helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Just returned from visiting with my older brother J1 in New Jersey with my younger brother J2.

J2 and I arrived about 1:30 on Saturday and hung out with J1 and his wife G for a while. After a few hours, J1 left to go to work at the restaurant where he plays Greek music, and shortly afterward we rode with G to visit with J1's daughter K, her husband J3, and her son D. It soon became apparent that D has decided that his name is not "D" at all -- it's "Alex". He claimed that D was too shy, and so he was staying "upstairs", and that Alex was who we were dealing with. This persisted through the entire weekend. Not sure exactly what to make of it.

Later, J3 drove us to the restaurant where J1 plays music. There, we were treated to dinner. And by "treated" I mean that the wine at this particular restaurant is sold for ten dollars a glass (never mind the dinner). Luckily, the restaurant owners footed half the bill because we were relatives of someone who works there. During dinner, K recommended that I read the book "Middlesex" about a hermaphrodite, and that I see the movie "Religulous" about the evils of extreme fundamentalism (done with humor). After dinner, we went back to K's house to hang out some more with her, J3, and D. Then G picked us up and we went back to J1's place.

The following day we all met for breakfast at a place where a guy was flipping omelets made to order ... (a far cry from the IHOP we take J1 to when he comes to visit us!) Then J1, J2, K, J3, D (or Alex, as the case may be), and I all returned to J1's place and visited for a while. J1 showed us his huge train layouts and ran them for us. There were about 50 cars being actively used in various trains, and about twice that many that were not being used. The layout had tracks, mountains, stores, loading docks, bridges, semaphores, etc., all set against a scenic backdrop. The trains moved and sounded their whistles according to commands given by the operator using various switches and levers. J1 has had these layouts for most of his life - I remember them from when he was 14 and I was 4. There was even a Hogwarts train (but that one belongs to G).

J1 also showed me a couple of heavy-duty work tables he had built himself. The work tables had vise attachments for clamping any items being worked on to keep them stationary. One of those would make it a lot easier to construct things like book cases, firewood boxes, etc. I got some good ideas for designs and materials, but was still completely lost in the area of how to do the actual construction. J2 mentioned that he doesn't like my dad's old work table and may want to get a new one, and that if he does, I could have the old one. (Sounds good to me - at least it would be a good first table while we're trying to muddle through making a bigger one with more features).

Before I left, J1 loaned me a hammered dulcimer to try playing for a while. I figured out a couple of scales and simple tunes.

It was a bit of a long drive, but now I feel like I'm not hopelessly neglecting my family. They've all made tentative bookmarks in their brains to visit us during the warmer months.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
This weekend I didn't leave town because I wanted to stick around with Sithreal, give him his meds, keep him company etc. It turns out that it was a good thing I was here, because around noon my younger brother called, and was locked out of his house. It was very lucky that he called this weekend, because I haven't been in Maryland on weekends in months... until now.

After this happened, I realized that he did not have my cell number. Until recently, it had been enough for him to have my land line, because he hardly ever called, and I was in Rockville often enough to handle emergencies on weekends. This is no longer true. Also, ever since my mom died, nobody has a key to his house except him and me, so in an emergency or if he gets locked out, I'm it.

We had a good visit and I gave him my our cell numbers so he can reach us if we're out of town. It's only a couple of hours away, so I would be able to drive back. I'm still amazed at how lucky he was that I happened to be home.

In other news, the results from Sithreal's tests are not back yet - should be back sometime next week (the vet will call). He's doing ok, and is getting anxious to get out of the room. Only one more dose of pain meds. It was only supposed to be given for a few days - not a week like I had originally thought. That's a relief, since I didn't think that would be good. The incision is healing well and no sign of infection. He doesn't seem to be aware that it's there at all.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] rialian's famous brother is online...

helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
After a long week of holiday visiting, first with [livejournal.com profile] rialian's parents and then to a party to see friends, some of whom had come from the west coast, I finally visited my younger brother who lives in what was once my parents' home. I felt that I had abandoned him over Christmas, but he seemed satisfied with the fact that we all converged at his house for the holiday, even though it was two days late.

