Monday, October 31, 2016

Dazed and Confused Part IV

So what has all this got to do with the owl pictures I posted last week?

Well, it all started out rather inauspiciously. This has been one of the rainiest Oregon Octobers on record.  We've had rain, rain, and more rain since the end of September.  Our last two appearances at the Astoria Sunday market were rained fact, the final market was actually canceled due to predictions of storms and strong winds--not conducive to retail sales from beneath canvas canopies inclined to whip or fly away in the wind, or at the very least, dump buckets of water on an unsuspecting patron's head when the right combination of rainfall and wind conspire to cause all hell to break loose. 

Days on end of rain tend to play right into the husband's favorite "togetherness" activity--sitting in the family room and watching tv for the five hours between when he gets home from work and when he goes up to bed at 9:00 pm (interrupting the nightly "binge" only to feed ourselves and the livestock).  But after a few weeks of that, I'm ready to die of cabin fever.  So when the weather cleared up briefly last Thursday night just as the husband arrived home from work, I insisted that we take advantage and get ourselves out to the dike and/or local trails for a little fresh air and exercise.  He agreed readily enough; and off we went.  At the last minute, I decided to grab my camera before we went out the door..."just in case we saw anything interesting."

And almost immediately, we did indeed see something interesting.  The slanting sun shone on a tall brown shape sitting among the leaves near the top of a cottonwood next to the trail.  "Oooh...what's that?"  Thinking it would turn out to be one of the redtail hawks with whom I've had close encounters in the past on this trail, I pointed my camera at it, snapped off a few frames, then brought the camera down and pushed the playback button.  Zooming in on the fuzzy image on the screen, it was nevertheless clearly an mistaking that head shape and those eyes, out of focus or not.

"Holy crap!  It's an owl!"

"Really?  Let me see!  Wow!  Good eye!"  This from the husband.  The one who doesn't care if he ever goes back to Klamath.

We would go on to hear and see two more owls in the fading daylight of the next 45 minutes.  Husband himself would locate one by following the direction of the big male's low hooting.  I knew I was not imagining that he was as geeked out as I was about spotting owls practically under our noses on an evening walk so close to home.

As we turned and headed back to the van, I just looked at him and said again:

"So you really don't want to go to Klamath with me?"

He looked at me...a little sheepish, I think.  And then opened the negotiation.  Talked about not knowing if he could get the time off for the exact week in January that we had gone before.  I said it didn't matter, it didn't even have to be January.  It was just nicer to go before the whole world arrived for the "Winter Wings Festival" in February. 

He paused.  Defeated?  Enlightened?  Convicted? 

"I'll talk to Sandy (his boss).  I'll see if I can get any time off."

I knew we were going.  I stopped and looked up at him...looked him right in the eye.  And I said:

"You know, I've been free to make arrangements for this trip for months.  And I just haven't done it.  I know I told you that I could and would go without you.  But when I really thought about it, I realized:  if you don't want to go, I don't want to go either.  It was a you and me thing, and without you it just wouldn't be a thing."

It's not like we fell into each other's arms and declared our rekindled love for one another.  It's not like we even acknowledged that we've been playing some kind of clueless chess game, trying to assert our independence from each other while being held inextricably together by deep, deep connections we didn't even know we had...until we tried to sever them.  But we're going to Klamath in January.  Together. 

I feel strongly that the Universe pushed those owls into our path to guide us, to make us see through the darkness of the tangled mess our relationship has become.  And that the Creator is now telling me not to over think this...just be grateful, grab hold and run with it. Now.

I still don't know what we have, still don't know how to celebrate it, still don't know what will happen tomorrow, or the day after, or the minute we step foot off the train back from Klamath Falls in January.

But I have some hope...and that's way more than I had a week ago.   


Dazed and Confused Part III

We spend a great deal of our "quality" time together driving around in the car...when we're sitting two feet apart with no distractions, we can't avoid interacting.  So we will be motoring down the highway, feeling amiable and content, almost married...and the issue I've tried to bury will bubble to the surface. I can't help it.

"So you really don't want to go to Klamath with me?" 

