Last night I re-watched My Dinner with Andre for the first time in a very long time. At least 20 years, maybe longer. I’ve seen it many times. There was a time when my friend and I would go to see it every time it played at the Nuart cinema in West L.A., an “art house” theater which still exists (though it’s part of the Landmark chain now). Every time I saw Andre I felt as if the conversation had somehow magically changed, that new things, new concepts had been added. My sympathy would swing back and forth between the two people talking, I’d laugh at one and then the other, cry with one and then the other. The ending always made me appreciate the mystery and the wonder of life, from the ordinary details of a cold cup of coffee, to the mystical wonders of Findhorn, to living life consciously, and living life in a dream. And it still works. It still works.

In some ways it works better in today’s society than it did in 1981. The themes of living consciously rather than floating along; the themes of how distracted we all are and how difficult that makes it to live meaningfully.

“A baby holds your hand and then suddenly there’s this huge man lifting you off the ground. And then he’s gone. Where’s that son?”


And speaking of watching, I just finished season 3 of The Detectorists. What a lovely, lovely show. Low key, gentle humor, sweet spirit. One of my very favorites.


Mom and her starling, Baby:


Butterflies are such beautiful creatures. Which is why I can’t understand the urge to collect them, kill them, and use them as art objects, preventing them from living out their life cycle and reproducing so that we will continue to have beautiful butterflies.


My mother grew up right in the middle of Uintah Co., UT, a place well known in paranormal circles and home to the infamous Skinwalker Ranch. It was a little farming community called Willow Creek, not to be confused with the current day town of Willow Creek which is some ways northwest of where Mom grew up. Mom’s community doesn’t exist any more, as it became part of the Ute reservation. I had to locate the Creek it was named after to get an approximate location on Google maps (below).

I’ve often wondered if Mom’s nervousness regarding “weird shit,” as she called it, was because she grew up in a place where it was common.

Having said that, one of the shows she really liked to watch in the last years of her life was Finding Bigfoot. It was one of the few “weird” shows she could tolerate. Every time we’d watch she’d be fascinated and almost every single time she’d say afterwards, “There has to be something to this.” Not sure why she found it so convincing. But maybe Uintah County had something to do with it.


Speaking of weird (as I do so love to), I was reading a thread on Twitter about the superstitions of health care workers. One of the most frequently mentioned was that health care workers would open a door or a window when someone died so the soul could find its way outside. (This is a very old folkloric belief.) While reading this I remembered that when my mother, who was in hospice here at home, passed away, the very lovely hospice nurse (a lady from Africa—and I’m sorry, sweet nurse, I no longer remember which country you said) took care of business and then went to open the front door.

I don’t think I even asked her why (I was in grief shock) but there must have been something in my expression because she hurried to say, “That’s so the funeral home knows what house it is.” I accepted it at the time but in retrospect, that makes no sense at all. It makes more sense after reading that thread on Twitter.


It’s so difficult to overcome the “I want I want I want” mentality so many of us have been raised with in this society and replace it with the “We are we are we are” mentality. But necessary deprogramming.


I’m a rather half-assed pagan. I do witchy things but I respect and honor witches too much to call myself one unless I feel I’ve earned it. I think I’m on a parallel but different path, anyway. I have a kind of spiritual practice that I’m getting back in touch with after many years of distraction and tamping it down to deal with this world. Any spiritual practice that’s worth its salt, I think, has to deal with both the mystical and the mundane or it’s just escapism. (Yes, I know, some would say all spiritual practice is escapism, but that’s their problem. I have no patience with them.)

In recent times, I have meditated and put out calls of—how to phrase it? Belonging? Certain deities respond and when they do I honor them on my mantelpiece. Others are just “the spirit of the rock” or “the spirit of the tree.” I am sure there is a spirit of the house, this house, but it’s unnamed. My mother, as I’ve mentioned, was not comfortable with discussion of anything spiritual. But I think she had some talents. She said the first time she walked into this house it opened its arms to her and said welcome. And I still feel that.

Everyone on the mantelpiece seems okay with everyone else, but I always ask before I place a representation there if everyone welcomes the addition. On rare occasions they say no and I honor that, but most times they’re accepting. And not just spiritual things go on the mantle. It’s a kind of cornucopia of silly and sacred and artwork, but it seems to work for everybody.


