Friday, July 27, 2007

What's that mean, anyway?

. . .

If you've been to my blog before, you may have noticed a little icon called 'Sitemeter' on the left side. Sitemeter allows me to learn a few things about my blogging, such as where the reader may have found my blog, and sometimes what area of the country they're from, etc.

A surprising number of hits are from people who are searching on the phrase "ripeness is all". I wrote a little about my choice of this name for my blog in my very first post, to explain where the phrase comes from (Shakespeare's King Lear), and why I chose it for the title of my blog. I thought I'd write a little more tonight.

Uttered by Edgar in the play, the phrase follows the words "Men must endure their going forth, even as their coming hither". In other words, since death is inevitable, it is best to be prepared. (I'm not going to bring up the proverbial bus; I just ate.)

In the spring of 1988, my son, then seven, entered a psychiatric facility; my ex-husband and I had just separated; my daughter wouldn't speak to me unless forced to, as she blamed me for the divorce and was very angry with me about other things as well; I was living alone, though we had joint custody, since my son was institutionalized and my daughter refused to stay at my apartment; I was having severe anxiety and panic attacks; I had no job and no money. I had gone through numerous depressions with no support and little treatment. I had a lot of time on my hands, and I spent a lot of it bitterly lamenting the misery much of my life had been so far.

For whatever reason, a sort of theory of happiness formed itself in my head. The first thing I realized I'd lost was a basic level of contentment. Contentment, I felt, came from knowing what your 'job' in life was, and being able and allowed to do it. For most people, that job has little to do with their career, although it can. The true job of someone who becomes an M.D., for example, might be as a healer.

My job, at that point in my life, was to be a mother. My children were only 7 and 10. It seemed the harder I tried, however, the worse things got, and my own mental and physical health were rapidly deteriorating. In part, my job was taken from me, and in part, I chose to back away from it simply to survive.

The second level is what we normally mean when we use the term happiness--the feeling itself. Many in our culture assume that happiness comes from having and doing the things we want--owning things, taking trips, taking part in activities not all can afford, such as golf or skiing. In reality, as I learned during this time of great unhappiness, true happiness comes from seizing the moment--one bright red falling leaf through your tears; a child's sudden discovery of a new ability or a part of nature. The key here is that one can focus on the good in the moment, or the bad in the moment. It isn't always easy to focus on the good when the bad seems so overwhelming. But it's a habit of mind that can be practiced and developed.

The third aspect of happiness that I recognized at the time was joy. Joy comes from connection. I had put all my eggs in one basket--my nuclear family (my best friend, my mother, had died several years before)--and had no one else to connect with. I rediscovered connection, and joy, when I joined my first ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) support group.

As things improved in my life, I stopped obsessing about what I had lost, and began to rebuild my life. Then alcohol took over, and I lost it all again.

When I finally got sober, and the spiritual foundation of my life began to improve, I realized there was another level to aspire to. This level I called ripeness. As an apple becomes juicy, red, and sweet as it matures, so we can become more fully human, or 'self-actualized', as Abraham Maslow put it--as we age, if we put the time and effort into it.

I suppose some people might aspire to 'ripening' themselves to get to heaven. That's not my reason, and I don't even think I can tell you what my reason is. I do feel, though, that my responsibility as a human being is twofold: first, to become the best person I can be, and second, to help others in the process. As I said in my first post, way back in December 2005, it's a bittersweet truth that we can be at our most ripe, our most fully human, as we approach death; likewise, the meditation upon death, and the joyful embracing of it, enriches our lives as nothing else can. This is what I am engaged in now.

. . .

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


. . .
Here's a picture of my daughter Elizabeth. She got her nickname, Bizzy, because she was always busy, even before she could grasp with her hands--always intently watching everything around her. So we started calling her 'busy Beth', and the 'Bizzy' stuck, rather than the 'Beth'. She really likes it now. I think she looks beautiful in this picture.

She's holding Loki, who's the kitten she gave us. Loki is the trickster, the god of mischief in the Norse pantheon. He certainly did turn out to be mischievous. If we hear a crash at night, it's usually him.

I finished a digital piece last night, the first in a while. When the weather's this nice, I just want to take pictures! And I'm addicted to graveyards, as you may have noticed. New England just has so many cool ones.

Here's the piece, titled 'Spirit':

I'm not sure how well the colors show at this resolution; they're white, shades of black, and red. It's a manipulated fractal with a face drawn freehand in Photoshop.

Well, I hope you all had a good day. Namaste--

. . .

Monday, July 16, 2007

Cemetery and Japanese Garden pictures

. . .
A couple more from the Episcopal Church cemetery. I call this one 'Decay'.

This one is called 'Children's Stone'. I know it's hard to see, but the children whose memorial this is died at the ages of 13 months, 22 days; and nine months. I don't recall Edwin's dates. It's worth remembering that many families lost several children to what were most likely bacterial infections when there were no antibiotics available to treat them. They must have suffered a great deal. This sculptor's style is unusual; s/he added the two garlands of flowers to the stone, which I find very poignant.

