December 18, 2011
April 2, 2011
A recent conversation with a friend caused me to reflect on my traveling experiences. I love to visit new places, and have been fortunate enough to have done a fair amount of traveling over the years.
The place I most want to visit is Italy. I still hope to get there someday. Back in the late seventies, I was drawn to England, most likely because of the “British Invasion.” Along with a few friends, I scraped up enough money to spend 10 days in London. I remember getting off the plane at Heathrow and marveling to myself, “I’m standing on another continent!” It was a dream come true. While we spent most of our time in London, we did get to a few other places, like Shakespeare’s home in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Besides the usual attractions, we went to three plays in London, which was a great experience, as was exploring Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London.
I’ve always hoped for opportunities to do more overseas traveling, but, unfortunately, the only other country I’ve been to since then is Canada (not counting a very brief foray into Juarex, Mexico), and I didn’t have to cross any seas to get there. Canada is not without it’s appeal, though. I really like Toronto and Montreal, and Old Quebec City is quite charming. Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island have some of the most stunning scenery I’ve ever seen. I have a vivid memory of standing at the edge of a red cliff on P.E.I., gazing at the sea below, lost in my thoughts and in the majesty of my surroundings.
I’ve been to 43 of the 50 states. That is due in large part to a month long cross-country trip during the summer of 1996. One unforgettable experience was when we ventured across the El Paso pedestrian bridge that spans a sliver of the Rio Grande, and strolled into Juarez, Mexico. The squalor we stepped into was an affront to the senses. On every block, we were assaulted by beggars (most of whom were women holding a baby in one hand and a cup in the other), shopkeepers promising to give us a “deal,” and taxi drivers volunteering their services rather aggressively. The girls were getting frightened, and that, combined with the oppressive poverty and the ugly manifestations of its resultant behaviors, persuaded us to bring our brief Mexican adventure to an end.
On to more pleasant experiences… Bourbon Street and the French Quarter in New Orleans. El Malpais National Monument in New Mexico. In Arizona, The Painted Desert/Petrified Forest (ancient pueblo ruins and petroglyphs), Sunset Crater Volcano, Grand Canyon, and Wupatki Pueblo. Bryce Canyon in Utah (spectacular!). In California, the beach at Morro Rock, a peregrine falcon ecological preserve, where we collected sand dollars and admired the pelicans. (My favorite bird. I am also fascinated by cormorants and loons.) Carmel, Monterey, Big Sur, Sequoia National Park, Yosemite, Santa Barbara, San Francisco…
I fell in love with the rocky coast of Oregon – Port Orford and Bandon by the-Sea, in particular. During a long, solitary walk along the shoreline, I discovered that two of the enormous rocks I encountered had natural arches. I passed through the first one and entered a tiny cove-like section of beach where I stood for quite a while, entranced, watching and listening as waves crashed against the rocks, admiring the indescribable beauty and wonder of it all.
Pike’s Market in Seattle. Lovely Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho. Glacier National Park in Montana. Yellowstone National Park and Devil’s Tower (where we did our only night of camping, and had the unexpected experience of witnessing one of nature’s most terrifying yet magnificent lightning shows) in Wyoming. Mount Rushmore and Badlands National Park in South Dakota.
I’ve also been to Hawaii. Besides Oahu, we visited the black sand beaches and volcanoes of the Big Island and the paradise that is Kauai, where we had a pretty thrilling ride in a helicopter (under a rainbow).
Another thing that speaks to my sense of adventure is sailing – something my ex introduced me to. One time, when we were sailing in Maine, we were lucky enough to witness a meteor shower. Another unforgettable experience was gliding by the highlands of the Hudson River in the stillness of the night. That was truly awe-inspiring. Then there was the time we sailed from Ft. Lauderdale to the Bahamas, where I sampled turtle, and rode in a seaplane. Yes, I’ve had adventures…
I’ve hiked and biked, swam and explored. I rolled down huge sand dunes in North Carolina with my daughters. I toured the Everglades in an airboat, and crossed paths with an alligator on the boardwalk of a marsh trail in Louisiana. I poked around cave dwellings at Mesa Verde in Colorado. In South Dakota, I had a wild donkey thrust its head into my car window (giving me quite a start, I must admit). I watched the “pony swim” in Chincoteague, Virginia and pet wild ponies in a beach parking lot on Assateague Island in Maryland.
