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The Funeral I’m Not Attending

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We are still in somewhat of a psyche-scrambling whirlwind after the events of the past has-it-not-even-been-two-weeks. One of the many side effects of such turmoil is this lite, 20 % less filling blog post. [1]

My FIL’s death was just one of the Sad Events ®  either mentioned or alluded to in last week’s post – events that have left us feeling pulled in various directions and emotionally and physically drained, to be tastefully understate the situation. None of us– us being my immediate family – will be attending tomorrow’s funeral for MH’s father. The funeral service will be held where his late father and mother  [2] lived/live, which is some 3000 miles southeast of us as the crow flies.  [3]   

We have the understanding, love and support of MH’s mother and are at peace with our decision to tend to our family’s needs and not make the grueling, cross-country trip twice in as many weeks. As wrenching as it was for MH to see his erstwhile vibrant and accomplished father so debilitated, MH was able to have ten days of “what counts,” we’re-all-in-this-together time with his mother and sister, who worked together as a family, loving and caring for their respective husband and father, setting up in-home hospice and nursing care, and staying with him until the end.

 

Bob at CrabTree Falls

*   *   *

The scrimmage is “touch,”
not tackle. What, you ask, could
possibly go wrong?

The zen/sport koan
asks this: What is the sound of
one bone shattering?

*   *   *

What a way to start the season, am I right?
(Belles’s text informing me that she’d broken her finger during a rugby scrimmage)

More like, what a way to end the season before it’s started, I thought, when I saw Belle’s artistic rendering of the x-ray taken of her finger, the x-ray that made the Urgent Care clinician immediately refer Belle to an orthopedic hand surgeon:

 

Sadiefinger

 

Another one of the Events Previously Alluded To was our needing to tend to the fallout from the BFF (Belle’s Broken Finger) Caper.

Department of Long Story Short: once MH and I understood the extent of Belle’s injury, we brought her home from college to consult with an orthopedic hand specialist surgeon. Her fracture turned out to be a very complicated one, the kind of case which both challenges and tantalizes a good surgeon (and we found an excellent doc for her. It seems all those certificates on his exam room wall were legit, and not just purchased from those ads you used to find in the 1970s issues of Mother Jones magazine).

After Belle’s post-op appointment her surgeon set her up with an initial PT session with a finger therapy specialist. Dr. FingerWhiz gave Belle his permission to return to college, with the proviso that she will need frequent and regular PT sessions for the next eight weeks, and also be seen by a local (Tacoma) hand surgeon for post-op followup and eventual removal of the surgical pin.  If she is diligent in her PT she can hope to obtain what, we were told, is be the best case scenario for return of function – a 80-90º bend in the finger’s joint. She will have some permanent  loss of movement and function in the finger, which will never be able to join its other finger buddies in forming a fully clenched fist.

As my patron saint Doris Day would have said, Que sera sera. Or as one wise family friend put it, there are enough clenched fists in this world.

 

Doris bravely keeps on keeping on, despite her debilitating neck-craning injury.

Doris bravely kept on keeping on, despite her debilitating neck-clenching injury.

 

Speaking of fingers, “Where were you when I was a toddler?” I asked the hand surgeon, when we chatted after Belle’s surgery and I held up my very own  “special needs” pinkie finger. You should have seen the gleam in his eyes.

 

My funny finger has its own FB page.

My funny finger used to have its own FB page.

 

Content warning: really cool pictures, including a view of the wire left in Belle’s finger to realign and hold in place the smashed bits of her finger joint. For some reason, my darling daughter resists my suggestion to hang a tree ornament from the wire’s hook. Kids are so conservative these days.

 

 

 

 

The surgery in progress.

The surgery in progress.

 

 

Before the post-surgical unveiling.

Before the post-surgical unveiling.

 

 

Sadie pinkie pinJPG

Frankenfinger.

*   *   *

Department of Cheap Thrills

And I do mean cheap: driving around the parking lot of a Fred Meyer store, verrrrrrrrrrrrry slooooooooooooowly, looking for a parking spot, while the Low Rider song is playing on my car’s radio.

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeee haw.

What can I say; I’m over fifty.

 

*   *   *

May your thrills be cheap but satisfying,
may your bone fractures and heartaches mend,
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

[1]  Our tragedy is your gain, or some equally insipid slogan, might be inserted here.

[2] Mh’s mother is very much alive. Does that make her his early mother?

[3]  Except that the crow big enough to hold our family plus flight crew never flies directly from Portland to Orlando, but always wants to take you to up to Seattle and then to Los Angeles or Dallas or Chicago first.

