Saturday, May 31, 2008

The chives are blooming like crazy in the kitchen garden.

Guess I will be getting strawberries this year.
Anonymous Volunteer.

This little fellow just kind of showed up next to the daisies this year. Nobody I've asked has any idea what it is. Sure is pretty though.

The garden's still a bit sparse, but it is sort of coming along:

Daisies! I'd forgotten that I'd planted them front and center like that in the front bed. When they sprouted, I'd meant to transplant them elsewhere. I'm glad I didn't, as they actually work nicely where they are now.


Coral Bells in the shade garden out back.


I'm so proud of this rhodie! Several years back, it was crushed under the weight of several feet of snow after a freak Spring storm. Didn't know if it would survive. It never gets any bigger and always looks a bit sickly, but gosh darnit - every year it comes back with one spectacular set of blooms.


A few years back, I gave away something like 100 hostas to a neighbor. She came back with, among other things (which I'll photograph later), around 80 iris rhizomes. Planted a bunch in Raphaella's garden, in my back plots and in the front. If anyone would like a few, I'd be glad to give them up...


This bleeding heart is a monster! I divided it into three last year, but it came back like gangbusters. Have to divide it up again and find homes for the babies.


These are just the perennials; haven't decided yet what annuals to put in. I'm thinking of lots of sweet alyssum and marigolds, as that's what my Grandma Zee loved. Karen thinks I should put some purple salvia in, as well (would be good in the back part of the front bed, as I'm missing some stuff of intermediate height). Ultimately, price is going to be a factor, though, as I'm kind of short on funds this season.

Friday, May 30, 2008


Father: "Daughter, I present to you your future husband."
Daughter: "Well...if he isn't a virgin, I'm going to annul the marriage."


This week in Lille, the court annulled the marriage of an anonymous "not at all extremist" Muslim couple, as the woman apparently lied about being a virgin.

Faced with public outcry against the Judge's decision on the grounds that a woman's sexuality is a private matter and assertions that the ruling opposed France's secular (laique) policies, the Minister of Justice Rachida Dati explained matters thus:
"Justice is there to protect. The act of annulling a marriage is also a means of protecting the person who wishes perhaps to undo the marriage, because I believe that this young woman (...) wished as well, without a doubt, disolve the union quickly..."

Good point. But what about protecting the rights of women in general?

I really hate to think that the French are losing control of things as badly as the British (not to mention the Dutch or the Belgians) seem to be.
This morning, I woke up singing -

A beautiful song from a gorgeous film.

More on the body of work known as Rabindra Sangeet.
Pensées Férales.

Maybe about five or six years ago, I bought a bunch of pansies on sale in order to fill in some holes in the flowerbeds. Surprisingly enough, though annuals, they keep coming up year after year (albeit in different areas around the house).

This guy has taken a liking to the candytuft it seems, as he's been showing up there each spring for quite a while now.

I like it when things keep coming back every year, though by rights they don't have to. It makes me feel as thought I'm doing something right (or at least not so wrong).

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Eventually-hopefully this:

will end up like this:

Just have to 'make it up.' That's the part I enjoy the least.
When was the last time you looked at your friends and took note of how beautiful they actually are?
What's with all these classes?

Enrolled myself at Bunker Hill to take some writing-intensive courses, as it's been a dog's life since I'd done anything serious in that area. I mean, blogging's nice and everything. However, it's not very heavy stuff compared to what I had to produce back when I was a student.

Since I'm thinking that I'd like to go back to school, figured it might be nice to pick something I thought I'd enjoy in order to get the feet wet again (finished undergrad 15 years ago. Took my last literature courses like 10 years ago). Since literature/fine-arts were my specialties in the other life, didn't really want to take anything in those areas. Decided instead to focus on stuff I'd always wanted to take in school but never had the occasion to try, namely History or Economics.

Started with the External Study Department's American History I. Am currently enrolled in American History II and Western Civilization I (drive by version - we're covering some ridiculous amount of time - Biblical times to the Renaissance). Am so pleased with how supportive the administration and the instructors are. Am also impressed both with how interesting the materials are and how challenging the work is. In all, am amazed at what I'm getting for relatively little money in the scheme of things. Tuition's amazingly cheap compared other schools in the area, UMass Boston included.

