Beginnings Reinvented

It was a dreary Tuesday; skies grey, a constant drizzle, not a rain, which added more and more weight to the spirit. No battles to fight other than boredom. The only thing that could have made it worse; this could have been a Monday.

When I was first approached to join the TSF, I had visions of never ending adventures; little did I know that I had joined Travelers Aid.

The Elite of society, as the Elite have done through the ages, paid dearly to vacation somewhere special. And now those special few, vacation somewhere special in time. I would be there, the Temporal Security Force presence…to direct them to the loo, if there was one (and the looks on their faces when there wasn’t); change their popular cards into coin, and explain why their costumes had pockets and often what coins were.

The Captain called me to her desk, “Charly, you earned a partner.” Her eyes never lifted from the papers in front of her.

This was the point, that moment when you were judged.

I remember last year; fifteen years on the job and Old Sam got this call, got his partner. An Aardvark as it turned out. Pleasant enough but no help with the paperwork. Folks said it was because of the thing with the marshmallows Sam was selling during the Pompeii jump.

“That’s it? When? What is it, her, him?”

“He’s sitting on your desk.” The Captain returned her gaze to the paperwork on her desk.

I turned and looked back at my desk and there, seated next to my Royal typewriter, sitting in a diminutive floral upholstered wing back chair with matching ottoman, was my partner.”

I walked to the desk that I was now, apparently, sharing. He stood and extending his hand that was roughly the size of an acorn, “Charly. Stephen Peerless Quickstep.”

Grasping his hand with my fore finger and thumb, I looked at him quizzically; “Pixie, actually…at your service.” That answered my question, before I asked it. Stephen Peerless Quickstep, Pixie, smiled and his almond shaped eyes, a lively Kelly green color, twinkled.

TSF service was just starting to get interesting.

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Family, oh how you use me…let me count thew ways (but only if they’re deductable)

Taxes prepared for the SWMBO and me, the octogenarians, C the undecided and his middle daughter (his eldest refuses to bow to the dictates of a totalitarian state and the youngest has [joyfully] not earned a W-2).

Seventy-one pages of numbers and excuses, hand written, the octogenarian’s request for a Short Sale (trust me on this; if you don’t know about Short Sales, its really OK).

Worked until the early morning hours.  Too numb to bring the computer screen into just two images, not sure which letter follow C or if 3 really did come before 7; I was fairly certain that sleep just might be called for.

I washed the Ambien down with the remains of a double espresso and set off to battle the cats for space on the bed.

Five times torn from my slumber to answer a phone that wasn’t ringing.

It is now 0630, the octogenarians (Marion, the wicked witch of the north and John the confused) and rousing and once more in battle, the SWMBO attempting to speak above the din and four cats, in concert (if not in harmony) demanding to be fed  and I am, regrettably, awake.

Ahh, but there is an end in sight: early February filings for all, being shut of the octogenarian house and electrifying tones of Coltrane filling the house…either that or a brief nap when the  SWMBO takes her family shopping.

AN END TO MAGICAL THINKING

I’ve given up on winning the lottery as a major portion of my retirement program.
I no longer allow myself a weekend to complete an entire redo of lawn, complete with water feature, on our 1 acre back yard.
The next great American novel will not be mine.
The octogenarians won’t be leaving the house next week.
I’ll never pass for forty-five again.
The SWMBO and her family will never learn to appreciate my little contributions.
There just comes a time when you have to be practical, realistic (not to be confused with anything Kardasian) and accept the world and everything in it for what it is.
I’ll budget the meager pension, put in the 3 or 4 hours-a-day that I can with mower or shovel, struggle to find a few words for this blog, continue to give up more space for the octogenarian’s pleasure, will look like seventy long before I get there and smile and nod when the SWMBO is praised for her sacrifices.
Yes, I’ll just have accept things as they are, no more fanciful thoughts, bring an end to the magical thinking.