I’ve done all those things and much more, yet it’s not enough, never enough. I crave changes of scenery. And for much of my life, I’ve been able to satisfy that craving. Sadly, that has not been the case more recently. The thing that has been holding me back is lack of money. I haven’t been able to afford to take a vacation for the past few years, and that has definitely affected my spirit. A change of scenery is rejuvenating – it really does recharge my batteries. I was so hoping that I’d be able to get away this summer, but the tax situation (we owe over a thousand dollars) blasted that hope to smithereens.
Being stuck in this rut for yet another year is going to be an even more bitter pill to swallow now that my wanderlust has been aroused.
Song of the Day: Wanderlust by Bjork
“Wanderlust, relentlessly craving
Wanderlust, peel off the layers
Until you get to the core.”
January 29, 2011
January 28, 2011
January 12, 2011
A few of you recently made comments about my lack of updates. The major reasons for that are: Fibro fog, Fibro fatigue, and pain (caused by Fibromyalgia, herniated discs, pinched nerves, torn rotator cuff, etc.). It’s a miracle I can hold a job and get meals on the table. My online journal, or blog, or whatever you want to call it, is simply not a priority for me these days.
Anyway, I have the day off because of a snow storm, so I decided to devote some of it to a review of 2010.
January: Went to a welcome home dinner for a young man who was kicked out of the armed forces and sent home from Afghanistan after someone blew the whistle on him for being gay.
A furnace repairman might have saved our lives… He discovered that the hot water heater exhaust flue had been knocked off the flue vent. It must have been off for quite some time because the flue gasses melted some of the pipe insulation. According to him, we were in danger of dying from carbon monoxide poisoning.
February: As I was going up to bed one night, I lost my balance and fell down a couple of stairs, twisting my right leg in the process, and landing heavily on it. X-rays at the ER the next day revealed bone contusion and bruised muscles. I just love adding more pain to my life.
In an unrelated incident – you know you’ve had too many MRIs when the technician recognizes you and greets you by saying, “Back for more?”
March: One of Leigh’s dear friends died during heart surgery. Rest peacefully, Quicci.
Leigh had to have her cat, Simmy, put to sleep. More heartbreak.
Daniel and I celebrated anniversary #5.
Developed an addiction to Chobani pomegranate Greek yogurt.
April: Had a “Scary headache” for the entire month.
May: Had the front porch painted, which turned out to be a very good thing because that’s pretty much where I spent my summer vacation…
June: Refinanced our mortgage to go from 6.25 interest rate down to 4.875.
July: Went to Seaside Heights. Would have enjoyed it more if not for the god-awful heat. It should be against the law for temps to get that high (102).
My grandmother turned 99.
August: I was trapped at the chiropractor’s for two hours because of a devastating storm that passed through the area. Five cars in the parking lot were crushed under trees. One car belonged to my neighbor, and another to my cousin. That storm was a sight to see!
The city damaged our driveway when they cut down the tree in front of our house. They failed to respond to my letters, so a legal consultation will have to be the next step.
The front page of our local paper featured an article about a 17 year old girl I knew very well who was killed in a horrific accident the previous morning. In another section of the paper there was an obituary for a good friend of mine. In three days, I lost two people I loved. Rest peacefully Natia and Bob.
I turned 56.
While I was standing in the parking lot of a restaurant, a guy yelled, “Shorty, shorty!” When I turned around he asked, “Are you married?” I have to say that being called “shorty” made my day.
