Friday, February 22, 2013


“There is an universal tendency among mankind to conceive all beings like themselves, and to transfer to every object, those qualities, with which they are familiarly acquainted, and of which they are intimately conscious. We find human faces in the moon, armies in the clouds, and by natural propensity, if not corrected by experience and reflection, ascribe malice or good-will to every thing that hurts or pleases us.”
 - David Hume

So, the upside down heart shape of the sky between trees caught my eye, and recalled Hume’s observation above. The cloud pleased me. 

Yesterday was a good day in the crazy cathouse. My scaredy cat is beginning to accept inhabiting the same room as the over-exuberant puppy. 

I still haven't found the dog's off switch but it's amazing what a spray bottle of water can do. Just pick it up and she stops jumping. Smart dog.

That's me on the couch at left, with my watering can on the floor in front of me. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

I Abide

Jesus (the bowler not the son of god): I see you rolled your way into the semis. Dios mio, man. Liam and me, we're gonna fuck you up."
Dude: "Yeah well, that's just, ya know, like, your opinion, man." 
 - The Big Lebowski

February is not a generous month. This morning, the sunshine is watered down and faded with mist left over from recent rain. Even the colors are washed out and subdued. The pale sunshine offers very little warmth and the zen frog seems to be meditating about how cold his toes are. Do frogs have toes? His tiny webbed feet, then.

But Valentine’s day will be upon us this week, and thoughts of loved ones near and far should warm the heart.

My heart was also warmed this morning when I spoke to a specialist from the County about the denial of MediCal for a 94-year-old dementia patient in my family. The specialist said we don’t have to attend the hearing that had been scheduled for later this week to appeal the denial. Instead, we’ll get a letter to verify the County’s “conditional withdrawal” of the denial, Then, State officials will have 30 days to contact us to explain how we can re-qualify and tell us what verification is required.

So far, this process - including redetermination (annual renewal) application, initial denial, submission of further verification, formal denial, appeal, and now cancellation of the appeal hearing – has taken five months. It began in September, 2012 and is for coverage of the 12 month period of the calendar year 2013. By the time this matter is resolved, we will have maybe 6 months until we get to do it all again.

I suspect the cost to the government for this process is probably the equivalent of 6 months of Medi-Cal costs for this one client. But that’s just like, you know, my opinion, man. And I’m not counting my time and anguish. It’s a good thing that my religion is Dudeism. As a Duedist, I will abide. Happy Valentine's Day.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

More or Less

“Tell yourself
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
that you will go on
walking, hearing
the same tune no matter where
you find yourself—
inside the dome of dark
or under the cracking white
of the moon's gaze in a valley of snow.
Tonight as it gets cold
tell yourself
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
as you keep going. And you will be able
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars.,
And if it happens that you cannot
go on or turn back
and you find yourself
where you will be at the end,
tell yourself
in that final flowing of cold through your limbs
that you love what you are.”
Mark Strand, Lines for Winter (for Ros Krauss)

This poem is in the second person: he is talking directly to the reader. It is a difficult subject – getting old and slowing down, something more noticeable in cold weather when there isn’t enough sun in the garden to warm your old bones. When my bones are cold, they don’t play much of a tune these days. Instead, I hear more of a weary low moan, creaking, and stiff. More grumpy than musical.

My bones and I often sit in the backyard on sunny mornings. The southern exposure of my back patio is often more comfortable in the mild winter sun than when the summer sun slants more directly in to heat up the concrete patch enclosed on three sides by the house. In the summer, the patio is only comfortable in the late afternoon when the sun has moved behind the tree on the hill. More cooling shade than scorching heat.

Although I always appreciate Mark Strand’s poetic images, his singing bones metaphor doesn’t inspire me. It is a strangely comforting thought however, to contemplate where I will be when I die. When I can no longer keep going, I don't want to imagine myself freezing under a cold winter sky. I'm thinking more warmth of daytime than cold of winter night.

I suppose if I could chose where and when to die, it would be sitting on my patio, as the warming sun seeps out of my bones, and finding - if not love - at least contentment with what I am. Unfortunately, I’m at the age where this is a relatively short window of time. I want to wait until I finish my morning cup of coffee, but before I have to go back inside to pee. More practical than poetic.