Thursday, October 19, 2017


Not even sure what "better" looks like (or would look like), any longer.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

"insert missing marker here"

So I'm going to be missing when they place my mom's urn in the ground, this morning. Maybe later this spring I'll be able to have transportation and place flowers there. Maybe after her stone is placed. Not sure. *sigh*

In the "Well, that's peculiar." vein, some of her old photoIDs from work are missing. They were in a small, wooden jewelry box when my aunt gave me what little keepsakes my mom had left, back in November. I remember commenting to Q about Mom looking so unhappy in the early photos. (that, and how the quality/security features from State Prison employee IDs in the mid 80s was... lacking. It was mostly a person with a Instamatic Polaroid camera, scissors, some glue, and a photocopied card, as needed.)

I've been trying to not break down, but the past few days have been difficult, not gonna lie. Mailing off a package Wednesday, I also picked up some Star Trek stamps, and it was all I could do to not start crying there, in the USPS office. I had sent mom a sheet of the Planet stamps last year when she needed some, and here were new ones, "Live long and Prosper". Yeah, sounds lame typing it out. I know.

So few photos of her. I can't find one that I've been looking for. Perhaps I can find it on one of the backup disks (assuming THEY don't vanish, as well...)

Miss you, Mom. I keep knitting, and still don't know WTF i'm doing...

Lori (Folly Island SC, March 1990)

Lori and Dory (Bellefonte, around 1995)

Monday, March 13, 2017

The "peculiar dreams" thing

Mostly just a short note. A place holder, if you will.

The peculiar dreams have started again. Nothing as egregious as two Decembers ago, but still strange. I'm not going to enumerate those, at the moment, though.

No, what's more odd was this afternoon/evening (my sleep sched is shifted strangely again, as well, assuming insomnia doesn't keep me up for 30 to 40+ hours in a row), I was awoken from a dream by someone outside the apartment calling my name.

I heard a male voice I didn't recognize, [deep, somewhat rough though young (late 20s to early 40s at the oldest?)], and strangely muffled as though distant, saying my name. When I didn't wake up fully, I heard my name again, louder and more forcefully (as though there was concerned imperative whoever had called out got my attention).

There was a peculiar reverb to the sound, almost like you might hear from a long distance phone call (or really bad cell reception). That crackling, static-y echo of an electronic signal breaking up or from variable strength over strained lines.


Looking out the window, there was no one there. Not even traffic on the highway.

No one.

It was distinctly separate from the dream. It's what awoke me from sleep.

At least this time it wasn't a dead professor driving away in a silver BMW I've never seen in the (isolated) side parking lot, I guess?

At this point, idkwtf to think about the things going on around here. Best idea is, "Oh, this cruft going on. AGAIN. Still. Yet...." *sigh*

Also, I broke some of my bamboo 3.5mm DPNs earlier in the day.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

rooms full of memories and potentials

Some time ago, I packed up all my jewelry making supplies into plastic bins and crates. There's easily a couple hundred pounds of glass beads, pearls, semi-precious stone, metal, partially made components, tools, stringing supplies, pieces put together years ago (languishing on trays), Precious Metal Clays, and a small kiln. Now, all woefully forgotten.

Well, not forgotten.

It all sits in the side storage room, along with reams of paper, paints, fabrics, yarn, and roving. Staring reproachfully at me every time I go in to put towels and linens away. "Hi! We're here!! Make something with us?"

The creative streak that infused me, what now seems so many lifetimes ago, is missing. Art supplies, mixed in with old computer components salvaged to be re-purposed or transformed into new art projects, a myriad of knick-knacks saved as reminders, a couple boxes of writing (both creative and journals), shoeboxes of CD/DVD-R backups, and photo albums my Mom bequeathed me sit forlornly and in an accusatorial jumble. Instead, the supplies I've accumulated over 25+ years now feel like a testament to my failures.

Going into the side storage room is rough. Every so often, over the years, I make some sort of headway into cleaning and organizing it; an attempt at trying to move forward by building some space to actually DO something with the accumulation of years of potential. Occasionally, there has even been some minor progress in doing something with the supplies. And inevitably, somehow it goes awry and I (sometimes metaphorically, sometimes literally) back away from the room, breakdown (screaming, crying, or [other]), and hate that part of me a little more. 

Making things (beading, specifically. wearable jewelry or not) was once something I did in my off-hours when I wasn't sitting in front of a keyboard and screen doing other creative things (graphics work, Systems Administration, or otherwise), as a way to make something tangible in the intangible datastream I resided in most of the time.

 It was a sanity check for me, for years. Now? Not so much.

Lately, it's all become some sort of story that might have been true once, long ago, to another person who isn't me. I'm not even sure who "me" is anymore. Hands, cold and intermittently numb, a mind that doesn't even know where to begin or what to do with items it might possibly make.