While I was at his house, he told me that he would be getting rid of the coats - my mom's coats to be exact, unless I took them home. I scoured the house for all the coats I could find. I am now the owner of about 20 'new' coats. I guess my mother must have liked coats a bit. They're nice coats, I guess. There are short coats, long coats, light coats, heavy coats, medium coats, down coats, wool coats, and little synthetic windbreakers. I will never be cold again in this lifetime. Among all the coats, I found the One Coat. In 1969 or thereabouts, there was a style of coat called the Maxi Coat. These were usually black but could be any color, and were fitted, floor-length coats. I of course had to have one (so I did). I always loved mine, but had nearly forgotten I owned one, except for a vague memory in the back of my mind. I thought for sure that my mother would have gotten rid of mine, since I didn't use it in nearly forty years. I found it. Mine, all mine. I have my maxi coat. I have no idea if I'll ever wear it, but no matter. I have it with me now, and it fits perfectly.


I need a new closet. No, I need a room. Actually, no, maybe a house -- in order to store these coats.

In addition to the coats, I found the remainder of the jewelry she left me. More accurately, my neice found it - apparently she can find things when others can't find them. Among the located items were my mom's cameo pin and her amethyst ring that I had been missing. I knew they were somewhere in the house, but hadn't been able to find them for months, but Kate found them almost immediately.

I also found a few things that I'd forgotten about - a charm bracelet that I'd had as a child that had many unique charms on it, and two heart-shaped lockets, and a little bracelet with my name engraved on it in Greek. These were things I had when I was seven or 8 years old (maybe younger) that my mom had preserved for me over the years. I also found my metronome that I'd had when I took piano at age 10 or so from my Dutch piano teacher Anneke Van Den Berg. I also found an antique toy cash register made of solid metal - they don't make those anymore because, well, the little tykes might hurt themselves on it (god we've pablum-ized life).

These treasures I gathered together, and I brought them home. I do not know where I will put them now. I don't care. They are mine, and with me they will stay.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
A few years back, I was at a holiday get-together at [livejournal.com profile] rialian's parents house. I think it was Easter. At any rate, it wasn't Christmas, because this year was my first Christmas with them. That day during dinner, I happened to notice an odd ornament situated on top of a large china closet across from me. The ornament looked like a horse. Never mind that the "horse" had antlers, and there were shiny christmas balls attatched to said antlers - I was not associating this ornament with Christmas, since it was months away, and I was actually thinking about something else when I saw it. That was when I absently remarked to the room at large, "That horse looks like its brain exploded."

Well, Rialian's mom doesn't forget such a grand opportunity for endless mockery. So when I opened up one of my Chirstmas gifts today, I was surely not surprised to see...what I saw.

Of course, it was Rialian and Stove Top who pointed out the fact that it appeared to be "anatomically correct" (we don't know if Rialian's mom noticed this or not, but we suspect maybe she did...)

The Drag Stags have nothing on him )
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Stove Top got married.

That is all.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
This poem was written by Arjun Janah (a.k.a., Babui), one of my college friends. He met my mother maybe 3 times 30 years ago. He remained in touch with me over the years (one of the two people who did -- the other one's in Switzerland).

Even though so much time has elapsed, and even though he only saw her a few times, he remembers my mother accurately.

He just sent me this poem:

Is She Gone, Then?

I knew her for a little while,
But still remember well her smile,
Her gentle wit, her calm, her grace,
Those eyes, so kind, that lit her face…

Where has she gone, those left behind
Now often ask, as in each mind
She lives, and does, with each, converse...
If only we could death reverse!

But no, she's gone, and won't return,
What's left is ashes in an urn…
And yet, and yet, she never died,
But only sleeps, from life untied…

Ah come, ah come, then wake again,
Feel sun and cold, and pleasure, pain…
This weekend, we will visit you,
Have coffee, yes, and cookies too…

Babui / Arjun Janah
2007 April 16th, Mon.
Berkeley, California
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
We got us a bona fide red-haired, changecolor-eyed elf in the family:

Those Ears... )
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)

First baby in our family in thirty years. No, it's not mine. He belongs to my brother's daughter Kate.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Thanksgiving was a tad weird. It was just my mom, me, and my brother - [livejournal.com profile] rialian went to his parents' place. Usually there would be about 5 or 6 people there - my aunt, my dad, maybe an uncle, and once upon a time, even a dog. This time there were three. At least two of those people's ashes are in my mom's closet. If you call my mom's house, my dad still answers the phone on the answering machine.

