DragonMan

bonemanWhen I wasn’t calling him by his real name of Doug, I called him either HMO’Keefe or Dragonman (sometimes shortened to DMan.) The former was a nickname of his choosing based on an historical character. The latter, and the subject of this blather, is my nickname for him. Once in a great while, I called him Boneman which was his online moniker when he wasn’t using HMO’Keefe.

I don’t really remember how it got started.

We met on an anthropology listserv (a kind of online forum.) I was the middle-aged undergraduate student with no fear and he was the gentle scientist. As is my wont, I blasted into the group with questions and commentary. He was one of the first to respond. In his gentle manner, he told me I might want to tone it down a bit. I said, and I’m pretty sure this is exact at least in meaning, “Ah hell, y’all are hollering ‘fresh meat’ and loving every second of my nonsense.” He laughed. The group gave me a hard time, but they gave everyone a hard time. They also seemed to like me. I’m kind of likeable on some days. Doug became my academic mentor.

columbus in the springWith respect to the listserv, I think, he said something along the lines of “I’ll help slay the dragons.”

I said, “You are the dragon! And, besides, I’ll slay my own dragons, thank you very much.”

We were friends a good while before we were lovers. During that friend phase, he was the Dragon in the Computer. It wasn’t until later when we both left our marriages that we became a couple. I don’t know when it was that we went from platonic to romantic, but I do know when, where and how it was consummated. Most of our time together was spent 800 miles apart. I remember our 3D meetings in vivid color.

Boston in the snowI think the nickname tickled him. He adopted Dman. I have mixed CDs he put together for me labeled A Dman Compilation. I called him DragonMan. I had no interest in slaying the dragon, but I may have tried to tame him. He had a stubborn streak particularly with respect to his leukemia and the ensuing chaos. There was friction. Oddly enough, I was the fire breathing one.

For Mother’s Day this year he gave me a gift certificate to a gardening catalog. After much fretting and carrying on, I chose the lawn dragon. I didn’t tell him what I ordered. I wanted him to be surprised. At the time, I was sure it was priced too high and would be too small. I was wrong. It’s quite substantial, just the right size, and a fitting memorial. It was delivered a few days after his death.

The eye of the dragonI put it out Monday, finally, just before the first snowfall of the year. I set it amidst a bed of white stones. The stones are temporary. This spring I will plant the area with Irish Moss.

I bought one small clump of the moss this year and plopped it in the yard to see if it would thrive, just survive, or plain old die. It has thrived and is remarkably beautiful. I was loathe to buy more than one as it was expensive and I need about 20 of them, but since it’s doing so well I’ll get what I need or maybe more. I’ll probably have to take out a mortgage to fund this, but it will be spectacular.

snow dragon in the gardenI enjoyed seeing the dragon frosted with snow this morning. As much as DragonMan bitched about it, I think he liked snow. I don’t think he could have done 30 years in Boston otherwise.

I miss him, but the dragon makes me smile much the same way he did.

—————–

I typed the draft of this post on a Neo2. The Neo is a nifty little keyboard with a small screen. It can hold 8 small files. Allegedly it’s all the rage with writers, although designed for classrooms. It weighs next to nothing, is cheap, uploads to word processing programs easily, and nobody would be interested in stealing it unless you’re in a room full of writers. My dad showed me his and I drooled all over it, so he gave me one for my birthday.

It’s great for dragging out to the garden, or the auto shop waiting room, or any place that a laptop might take a beating. It runs on AA batteries and is just a little gem. If it breaks, or is lost or is stolen, you haven’t lost your whole life. It’s a nifty little tool and I’m quite impressed with it. It reminds me of my misspent youth when I worked in a law office on IBM’s first electronic typewriters. They too had a tiny memory, but were tremendously useful for storing paragraphs or legal descriptions used over and over in a case. I think I love this little thing.

http://www.renlearn.com/neo2/default.aspx  (Aw damn, like they’re discontinuing you them in the states.)

Every Body and a Lot of Things Took a Bath Sunday

bathingbeautyEvery Body and a Lot of Things Took a Bath Sunday

OK, that’s an exaggeration. The two cats did not have a bath though it may not be a bad idea.

The day started with Berry getting a bath. Early evening I had a long, luxurious soak. We’re wrapping up the evening with patio cushions soaking in the tub. In beween bathing events in the tub, there were laundry, dishes, more laundry, and another glorious day in the garden.

gruelLittle Berry Berry is still quite sick. Per the vet’s instructions, I have been feeding him extremely stinky critical care food watered down to the consistency of gruel via a syringe shoved into his mouth every two hours. It’s not pleasant for either of us, but he hasn’t eaten much at all for nearly 3 weeks. Critical care, indeed.

