Month: March 2021

The Cliff of Doom takes a bite

I stand on my front deck, large numbers of short, guttural words spewing from my mouth. I glare at the blood running down both arms. At the torn fingers and palms. I shotgun a few more words and wish like Nuggan I were five years old, so I could stomp my feet, scream, throw things, and not have the neighborhood’s oh-so-subtle paddywagon, with its attendants carrying tidy white straitjackets, pull up at my curb inside of two HotPockets heartbeats (everybody knows they ain’t dead when they go inna oven).

I have accomplished the big things on my list: Going to the store (inside! with people innit! scary stuff!) and finishing the move-the-half-high-blueberries project.

I have also paid bloody damn de erm… what’s the phrase? … I kick a clod, which shatters unsatisfactorily, spraying dust across the deck… oh, he!!s, through some facial orifice or other, for getting it done.

It seems that both of the last two little blueberry bushes were quite happy where they were, thankewverramuch, and I had to climb into the 30″ raised bed to dig them up with a shovel, a jackhammer, and without the three teenaged boys who weren’t, but should have been, going past my house when I needed some muscle (they would’ve run faster than I could, anyway). I discovered an ancient ritualistic-looking circular object around the biggest bush, about 4″ below the surface. It proved not only resistant to shovel blade, but Danny Ocean himself with all the dynamite in the bank couldn’t have gotten it out. Roots had grown into it.

I dug. I pulled. I put not just my back, but every thigh, calf, arm, stomach, and grunt muscle I own into it. I feared gnomes had been using it for arcane midnight rituals, and everybody knows better, with my yard so close to the Wild Forest. It turned out to be a ring of some thatched material, with a hole in the center, and I think (hope) it was put there to hold moisture around the then-newly planted bush’s delicate roots.

Which I proceeded to sever relentlessly with said shovel and said muscles; they were not delicate now. I grunted loudly enough trying to pull the loosened bush out that three neighbors came outside looking for the herd of moose that must be rushing panic-stricken down the street.

When the bush finally gave way, I flopped back onto my substantial ass, dirt from the roots flew up, and showered my head and face (including that part of it that was wide open and grunting).

After spitting out sufficient dirt, I discovered the bush, with root ball, weighed as much as a 30-year-old gamer who thinks a balanced diet means a double-chocolate cheesecake in each hand. Nevertheless, I marshaled my abs again, grunted the bush to its new home, and dropped it in.

After all the fuss and bother attending what amounts to a butcher job rather than a transplant, I noticed that things didn’t look right. I couldn’t focus. I closed one eye; saw fine. The other; fine. Both together; not working. Not at all. I pulled my glasses ever so slightly down my nose. Bugger, I thought, it’s those fancy-pants lenses that traveling optician sold me. I knew she didn’t look right.

I put the tools away and scraped up the worst of the mess before I went in. That included chopping up the sharp, prickly, woodsy-bushy pruned bits into the trash bag, which added to the blood count… on the ground, not in my veins.

Then—when will I learn?!?!—I decided to do One More Thing before I quit for the day. I took the trowel and dug a little hole in the right spot on the Cliff of Doom, where I was going to stick the last live stake I put in the ground in December. The thing has buds on it an inch long; it had to have roots (it didn’t) and should be happy there (it probably won’t).

I did this carefully, getting down on hands and knees and backing down the cliff so as not to go slip-sliding, which on those boulders would not be pretty. Or comfortable.

And my eyes went wonky again. I couldn’t focus. Suddenly I was doing the least coordinated ass-over-teakettle shoulder-roll you ever saw, straight down the cliffside.

I dug my hands in. When they next hit ground, I slammed my killer boots into the dirt. Fortunately, one of the ferns I planted there about five years ago is big and strong enough to hold me, and I did not continue down to splatter on the boulders and become raccoon food. Because yes, since I had not planned to do anything on the cliff today, I did not have my cell phone with me.

I crawled up to the gravel walk, wondering how in all the string-laden multiverse a person can fall down when she’s already on hands and knees facing uphill. I stood up. I realized that nowhere on my corpus would there be an unpainful patch in about two hours. I hurled a few more short, snappy words into the unsuspecting air, which quivered and ran away, leaving me (ha ha) breathless. I threw the trowel—yes, I even remembered to pick it up—into its bin, went inside, and took a hot shower while I could still move.

I was utterly furious with myself, my glasses, the optician, the cliff, with everything in my world, especially those missing thugs who didn’t even show up so they could run away laughing rather than do a good deed for a helpless little old lady.

While toweling off, I glared at myself in the mirror. I did look like a war victim. But I shook my fist and refused to knuckle under. No, I thought. It all went sideways at the end, but it wasn’t my fault entirely, and I’m OK. I’m gonna be grateful I didn’t fall all the way down the stinkin’ cliff an’ didn’t break anything. That’s my story an’ I’m stickin’ to it.

And I took out my Gratitude Journal and dutifully wrote—five times—“Didn’t fall all the way down the cliff.”

Because some things deserve extra emphasis.

Posted by wordsmith, 2 comments

In the ‘weird dreams’ category

This week, I’ve been waking up around 4 or 5 and not returning to Morpheus’ withdrawn arms. This morning, probably around 6:30 or 7, I fell into one of those odd dreamish states where you know what’s going on and you usually kinda-sorta know it’s a dream, but it seems extremely real.

This one involved some old stuff of Mom’s that I’d found in a couple of boxes I’d never seen before. Stuff that seemed peculiar, but given that she taught home ec before it became consumer education (because heavens forfend any of us should be anything but consumers), they made sense.