At this juncture, I don't even know what to do with the supplies. 

Make things and sell on Etsy? Great idea! Except, I don't have a bank account and haven't been able to get one for some time (long-ish story), and unlikely to be a possibility for some indeterminable amount of time so that's no help. 

Locally? Urm, no reliable transportation, and not even sure where to try bothering people, not that I was ever adept at 'selling' my art/crafts/self.

Technically, the nature of Section 42 (LIHTC) Housing and my lease forbids having a business registered at my home address, anyhow. My State Sale Tax license has sat fallow, like the supplies, for as long as I've had this license. One cannot even, theoretically, register themselves as something as 'simple' as an Avon Rep. here. Though, again, not that I have ever been adept at selling much of anything.

I keep trying to figure out if there's someone I could just donate the supplies to, but considering the number of long, sharp needles, tissue blades (Yeah, look those up. Old, 9" razor blades used on tissue for scientific research or, in my case, polymer clay), carving /sculpting tools, a kiln that can fire at 2000˚F/1000˚C, and the tiny nature of much of the beads? Not a good fit for donating to schools or places with children. Nevermind that I'm not even sure how I would get that much (both volume and weight) art supplies to another place or person (again, transportation issues).

Even friends I once did those sort of things with have all gone on to do other things, have more pressing issues they're contending with currently, or otherwise have fallen out of my life. 

Not that I blame them. Whatever 'muse' or creative spark I seem to vaguely recall once harnessing has been long gone. I sometimes contemplate hauling all the supplies out to the dumpster, but (in a peculiar mindset) feel bad for the beads and supplies. They didn't do anything wrong. They deserve a better home than a landfill. (Again, not sure leaving some of that stuff out for kids to get a hold of, unsupervised, is a good idea, anyhow.) Stupid. I know. 

43 is almost here and I'm less sure of myself than I think I ever was previously. I can't even seem to muster false bravado most of the time. I don't even know why I write some of these things, other than perhaps, to remember I might have had a voice. Once. A long time ago.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Pierced by an [poisioned sludge-covered] iron spike

That moment when you realize, "huh. This isn't good. Things have taken a decidedly 'Not Good' turn of events." 

That was the moment when I looked down at my left foot and saw the rail road spike pushing up against the underside of the skin on my foot. It had slid between the middle and left metatarsals, avoiding both bones, but decidedly lodged between them. It didn't hurt. Oddly, at the moment it happened, and for an indeterminate time afterwards though probably only nanoseconds,there was almost no sensation whatsoever. 
For some time, my Mom had chided me to make sure I wore shoes while wading through the small stream that ran behind our house. It was the runoff from a now, mostly, defunct coal tipple about a half mile upstream. Tipples, the intermediary in the "old-school energy flow" paradigmn, were where the raw coal was washed and graded before being shipped out to consumers to heat their homes. By the this point in early 1980's that I was aware of, not many people used coal to heat their water, any longer, locally.

The stream was strewn with broken glass and bits of rusty iron from others in the neighborhood who had used it, for years, to dispose of household waste. At least the neighborhood had gone to public sanitation so toilets and wastewater/greywater were no longer sluiced into the 'crick'. 

No, instead, all the fish and vegetation my Dad and his family had told me once lived in the crick, had long since died. The stones and sand replaced and covered with a burnt umber orange sludge from the sulfur washed off the coal ore, choking the oxygen out and making the water too acidic to host life. The clinical, scientific had term become "Acid Mine Drainage", but the people who lived by it knew it simply as "dead, undrinkable water".

 All the trout? Dead. Minnows? Dead. Raptor birds like eagles who lived on the fish? Long gone because their food had disappeared, so off to happier, safer hunting grounds. Not even algae grew in the water, any more. Even insects like mosquitoes and water-jiggers wouldn't hang around the stream.

Just orange sediment sludge covering the bottom of the waterway and anything the water touched.

In retrospect, that's probably what saved me from a massive infection. The sulphur sludge. Bacteria coudln't even thrive in that level of PH shit in Pennsylvania. 

In that moment, as I looked at the peaked line from the iron spike piercing my foot, there was a rapid calculation in my head of, "oh shit, this should hurt. A LOT. I wonder why it doesn't? Where's all the blood? Oh, the spike has the puncture sealed. Am I going to get lockjaw from the rust? I'm going to have to pull my foot off this [insert a string of expletives an 8 year old should generally not know or utter] spike. Mom is going to be so angry with me. And the quintessential, 'now what??' This is all a bunch of SUCKTASTICCRAP."