From his side of the front seat, there will be silence, or a hesitant, "Not really..."  And my eyes well up, and I have to turn and look out the window for five or ten minutes, willing myself to drag my thoughts out of that sinkhole and scramble back to the congenial but shallow equilibrium we shared before I opened my stupid mouth.

During one of these ill-advised forays through waters into which I should know better than to wade, I tried to calmly nudge the conversation forward, beyond his honest but soul-killing response to my question.  Something in the back of my mind suggested that perhaps he was maintaining this bland negativity because he was hurt that I would plan to go without him, even though he didn't want to go.  I knew chances of that being the case were slim to non-existent; but I couldn't help throwing him a bone, in case it would make a difference.

”You know, when it comes to doing the stuff I want to do, I can do it by myself.  It's kind of lonely and it's not as much fun, but it's better than not going at all." Silence from the other seat.  I had no idea if or how the information affected him.  So.  Back to looking out the window for ten minutes, sucking back the tears back and re-establishing the more comfortable mood. 

At the very least, I think I've established that I will do the things I love to do without him, if he doesn't love those same things.  I want him to get that the decision is not an easy one for me, but I can't stop living because he won't live with me.  Especially since I have so much free time on my hands in the winter.  I have to do SOMETHING.  

And...I really want to believe it myself.  I want to talk myself into being strong and brave and decisive and adventurous.  I want to pretend so hard that it is no big deal for me to make arrangements to go off and do fun and interesting things on my own, that it makes it true.  That it erases the fact that I'm really so timid and frightened and unsure of myself that when I DO go off on my own, I spend a great deal of the time I should be enjoying, wrestling my own relentless demons.

Would that my solitary adventures were solitary; Exhaustion and Exhilaration, competing for attention, are my faithful companions every time I strike out alone.  And then there's Loneliness...always bringing up the rear, but always present.  Always eager to show me that there are limits to solitary enjoyment...always keen to demonstrate exactly how much, or how little, a single cup will hold.  Always insistent upon whining in my ear, "Why is a person, joined for life to another person, doing things all by herself?" 

I have to kick those guys in the ass every time I venture out alone. 

Sometimes it works. 

Sometimes it doesn't. 

And letting the husband get any hint of what I go through to live without him...just isn't an option.

Dazed and Confused Part II

In January of 2013, we arranged to spend a week in southern Oregon at the Klamath wildlife refuges.  Originally, we planned to witness the great eagle fly-out that is supposed to be one of the must-see events of the area in winter.  We never did see that...but we were just hooked on the beauty of the frost-laden landscape and the other winter wildlife--raptors, owls, coyotes, swans, geese and ducks--that populated the seemingly deserted refuges.  We had such a great time that we returned the following January, and the second trip cemented my love of the place.    

Ever since, I've been longing to go back, but finances and other issues kept us from returning in 2015 and 2016.  As this past summer came to a close, I knew I couldn't stay away any longer.  But in light of the husband's revelations about his lack of attachment to another of my beloved get-away venues, I asked him if he wanted to go, instead of just going ahead and making the reservations, as I normally would have done.  And though I wasn't shocked, I was hugely disappointed when he said, "Nah.  I've seen it."

This defection tore at my heart even more than the beach revelation.  The ocean is just 90 minutes away.  I can, have and will go there by myself.  It's lonely, but it's possible...familiar.  It's my second home, and I'm comfortable there. 

But Klamath is a trek--four hours by train, rent a car, arrange for lodging, consider inclement weather (snow, ice, zero-degree temperatures).  It was not only a place that I came to love; it was a little challenge that we faced together and conquered.  We would strike out in the mornings, just the two of us alone together wandering around these huge expanses of beautiful country, then we'd straggle back into town as the sky darkened and pick some funky little place to have dinner.  It was a really good time, a really special time.  Or at least, that would have been my synopsis of the experience.  Apparently, it was something entirely different for the husband; something that he had no burning desire to he told me.

