Crisis Averted

My iPod died. It was quite old and well used. Still, it was a shock, especially at a time when my house was in need of cleaning, an activity that requires aggressive escapist accompaniment.

Howie offered me his iPod as he recently acquired an iPhone and put all his music on it. (We’re a model iFamily.) My iTutor (see what I mean?) helped me erase all Howie’s music from the ‘Pod and replace it with mine. Wonder of wonders, my old iPod held 2 gigs of data, Howie’s held 7 gigs! On the way home I plugged in, anxious to take advantage of the new playlist I’d created from shared music collected by my musically-obsessed husband. Alas, none of my playlists appeared on the ‘Pod. I reinstalled as directed…no playlists, not even the option of playlists.

My lists are key in terms of travel and housework. I have a pair of large serious sound-suppressing earphones, given to me by my daughter, that I use at home. Howie gallantly offered me the use of his iPhone catalogue but, having made no playlists of his own, the shuffle option was an unsuitable choice as he listens to an inordinate number of old blues songs sung by talented but wretched and despondent musicians. This music is appropriate for wallowing in misfortune, bemoaning fate; it is not music to vacuum by. I hate vacuuming! It’s strenuous and repetitive (therefore futile like all housework, though necessary for health reasons). It requires energy music, uplifting syncopation and powerful voices. Rock ‘n Roll! A shuffle of my music would include, not only some “mood” music, but yoga accompaniment–not suitable for housekeeping either.

The option of playlists, missing from his iPod, was not not to be found in the menu or settings. I left my unclean house behind and returned to the Apple store with a heavy heart. What could be more depressing than facing a hungry vacuum or a grungy bathroom to the tune of Robert Johnson or Blind Willie McTell. I need Zackery Richard, Tom Petty, the Shirelles, for heavens sake…and my theme song, which appears in every playlist, “The Mountain” by Steve Earl (ok, that’s a little sentimental).

iTutor to the rescue. It took her one minute to turn the playlist option on and there were my lists, safe and sound on the “new” iPod. Amen!

House cleaned.

Jumping

I’m trying to write a story with a plot–not an easy thing for me as I don’t see the world this way. I see life as a random spectacle of events. I know some people have (or think they have) control over their lives but I doubt this is true and I know I have none. For me, life is a matter of coping with each development as it comes up, seeing where it leads and making the necessary adjustments. Occasionally, I dig my heels in and take a different turn, but these turns never lead to what I’d imagined when I took them.

I’m not complaining.

In the meantime, my house is clean, the bed changed, the laundry done. This is what I do while I wait for a plot to reveal itself. (I need to write more stories for the sake of my house.) Outside, there are several police boats under the bridge and a helicopter circling. Do we have a jumper? I’ve scanned the bridge with my binoculars and don’t see anything. We never know until the next day’s papers. I read lately that recent jumpers prefer the George Washington bridge over our Brooklyn Bridge. It must be because of the work going on here and the shrouding they’ve done to hide it. A couple of years ago we had a jumper that, rather than jump from the middle into the water, chose to jump off our end onto concrete–during an outdoor art exhibit. Splat! (Performance art)

It’s really busy out there now. A second helicopter has arrived and there are sirens. Is the universe trying to tell me something about my plot? There are no bridges or tall buildings in my story.

Howie once did a bungee jump off a bridge in New Zealand. There were a lot of kids doing the jump and they were eating pizza and drinking beer. Howie didn’t eat until after…they wrote a number on Howie’s hand and we thought we’d be there all day waiting his turn but it turned out to be his weight and they took him right away. They calculated the jump exactly so that you could choose if you wanted your body dunked in the water, or just your head, or nothing. That’s control. I couldn’t control my shaking enough to watch from the bridge. It was too high and I have fear of heights. I had to watch from the bottom.

I used to be really good at jump rope. I could jump all day. Now when I do it I feel like my insides are going to come out. I’m beginning to feel that way about the story I’m working on…

ps: A bunch of my stories have been collected in a book (Meeting the Dog Girls, NonStop Press) which is coming out soon. Stay tuned…

The Sleeping Prince

For a while we both had secret names. People know his now though they don’t know what he’ll want to be called; there are several possibilities. One day I’ll tell him my secret name, perhaps today, if he wakes long enough. He slumbers, curled up in his sleep sack, dreaming of past lives and a life to come. I have much to tell him when he wakes, songs to sing, games to play, more secrets…

His familiar, not yet accustomed to new duties, waits, ears erect, and follows each visitor to sniff out their intention.

This prince was a more conventional arrival than previous descendants. His room is serene, perfect for a sleeping prince. My kiss doesn’t wake him, only the taste of mana and the disruption of his wrapping.

Bella

Bella was not supposed to be my dog. My son was grown and had finished college though he was living with us when he rescued her. We had an Australian shepherd and I didn’t want another dog in the house. But Travis came home one evening with Bella, who certainly needed rescuing. She was practically feral and would perch on the back of furniture like a hawk, growling and looking ferocious. She’d stand on her hind legs to grab food as if she’d had to forage desperate scraps to sustain herself. Within a few days she went into heat and was completely wild for weeks.

Having her neutered didn’t relieve the fear and aggressive behavior. My son, Travis, was the only one who could get near her. Her health issues are too numerous to list. Vet visits, surgeries, emergencies, Travis patiently paid for all of them and cared for her. A “puppy mill” dog who’d apparently been abused, Bella was lucky to have found him. But Travis isn’t a miracle worker, five years ago, after he’d had her for six years, she went blind. Travis became her seeing-eye person.

Life went on around Bella and she barely noticed. Travis married and had children. My husband and I began to take Bella for extended periods. The second baby’s birth was followed by a particularly harsh winter. It was impossible for our daughter-in-law to take Bella out, Bella was frightened by the children, tripping over toys, having more and more “accidents.” When surprised, she snaps–not suitable behavior around small children.

So for the safety of our grandchildren, the sanity of our daughter-in-law and the sake of our son, we took Bella in.

She’s old and sick and blind but Travis can’t make the decision…On her bad days, it can be really scary. She has bloody stools and chokes. She throws up. He’s decided not to put her through any more invasive tests or surgeries so we don’t know exactly what’s wrong. I give her an assortment of meds and clean her ears. Confused by sounds, she lays on her pillow most of the time and won’t go far when we take her out. I sometimes have to check to see if she’s breathing. I sometimes cry. We get her groomed and wash the pillow often and she still has the smell of death.

But just when I think I can’t stand it any more, she has a good day–like today, she was willing to take a walk–to the end of the block.