The Month That Was

freeman2Well, that certainly was a month! And for the first time in years time moved so slowly, I thought last week had been two weeks until Lynette assured me otherwise. Not that things have been all bad. In fact, some really great things have happened, too. It’s just been a lot of stuff, and you know how that goes. I’m not sure I even remember it all, because I was pretty much out of it for a few days. (Really? Only days??)

First of all, I finally made the heart wrenching decision to re-home Nigel. I’d started looking two years ago, but the person I wanted to take him had two dogs already and not enough room for a third. He’s always adored Laura and always went nutzoid whenever she came over. He never acted like that with us. I must add that the feelings were mutual between them so I’d decided that if she couldn’t take him, we’d keep him and just make it work. When she came over New Year’s Eve she reminded us that she’d moved to a place out in the county southwest of town and now had lots of room, and if we were still looking for a new home for Nigel she’d take him. The following Saturday she came over to get him. He was just a little happy to see her.

Laura & Nigel

So amid the tears and instructions and last-minute hugs and licks, Nigel left our life to begin a new one with Laura. The really great news is that he’s happier than he’s ever been. He has a brother and sister to play with, room to run outdoors, and a mom who doesn’t mind getting her face washed every time she comes home.

Ellie, Trike, Nigel
Ellie (upper left corner), Trike, and Nigel on their first day together.

The biggest problem we had with Nigel was his incessant barking. A week later, when she dropped by, she told us he’d barked a total of three times. THREE times. I love Nigel, and I’ve gone through no end of guilt feelings and mournful tears, but the truth is, it just wasn’t a good fit for either of us. We’ll see him, though. After about three months have passed we’re going out to see him and then Laura will bring him with her whenever she drops by. We’ve also offered to dog sit him if she ever needs us to. So I guess this now makes us his grandparents or something. It’s all good, and life is considerably quieter and more serene with just the two cats.

Enter our eldest cat, Lowrider, who was our only child before Nigel and Mozie. Sussing out that she was once again the alpha animal around here, she almost immediately reverted back to her pain-in-the-ass habits. But we reminded her that while she’s the alpha outside, we’re the alphas inside.

I got a ba-a-ad toothache (right as I was recovering from that Christmas cold), which quickly developed into a full-blown infection that sent me to the hospital emergency room, where they gave me a shot of elephant grade antibiotics, some pretty lightweight painkillers, and prescriptions for penicillin and Tylenol3. The latter helped a little, but when I woke up the next morning I looked like a prize fighter complete with swollen cheek, upper lip, nose (just what I need, right?), and a black eye to boot. I have pictures, but I’m reserving my right not to show them to you. Trust me. They’re hideous! Well, ok. Here’s one of the pix, but resized so small, you can just see how bad it was. Don’t bother clicking it. That’s a close as you’re going to get, bucko.


By the next day I felt a bit better and the swelling was down a little. Enough that we decided to go ahead with our plans to have friends over to play Cards Against Humanity, our new guilty pleasure. We had a lot of fun, but because I was on penicillin, I couldn’t drink. To tell the truth, I didn’t want to; I still felt pretty miserable. I’m sure I was just as miserable to look at. As the week progressed, of course, I got better although I’m still dragging where energy is concerned, and I swear I could sleep all day and night and still be tired. I don’t let that happen, though. Despite taking the selfie above I do have some small degree of self-respect.

Good news came in on our trip to England in…what…15 months. It’s at last confirmed that the funds will be there. No, we didn’t win the Powerball. I promise.

I know other things have happened, but right now I just can’t recall… I missed my nap today.

Yeah, and all the celebrity passings. Jeeze Louise! Can you believe this shite?

4th: Robert Stigwood (producer)
5th: Pierre Boulez (composer/conductor)
6th: Pat Harrington, Jr. (One Day At A Time)
7th: Richard Libertini (actor in many films)
10th: David Bowie
14th: Alan Rickman, René Angélil (manager/husband of Celine Dion)
16th: Dan Haggerty (Grizzly Adams)
17th: Dale Griffin (Mott the Hoople)
18th: Glenn Frey (the Eagles)
24th: Jimmy Bain (Rainbow, Dio)
28th: Paul Kantner (Jefferson Airplane)

As far as the musicians are concerned, I can only imagine that John Lennon, George Harrison, Buddy Holly, Elvis Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, et al, extended and invitation to join them at rehearsals for an upcoming heavenly Woodstock revival concert. I’ve gotten to where I kind of flinch when I see a celebrity’s name hash tagged. But you know, life’s iron wheel keeps turning and as long as it’s not coming at me, these days I’m pretty optimistic.

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You Know It Makes Me Smile

Chelsea Embankment by Julian Lovegrove
Chelsea Embankment by Julian Lovegrove (click to visit his Etsy page)

Back in 2010 I blogged about a promise I made to the River Thames that I’d one day return to my favorite bench on the Chelsea Embankment. At the time my entire life hovered, glittering before me. After all, it was the third trip I’d made to London in three years and I was only 30 years old. Easy! As the years passed, however, I as a single mother with a day job found the fulfillment of that promise more and more illusive, if not downright impossible. I often wondered if I’d ever see London again before I leave this planet. Well, guess what. I’m going to do it! I’m about 30 years late, but I’m going back.