What’s something about myself that I once wanted to change to fit in but am now happy with? My weirdness. I never saw things the way most people did. I now realize that’s not my affliction but my treasure.


“It’s not a swastika it’s some kind of Tibetan symbol,” said the guy in the Nazi war helmet when asked why he put a concrete swastika in his front yard. “I don’t think he’s a Neo-Nazi,” said his neighbor, adding sheepishly, “But he may be racist.” #TalesFromTheLocalNews

You outlived your mom by only two years, almost to the month. I’m sure you two were so glad to see each other.

7 Sep
Feeling as stupid as Hoda Kotb this morning. Sat in the driveway listening to a This American Life story and ran my car battery down. The AAA guy is changing it out for a new one now. It was old and on its last legs, he said. Glad I didn’t have to have the car towed. The other irony? I never did hear the end of that story.

Not much energy today, even less after The Battery Incident. Desperately want a nap.

7 Sep
My 92 year old mother just declared that she wants to cook Thanksgiving dinner rather than have it catered as we’d planned. “It will taste so much better.” It will, but neither one of us is up to it anymore. At least I’ll have three days to recover. I may just be able to walk again by Monday. Mom doesn’t like having Tgiving at other peoples’ houses, either.

Mom has a huge spirit and can’t accept her frail body. Who’s to say she’s wrong?

But I need knee surgery on both knees and that much cooking will involve a lot of time on my feet which will require a lot of recovery.

9 Sep
First sign of autumn at my house.

 photo autumn_zps8f88ead2.jpg

12 Sep
Called DPSS to find out exactly where to take the form they insist on getting in person (no email) before actually taking the day off tomorrow to bring it to them. 

”That’s not a walk in office,” the person on the phone said. “You can’t bring things there until we transfer your mother’s case to a new office.” Which won’t happen until October 1 when her case worker comes back from vacation. Apparently, no one else can help me.

On the one hand, I should be irate for the sodding great waste of time. OTOH, yippeee! I don’t have to go to DPSS tomorrow!!

12 Sep
So I walked outside last night to put scraps out for the wild critters and came face to face with one—fortunately. I’d hate to be face to tail with a skunk. A skunk! In the middle of the city near LAX. I beat a hasty retreat back inside.

13 Sep
WUUUUUFFFFFFF! That’s the sound of a giant gust of wind going out of my lungs in relief. Doing a little caregiver dance!  Dancey dancey dancey! Take that Amy F. Grant and Katie F. Couric! I got someone to take my mother to dialysis on Mondays and Wednesdays so I don’t have to leave work in the middle of the day and make a 50 mile round trip! And I don’t have to wait on DPSS to pay for it!

18 Sep
Remember when newsreaders actually understood the news they read?

19 Sep
She actually simpers. I didn’t think anyone did that anymore once past the age of 16. Or who weren’t employed in a cat house.

23 Sep
Mom was not in a good way after dialysis tonight. Had to call the paramedics to assist in getting her out of the car and into the house. She’s okay. It just takes it out of her sometimes, makes her weak and very disoriented. She’s usually fine by morning.

24 Sep
Procrastination is not a good thing. Then again, neither is exhaustion.

25 Sep
Note to Pam: you can’t rely on the 92 year old to say when she’s running out of things. It sucks but you have to monitor Every. Blessed. Thing.=

27 Sep
Mom came through her outpatient procedure very well. Unclogged the fistula in two places which may explain the excessive bleeding Saturday.

27 Sep
Got an absolutely brilliant idea for a story this morning. Unfortunately it was while laying in bed. I fell asleep and now can’t remember it.

28 Sep
So relieved that necklace I’ve been ogling on Etsy sold. Close enough to my price range to be so tempting, but not money I needed to spend.

28 Sep
The nights when Mom is hallucinating from a combo of dialysis and pain medication are not at all stressful. Not at all.

It is what it is. She’ll be fine in the morning once she’s had a night’s sleep, once I can get her to bed. It’s been an occasional ongoing situation for awhile, just been a stressful week and harder to deal with today. Hoping things settle soon.