It’s a pity that neither the SWMBO, the octogenarians, their elder son (J the Pompous, now staying with his parents for a few weeks) can’t fit on the tree stump (it’s a single seat stump you see) nor have the desire, by the weed garden next to the culvert that gurgles with the rush of the night’s rain.
Round and about the one seat stump, the feral gerbils (Jerry the Swift and Curious, Henrietta the Lovely and Oscar the Huge and Laughing) we all wait for the bright light of early morning; me with my oh-so-strong black coffee and gerbils with the peanuts I almost thought I might eat.
If you listen with a special ear the sounds around that stump it resemble the sound of an orchestra preparing for a concert and this concert is like no other.
The dragon flies buzz about until they light on the rocks bordering the weed garden to dry their wings; light breezes blow that spin the umbrella of the delicate lady whirligig and then the wind section rises up…through the leaves and the branches.
This morning’s piece was a prelude to Autumn, with the tell-tale hint of a crackle in the leaves as colours changed, the shuffling on the lawn of the leaves that had already fallen. Soon the beautiful long low notes of the grasses and vines join in.
With both hands around my cup, afraid to spill a drop, miss a note or overlook a single movement of all around me. The morning’s breeze to unseen conductor entered from the east today and was soon prepared to make his exit when a choral ensemble, heavenly voices, entered.
If I had half an ear I would have said they were pitch perfect, singing in a language for some distant land. Each note, word painted pictures of beauty and compassion, love unimaginable.
Terry (the Swift and Curious) and I looked around for the origin and all I saw, thought I saw, was the reflection of the morning light in the dew. As I watched the glistening lights on grass and flowers, they blinked and winked and danced about and for an instant here a moment there from behind the lights…a smile.
All about tiny, beautiful, no, wondrous creatures that soon, too soon, rode away on dragon flies,
No more magical thinking for me; its just a shame that so few people see the world as it really is.
Peace out pilgrim

Hello…Good-bye…Later

For those that have not noticed, I have been away.  I was way down under, down under a large pile of covers.  This served a dual purpose; I was wonderfully warm and cozy and with the covers pulled over my head I was invisible (well it seemed to work when I was three).,

I was dragged from my hiding place kicking and screaming; “Mom is expecting us for breakfast, get dressed, you can have your coffee on the way.”

“Mom”, is Marion (Wicked Witch of the West, one of the octogenarian couple and mother to the SWMBO), Marion is suffering with cancer and is at present going through the first of four cycles of chemotherapy; I have assisted with her in-home care.

“John (elder brother to the SWMBO and present care giver to “Mom”).wants to have a talk.”

Family conversations, at least those within the SWMBO’s family, are not on my top ten best things; actually sitting in on one thiumeir conversations is like being a very special corner of Hell.

Dad (John senior, male component of the octogenarian couple) was at the kitchen staring at his empty coffee cup and trying desperetly to reach through the fog of his dementia and remember what he was going to do with this thing in his hand.  “Mom” was in her bed, sighing, afraid to get up, mentally reviewing her morning list of medications, “Cyndi”, she yelled down, “do I have any Imodium…I have to have Imodium, I’ve got diarrhea again.  Where’s my orange juice, can’t take my pills without my orange juice.”

John (the elder brother)sat in the blue wing-back chair tucked in the far corner of the living room, his face concealed  by the open book he held.

“How long has she had diarrhea, Johnnie?”

“Since Thursday.”  He turned a page.  “I’m leaving next Tuesday .”  His head turned slightly to his right as moved his gaze to the next page, he paused briefly and again, turned the page.

“Mom, and you making it to the bathroom alone?  Michael, make sure she’s cleaning herself.  Michael’s going to get you down for doughnuts.  When are you coming back ?”  The SWMBO was definitely in the house.

Never revealing his face, “Don’t know.”  Another page gone.

The SWMBO’s voice could be heard throughout the house, “John, come to the table for doughnuts.”

From his chair, eight feet away, “Don’t eat breakfast.”

“Are there any jelly doughnuts, I like jelly doughnuts.”  Dad looked from box to box opened on the table.

“Dad, you’ve eaten three jelly doughnuts already,” I said, “can I get you more coffee?”

“Three, are you sure?  They were really fresh.  Three?…Are there any jelly doughnuts, I like jelly doughnuts…when they’re fresh.  Are there any jelly doughnuts?”

On the ride home; “You’ll have to stay there through the week; I’ll come over on Saturdays and you can go home over the weekend.  You’ll have be back Sunday afternoon.  That should give you time to take care of our yard.  I think you know that the only way this is going to work is if they move in…its the only way we will be able to spend any time together…its the only way they can save any money…its the only way…and when I’m home, I can help you with them.   Oh, State Farm wants everyone in the Division to put in fourteen hours OT every month.  If you were still working I would be happy to retire and help more.”  The SWMBO was driving, nibbling on her fingernails, interrupted only by a need to adjust the temp control.

“…its the only way” was fading away as in my mind I pictured climbing under a large pile of blankets and once more becoming invisible.

 

 

Dear friends, with my new (insane) schedule and the duties involved, I will be restricted to writing one day a week.  I promise to share my meditations from the weed garden and observations and conversations with warriors of the finest ilk.