Around the dinner table, we mostly talked about death. We talked about my late dad and my two late aunts and my late cats. We didn't talk about being thankful, because we weren't exactly thankful that they were all dead. Plus Mom has macular degeneration and can no longer read stove labels. She said she didn't want to outlive her eyesight. Later I went home because I didn't feel up to much more.

The Kewkewbeekers (my pet name for my family) are dwindling in number.

Later that evening I noticed Sageti, [livejournal.com profile] rialian's cat. He is one enormous animal. How could I not notice him? Yet for months, I haven't really noticed him at all. He is very quiet and unobtrusive. I realized I had been ignoring him because I was caring for Sunshine, and because Oosie always loudly demands ALL the attention when I'm upstairs. This time I noticed him. He was lying on the floor, calmly waiting for his turn. What if his turn never came? What if he lived and died and we never noticed him again, never petted him, because the other cats made more noise and made their presence known more? We immediately made a huge fuss over him, and resolved to pay more attention to him. Last night he got all the cuddles and attention he wanted (which will become more frequent now that nobody in the house is sick). So maybe Sageti had a good thanksgiving...


Nov. 15th, 2004 11:49 am
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
You know, my dad who passed away last year was a CIA man, and it really makes me sick to see them take the fall for this utterly incompetent, bullying, dishonest, dictatorial administration's inexcusable lies and fuckups.

That is all.


Jul. 16th, 2004 10:55 pm
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
My neice called just now... She's pregnant - they're looking forward to the arrival in January 05.
Plus I just did a little arithmetic in my head and realized she turned 30 this year.

With respect to the passage of time, I've always been a bit like Wile E. Coyote, who during chase scenes, would often take about 8 steps into thin air off of a cliff. He was never aware that nothing was supporting him - he just kept walking as if everything was normal. Until he looked down, that is.

In my family I've always considered the successive generations as "not separate from mine" - Katie and her husband always looked at me more as a sister than an "aunt". My older brother John is ten years older than me. My younger brother Jason is ten years younger than me. Katie (the mom-to-be) is 13 years younger than Jason. But now there's the mystery baby - he or she will be 30 years younger than Katie. There's no way anyone can pretend this will be a little brother or sister. This is the first baby of a totally separate generation. As non-prolific as we are, it may be the last. But one is enough.

Looks down into the time-tunnel...
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Yesterday I went to visit a very ill relative for the last time. My aunt Kiki, my mom's favorite sister, was diagnosed with cancer about 17 years ago - she'd been in successful remission until this year, when the disease decided to stage its grande finale. I had expected it to be bad, but it was still a shock to see her - she'd gone from about 140 pounds down to about 80, and was too weak to hold a spoon, almost too weak to speak. I sat with her from early morning until about 2:00 that afternoon, when she fell asleep and others were there with her. I went home. Next morning mom called and said she'd died. She was 85 years old.

I had never seen illness and death that close before. My dad was bad off, but could still move around the last time I saw him. He needed considerable help, which we gave him, but he was still up. I had never seen what cancer could do if it got out of control (my dad's had always been beaten back on time, and he ended up going from other causes).

I'd never seen someone starve to death. There is nothing quite as horrifying as seeing someone starving to death with nothing that can be done for them. I think I'll have her face burned in my memory for good. I'm worried about my mom. She lost my dad last year, and now her favorite sister, who she took care of when they were kids, and who would always come over every week to visit with her and play scrabble. I don't think Jason and I can really fill in for those folks - they had an understanding based in a sense of duty and compassion for each other that I never possessed.

They were cared for and loved until the end, and they had wonderfully abundant pensions, and they deserved it all. One by one, they're going away, and the world is left to us. I feel chilled.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Several months back I heard the phrase, "I have to leave you soon" spoken silently in the back of my mind. I guess it was expected. It is still difficult.

There are only a few people in the world, less than I can count on one hand, who are always truly glad to see me, truly glad to hear from me, and love me above all others without question. Now there is one less such person in the world. Goodbye daddy. We're glad there's no more pain. Until we meet again.

April 2010



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