The good news is he seems a little better; the bad news is the gruesome gruel method of feeding provoked a bout of diarrhea this morning. And so we had Bath No. 1.

He was filthy before the attack of diarrhea, but it was harmless dirt. I didn’t want to bathe him given how sick he is and how cold it is. However, the stinky food excreted and soaked into his fur made a bath mandatory. He’s lost nearly 25% of his body weight over the past weeks and every lost ounce showed once he was soaked and lathered.

Poor little guy. We are not going to properly bond at this rate. The wet dog in the picture is Babette. Little Berry looked even more pitiful.

The diarrhea necessitated the washing of couch throws and pillows, my pajamas and the floor. All three probably needed cleaning anyway, but I really wanted to get into the garden. However, stinky critical care food excreted through the bowels of a sick dog left me no choice. I hate being a grownup pretty much all the time, but today especially so.

leafmulchingI did finally get into the garden. I managed to tame the leaves in the fenced part of the yard. The new little electric lawn mower is a peachy leaf mulcher and the old electric leaf blower is a champion mulch placement device. The garden beds giggled as I tucked them in with a couple inches of leafy blanket.

I do not understand why people wage such wars against leaves -war that involves raking and bagging or raking and burning. Chopped up leaves are a blessing and a boon to garden soil particularly that which tends toward clay. And mine doesn’t just tend; I could open a pottery studio. But over the years, leaf mulching has made it possible for me to plant daffodils like a normal gardener which means I don’t have to use the pick axe and auger.

meBy the time I was done, various body parts were complaining loudly. I crawled into the bathtub with Dr. Teal’s Chamomile Epson Salt Moisturizing Bubble Bath. Epsom salts are a gift! Sore muscles and menopause symptoms both will benefit from a long, leisurely soak in slickery, fragrant Epsom salts.

Following the bath, it was time for the next gruesome gruel feeding, but thankfully this one was uneventful. I was thus able to drag patio cushions upstairs to soak in a bath doctored with dishwashing soap and Oxyclean. After the wet summer, I’m afeared the mildew stains are permanent. I’ll probably ending up “dying” the cushions with house stain. I don’t really want dark brown cushions, but they’ll probably not show dirt like pale blue does.

bathingcushionsSo now I’m sitting here drinking wine from the Dollar General (no kidding – another blog post for another time) and thinking about the conversation I just had with Chef Boy ‘R Mine. Damn, I raised him well. (Connie preens and twirls.)

A Hallelujah Chorus in Leaf Mulch

I love windows.

I love windows.

It did my evil little heart good to get outside in the garden today.

I hadn’t attended to any of the leaves until today because of the cataract surgery. When one lives in a forest, this is, perhaps, not a good idea. I am not exaggerating – I had fallen, unraked leaves that accumulated on their own into 1’ and 2’ piles in the fenced area of the garden.

I did a lot in the garden this past spring. Doug was recently discharged from the hospital and not well enough to be left alone for several weeks. That time period coincided with a streak of beyond-gorgeous weather that makes a body’s heart hurt.

I’m reading a book by Julia Keller titled A Killing in the Hills that is set in West Virginia. I’m not very far into the book, but she astounded me on pages 27-28 with her description of an Appalachia spring. I’ve spent years trying to develop a concise, accurate description that could be conveyed in writing without accompanying photographs.

Keller wrote:

It was a beautiful place, especially in the late spring and throughout the long summer, when the hawks wrote slow, wordless stories across the pale blue parchment of the sky, when the tree-lined valleys exploded in a green so vivid and yet so predictable that it was like a hallelujah shout at a tent revival. You always knew it was coming, but it could still knock you clean off your feet.

leavesImagine if you will that the acres surrounding my barn exploded into a lengthy mountain music version of the Hallelujah chorus. That was this past spring. Imagine now, piles of leaves waist high being mulched with a lawn mower. Can you hear the closing strains of those Hallelujahs as they shelter the plants for the winter under a blanket of leaf mulch. Yes, the wheel turns.

Gardening and writing keep me sane. Last spring, my sanity was hanging by a thread. Some would argue the thread broke. That stretch of spring, with its soaring melody, kept me grounded. Since Doug slept a lot, I spent a lot of time outside – often working by lantern light.

My long-time readers know that my garden is a work in progress – one that began with acres of packed gravel inches deep in unblastable clay. In the beginning, to plant a daffodil required a pick axe and sometimes an auger. After 22 years or so of waging battle against bad dirt, I was sure this year was going to be The Year My Garden Landed on the Cover of Southern Living.

a lot of work

During the 2013 Garden Palooza

By my standards, I poured a ton of money into the ground out back. I painted lawn furniture, bought new cushions, planted a dozen or so shrubs and bushes, and planted flats and flats of petunias and impatiens. I babied a patch of Irish moss, let lavender roam free, and lost all sense of prudence when I bought the fountain and the super-duper-big planter to hold a tropical, vining plant. This was going to be the year.