The Questions I’m Not Answering

Comments Off on The Questions I’m Not Answering

҉     The Opening Rant   ҉    

I recently received the following correspondence, which caused me to invoke the smiting powers of the FSM before I got to the email’s second sentence.   Forthwith and in all due haste I forwarded the misbegotten missive to SCM, a fellow writer and kindred snarky misanthrope keen-eyed observer of the human condition, with whom often I commiserate about The State of Publishing.

darkstormynightjpg

Oh, yeah, the email:

 (name redacted)

Subject: author questions

 hi, my name is (name not capitalized), I recently became an author and found your name under a list of oregon  authors and i wanted to get in contact with someone to see if they could answer some questions of mine  I  completely understand if your  too busy, but if you could take a little time and possibly answer some questions that would be great.

 How  did you get published? Im  currently using createspace to publish my books.

 How  did you market your book? Did  you have a marketing team or did you self market and what did you do if you did?

 do    you have any tips you could give me for helping my book along.  currently  im  going to faires   and trying to sell them there, but im    open to pretty much anything to help my book along. its  already on amazon, and the createspace marketplace, but I  would love some help as to how to get it moving better into peoples  hands.

compshock

 

Oh, oh, oh, (name not capitalized). Where do I begin?

For one thing, take the time to learn the difference between your and you’re and plurals and possessive plurals – as well as what and when to capitalize (name not capitalized, you are no e e cummings) and how to spell and punctuate – before you plan on soliciting time and advice from a “fellow” author.

If such frank advice (which you solicited, remember) makes you confused or surprised or hurts your feelings in any way, not to worry.  After all, you have it together enough to have learned to use the apps from Amazon and createspace that allow you to claim, “I recently became an author.”

And yes, I am too busy to help you, although I do appreciate the email as a worthy addition to my Exhibit A collection illustrating why I do not want to mentor anyone who intends to self-publish….

*   *   *

Deep, cleansing breath, y’all. I did not say any of those things to (name not capitalized). I did not reply to the email. I could not do so and respect myself without being honest, and really, I’m not that cruel (read: helpful).

If for some reason (name not capitalized) stumbles across this blog posting, I will leave this one piece of advice: one of the most important things a person should to do to “become an author” [1] is to develop a thick yet permeable skin; that is, a hide that can stand up to and appreciate honest criticism and that is porous enough to let seep through a realistic assessment of your innate talents and willingness to learn a craft.

As devoted (or at least sober)  readers of this blog know, I have ooooooooooooooooooodels of complaints about the traditional publishing model and industry.  And yet.  Past and especially recent experience reinforces the need for gatekeepers.  Thanks to the rise of self-publishing services, not only are the barbarians at the gates, they are scaling the fences and crossing the moats, using copies of their young-adult-fantasy-steampunk-speculative-Fifty-Shades of Vampire-murder-mysteries as makeshift ladders and rafts.

Without gatekeepers the entire literary marketplace becomes one big slushpile, deluged by a monsoon of unaudited, unedited work .  Today, someone like (name not capitalized) can “become an author” and “publish” via a few strokes of a keyboard and an EFT to a publishing app vendor.

yourbookhere

 

I don’t care if I rarely showed up to practice, didn’t bother to learn the fundamentals of the game and sucked at defense – I was on the soccer team, my name is on the roster, and dadgummit, I’m going to get a trophy for participating.

When anyone who wants to do so can be a “published author,” where is the merit in being published?  If any (name redacted) can “publish” as long as (name redacted) has the funds to produce a paperback or e-book, having a book published isn’t any more noteworthy than downloading your story and illustrations to a thumb drive and having Office Depot’s Document Printing Services department  run off and bind some copies.

badauthor

*   *   *

҉   The Middle Section’s Short but Heartwarming Family Anecdote    ҉   

 The Upside of the Empty Chateau

What with K and Belle gone to college, MH and I get to feed Andy (ball python) and T’Pol (corn snake).  No grocery list is complete without a reminder to stop by the pet supplies store and stock up on small and medium-sized frozen feeder mice.

T'Pol relaxes at the day spa.

T’Pol relaxes at the day spa.

*   *   *

҉   The Brief Contemplation of a Contemporary Phenomenon    ҉   

 Both Sides Now [2]

sunnycloud

To be described as having your head in the clouds is, by and large, not a flattering assessment of one’s character. The phrase’s various idiomatic meanings include being out of touch, unrealistic, naive, impractical and inattentive. Thus, it strikes me as odd – and, okay, just a teense ominous – that we [3] have adopted The Cloud as an umbrella term to refer to Internet software and services, and that we increasingly entrust our documents and applications to this ethereal location.