This one is called 'The Relict'. Okay, so what's a relict? A widow, obviously, but where did the word come from? According to Wikipedia:

"A relict was also an ancient term for a widow, but has come to be a generic or collective term for widows and widowers." Really? I've never heard the word outside of an old graveyard. Nice carving, anyway, don't you think?

And now, for a complete change of pace: my friend Maura picked me up yesterday and we went to a local plant nursery. I'd been there before, but not in the last two or three years. Apparently the owner had been busy building a small Japanese garden. Here's one picture I took:

It's a lovely little place.

Well, enough photos for today, I guess. Have a good Monday.

. . .

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Back to taking pictures...

. . .
How do you like the pictures of my son in the last post? In those two pics, he's digging a new garden for me.

I processed those today, having uploaded a bunch of photos to John's computer. As soon as my computer is also online, I'll post a couple of pictures I took of my daughter recently.

We drove to an Episcopal church with a graveyard behind today, and I got some neat photos. That's about as much exercise as I can get right now--I really did myself in moving. Here are a couple of pictures I took today; I'll post some more tomorrow.

I'm rather pathetic, I think. I love lens flare. Rather like a crow who'll pick up any bright and shiny thing.

I'm tired. Not nearly as tired (or sick) as I was during my primary chemo, though, and for that I'm grateful.

Hope you're enjoying your weekend!

. . .

Adam, working

Friday, July 13, 2007

Well. I'm back.

. . .
On the internet, that is.

AT&T screwed up, of course. They neglected to submit the order for the internet. The phone was hooked up here on the evening of July 3rd. We just got our DSL today.

You wouldn't believe the creative--and disparate--excuses we heard from different people. The "line was busy" is perhaps my favorite.

Anyway, I'm just a tad behind on everything, including my email and my eBay orders to be sent out. And I'm freakin' exhausted. Today was definitely a typical Friday the 13th. First I decided to put together one of those over-the-toilet shelf units, and even though I was carefully removing the pieces one by one, I managed to break one of the glass doors. So I guess I'll be getting creative with this piece of furniture...I'm thinking wire shapes with a few large-hole beads, that sort of thing, to fill the area where the door glass should be. Should be fun.

Feeling a little down, I decided to go out and do a few errands. I stopped to get my Jenuvia prescription at Brooks in Portland. I'm not registered there yet, since we used a private pharmacy back in Hebron, so I handed the pharmacy tech my Medicaid card and he handed me a form to fill out. At one point, the form asks you to specify whether you want child-proof caps or not. Since my youngest child is 27, I figured I wouldn't need them. Unfortunately, their 'decapitator' had disappeared. A decapitator is apparently a small device that somehow un-childproofs the kind of manufacturer's bottle that they just put the label on and give you as is. They never did locate it, so they insisted on putting the pills in one of their own vials--you know, the amber plastic things that most pharmacies use. If I had known, I would never have checked 'non-childproof'. And here I was thinking that some simple snafu would happen, such as my Medicaid card being rejected.

Supper was good. I made it myself.

John broke my special coffee mug today. He says he'll buy me whatever I want, even if it costs $100. So I'm thinking I'll go to eBay and search on 'mug', then have them sorted by 'highest priced first'. Doesn't that sound like fun?

July 6th was the 31st anniversary of the birth of my first baby, who only lived one day. I get crazy this time of year. But I'm back in Adam's good graces (my beautiful boy), and I got to sing happy birthday to him on July 9th.

Life is wonderful.

. . .

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Just a quick stop-in to say...

...when it rains it pours.

As some of you know, we bought a house about six weeks ago. Tomorrow is the move.

The guys who helped with one load blew us off this time. So it'll be just my son Adam and a friend of his. John's wiped and I'm worse.

All during May and into June, I kept wondering why I was so sleepy; it didn't seem to be related to the new chemo. Well, turns out my blood glucose had decided to take a trip out of our solar system. Then, just as I start to feel a little better (but by no means able to do a normal amount of packing), Flash, my oldest cat, went into kidney failure. Our dog Obie was also doing worse and worse. To make a long story short, we had Obie put down last week, and Flash got worse so quickly we actually used one of the emergency vets on Wednesday (can't wait to see the bill for that one). (I'm popping in here on Friday the 13th to say that Angel's comment made me realize I hadn't made myself clear on this post, that we had to have Flash put down as well. I've been internet-less for eight days now!!!) This morning was chemo, and all day yesterday's revenge. Fortunately the house isn't being shown right away.

Send me good vibes, or, better yet, lots of money. Talk to you when we get our DSL back.



. . .
I am the wheel.

Something about me
takes the backside dancing
over bumps, and ruts, and even angry glass
from young and hopeless men.

I roll and watch the world go round,
as my own life spirals
right before my eyes.

Trailer trucks have nothing on me.

They see the gray of roads that kill
the once lush landscape of our fields and hills.
When they pass the ocean, barrels of oil
are all that fill their eyes.

I have something better.
I see the fetus, swirling in its mother’s womb;
I see the whorl of blooms that draw the drunken bees
and fill the earth with flowers and sugar.

I see the roots below the ground
where worms and beetles swarm to make us grass.
I see the whole.

I am the wheel.

. . .