4 Oct
“[Those]…otherwise very good at math may totally flunk a problem that…goes against their political beliefs.” 

4 Oct
Plumbing. Plumbing, plumbing, plumbing, plumbing.

5 Oct
My new dishwasher has been down since Sunday. Turns out rat(s) gnawed a hole in the drain hose. Min’s a good mouser but can’t get under the kitchen sink/counter where the bastards are coming up.

5 Oct
Emergency Kittens:

7 Oct
Sears customer service sucks. My dishwasher purchased in April has a hole in the drain hose and even though I told two people at Customer Service what the problem was, they sent an installer crew not a repair crew and they didn’t have the part needed to fix the washer.

 When I called Customer Service/Repair back I did get an intelligent, responsive person on the line who is sending the correct part to me, but even if they had sent a repair crew, I was informed, they wouldn’t have had the part on their truck and I still would have had to wait to get the washer fixed. This is illogical, inefficient, and non-responsive and I am DONE WITH SEARS.

8 Oct
Apparently no one on service desks listen anymore.

8 Oct
So sorry people are leaving Goodreads over the review pulling. Sorrier still about pulling reviews because of some whiny authors.

9 Oct
Not surprisingly, the part needed to repair the dishwasher, which Sears promised would be here on Tuesday, has not arrived.

9 Oct
One of the worst aspects of being home sick is having to watch tea party wipes talking out of their ass. Oh right, I can turn the channel. Senator Buck McKeon claimed that less than 10 people in the whole country had signed up for the Affordable Care Act. Wolf Blitzer corrected that: over 16,000 in the 3 states reporting.

10 Oct
Tipping the potato chip bag up to get the last crumbs in your mouth: ladylike or beyond mortal definitions of assigned gender roles? Asking for a friend.

11 Oct
Guess what? Wonderful Sears ordered the wrong part for the dishwasher. The repairman won’t be back for yet another week. That will be three weeks without a dishwasher plus taking care of a sick 92 year old and working full time. I’m so happy.

(Insert primal scream here.)

This morning as I was reminding Ma about the repairman coming I had a premonition about the wrong part. I’m furious but not really surprised.

13 Oct
Friday Sears said someone would call me within 24 hours. Do I even have to type the rest at this point? Sick as a dog since Friday. Probably just as well they didn’t come.

14 Oct
My mother doesn’t understand the concept of laryngitis even though she had it in the early days of this cold. What? What you say? What?

“The disease is nothing, the terrain everything”—Louis Pasteur on his deathbed.

Well, at least there’s a UFO Files marathon on.

Fun: trying to get VRS to understand you when you have laryngitis.

18 Oct
Sears has gone beyond incompetence into criminal neglect. The part to fix the dishwasher is on backorder until November. At the crucial moment when I thought I was getting some resolution, we were disconnected. I called back to try to get to who I was talking to and the clueless helpdesk folks had no idea and connected me to someone who decided to stonewall and say “I see no record of you talking to anyone who made you such an offer. We can’t do anything more for you. You’ll have to wait until November.” At one point the Sears stonewaller said, “I’m sorry you’re unhappy with your dishwasher. Contact the manufacturer.” “It’s a Kenmore,” I told him. “You are the manufacturer.” He sputtered some but didn’t have much else to say.

18 Oct
In other corporate news, Alka Seltzer Plus Nighttime is most excellent. First good night’s sleep in days.

20 Oct
Hilarity of the morning: the bird and Mom coughing at one another. Or the bird saying “Ouch!” when I cough.

20 Oct
Birdie between coughing fits.

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20 Oct
I suppose it’s not possible to hope both teams lose the World Series. No hard feelings.

21 Oct
Every time I look up there’s another Sears commercial on TV. The Universe is mocking me.

21 Oct
The ironies pile up.  “18 Depressing Photos That Show Why Nobody Wants To Shop At Sears” 

22 Oct
I gave up on Sears and called plumber. He fixed the dishwasher in about 20 minutes with the parts the Sears tech said were wrong. The only reason I stuck with Sears this long was because the dishwasher was still under warranty.

Sears corporate types have been reading my Twitterfeed complaints and calling me, but the situation never got resolved. The weird thing, when corporate Sears calls me they go direct to voicemail. Those are the only calls that do. And when I call them back it goes direct to voicemail. This only increases my frustration and adds paranoia.