And then the rains came. The news described them as “scattered storms.” Every one of those scattered storms stalled over the top of my piece of heaven and monsooned. I joked and quipped and carried on about building a lotus pond combo moat to try and keep my barn from sliding off its foundation in a mudslide.

I measured daily rains in inches. Really. If memory serves, we had one of the wettest Mays and Junes of all time and I got more of those scattered storms than most.

Marine Corps Veterans - Daddy and his Good Officer's Wife

Marine Corps Veterans – Daddy and his Good Officer’s Wife

And then Doug went into the hospital for the last time. As I moved into my role as psychopomp, the garden boiled in the wet heat. And then it was overrun with weeds. And then the lawnmower broke. And then I was grieving.

The garden is a mess. A passerby (if I had passerbys) would swear it’s been neglected for decades.

I’m hoping the weather holds for the rest of this Veteran’s Day weekend. I could do some serious cleanup, weeding, this-and-that’s and have a garden ready for frolicking come March. Last year was the first spring I was able to just leap into planting mode without having to spend on weeks on winter clean up. I’m hoping for a repeat.

petunias in november

Petunias in November!

It’s been abnormally warm.  I found blooming petunias today as well as a climbing hydrangea with buds. It’s too much to hope that this weather will hold for long, but I’m enjoying it.  My serotonin levels are enjoying it and I’m pretty sure my Vitamin D got topped off today.

Four months.  I can hang on until then.  Happy Veteran’s Day Weekend, y’all.

The Mantra of My Life

For years, I’ve said, “More time, more time, more time,” is the mantra of my life. But upon recent contemplation, I’ve had a Eureka! moment and now know why “more time, more time, more time” should NOT be the mantra of my life.

I feel stupid and silly to just now be realizing this.

Mantra’s root meaning centers on that which protects the mind. My mind is not protected by scurrying about chanting Moretimemoretimemoretime like the White Rabbit on cocaine.

“More time, more time, more time” might describe the great need of my life – for decades now – but pleading endlessly for it has not worked. In the tradition of affirmations, I should be muttering “I have all the time I need.”

Or so they say.

An empty closet! Hah! So there!

I don’t think I could say, “I have all the time I need” and not break into hysteria-tinged laughter which would, no doubt, defeat any power the phrase had in terms of positive thinking.

Here’s what I know: I’ve been running at 90 miles an hour for weeks now and I’m not even close to caught up. On anything. The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get. (I’m not sure who said that and I’m too exhausted to look it up.)

For all of my behindedness, I am getting some things accomplished. I scheduled recreation this weekend and I scheduled chores. I completed all the recreation, but I’m woefully behind on chores.

Friday, Terrific Trudy came home from the vet.  Her surgery was successful in that the vet thinks he got all of the cancer.  While the incision(s) looked horrible, she acted as if she felt okay.

I also spent one-on-one time with my best friend. She and I killed a pizza and discussed life in general over glasses of wine.

On Saturday, I puttered in the garden weeding and planting all the little darlings I bought last weekend. Just before heading in to shower, I moved the houseplants outside and put them in the ground. (You should hear them all giggle when I do that. They get so excited – it’s like a summer vacation camping trip as far as they’re concerned.)

After showering, HMOKeefe and I headed to Charleston for our first date night as a couple who lives together. We had dinner with friends at the Tidewater and then ambled over to see Saint Stephen’s Dream: A Space Opera. Dinner and the performance were spectacular.

 

Mission Accomplished!

Today, HMOKeefe and I did (alert the press) empty the little closet and begin moving his togs into it. He no longer is living out of a suitcase in the guest room. After the closet triumph, I ran around in a White Rabbit on Cocaine Meets June Cleaver frenzy and vacuumed, scrubbed, laundered, dusted, sorted, scooted, corralled, set-up, tore-down and dejunked.

Alas. All the crap that was in the little closet is now spread all over the guest room. If I were a different person I might be tempted to say I have too many pieces of footwear.  But we all know that I am never ever, not ever, no way Jose going to say something that silly.

It’s just after midnight – technically Monday already.

OK. Maybe a few too many pairs of shoes.

I still have to shower and figure out what I’m wearing tomorrow. Put in another load of laundry. Give Trudy her meds.

Moretimemoretimemoretime.

I swear. If I could just get caught up, I could stay caught up. But way too much life keeps happening. Still and all, these are the good old days. I think. No. I’m sure of it.

Perhaps that’s my mantra – These Are the Good, Old Days.

In any event, it’s now my earworm.