I was beyond sad.  For a time, I just didn't think about it, because every time I did, I would literally start to cry.  Then, I decided I had to hitch up my big girl panties and go anyway, if that was what I really wanted to do.  I approached my sister about coming along with me.  She got on board, but I could tell the prospect didn't excite her much.  I resolved not to worry about least I had procured a companion so that I wouldn't have to be timid, lonely and half-fearful (my usual condition when I sally forth on these odysseys alone.)  This was back in the end of August.  The way now was clear for me to make the arrangements, firm up the reservations...plan the trip. 

But for some reason, I haven't done it.  Hard to figure, right?  I was SO adamant that I had to go, with or without the husband; happy that I had lined up an escort.  Yet I couldn't pull the trigger on the trip.  WTF?

Lately, I've come to understand that when my determination to do something peters out  in this kind of hesitant funk, it means the Universe is telling me something is not right.  "Don't go for it.  Not yet."  This has happened to me a lot in the past several years, since I've been making a greater effort to tune in to the nudging of the Spirit.  And when I slog forward and do the thing anyway, I usually find out pretty quickly why the Universe was trying to put a warning hand in front of my face.  If it doesn't turn into a disaster, it falls apart, or at the very least fails miserably to meet expectations.  So it's best to pay attention when I inexplicably lose my zeal for a project.

Certainly I would not nag the husband into going with me anyway.  If he didn't want to go, what was the point of dragging him along?  The essence of my sadness and confusion about the whole thing was that I had completely misread his feelings about the experience. It was like a knife in my heart to find that something for which I took for granted we had a shared love, was in fact just me dragging him along in my wake; and him coming along because....well, whatever the reason was, it wasn't because he loved it.  There was no setting that aside and charging ahead anyway.  I couldn't bear for him to come along if he didn't love it, too. 
And yet, it ate at me. 

Dazed and Confused Part I

There is a side-story to go along with the owl pictures in my previous post.  It's long and kind of complicated...probably a snoozer for anyone but me, but I'm going to record it here anyway.  It's going to take a few posts to get it all out, so skip over these if you have no taste for my personal struggles.  

Who am I talking to, anyway?   ::sigh::

Anyone who reads this blog knows of my ongoing relationship issues with the husband.  The last decade of our union has been a rocky one, indeed.  And though we marked our 40th wedding anniversary earlier this month, I was ambivalent about the commemoration of it.  It seemed like a laudable milestone, and yet, with the way things have been going, I wasn't entirely sure what to celebrate.  As it turned out, the subdued festivities we had planned were mostly rained out or called due to illness.  Almost as if the Universe was telling me, "When you figure out what you have, there will be a time to celebrate it."

One of the things I have been having a really hard time with has been the husband's recent tendency toward revealing that so many of the things we have done together over the years, things I thought we both enjoyed, he just...doesn't.  Never did, evidently.    

Since we have lived in Oregon--thirty-two years of the forty we've been married--the beach has been a place of special respite for us.  We have gone to the ocean time after time to relax, to rejuvenate, to recharge our batteries.  Or, as it turns out, that is what I have done.  I forget exactly how the conversation came about, but one way or another I was waxing rhapsodic about just walking on the beach and connecting to the power of wind and sky and surf, and he shrugged his shoulders and said something like, "It's no more exciting than Lake Michigan.  Once you've seen one big body of water where you can't see land on the other side, you've pretty much seen them all."  I couldn't have been more dumbfounded if he had stripped naked and gone cavorting off into the freezing waves. 

What did he mean, he didn't love the ocean?  How could he possibly have just said that once you've seen it, you've seen it?  Have I been dragging him to the beach all these years and he's just been faking enjoying it?  Who would do that?  Why would you do that?  His off-hand confession hit me like an attack of emotional vertigo.  Everything went sideways and I couldn't get my balance.  I had no idea who he was, who I was, or what the fuck we had been doing for the past four decades.  I've been working hard to resurrect what was left of my marriage after the cafe debacle, but our present relationship seems to have stalled at collegial companionship--better than being at each other's throats all the time, but certainly not all I'd hoped for.  Suddenly, it's obvious that there's no possibility of getting back what we used to have, because I have no idea what that was; or, indeed, if it ever was.

