November 19, 2009

Never Take Candy from Strangers

More old worn out shoes. Often I would find something I could wear at the Free Box behind People’s Store. That helped so very much. 1979.

Himself: Swam. No jobs to apply for. Took her to Amvets to search for turquoise Christmas balls and found the Beard Catalogue and three shirts. Feeding two kitties across the sidewalk.

Herself: Swam. Spent hours editing journal entries. Two days ago started coughing again, and now have a marginal voice.

Reading: The Cook’s Catalogue….it’s fascinating.

Balance: Routine…..but, oh, I want to stir things up a bit.


January 6:
Mother was her old self last night when her car was mentioned. It didn’t matter whether she was drunk, her insulin levels were off, or whatever had triggered her anger, I did not deserve to be the brunt of it. I calmly and firmly told her to stop it, and changed the topic to something else. Later Stepfather Bob asked another car question, and she again got angry.

“Just because we are discussing a topic you do not want to hear about,” I told her slowly, “you do not have to be childish and take your anger out on me.”

I still remember the calmness and clarity of the words as they came out. I also remember the look of surprise and Bob’s face when I said them. When they left, I fled to the beach with a tall glass of wine to talk to the surf, to sing to the surf, and to jolly myself back into better humor after that nasty bout of anger.

January 21:
After a morning of arguing with myself and moaning and groaning about my allergies, I was able to get the house cleaned in stages, and a long walk taken on the beach. By the hour of Jo’s surprise birthday party, I was feeling excellent and very excited.

Joleen was semi-surprised and very happy. Her favorite people were here, and there were gifts, wine, and conversation until three in the morning. I had a ball and babbled incessantly. Early in the morning, I had that much-delayed talk with Tracy. She sat in a chair looking just like a shrink saying uh huh every once in a while, and when I stopped talking she went defensively home to Dan’s. Dan straightened her out.

I got drunk. Falling apart again.

January 23:
Instead of going to the bar tonight, I stopped by John’s garage. We chatted for a couple of hours, and he took me to his house so I could listen to him play the piano.

Play he does with a passionate involvement in his music that clearly evokes naked, raw emotion. He has this abandoned, self-involved, fanatical love affaire with his music when he is making it, but he can stop at any time then go back and recreate those feelings again precisely with the same seeming abandonment. I felt like a small child at Christmas. I want to be able to do this. I want to be able to create two dimensionally this same sort of passionate abandonment. I cannot express it in my art because of my fears. Do I fear that if I abandon myself freely to my art that I will lose control and go mad again? Yes. Now when I am working, I feel small and afraid and unable to let go.

“You must be able to ignore chronological time,” Jo tells me.

“Oh how do I grow strong enough to do this?” I ask.

February 7:
I am avoiding all things this afternoon. This morning I was bright, witty, and articulate to both my shrink and my new Vocational Rehab worker…I must remember to tell my welfare worker that I am plugged into the Rehab system. The simple process of my not working is now generating an amazing amount of paperwork.

Saw Peter last night and had a glass of wine with him. They have been treating his cancer with radiation, and he has lost twenty-five pounds. They are now giving him a two-week vacation from the radiation before beginning to “fry” his chest.

“Then, they will do this area,” he said gesturing vaguely around his intestinal middle.

Jo called. Her biopsy confirmed malignant cancer. She says the doctors have explained the surgery fully to her. She goes in for a complete radical mastectomy next Wednesday. The doctors wish to be as thorough as possible because of the way the tumor is sitting on a rib. They even told her that she let it go too long. I am so sad and worried for her and wish I had more to offer than just words. The specter haunts me…ones’ worst fears.

February 13:
I’ve been drinking - out of control all week, every day a hangover.

February 14:
Jo came through surgery just fine and was back in her room by noon. I have not been able to reach her husband. He will be the best source of information.

February 15:
Yesterday, I just sat down in my old Morris chair, rather breathlessly from my walk, and picked up my paper to find out the weekly trivia when the back door opened.

“Hello,” I said, “welcome home.”

No one answered so I stood up and turned around; isn’t it odd what memories stick with you in a moment of crisis.

Through the door came my family. Lenora was on the left, Stepfather Bob on the right, and Lessa was between them slack-jawed. Her eyes dilated, her skin yellow, and her legs were dragging behind her at an angle. Bob sat me down to tell me the details while Lenora helped Lessa to her room.

Some kid at school had brewed up a batch of jimson weed tea. Locoweed. The kids were promised a nice mellow high with a few hallucinations. Lessa drank quite a bit of the tea. When she began hallucinating, Lenora could not find me so she had the school call Bob.

At home, Lenora took charge, and she got angry if any of us did not do it her way. Often she was right. She told me that Lessa had five swallows and she took one. I got the number of poison control from the doctor’s office. Then the nice mellow man at poison control insisted I take her to a doctor.

She was heavy and limp when we tried to move her. Yet once we got her into the car, her hands were constantly moving and touching, fleetingly and lightly, but like iron when she thought an object needed moving. I will never forget a kiss she gave Lenora. Her arms were wrapped around Lenora’s neck completely, yet they were like a feather. She turned her face to Lenora’s and slowly moved her cracked lips just to her cheek. The next moment she was back to pulling shoes off, touching things and mumbling like an overseas radio station. The doctor treated golf-clad Bob with deference, and he treated me like a lost child.

March 2:
This morning things begin to sort themselves out. Fifteen other kids drank the brew. Two kids are in intensive care. One child knows the names and knows who made the stuff. Calls, calls, and more calls. The school, the doctor, and mother. One call to Jo. She is in pain but lovely. Good to hear her voice. All the while Lessa is still hallucinating. A long two days for all of us. Mother was so nice. You never know how she will react.

“Remember dear,” she said, “Never take candy from strangers.”


  1. Nice blog. Even I love wine gift like Joolean. That is the best gift who loves drink. It was nice going through your blog. Keep it yo the good work. Cheers :)

  2. I'm still sending you hugs, every day.

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Peter in front of a wall sculpture. We were invited up to Peter Knego’s home to see the latest installation.   Abstract flat ...