Mom had been adamant about me wearing shoes while mucking about in the crick. ['Crick', in my parlance, having an entirely different designation as a flowing body of water that was larger than an rivulet of water, but smaller than a stream, as far as I was concerned.] Having the logic of a kid, and an extra quarter inch of skin on the bottoms of my feet through a peculiar genetic abberition, I usually went barefoot. I had better traction with the use of my toes. To be fair, that extra layer of cheap rubber from old sneakers probably wouldn't have prevented the spike from going into my foot. It possibly could have even pushed broken bits of fungus infused rubber up into the wound. But I knew she was going to be pissed, regardless. And it's not like we didn't know the spike was there. The old, rotting railroad tie, creosorte eroded long ago, somehow embedded in the stream upside-down with the spike sticking up through some course of events long before my time, had been there as long as I had know. It wasn't a new surprise. I just wasn't paying attention.

So I stood there, looking at the peaked line on the underside of skin on my foot, and made the conscious decision to pull my foot back up and off the hunk of gross, slimy iron. It took more effort that I expected, as the vacuum wanted to keep the spike in its new home. Regardless, I made it out it leave my foot. Then the scarlet blood, mere moments later, swirled downstream in an ever widening ribbon. Then the screaming howl with fat, hot tear, started. Apparently coming from me. 

It took my Mom perhaps a minute to run out the door, around the house and get across the water to me. Given that the bridge was on the far side of the property, traversing what was probably a quarter mile, it was rather impressive. To this day, I'm still not sure how she did that feat so quickly.

She scooped me up in her arms, which was no mean feat, given that I was almost as big as her [she was never very tall, standing about 5 foot 2 inches and maybe 110lb sopping wet in heavy fabric], but she gathered me up and brought be all the way back into the house as the friend who had been stomping around in the crick with me patiently explained that, "yes Dory had really stepped on the spike. No it wasn't just a piece of glass that had cut her foot. The edge of the spike had been obvious on the underside of the skin."

Mom wasn't having any of that, though. Instead I got lambasted for having been barefoot, and she insisted it had just been a piece of glass that made a deeper than usual cut. I think, in retrospect, she was more scared of what really happened than I was.

After washing my foot as best she could with soap and public, town water, then cleaning it topically with rubbing alcohol and putting a gauze bandage slathered in Porter's Linament on my foot, we called it good, and I sat on the couch with my foot propped up, with instructions to "Think About What You Did." which mostly consisted of me contemplating why she didn't believe me when I told her it was the spike and not a piece of glass and feeling guilty for freaking her out so badly. My Dad, her husband, had been dead about a year at this point, and things had been very difficult for some time for her even before he passed. Here I was, making a mess of things for her, and she had enough on her plate to deal with as it was.

My friend had told her older sister, an R.N. nurse like my mom, what she had witnessed, and her sister had called my mom to stress the fact that, just maybe, perhaps, she might want to take me to the hospital to be checked and get a tetanus shot. My mom decided that the tetanus shot was probably a good idea, if nothing else. Perhaps it would scare me into wearing shoes while I was tromping around that area.

The local hospital was a State run institution. It had been a teaching institution where she had actually got her Registered Nurse Certificate, long before that profession had been turned over to the bailiwick of Universities to accredit. She still knew many of the nurses, doctors, and other employees working there. Perhaps that was what made the vist so uncomfortable for her. 

I have to admit, I don't think I ever saw quite the look of nausea and chagrin on my Mom's face as I did when the long, wooden cotton swap slipped into the wound on my foot to clean the puncture while sitting on the bed in the Emergency Room. My foot, soaking in a basin of iodine, an orangish-red color, similar but with a different, metallic lustre, to the sulphur sludge, with an inch and a half of cotton swab concealed within the mysteries of of bone, gristle, and muscle, had seemed an unlikely candidate to make my mom look so queasy. Given everything else I had viewed me mom contenting with over the previous few years, and the stories she had told, I expected her to have a more, "Huh, didn't expect THAT!" look, and less of a "I may vomit" look. In that moment, I had a smug, yet very unsatisfying feeling of, "I told you the truth." The physical wound hurt far less then the events that had transpired and the emotions I percieved from my Mom. I loathed 8-year-old-me, in that moment, for so many reasons. 

I hobbled around for a few weeks afterwards at school in in slipper on that foot to accommodate the bandages, and my butt cheek hurt from the tetanus shot [though only a few days]. It was harder to deal with the recrimination from my schoolmates, teachers, and the reproach  from my mom. I had been stupid and caused anguish and discomfort that outweighed my own, to others. 


The peculiar, herditary skin issue [Palmar-Planter Keratoderma] had facilitated a massive fissure at the edge of the ball of my foot for years. It's slowly closed and healed back into a smooth expanse of skin, recently. For the first time in ages, at 42 years old, the two inch scar is visible on the sole of my left foot again. It's real. This all really happened, at one point, in my timeline. Even if, at times, I might wish it was all a story I imagined.

Not sure what to make of that, nor many of the other events that have happend over the past few years, but there it is. Take away from this what you will, Gentle Reader. I'll talk to you again, later.