September: Adventures with ambien – Objects in photos seem to move just like they do in Harry Potter! Freaky, man. I also discovered that I sometimes indulge in online shopping while under the influence of ambien. Definitely not a good thing.
Found out that the stabbing victim in a recent homicide was my father’s best friend. Rest peacefully, Ron.
The results of my skin test revealed that I have perivascular dermatitis. Because of the effing rash, my legs were so swollen I had elephant knees!
Reconnected with old friends (one of whom is Snooki’s mother).
Our community lost yet another young person who died much too soon. Rest peacefully, Zach.
October: One morning when Daniel was getting ready to drive me to work, we found a dead cat under the front tire. (No, it hadn’t been run over – it must have crawled there to die.) Not a good way to start the day.
This year’s Dress Up As A Literary Character costume – Esmeralda (from THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME by Victor Hugo)
Had a very enjoyable time at the Sheep &Wool Festival. Chatting with some llamas and alpacas (actually, they were humming) was the best part.
Four years…I miss you, Mark. Rest peacefully.
November: An old high school friend died after a long battle with cancer. Her brother (who was a very little boy at the time) gave me the only nickname I’ve ever had – “wild eyes.” Rest peacefully, Beth.
A former student and friend of my daughters died unexpectedly. Rest peacefully, Peter.
I found out about a whopper of a lie that was spread about me 25 years ago… Apparently, I was a coke addict! Diet coke, maybe, but certainly not the white powdery stuff. Sheesh. I guess there’s a statute of limitations on slander/defamation of character, huh… Oh well, at least I got a good laugh out of it!
Was stunned to learn that an old online friend took his own life. He was such a kind person and gentle soul, not to mention a brilliant mathematician and skating enthusiast. I’m really going to miss his nickname for me (Stephanova) and the praying mantis warnings (personal joke). Rest peacefully, Robby.
Spent over three hours at the ER – Leigh’s myoclonic seizures caused her to fall down the stairs AND on the driveway as we were guiding her to the car to take her to the hospital. They did NOTHING, and we finally announced that we were leaving (but not before I created a bit of a scene). As Leigh pointed out, a Veterinary Clinic wouldn’t treat an ANIMAL that way. They wouldn’t just throw a cat or dog in a crate and let it seizure for three hours. Unbelievable!
Another ER visit – for me, this time. Diagnosis: mesenteric lymphadenitis – inflammation of the mesenteric lymph nodes. Causes pain that mimics acute appendicitis. I hope I never have to experience that kind of pain again. That was the most agonizing experience of my life, and I’m no stranger to pain.
A former student (and Leigh’s childhood friend) celebrated the release of his first book. Congratulations, Daniel!
December: As usual, I hosted the Christmas festivities.
My former mother-in-law died on December 28th. She had just been at my house for Christmas, and was in fine spirits, and seemed to be in good health. During the early hours of the 27th, she had a hemorrhagic stroke and had already suffered irreparable brain damage by the time she was found. The all-day bedside vigil before she passed away was heart wrenching and draining. Rest peacefully, Marj.
All in all, it was a pretty shitty year with far too many deaths. Which is another reason why I didn’t update. So there you go.
Song of the Day: Bad Year by Sicko
January 8, 2011
I met Paul approximately forty years ago, when I was a high school student. He was mad as a hatter, and even back then, the ravages of alcohol were evident. He had the yellowest eyes I’ve ever seen.
Despite his mental instability (that’s putting it mildly), Paul was extremely intelligent, and was said to have been absolutely brilliant before whatever happened to him happened. Some people say that he had been a Professor Emeritus of Literature & History at Vassar College; others say he was an accomplished chemist. Among the many rumors about him, the most persistent was that Paul had a lot of money. Yet he was often homeless.
In the 1970s, I spent quite a bit of my leisure time at a nightclub that featured live music; sometimes it was local talent, and other times it was major recording artists. In between sets, Paul would roller skate across the stage, wearing a buffalo head hat with huge horns, a gigantic bow tie and enormous sunglasses.