If I'm around in the Fall (and that's a big IF. I'll go on about that later as stuff becomes less vague and I get over my fear of jinxing things), I'd like to take the second part of the Western Civilization course. We'll see.
Just got the grade back from the last class. Did pretty well, considering I threw the last paper and was given (what I think to be) a symbolic fail grade on it*. Had that coming, though, as the work I submitted was hateful and awful and only done to complete the requirement. It was funny, as, all it had written on it by way of commentary was "where are your words??"**

Now, to finish up the other two classes I had to get extensions on.


* Got an A-.

** Had two options for the subject and I chose wrong. After reading Hofstadter's take on John Calhoun, I grew to detest the man greatly because he reminded me too much of bad stuff now. Also, I found myself getting too obsessed over his thesis on class struggle and his solutions to that problem vs that pushed by marxists/socialists. Would much rather have read more and written about that. However, it wasn't the time for talks about slavery and collectivism and the creation/denial of certain symbols for the workers in either system. I also neither had the time nor the inclination to come up with some more appropriate BS (how BSing causes me such anguish now!), so just produced a truncated, dully-written bit of disappointing to me (and to the professor, apparentlty) garbage to hand in. As I'm taking another course with the same fellow, am thinking of writing a little followup just for laughs and hand it in with my current assignment. We'll see.
Pablo flew to the Vineyard for lunch today. I'm so jealous.
Fertility Goddess?

All my life I've had a three week cycle which is kind of a shame, since it probably was never in the stars for me to breed. This has always been the bane of my existence - so much so that even as a kid I'd prayed for an early 'change' like my mom had (at 35.)*

I knew something was wrong when, after starting the male hormones, my period stopped coming for several weeks. It was then that the doctor put me on a half dose and the 'friend' came back, albeit in 5-6 week cycles.

Since I've stopped taking that dreadful stuff, my body's reverted to its original rhythm for better or for worse. Though initially I was relieved to see how quickly I bounced back, I'm back to thinking that the 'change' can't come too soon.


* My mom was shocked to find out that, at 37, I still was going strong in the fertility department. She was even more shocked to find out that one of my coworkers is in her mid-40s and six months pregnant, too. She just assumed that everybody was as lucky as she was.
My snack is carbon neutral.

(Too bad it isn't calorie-neutral.)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Heat + Wet + Lots of Greenery = Snail Heaven.

Near the corner of Central and Summer Streets last night.
You can never go home.

I remember sitting back, stuffed on wild mussels marinières, tipsy on the cheap white stuff I'd made dinner with and feeling totally okay with the world. Blue Hill Community was on in the background. Suddenly this made its way to the foreground:

What the heck? "Oh, Melanie," said H all banal-like. Some d^ke-folk* singer from the 70s. Kind of like Joan Armatrading."

Oh, okay.


* Yes, at one point, he was a DJ and he did use terms like that. It's just another one of his subcategories - like c#ck-rock - so don't go out and be getting your knickers in a twist, okay?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

-Lao-Tsu, Confucius or a Fortune Cookie, depending on who you ask

This afternoon at about 3:20, en route to a doctor appointment. The sky fell five minutes later.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The vet's office called to let me know that I could pick up Mamasan at my convenience.

Really gave my boss a start when I told her I was going to go get him during my lunch hour.
Every year the cheerleader department of my company makes us fill out an "employee satisfaction survey." Every year, I hand it back blank. This year, I decided to give a piece of my mind.
Told my landlord the other day that I wasn't going to be renewing my lease. Don't know where I'll be going. Am not looking forward to the clean up/pare down job that comes with moving out of a place where I've been living for so long. It just feels like the right thing to be doing, though, and I'm sure that things will fall into place.
"On Senators: Persons who make laws in Washington when not doing time."

-More Maxims from Mark

(I love this calendar!)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Got a call and two texts from Sully today. Apparently they wish I was there. Well, so don't I.