What do you do with that information, after so many years together?  It's not worth ending the marriage over, but it changes everything.  Especially now, looking at fast approaching retirement:  Soon enough, we'll be struggling to manage more day in, day out physical proximity, for better or worse, than we have enjoyed as a couple for the entire previous span of our marriage.  What are we going to do?

How do I not stop and stare at this unexpected obstacle in the road, peer into the murkiness ahead, throw up my hands and say "What am I supposed to do now?" How do I discard everything I thought I knew about this person I've shared a home with for forty years, and start over with a clean slate and an open heart?  How do I not hate myself for being so blind and selfish that I never had a clue he was not enjoying the same things I did?

I confess, I had no idea what to do.  I still don't.  But while I was spinning my wheels in response to that first revelation, its sister slid up out of the depths. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

October Owls!

Just when I'm ready to concede that I've wasted $1400 on technology that I'll never be able to command...

And spent hours traipsing over fields and through woods, braving the chill and dodging raindrops,  juggling my intimidatingly pricey (not to mention weighty) equipment and not even encountering anything worth pointing the camera at...

And, so, seriously considered setting the camera aside for awhile...maybe a long while...because obviously I haven't the talent nor the tech-savvy nor the patience to actually be good at this...

Along comes a day like today.

Where a spur-of-the-moment decision to take advantage of a couple of dry hours between storms (complete with a late afternoon sun ray or two) turns into the photo op of the month.  Possibly even the year.

I grabbed my camera on a whim, "just in case we see anything interesting."

And, boy...did we.

Who expected to see, and hear, great horned owls on the trail a couple miles from home, in the early evening in the middle of October?

You could have knocked me over with a feather.


Couldn't Hurt

The results of the last two presidential elections inspired in me a stubborn faith in my fellow American voters.  Despite all the erroneous garbage flying around--and this year is 2012 to the 100th power--the American people are not as stupid and gullible as the media would have us believe.  Still...the courting of a little old-fashioned good luck couldn't hurt...

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Long-Suffering is Definitely the Word(s?)

It is said that Chicago sports fans are the most loyal fans in the world.

Even in this new age of  "talent for hire," where there is no such thing as a player who allows himself to be the brand for any one team for his entire career;  where talent and ability are sold to the highest bidder, and even the highest bid is never quite enough, Chicago fans support their teams--especially their Bears and their Cubbies--through good times and bad.

I used to be a's one of the things my husband and I shared, back in the olden days.  But the culture of blood and greed that has permeated the games has chased me away.  I'm no longer able to call myself a "fan" of a bunch of greedy brats to whom winning is everything, and losing is for losers; and who demand a king's ransom of a salary to play...a kid's game.  I am just not inspired by that kind of crap.  Quite the opposite, I'm afraid. 

The husband...well, the husband hangs in there.  He's a Chicago fan through and through.  And when they say that Chicago fans are the most long-suffering in history, they are looking straight at Mr. Matt.

He was born and raised in the Chicago area, steeped in the "there's always next year" culture of the Windy City sports fan.  In 1984, we moved to Oregon.  The Cubs went to the playoffs that year, their first post-season appearance since the 1945 World Series. 

At the same time, the Bears started their 15-1 season that led them to the 1985 Super Bowl Championship in February of 1985.

Husband got to view both of these momentous events from 2000 miles away, a misty tear of longing in his eye.  Talk about snake-bit...

This year, in a strategic cost-cutting move, we terminated our connection to cable TV back in February. 

The Cubs proceed to go 103-58, win the National League title and head to the World Series for the first time in 71 years. 

And the World Series games are being exclusively broadcast by  Fox Sports Network--cable tv only.  No cable-y, no watchie.   WTF?!?!?

My heart kinda breaks for my know?

I'll Take Bill

Bill Clinton is not running for president.  He has already enjoyed that golden opportunity to be taken down and nearly ruined by the rabid Republican opposition. 