One was an oddly constructed dress, on a slightly rusted wire hanger, that sported a first-prize sticker from a state fair. It looked like an ordinary blue cotton dress, but had been constructed in a deliberately difficult manner. It was roughly the size I might have worn at fourish, but I had no memory of it. It contained three white zippers with decorative pulls, placed about one inch apart, that zipped just to left of center up the back to about the lower end of the scapula, then curved a bit more to the left until they reached the shoulder seam.

Another was much larger and also had a first-prize sticker on it. Only folded—no hanger—this one was green, not sure what kind of fabric, and also designed to show off construction skills. It had box pleats in the skirt and I think the insides of the pleats were a different pattern, but I don’t remember for sure. If they were, it was a subtle difference, not like black outside with neon-pink polka dots inside.

A couple of other garments were in the box; I didn’t look at them too closely. Underneath them were a bunch of very large (like 18″x24″) black-and-white photographs on a kind of photo paper I haven’t seen since about 1960 (but was probably discontinued many years before that). Some had a little writing on the front (I didn’t recognize the handwriting, but somehow knew it was Cousin Laura’s [not sure of the name, but that’s who she was in the dream]—an older woman, Mom’s first cousin, who lived… I think down the road a ways from where Mom grew up, but I was only at her house once or twice so can’t be sure. She was quite an expert on our family history, though.

Each of the photos had fairly extensive explanatory information on the back in Laura’s handwriting. It looked as if they’d been done in grease pencil (do those still exist?!), and not very sharp ones, so were grainy and hard to read. The top photo was of quite a handsome young African-American man, dressed to the nines and with his hair carefully arranged so a few curly tendrils fell down his forehead, while the sides were quite a bit shorter. His name was Edward Drummond Jr. (not a name I know from any of our family history on either side). If there was info on how or whether he was related, I don’t recall that; I just remember being both surprised and not surprised that some DNA of African descent was mixed in with all that Irish. (According to, completely untrue; I’m the whitest old white woman in the Western Hemisphere, and it really annoys me. I’d rather have some interesting old family members other than pirates, Bart.s, and nefarious monsters.)

Other photos showed dignified, portly white gentlemen with moustaches the size of Pennsylvania; women with bonnets that, filled with helium, could have floated them to the moon; and various other things I’d expect to find in boxes of old family photos. Each one had equally detailed info on the subject/s and I intended to get this transcribed ASAP (I was aware enough to know it would disappear, at least).

I made the mistake of trying to adjust a pillow at this point, which derailed the whole thing beyond retrieval.

What knocked me back was that I’d had no previous knowledge of any of this. Once I realized it was a dream, of course, this made sense; but not until then. And that made me a little sad, because I don’t have tons of stuff that was my mom’s. Three vases from the 1930s and 40s; a Pakistani enameled brass tray; a little of her “good” silverware; and a couple of pieces of Nambé ware, one of which is a bowl that announces her Teacher of the Year award in its, well, bowl. I don’t really know what to do with any of them. (Nambé ware used to be a super high-quality, high-dollar item produced in northern New Mexico; it didn’t rust or tarnish and was really lightweight, freezer-to-oven style stuff. Unconventionally shaped, it screamed “way beyond classy” during my childhood. I went hunting for it not long ago and found it’s been bought by some gharstly forn outfit and debased into a bare shadow of its former glory.)

Anyway, that ruined that one and I had to stagger out of bed and greet (for once!!) the sunshine.

Posted by wordsmith in Dreams, Family, 0 comments

It’s better than a ventilator. It’s better than a ventilator. It’s better than a ventilator…

Tuesday morning, I was the first person in line to get my covid “booster” shot. Partly because that’s when they scheduled me; partly because since one of my superpowers is to get stuck in traffic detours, behind accidents, and accidentally take wrong turns even when I know where I’m going, I left way early. Actually, I ended up sitting in a corner for quite a while. It was interesting listening to the medical personnel giving the volunteers instructions and advice on the admin and patient-flow end, which freed up the medical folk to do their jobs.

Only one of 24 stations was set up with the second dose of Moderna, which is what I had; everyone else was to get Pfizer (which has only a three-week interval and I’m told much milder reactions after the second). From what I’ve read and anecdotal evidence I’ve collected, the Moderna “booster” has a higher concentration of mRNA, so it really does give your body a bigger jolt and tends to have a more severe and uncomfy reaction.

A-a-a-and that’s what I got. First day wasn’t much problem; my arm was pretty sore and that was it. I got shot at 9 a.m., so didn’t really expect much that day. But I was up three times that night, twice to get cough meds because I kept waking up coughing. Don’t know why.

Day two … not so happy. Achy joints and muscles, low-grade temperature, no appetite, general malaise. I was glad I’d marked off four days to be a complete and total sloth, just in case. More up-at-nightness, too, still with coughing, though I wasn’t coughing during the day.

Day three … that sucked. Temp peaked at 101.8 F, I had chills along with more aches and miseries, and I was really tired. I couldn’t do anything–not even read, because I couldn’t muster the concentration.

Day four … that’s today. Such fatigue! I went back to bed after doing email … and actually slept ’til after noon. That does not happen to me. A couple of hours later, I felt like I was nodding off again. And slept for nearly two hours more. And feel like I could still go back to bed and snooze off with no difficulty.

Here’s hoping that what others have reported happens to me: At some point, within an hour, all the symptoms go away foom! and you feel just fine. I seriously hope that I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling foom! wonderful, and be able to get back to doing things! But even if I don’t—and I have to take the Statistically Special Snowflake status into consideration—a week’s worth of mild misery and general grumpiness is far better than intubation and ventilators!

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