I only got woken up twice, and both times were within an hour of when I needed to get up. She did scratch me once on the left hand and bite me on the ankle, though.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ampersand's making me crazy. The past three nights, she's sat herself in my bedroom doorway and, at either random or predetermined intervals (who can tell), let loose a loud groan that sounds like a cross between a drunk college kid vomiting and an old, constipated man in the bathroom. When I wake up, semi-panicked, she's sitting there staring at me, looking like a little trapezoid from hell.

Last night she did this four times. The night before, three. The night before that, four times. I can't lock her out of my room as all she'll do is sit at the door whining and scratching. Have to find a solution to this that won't finish with someone calling the SPCA on me.

After nearly a week of phone tag, I finally got to talk with the gyno. The good news is that my dystrophy is not malignant. The not so good news is that I'm not responding to treatment like he thinks I should be, so he's going to look into a second opinion. For the next six weeks, I'm going to have to give up the medicine.*

On one hand, I am glad to let my system have a rest from all this crap** I've been putting into it.*** On the other hand, I'm dreading the inevitable return of the pain after maybe a week of no treatment.

I'm not really thrilled at the thought of yet another stranger poking around my privates, but this does really need to be taken care of. Even if it's not malignant (and the jury's out as to whether my version of this dystrophy is precancerous or not), it's miserable and, if left unchecked, could cause some damage.


* clobetasol - a steroid cream - three days/week; testosterone compound three days/week. Sunday is a day of rest.

** The testosterone actually made me less uncomfortable about the steroid because at least with the steroid, I didn't lose my period, have my blood pressure skyrocket or start sprouting black hairs like cat's whiskers.

*** Have been on this regimen for a year and a half - the doctor even said that he didn't like me being on it for that long.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Oh yeah:

This morning, I found my first gray hairs. Five of them. In my eyebrows.
Spent a good chunk of yesterday in the garden tending to business. The yews, the climbing roses, the lilacs all got some serious pruning. Descended upon the sorrel like the Angel of Death. Am very pleased with what I accomplished, but feel like hell. Gosh darnit, does getting old suck.

Still, it was good to have the sun and air on me, to chat with the neighbors, to see such clear results of my labors. Made a couple folks' days by handing out bouquets of lilacs in recycled juice jars.

Even the cute neighbor whose name I can never remember stopped by to take a tour of the grounds and learn again the names of the plants he forgets each year. I sent him off with some candytuft and tarragon to give his roommates in exchange for the truther videos he gifted me with over the winter.
The newest fashion trend in my neighborhood seems to be the Brooklyn t-shirt. I don't know, but this sort of strikes me as being in the same vein as hanging around Harvard Yard wearing a Barnard* t-shirt.

*or Columbia or Yale, etc. You get the picture.
Of course I cried a lot this weekend. Not just because my boy left me, but because he left me alone with this one.

Very difficult to photograph, as the black sucks up all the light. She also doesn't like to sit still.

Hal used to call her the 'belligerent b!tch.' Pablo alternates between 'mastodon' and 'angry mop.' I just sigh and call her either Girlie or Crank(ette). This is going to be an interesting adjustment for both of us, as neither of us really cares much for the other; Mamasan acted as sort of a buffer between us.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mamasan was equally at home with the likes of Gérome, Hiroshige and van Gogh. I guess that's why it seems so fitting that my last glimpse of him through the operating room window was one of a Steinlen-like repose. That did my heart good.

sleepy boy

Mamasan, Summer 2007

Thank you, Porter Square Veterinary, for changing my views on this practice.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

"Cela est bien dit," répondit Candide,

"Mais il faut cultiver notre jardin."

Last summer's roses.
Also just got through making the appointment for Mamasan's last trip to the vet. He goes in tomorrow afternoon.

Spent a good amount of time talking to the assistant about what I wanted done with the remains, if I wanted to be with him when they gave him the shot, etc. Though I tried to sound cheerful, it was all I could do to keep from bawling on the phone.

Just as I knew that it wasn't his time back in December when he was diagnosed with all sorts of ills, I know that he needs his rest now. He's just not happy anymore. That's ripping my heart up more right now than the thought of his dying.

Good God, am I going to be a mess this weekend.