His sexual misconduct is old news.  It was exposed, trotted out before the American people, and trumped up to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors” for which the President of the United States can be impeached, twenty years ago.   I think it’s safe to say that Bill Clinton paid for his sins, and then some.

For Bill’s entire tenure in office, the Clintons were trashed, investigated, dragged through the prosecutorial wringer, dissected and shamed.  Finally, for nearly two months in late ’98 and early ‘99, the American people were treated to the ultimate attempt of the Republican Congressional delegation to subvert the will of the people and unseat the duly elected president.  I can’t be the only person in the country who remembers how this all went down.  I can’t be the only one who recalls how grievously frustrating it was to stand by while our government squandered precious time, energy and millions of dollars on this sham of “justice” that was, in fact, the political stunt to end all stunts.  The House knew the Senate wouldn’t find Clinton guilty.  But they were determined to take their smear of a Democratic president as far as it would go…intending to inflict lasting damage not just  on Mr. Clinton, but on the entire Democratic party.

But Hillary Clinton bears no blame in any of this.  It’s not the duty of the wife of a philandering husband to sew his pants shut.  If anything, the fact that she soldiered on, with grace and patience, as the world made the most revolting reality show out of her personal life, speaks to her sense of priorities and her level-headedness under extreme pressure.  So let’s not try to make Bill’s inability to keep it in his pants Hillary’s problem. 

The fact that many of the “expose” type headlines about Bill Clinton’s conduct are emanating from the camp of a thrice-wed, serial-philandering, misogynist sexual predator is irony of the highest order.  “Irony” being the current politically-correct term for blatant hypocrisy.

No, Bill Clinton is not running for president.  And neither is Melania Trump.

But if you’re asking me who I’d rather see as First…Spouse—an Ivy League educated Rhodes Scholar policy wonk with an impressive resume of forty years in public life. who also suffers from issues with monogamy;  or a bubble-headed immigrant trophy (third) wife with a resume which includes posing nude in pornographic photo shoots, who was duped into plagiarizing the words of the "enemy" First Lady when required to speak on behalf of her spouse at his victory appearance at the Republican National Convention…

I’ll take Bill.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Who is Actually to Blame

The video I posted in my previous entry makes some very valid points about the culpability of the American press in the fiasco that has been Campaign 2016.  Surely we would all like to believe, as the narrator says, that it is the job of the press to say, “Time out, something really dangerous is happening.”  But let’s think about that for a moment; and when we do, we’ll have to admit that it’s been a really long time—probably at least 25 years—since the press embraced that responsibility.  The 21st-century American press—heavily influenced by characters like Rupert Murdoch—is much more likely to say, “Oh look!  Something really dangerous is happening!  Let’s hang out and watch the bloodbath!  Maybe we can even circulate some conjecture and hyperbole that will make things even gorier!” 

We don’t have journalism in America anymore, folks.  We have entertainment.  We have hundreds of media outlets trying to rake in profits off a 24/7 reality show.  The press is not charged with protecting us.  It’s charged with making those cash registers ring.  And that has been the case for a very long time.  I’m actually surprised that a man as young as the narrator of the “False Equivalency” video can labor under the delusion that it is the job of the media to warn of danger.  I’d be willing to bet that, in his lifetime, he’s never personally witnessed the press fulfilling that archaic obligation. 

Still, if it was only our stinking mess of perverted press that we had to deal with in this election, I think we could survive.  We might possibly be able to grab it, hogtie it and clean it up.  But, no; we have a much larger hazardous waste issue to contend with. We have a gigantic heap of steaming garbage so huge that the American press is a single rat turd in comparison.  We have an inexhaustible font of crowd-sourced “news;”  a place where millions of anonymous everymen spew the putrid contents of their disaffected guts. We have the internet.

There aren’t enough lead-lined tanks in the world to contain the poison released through the internet every minute of every hour.   Nor are their regiments of moral warriors stepping forward to lead the clean-up effort, if there was even the slightest suggestion of the will to do so.  The one or two brave souls who make the effort are almost instantly silenced, buried under the sheer volume of hatred, violence, disrespect and darkness that is the bread and butter of the World Wide Web.