The NW Oncology Group, here in Kennesaw (GA), provides chemotherapy treatments for 60-75 victims of cancer daily.  Some, like Mom, once a week, others; every other week or so.  There are no masques there, no casts, they face a common foe, and…and there are no tears.

There are smiles, gregarious outbursts of affection, it is never quiet and there is much laughter.  I can not say I know the cause, I can only speculate at this point, but I hope to find out what it is that brings light and laughter into their lives and I promise I will share.

 

peace out, pilrims

 

My Clock

 

 

“Michael, you are going to have to look after Mom and Dad.  Gather your things.”  The SWMBO said in her most endearing voice.

She was referring to the ‘Octogenarians’; the Wicked Witch of the West (Mario) and he who does not/cannot/will not listen (John).

“Yes, dear.  How long will I be staying…just to be sure how many of “my things” I will need to gather?”  I said over my shoulder as I made some futile adjustments to my clock.  It is a two hundred year old case, mostly, with a great number of original workings; the balance found on “Stealitback.com” and canabalised parts from more contemporary clocks.  It runs 2 minutes, 38 seconds slow in any given 24 hour period; as close as I will ever get.

 Between 2100 and 2130 every night I Wind the clock and the chimes and set it just short of 3 minutes fast, every night that I’m home.  “How long do you think I’ll be there?”  I said a bit louder.

“Johnnie will be coming down to help out after his trip to Hawaii, he is going to need to get his things together; close the house, take care of his mail, visit the cousins…oh six to eight weeks.”

“They are your parents; you, John, and Chris…is Chris coming down to ‘help out’?”

“Johnnie’s doing all he can, Chris is just too busy and you know I have to hold down my department.  And you, you’re not doing anything…you’re retired.”  The SWMBO walked from the kitchen to the living room, TV remote in her hand, “Pack for a week, I’ll relieve you after that.”

 “Gotcha.  Hon, please remember to wind the clock.”

 Nine days later I received a rare call from the SWMBO, it was 1000, “Yes, luv?”  With the SWMBO it was always best to ask what she wanted first; the conversation was going to get there soon enough.

“I’m having a miserable day, everyone knows how hard it is on me, Mom having cancer, and with the chemo side effects, everyone thinks I should be with her.  Well, at least I’ll beat the traffic.  Make sure you have finished their back yard.”

“Its been three years since a self respecting rake would be caught dead in that forest. How do you expect me to have it cleaned up.  Did you forget I’m feeding your mother and father, arguing with both about any PT and carrying her up the stairs to bed.  You do know that she can walk up stairs perfectly well and all of this is just to torment me, don’t you?”

“Whatever, I’ll be there soon”

Not long after the garage door open, I was certain it was to the sound of trumpets sounding.

“Hello, Mom.  How are you doing?”  The SWMBO yelled out to the living room not looking for a response; from the corner of the couch a small, frail looking figure with very thin silver hair mumbled…something.

“I was going to talk to him about that right now, don’t worry.”  The SWMBO’s superhuman powers were astonishing (and not a trifle scary).

“I know you wanted to take your little fishing trip, after the chemo and all…”

“That won’t be for three or four months and I am taking “my little fishing trip”…and?”

“We’ve talked about that, and you’re spasms…you need to use your cane so much now…and your voice…well we, Mom, Johnnie and I feel you would not be safe, wading in streams, you could fall…and…and drown; we really can’t let you do that.

“Oh when you get to the house, the lawn is a mess; take care of that, walk Duchess and QVC has a Quacker Factory program at 6:00pm, I’ll need to be home for that.”

“Gotcha, back in five hours.”

“Oh, Michael, Johnnie’s been delayed another week.  Love ya.”

The garage door at the house squeaked a bit, I’ll need to lubricate that.  I walked through the door from the garage into the living room, my 18 year old puppy, the cats Poe and Callie were all asleep on the couch; Alix would be stretched out to capture the sliver of sunlight that escaped the blinds in the office at this hour.

The house was quiet, save Callie’s snore and the silence was ripping a hole in an already injured heart.

There was no ticking as the pendulum would have swung, back and forth; the dark wall clock, with the two  hundred year old case, mostly, was quiet.

The clock hadn’t been wound.

I took the ten minutes to properly set the time, wound the clock, set the pendulum in motion.  I watched the slow movements of the hands now set almost three minutes ahead.  Content that the world was right again, I shut and locked the case.

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“Duchess, baby”  I said as I scratched her ears and kissed her head, “Let’s go for a walk and I’ll leave the leash on so you’re not committed to chasing the rabbits.  And then treats…before I mow the lawn.

 

 

peace out, pilgrims