Am taking Monsieur Scoot to the airport today - it's his first time overseas. Though we're all a bit disappointed that I can't make the trip as well (life being what it is right now for me and all), I think this is the best. His first trip to Paris should be all about him; I'd only be a distraction.

Serendipitously enough, a book came in the mail for the Frenchie. If Scottie's got enough room in his bags, he can take it along. Nice how this stuff can sometimes work out.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Ran into Raphaella yesterday. It had been some time since we'd spoken, so got caught up a bit on tests, doctors, gardening, etc. Would have stayed to talk longer, but I needed to get to work.

Before going, though, I needed to come clean:

"Can I tell you something?"
"What's wrong?"
"Well, you know something? I hope you won't think of me as too Peeping-Tom ish, but when you put out your laundry, I like to take pictures of it. I even made some movies."

The slyest grin showed on her face. "What're you gonna do? Sell my underwear on e-Bay?"

"No, I just posted stuff so everybody could enjoy for free. The pictures are pretty nice; I especially like the pink pair. Breaks the monotony of the white."

She told me that the pink underpants were a mistake - she'd meant to buy just white, but those showed up in the package. Bleaching didn't help.

I told her to keep them, they added spice.

"You really like them? You want to take more pictures?" The grin went from sly to sh!t-eating and she started to hike up her skirt.

"Thanks, but time for me to head out - I'm late as it is!"

Raphaella's yard last December.
The village of Amstetten in Austria received first word from Elizabeth Fritzl and her family: "We, the reunited family, would like to thank you for your concern over us. Your compassion is helping us to overcome our difficulties. It shows us that good and honest men do exist. We hope that the time will come when we are able to live a normal life."

Currently, Elizabeth, who had been sequestered in a basement chamber for 24 years, and the seven children she had with her father, are being treated at a psychiatric hospital and being kept away from the media firestorm that this case has generated.


Gosh, I don't even know how to process this. I do hope that they are able to build somewhat of a normal, happy life from what's been left to them.
Normally I like to get myself a treat after visiting the Gyno. This last time, I got myself a cookie as I was feeling kind of woozy and treated myself to a ride home on the train. Went to bed early, I was so worn out.
I have a running joke with my gyno that what with all the little hunks he keeps cutting out of my sensitive bits, he's very soon going to have the proverbial pound of flesh from me.

This last time wasn't any easier than the time before, but I did manage to put a good face forward - so much so that Dr. Gyno declared that the copay was a better entertainment buy than going to a movie. Wasn't too happy that I wouldn't sing as I normally do when I get an exam, but I was too nervous to do that.

When he finished cutting, I asked to see the bit of me that was going off to be tested. He brought the specimen cup around for me to look. It was actually pretty fascinating in a morbid sort of way to see that little disc floating in the medium - I don't know that I'd be more interested if it were kidney stones or my appendix, actually.

As he moved the cup back to the sample shelf, I waved and said in this thin little voice, "bye-bye." At that, he took my hand in both his and held kind of tight. Exclaimed that I was such a nice girl, a sweet girl, that I brought sunshine into the office, and that he hoped that the tests would come back negative. Slightly confused, I answered back, "and if you didn't find me so nice and sweet, would you hope that they came back positive?" That got a characteristic belly laugh and a slight slap on the back.

Now, for the wait.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Ohh, all that nutty rambling is just calling out for some Kate Bush:

Last week, I was out running errands and I caught a glimpse of the ex who lives closest to me going somewhere with some female. My initial reaction was to duck away so that I'd not be seen and race home as quickly as possible. Safely at home, the ironic brain tried to entertain me with thoughts like well, he's her problem now.

Afterwards, I felt awful. Not because I still love him or anything (as my parents I think still hope. They weren't happy at all when I told them it was over. My mother even went so far as to blame me personally for all the ills.), far from it. It's just that seeing him again made me acutely aware of how much of a failure that relationship makes me feel like. He used to tell me he loved me, but the truth of the matter was, he didn't like me. I don't think he respected me much, either. Why did I spend five years in a relationship with someone like that? Why, oh why did I waste some of the better years of my life in what felt for so long like a sinking ship?