We are challenged to formulate regulations that do not violate our Constitutional protections, and can yet hold the disaster in check.  We must come up with rules that govern the anonymity and factuality of internet content.  It’s possible that these rules might rub up against some of our more cherished Constitutional rights.  The Founding Fathers of our republic would have had no possible context in which to predict the future existence of such uncontrolled malevolence, any more than they understood that “the right to bear arms” would bear the fruit it has born two centuries in the future.  But it’s plain that our lofty American ideals of freedom of speech and of the press are not proof against this massive machine of destructive energy. 

I don’t believe in the devil; but if I did, I’d declare the internet a tool of that evil, all-consuming fallen angel.  I do understand that there is dark, negative energy at large in the world…and there is bright, positive energy as well.  For some inexplicable reason, human beings seem to show a marked affinity for darkness and ugliness…perhaps never more than at this moment in history.  And the internet embodies and feeds that craving for darkness, violence and contentiousness, in such a sick and uncontrollable way that it is entirely likely to be the tool of our destruction. 



Monday, October 24, 2016

Sunday, October 23, 2016

What Was Is Again

a clear lingering memory
of a lonely little girl with
a pony tail and saddle shoes
wandering, alone, between happy groups
on the recess playground
so sad
trapped inside her own head

in time, miraculously
there was a friend...
one special connection
that made her feel
a velveteen rabbit sort of realness
for many years
the sad little child dimmed and faded
almost forgotten

but the friend has left her now
as she knew he would
as all the others did
though it took so many years
she and that special friend
seldom meet anymore
almost never...

the lonely little girl with
the ponytail and the saddle shoes
thinly disguised
behind graying hair and spectacles
reaches out a leathery hand
and touches empty air

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Never Say Never!!!!!!!!!

Loving Autumn Mornings

Sitting on my “coffee deck” in the morning has become joyous and active again.  In summer, everything is bright and hot and harsh; the birds are fat and lazy and don’t need to hit the feeders at first light (not that I would be up at first light in mid-summer…4:00 am is the middle of the night, as far as I’m concerned; I don’t care if the sun is coming up.)

But now that autumn has softened the sun (when it does decide to appear) and moderated the temperature, the garden is a bevy of activity.  I have a huge flock of lesser goldfinches that stops through this time of year, and I love the way they and the newly-arrived juncos tumble like animated leaves down to the ground beneath the trees, where I’ve scattered their favorite morsels. 

I’m aware that the multitude of tiny birds is perfect pickings for the sharp-shinned and  Cooper’s hawks.  Already, a young Coop has endeavored to establish my yard as one of her favorite hunting grounds.   She swoops through the yard, from neighboring tree to fence, sending the tiny birds scattering in all directions.  I haven’t seen her catch anything yet, but I’ve seen evidence that she has enjoyed a meal or two at my birdie buffet:  little circles of feathers on the ground here and there attest to her occasional success. 

Last year, I developed an attachment to a “Moby Chick,” the chickadee with the white speckled black cap.  And every time the hawk would soar through, my heart would be in my throat.  I haven’t seen Moby Chick this year…I don’t know how long these little birds are expected to live in the wild.  But I am going to endeavor not to develop an attachment to any one of these little guys this year.  I can't tarnish my enjoyment of the yard by fearing for the lives of the little prey birds that frequent my feeders.  The hawks are beautiful, too, and wonderful to have around.  And they are just doing what Nature intended them to do.  I would like to enjoy watching that, rather than fear it.

I’ve been giving some thought about where we--the husband and I--will go from here…  What will our retirement domicile look like?  My dream is a small home somewhere in the far exurbs…close enough to a population center to be “safe” for an elderly couple, but far enough out in the sticks where I could enjoy the wildlife year ‘round, without interruption from neighbors’ dogs and loud music and traffic noise and gunfire.  As it looks now, we’ll probably end up in a 55-and-over mobile home park, squashed in like sardines with scores of other retirees and their packs of yappy little dogs.  Not something I am looking forward to, at all.  I hope that the Universe will have mercy on me and allow me a little more of what I crave than…that.