23 Oct
I’m not so much hoping the Sox win as I’m hoping the Cards lose. The Cards are a team of prigs. No hard feelings.

25 Oct
#1. Act 3 is broken and I don’t know how to fix it and haven’t got the time. #2. It’s been out there so many times. #3. I never did find the time for that final read through. I don’t know what I’ve got there. Could be brilliant, could be crap. #4. There are holes in this that still haven’t been plugged. Plus #1 and #4 are part of trilogies. Oh the humanity! If I haven’t got time for a one-off, how can I find time for 3???

I’m thinking of changing my name to Oh!TheHumanity! Thompson.

29 Oct
Sometimes I seem nearly psychotically cautious, other times the feckless, trusting fool.

29 Oct
Sears, to be perfectly fair, has promised to pay my plumbing bills for the dishwasher. I have not yet seen cash. I will keep you posted.

Hot off the presses, and prompted (as many things are) by a conversation with asakiyume and with bogwitch64.


What dreams does the captive bird know?
Is it of flying in vast, swooping clouds
of bird bodies, or soaring solo through forests,
playing the leaves like xylophone keys,
singing along with the notes?

Does she know she is a bird, or does
captivity define her as human-not-human?
Does she squander her days playing
with the baubles provided by her keepers,
or do they bring her real joy, a settled peace?

Or a peace with a ribbon of black threaded
through the chattering whiteness of her hours,
a ribbon that ruffles with the slightest breeze,
pulling, tugging, longing to burst all the doors,
break through the windows, touch the blue-grey sky,
and once and for all sail away on the wind?

Once past the goofy photos, this is awesome.

I do plan on writing a real blog post again some day—I’ve been cogitatin’ in that general direction—but things have been rather hectic.  The blog still resides mostly in my brain.

Otherwise, the penne with tomatoes, basil, and Italian turkey sausage was splendid. :-/  24 Jan

As was reinforced for me in last night’s dinner: there’s a fine line between carmelizing your onions and burning them. 24 Jan

Chocolate chocolate chip muffin you are mine! I’m sure we’ll be so happy together. Until I eat you (not in a good way). 24 Jan

Jack Lalanne’s motto (as stated at 95): “If man made it, don’t eat it. If it tastes good, spit it out.” Yeah. Right. 24 Jan

Perspective is everything I say. 23 Jan

Cable guy here to see about the horrible tragedy of no modem. 23 Jan

TMI? Mom: Who pooped on the paper? Bird: Bird. 23 Jan

Go Jets! 23 Jan

Too much singing for Min, though. She left the room. 22 Jan

I loved it, but then, I’m a romantic slop bucket. Acting was much better than I expected. Good thing they didn’t let Pierce sing much tho. 22 Jan

All right, I confess. I’m about to watch Mamma Mia. 22 Jan

Fortunately utter tragedy has been avoided because of Mr. Droid. I call him Edwin when it’s just us. 22 Jan

This afternoon my modem went bellyup. No bigscreen internet until at least tomorrow afternoon. So stunned to get a service call so fast. 22 Jan

That was supposed to be “but bwoogity. We’re wimps” but spellcheck is cursed. 22 Jan

This morning we took Bird to have her toenails clipped and her beak Dremeled. We could do this ourselves but velocity. We’re wimps. 22 Jan

So I fought my way home last night in beach traffic from Santa Monica to Westchester. Traffic’s been ugly lately and there just isn’t any good way to pass between these two areas. I was so looking forward to getting in my jammies and finishing the book I was reading. But no. Mom had another bird crisis.

Gotten herself worked up again, too. “I hate to do this to you but she’s acting sick again and I called that bird place in Santa Monica and said we’d bring her in as soon as we could.”

“She’s probably going to lay another egg.”

“When I described to that bird place how she was acting, they said we better bring her in to make sure she’s not egg bound.”

Egg bound. Wherein a bird’s got an egg in the shoot that won’t come out. They can die from it. What could I do? I changed out of my work clothes and got back on the road, back to Santa Monica. The bird, I should note, was hopping around and acting perky by this time, but far be it from me to point that out.