I'm not a girl who's ever believed in fairy tales; never saw myself being whisked off my feet and down the aisle. I'd seen too much go wrong in my mother's life and in the lives of my friends' mothers back in the day to be able to seriously consider giving up half my goods and all my heart to a man. I'd been in relationships before, but not for any longer than a few months maybe, and I always tried to keep the guy at arm's length. Why did I stay with this one for four years longer than the normal expiration date and two years after I gave up on being happy with him? Hope maybe?

Hope that there'd be some sort of miracle breakthrough? Hope that he'd some day see how the wall he kept between us was killing the relationship and making me sick? Hope that the reality of our so-called life together might someday catch up to the image of the 'perfect couple' people around us thought we were?

I remember one day early on in our courting when he told me that he was a 'nice guy,' and that nice guys always finished last. My response was that, based on what I'd seen in the dating world, the difference between a 'nice guy' and a 'bad boy' was that, whereas a bad boy was aggressive aggressive, the nice guy was passive aggressive. He kind of chuckled and said that that made sense. How true that ended up being in our case. He never hit me, but he certainly could be nasty. Emotionally, I certainly didn't feel that I could trust him with many of my secrets, deep, dark or otherwise.

Physically, I also knew that I didn't trust him with my life, either.

Why did I let this go on?

At the end of things, and I remember it pretty clearly, I said that I couldn't continue with the relationship in the state it was in, as it was making me sick. His response was something like ... but he loved me ... if things were bad and if he reacted badly it was because I made him that way ... besides, I was emotionally unfaithful and he had a right to be angry about all that. My 'emotional unfaithfulness' stemmed from the fact that I couldn't talk to him when I needed to. I'd say things to his face and get no response. I'd telephone and never hear back from him. I looked to my friends for more support as a result. He answered back that I should have tried harder. At that point, I broke down. How many times would I need to bang my head against this wall before he considered it okay to stop? Once? One hundred times? Was I to keep it up indefinitely?

That was the end. Periodically, I'd get a call from him sounding all weirdly chipper as though nothing had happened. Usually it was the morning or afternoon of some event he was asking me to. Always last minute and always on his terms. If he left a message and I tried to call back, I'd not hear from him. Sometimes mutual friends would get phantom phone messages from him as well.

Last year, around his 40th birthday, I got a call inviting me to some art exhibit. I couldn't go, but I did want to do something for his birthday. Surprisingly he called back; maybe because I offered to take him out. We had brunch. At the end, he casually mentioned that his mother was sick. I asked if I could help with anything because I was very fond of her. I liked his family. I still wanted to try to be friends with him. Never heard back.


This past December, a good friend of mine (and neighbor of his) moved south. She got a great job in her discipline in the DC area and I was helping her organize and stay motivated. It's hard leaving a place, even if you're not happy with it, after 20 years. While coming back from a trash run, we ran into the ex's mother. She was walking very slowly and with a cane. I caught up with her to say hello. How was she doing? What was going on? She gave me the news from the past six months: all the illnesses, all of the accidents, all of the hospital stays. Finally let loose the fact that she'd been living with him for the past six months, as it was so much more convenient than staying out west.

Six months? I asked Six months?? Why didn't she give me a call? I'd have helped with groceries, I'd have taken walks with her, whatever. She just smiled and said that she didn't think of it. Asked me in to have a muffin and some coffee with her. I told her I couldn't just then, but I'd be around all weekend.

Ten minutes later, He came home. Put on his fake cheery voice, but it was obvious that he was unpleasantly shocked to run into my friend and me. "How are you?" he asked? "Much better than your mom, from what I gather," was my response. After my asking why no one said anything to me when I lived around the corner and everyone knew how much I liked his mother, he just answered that he was busy and forgot. That was that.

"Was it me?" I asked my friend (a shrink. I have a few shrink friends; comes with working in Human Services, I guess). "It wasn't was it?" She assured me that it wasn't me, I was fine. It might be a good idea if I were to start figuring out why I was choosing relationships with socially awkward or antisocial men and maybe consider breaking that habit.

I can't do anything for them. I tried and failed miserably. Seeing him made me remember this. I feel so awful. I don't want to keep making this same mistake.