Lynette and I are planning our trip for May of 2017. We’ll spend 10 days in London and then head south to Royal Tunbridge Wells for four days. While in London we’ll be staying in the private flat of a professional classical pianist in Parsons Green, a charming, artsy-fartsy village-like neighborhood in the west end. The flat is perfect for us, down to framed portraits of composers. Mozart is in both the bedroom and the kitchen, which seems about right to me. A grand piano sits in the bay window and the walls a full of reading books and music books and original art, and there are Victorian fireplaces throughout. The main road on which the building sits has boutiques, sidewalk cafes, restaurants, wine stores, a Budgens market, two pubs, and of course, the green. The tube station is a short walk away.

Looks just like us, don’t you think?

The idea of renting a private residence is so exciting for us—we can actually pretend it’s our own little London flat for 10 days. Besides everything we want to see during that time, I intend to spend some late nights at the piano working on music. My dream come true!

The only touristy things we want to do is to visit Hampton Court, the Tower, the Victoria & Albert museum, and Westminster Abbey. The rest of our itinerary includes visiting small, private museums and locations from our books. In Tunbridge Wells we’re planning to meet some friends we’ve made there via Facebook, including the fabulous Bettina, better known on the web as Mrs. Anke. There are others I’d like to meet as well, so we’ll see who speaks up! We have 16 months before we leave, after all.

Walkin’ the Embankment,
You know it makes me smile;
Keep on Rollin’ Dirty River.

(Dirty River © SK Waller, 1980)

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Finding My Way By Moonlight

Adam Oehlers
Adam Oehlers

For the past week I’ve been having disturbing dreams. As some of you know, I always dream and those dreams are almost always lucid and vivid. Some are downright weird, but they always mean something to me. I can’t say my latest dreams are of the nightmare variety, but they are disturbing in that I find myself doing things that are out of character for me. It’s true, I take my dream life quite seriously; through the years I’ve come to learn that dreaming is my form of scrying. Often, I find myself analyzing a dream while it’s still going on and sometimes, I change a dream’s course if I don’t like where it’s going. Sometimes, my dreams are even prophetic. These latest dreams, however, are more about facing the qualities and potentialities in myself that might be considered less admirable. You know. The dark side.

When it comes to facing my own evolution, I tend to follow Carl Jung:

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light,
but by making the darkness conscious.”

Of course, by “dark” I don’t mean cruel or malignant qualities, I mean those things in each of us that we suppress in order to be civilized and to fit into society around us. And often, those qualities show up in my dreams as my subconscious struggles to express itself. Every object, every creature, is merely playing a role in costume like an actor on a stage.

I suppose it should come as no surprise that these dreams and a renewed fervor for writing have coincided. I’ve been up three nights now working on my next book, which is about halfway through its initial write. I’m not saying anything about it, though, because I’m keeping the lid on my creative kettle. Usually, all I do is talk about my latest project, but I’m keeping this one under wraps while I hammer and chip away at it. Because it’s showing up in my dreams, pointing out the things in myself that I find less likable and less acceptable, I must welcome it, look into it and study it. It’s not fun, but I have faith that it will be beneficial in the end.

“Was it only by dreaming or writing that
I could find out what I thought?”

Joan Didion

Nicoletta Ceccolli
Nicoletta Ceccolli
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What NaNoWriMo Really Taught Me: A Final Summation

BogeymanNow that it’s all over, I’ve finally come to see what participating in NaNoWriMo really taught me.

Did it teach me to be a more creative writer?


Did it teach me how to better utilize my writing time?


Did it even teach me a better way of writing?

Absolutely not.

What it taught me, when all was said and done, was something far more personal.

I first set into my commitment to write around 2000 words a day thinking it would teach me at least one of the things mentioned above, but as I got deeper into it, it became yet another exercise in condemning myself for even considering I might not be able to complete each day’s goal. I allowed this race with myself to become yet another scene of emotional self-flagellation and self-shaming.

Before going any further I must tell you that this was not the doing of the NaNoWriMo founders, who constantly warn against this. But here’s the thing: I’m all too used to this self-abuse. We’re old friends; it’s the demon that’s driven me for decades. In a very real way, it’s my muse, though not a pretty one, I know. Some people luck out. Their muse is an ethereal being with gossamer wings, whispering words of encouragement. Mine is a freaking bogeyman. But he doesn’t scare me. He’s been around too long to do that. In the past few years his presence in my life has just succeeded in wearing me the f**k out.

In a  very real way, the exercise of pushing myself to write 50,000+ words in a month’s time, regardless of how I felt or what was going on in my life, acted as the microcosm of my overall creative life. In my personal macrocosm my entire life (well, from about 1965) has been a NaNoWriMo exercise. When November was finally over, all I felt was tired and drained. I felt neither more productive nor accomplished. To be completely frank, I felt let down. I didn’t like what I wrote. It wasn’t my best writing. Hell, it wasn’t even my most trite or banal writing! It was, simply put, bad writing. And because I felt so defeated, I put it away and haven’t looked at it since. I still plan to write—both books and music—but the snapping at my heels is gone. I think I’ve finally reached a place where I’m no long driven.

This is because NaNoWriMo was therapy for me. I was able to get down on the floor, lift the blanket and look under the bed. Oddly enough, the bogeyman hidden there wasn’t snarling or snapping at me anymore. He looked as tired as I felt; he’s as worn out from the past as I am. I told him I can handle things from now on, then I gave him a pillow and wished him sweet dreams.

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