Yes, she had an egg in there, but didn’t appear to be egg bound. And no, it isn’t unnatural for her to just start laying eggs now after so many years. I knew from experience that was so, but the nice vet lady reinforced it. And yes, it was probably the calcium supplements Mom had been giving her which helped her produce eggs. Sometimes they go years and years, then start laying; sometimes they go years and years and never lay. I wish Baby had been in that latter category, but alas. The nice vet lady said that if she didn’t lay an egg in the next 24-48 hours, they’d induce, and maybe later look at giving her something to inhibit egg production. She can’t do without the calcium. She had a severe deficiency last winter and stopped being able to fly. But that was another bird crisis some months ago. Returning to the present bird crisis…

Tips for natural inhibition of egg-laying: (1) Baby is to be locked into her cage. Apparently, any stimulation such as flying around the house, sitting on Mom’s shoulder and watching TV, throwing pencils on the floor and ripping paper up is right out for the next two weeks. That kind of stimulation (since she’s bonded with Mom) can bring on the egg-laying. (2) Mom must cover her cage earlier in the evening than she has been (moving from 7 p.m. to 4-5 p.m.) and leave her covered later in the morning. Apparently, the more hours of light, the more it stimulates egg production. (3) If she lays another egg, leave it in her cage. Having an egg to fuss over can also inhibit egg production.

Fortunately for at least part of this scenario, when Mom uncovered Baby this morning, she had already laid her egg. It currently resides in her cage to be fussed over.

And I sincerely hope this is the end of bird crises for the moment. Or at least, the next time Baby acts like this Mom will recognize that it’s just another egg in the oven.

I should preface this story by saying that my mother is a strong Valkyrie of a woman, even at 89. She’s also damned sharp and not frail and she most definitely doesn’t cry often, so when she called me Thursday morning at work sobbing, I definitely sat up and took notice.

“What’s wrong, what’s wrong?”

“My little bird is very sick,” she sobbed. “I called his vet, but she’s not in and they referred me to an emergency bird place in Palos Verdes.” That’s a long, unfamiliar way for someone who doesn’t drive freeways and doesn’t have Google Maps or internet access or a Garman.

She adores her baby bird, she does. He’s been a great companion for her for the last seven years or so, and she’s quite protective of him. Because of that she’s sometimes been convinced he was dying when he wasn’t, so I asked her to describe his symptoms. It didn’t sound good. He wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t talk, wouldn’t do anything, just sat on his perch (a little shelf in the back of his cage) with his eyes shut and his feathers ruffled. When birds don’t feel well, they sit for long periods with feathers ruffled.

“Maybe I can find a bird clinic that’s closer and easier to get to,” I told her.

So I got online and found a place in Santa Monica. She called them and they told her she’d have to come in for an evaluation to decide if it was a true emergency worthy of calling in the bird expert. She didn’t like that and had worked herself up into a real state by the time she called me back. I was more concerned about that then the bird, I’m afraid, but concerned for him,too. I told my boss what was going on (well, that my mom had a crisis situation going) and he told me to go take care of my family. So I called her and told her I was on my way and maybe she could call the Santa Monica folks back to tell them we’d be therre.

It took me about twenty minutes to drive from work to Mom and during that time I couldn’t help remembering a disturbing dream I’d had on the weekend in which her bird had died. So I wasn’t happy with the Universe sending me precognitive dreams when we’d made a deal after my dad’s death that It wouldn’t do that anymore. It was a long damned twenty minutes, I’ll tell you. I pulled into the driveway and rushed towards the house.

Mom met me at the door. “He laid an egg!”

Picture my jaw hitting the front steps. Picture me grabbing the porch rail. Hear in your mind’s ear the sputtering noise I made. “He what?”

“He laid an egg!” She was beaming. “And he’s just fine now! He’s talking and his feathers aren’t ruffled and he’s eat and jumping around and he’s his old self again.”

“Now quite his old self,” I told her, “because he is quite clearly not a he.”

We called the bird clinic and told them we would not be coming in. I made it back to work, having only been gone and hour, and took it as an “early lunch.” Everyone there was quite relieved that the mysterious crisis had been averted.

In our defense, I should say that even the vet said, “I think he’s male, but it’s difficult to tell with starlings.”