad and The Odyssey," "Crime and Punishment," the Bible, and "The Charge of the Light Brigade" — are all about what a bummer it is to be a ...human being?”
and from Timequake:
Ting-a-ling mother fucker.

Sunday, July 17, 2016


The always VERY serious Maderer/Grant Dynamic Duo
There are moments, long ones, when being without TAB feels well beyond my ability to bear. His health'd been declining pretty steadily for, mebbe, the past five years. I saw that, I knew it and it scared the ever livin' fuck outta me. I feared losing him...a way, mega lot.

Who am I without The Amazing Bob? He loved me for me – Nf2ed, neurotic BS spewing, fart machining, chubby, molto opinionated, potty mouthed, naggy bitch that I am. And yeah, those are my good points.

I loved him – his dicky tickered, grumpy ass, homebody, jazz head, punning, poetry writing, beautiful, kind, giving, baking, silly creative self.

He got me. We were on the same wavelength.

Today my soul, my being is a raw, abraded mess.

Here are some more memories of my wonderful AMAZING Bob:

Us, right after we said our I dos – 15 years after the fact.
Miles told his chums that we just wanted to, ya know,
make sure things'd work before signing on the dotted line.
 I just remember Bob as this oasis of calm in the Copy Cop madness (and the hot wax mess that i was at 19). He was like a soothing balm and I loved that he liked corny jokes. He was part of the rescue mission that was the group I encountered at Copy Cop. You all shaped me as an adult whether you realized it or not.

Bob Ray
I can still hear Bob’s voice booming out of the Kopy Kop PA. And I have a really warm memory of him being one of the best people I ever met. I don't have any specific reasons for that, it was just something I instantly knew, that he was then and forever one of the good ones.

I also remember, when you had invited me over to take some photos as reference for a painting, his stern admonition: "No nudies.”
I remember starting in Copy Cop and Bob made me feel so welcome. I thought his humour very quirky and couldn't figure it out for a while! I was always in a good mood working with him and even when I messed up (more than once!) it was never a big deal...maybe it (probably!) was but he never let on. I always thought you guys made a great couple.
During the early 1990s, while working at Copy Cop, I accepted a position, that brought me to the  company’s main branch. There, my kind-hearted, early morning colleagues (Bob, Donna and Jen) made me feel most welcome.

One of the perks — receiving a daily wake up call, accompanied by a verse of poetry, from Bob.

What a wonderful way to start the day!
When I think Of Bob, I think of a poet, a master baker, a rabid Red Sox fan and a voracious reader. I see Bob an exemplary father and a delighted grandfather. He was a cynic, a wordsmith, a wit and a man whose tough life experience was faced with a gentle soul. For me, the most lasting image of Bob is of a warm, attentive, doting and deeply in love husband. I’ve known Donna for a long time and I will always be grateful to Bob for bringing her so much joy, comfort, understanding, perfectly matched humor and his always comfortable presence.

And really, we are all so lucky that those are Bob’s gifts to us all.
This next memory is from Patti Jordano. She’s TAB’s heart guy’s (Doc Drachman) tremendously fab nurse practitioner.
It has been my honor to care for your husband over the years. I will miss seeing him in clinic. The two of you had a beautiful relationship. I will miss hearing Bob say to you (at the end of each appointment), that we said “eat more cookies.” I always laughed when he said this.
Yeah, he always got a big, fat Yes Dear from me for this grinning translation of the good medic’s instructions.

I want him back. NOW! K? Please?