Just thinkin.’

stormcloud

*   *   *

҉   The pun-not-intended Pet Peeve    ҉   

I use Nordic trekking poles during my morning walks, for a variety of reasons, and have discovered that, along with increasing the workout and simply giving your arms something to do, they have the unanticipated benefit of protection.  On more than one occasion I have used the poles to fend off an aggressively postured dog.

Yep, a 120 lb canine, ears laid close to head, eyes narrowed and challengingly fixed on mine, lips open and drawn back to expose teeth bared in a snarl, hackles raised and tail fluffed and extended straight out from body, approaches – and is off leash, of course – as its owner calls out to me, “It’s okay, he’s real friendly – DON’T MAKE ANY SUDDEN MOVES!”

You, of course, are not now and never will be this dog owner. [4]

*   *   *

      ҉   The Department of Apropos of Nothing    ҉   

Due to a precipitating incident I cannot now specifically recall, longtime friend JRC once gave me a year’s subscription to National Review .  This was during our sophomore or junior year in college, when JRC was attending UCLA and I, UC Davis.  During one of our periodic phone calls, wherein we chewed the fat about everything in general and nothing in particular and The Big Issues of Life, JRC, an intelligent, witty, creative guy [5]who held inexplicable/WTF [6] conservative political opinions, said he thought I needed to expand my news sources.  At the time I worked in UC Davis’ Periodicals room and regularly read a variety of news journals – certainly more than JRC, I taunted him – including the Wall Street Journal.  But that wasn’t enough for JRC, who said he thought I’d appreciate William F. Buckley’s wit and way with language. I retaliated repaid JRC’s generosity by gifting him with a subscription to Mother Jones Magazine.

As far as I know, JRC received a year’s worth of Mother Jones issues.  I read each National Review that came to me, and although it would have cost me nothing to continue to receive them, I cancelled the subscription after six or seven months.  I tried, I really tried….

It wasn’t the magazine’s conservative slant that bothered me – for crying out loud in a Ronald Reagan film festival, I was born and raised in Orange County – it was the overt, obnoxious, patronizing, dripping with disdain, East Coast chauvinism.  The magazine’s writers oozed a snide, barely disguised contempt when addressing anything having to do with the West Coast.  I felt complicit even reading it.

 

"I won't insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe that scientists have discovered culture west of Boston."

“I won’t insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe that scientists have discovered culture west of Boston.”

I am still in touch with JRC, who holds the dubious distinction being the person, other than my siblings, with whom I’ve had the longest peer-type association.  From grade two through high school we shared at least one class.  Imagine all the embarrassing things we might be able to recall about one another, were we not now so decrepit we can only remember the good stuff…right? [7]

*   *   *

      ҉   The Amusing Send-off    ҉  

Friend JWW presented me with a gift when she came to Sunday dinner. Mere words cannot descript my utter bewilderment joy when I beheld the…object; this, pictures will have to do.

JWW said that this gift was to help me with that pesky Empty Nest thing.  I thanked her for the addition to my Rubber Chicken crew. She said it wasn’t just another rubber chicken, and told me to squeeze it.  So, I did, and the chicken laid an egg…sort of.

Yes, I took a video of a rubber chicken’s hinterland. Before you judge me too harshly, remember that you just voluntarily watched a video of a rubber chicken’s hinterland.

*  *  *

On the subject of judging someone, harshly or otherwise, let us all remember the timeworn admonition, an aphorism that uses Shiny Happy treacle to mask a morsel of inadvertently wiseass advice:

Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes.

Go ahead, put on the shoes, and then pass judgment.  If the man gets pissed off, well, you’re a mile away and you’ve got his shoes.

angrybarefoot

*   *   *

 

May your footwear of choice give you comfort over the miles to come, and may the judgment-free hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] That is, assuming the magical snap of a finger “There, you’re an author!” is intended to last for more than one book fair weekend.

[2] Three cheers and a big yellow taxi ride for those who get the Joni Mitchell reference.

[3] “we’ as in They, and perhaps you, but not me.

[4] And if you were I’d slap you upside the head with my trekking poles.

[5] And awesome blues guitarist.

[6] IMHO, considering JRC’s family’s impoverished circumstances and resultant need for the much-decried-by-conservatives, social welfare services.

[7] BTW, JRC, I never told your mother that you lied to her about how you broke your leg after you fell while swinging from a tree (which she’d forbidden you to do), although I think you ‘fessed up to her yourself after she didn’t fall for your story about tripping over a bbq grill cover .