Everybody knew Paul, and everybody I talk to has a story to tell about him. Much to my delight, students often include him in their “I Am From” poems. The funniest incident from my own personal experiences with Paul has to have been the time he handed me a rose in a New Paltz dance club and asked me to go out to dinner with him. When I declined, he pulled down his pants and mooned me! That memory still makes me laugh.
Rest peacefully, Paul.
Song of the Day: Still Crazy After All These Years by Paul Simon
January 7, 2011
June 5, 2010
I can’t believe it’s been almost two months since I last posted here. Facebook has been satisfying my need to share some of life’s tidbits, and affords me the opportunity to do so with very little effort, which is something that appeals to me more and more these days. Besides chronic pain, the extreme heat has sapped me of whatever little bit of energy I might have left over when I get home from work. Temperatures have been holding steady at around 88 degrees for several days now, and I’m not liking it one bit. It’s much too early for this kind of heat. Actually, as far as I’m concerned, there’s never a good time for this kind of heat. I have a feeling it’s going to be a looooooong summer.
Speaking of summer, this will be my first without having at least one of my daughters around (since Rebecca was born in 1986). Leigh is spending the next couple of months with Becca, and will be waitressing at Matt’s restaurant. (Matt is Rebecca’s boyfriend, and proprietor of an Outback.) At the end of August, she’ll be heading to SUNY Binghamton to complete her Bachelor’s Degree. She just graduated from SUNY Delhi with an Associate’s Degree in their Veterinary Tech program, and earned a 4.0, which is especially noteworthy considering that she had an extra heavy course load (19 credits). I’m so proud of her, and of Rebecca, as well, who earned her Bachelor’s Degree a few months ago, and is taking some time off before going on for her Master’s.
There’s not much else of interest to report… I applied to work summer school and am pretty certain I’ll be assigned to the position. Once again, there won’t be any vacation for me. I’m deeply disappointed about that. I so look forward to getting away, but haven’t been able to afford to do that for the last couple of years. The drudgery of life is really wearing thin… Oh well. I guess I’ll be spending much of the summer in my favorite spot at home – on the front porch.
Song of the Day: Hot Fun in the Summertime by Sly and the Family Stone
April 10, 2010
I haven’t been feeling very good about myself lately. Although it shames me to admit it, much of my low self-esteem has to do with my suddenly and rapidly aging appearance. All I see when I look in the mirror are the jowls and sagging eyelids. It doesn’t help that I’ve also been having bad hair days every single day for quite a while now…
I don’t have a huge ego, and never thought of myself as a great beauty, or anything like that. In fact, I’ve always been quite insecure about my looks, especially because of my tendency to carry some extra pounds. However, for a long time, I did at least feel that I didn’t look my age, and was very grateful for that. But, lately I’ve been feeling like an old, fat hag.
Yesterday I received a compliment from a young man (forty years my junior) that did my heart (not to mention my battered and fragile sense of self-image) a lot of good. His Freshman Seminar class has been spending a fair amount of time in the computer lab, so we are pretty familiar with each other, and get along quite well. Still, it took me by surprise when Mr. Freshman greeted me with, “Hello, beautiful.” He took his seat across from my desk and went on to say, “You know, you really are very attractive.” I could have wept with gratitude. What a wonderful pick-me-up! Thank goodness for small favors and kindnesses that come along exactly when you need them most.
Moving right along… Here’s a real beauty.
My baby (Leigh) turned 22 yesterday. I can hardly believe it.
I also want to post these photos of a bird nest that was built in a butterfly net I keep on my back porch. The porch (it’s more of a mudroom, actually) is enclosed. The birds were getting in through a gap at the bottom of the door.
Ya gotta love nature. Enjoy the weekend!
Song of the day: Vanity by Lady Gaga
“Nothin’ wrong with being just a little bit vain
We need a little pretty ‘cause this country’s insane.”