Shiva Support Systems

Alone in my apartment with my thoughts, I had to agree with what my brother said about our Mom: it’s like she actually died a long time ago, for us.  It just took a while for the remnant of her to catch up, I guess.  This is just the aftershock of an event.  Then comes all the recovery and sorting of fragments of a life, and paying off debts.

So I’m not in shock or distress so much as empty and sad.  I’ve had decades to prepare.  The time for healing rifts or closure is long gone.  Now it’s just the uneasy sensation of a real life dilemma in which immediate family members are not medically able to be there for even minimal funeral/burial arrangements, which must and will happen right away, with or without us.  It’s just a reality of our times.

I can see the wisdom in sitting shiva for a week with other family and friends, to help in the healing process.  It turns out I don’t do well rattling around alone in my apartment for long periods, even under normal circumstances.  Jewish tradition got this much right–people need a community or support system around in times of need as well as in good times.  My other brother Andrew is a case in point.

Maybe that’s why I’ve grown to identify with dogs of late–like humans, they are social animals who need a pack to feel a part of, even if the pack is their humans.  They love to please us, even grovel for it, to feel appreciated and approved of.  They don’t do well isolated in cages, or in chaos, just like us.  It’s unnatural.  They’ll get neurotic or even go stark raving mad.  Kind of like old humans consigned to facilities, away from loved ones, merely maintained.

This is not the case here, because my mother was taken care of by each of us in turn, and I know I have a loving family to turn to if things get tough.  Though it’s getting smaller by the minute!  I guess I was always more of a cat than a dog up until now, keeping to myself and doing my own thing for the most part, except when I made some very questionable human choices.  See how well that worked out!  Now I see that a well-functioning support pack, however unconventional, is the way to go!

For now, I’m just here, waiting to see how things play out, feeling unsettled and weird.  In the meantime, this was one of my mother’s favorite flowers, lily of the valley, growing at Avdi’s.


Season Finale

After taking in the latest sad news, and talking about it for a while, Avdi and I found a new-to-us park nearby, Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center, and walked around to air out and think.

Of course this outcome has been coming for a while, so none of us were taken by surprise or overwhelmed, but there’s still a sense of loss and feeling dazed.  Also a little panicked over what to do and how.

What makes it harder are the circumstances–both my brothers are medically restricted or incapacitated from getting around or taking care of arrangements in person, and it has to happen fast under Jewish law and customs; no time for a complicated family stampede across the country.

The hardest hit may be my brother Andrew, who was caregiver for years, and is now alone in that old crumbling house (for the time being) with no clue what’s next.

It was just a confluence of unfortunate events outside anyone’s control, resulting in my mother having to be buried unceremoniously (but respectfully), without family around.

We’re in a holding pattern right now, as immediate arrangements are made and carried out remotely by the appropriate authorities.  Lots for us to sort out and figure out (and pay for)… one step at a time.

My mother and I had an uneasy relationship for decades, but she was always there for us and for my son, even when things were tense or estranged with me.  Avdi has very fond memories of her and my father.  I have very mixed feelings, but mostly relief that she’s no longer sick and demented.  I would never want my own life to be artificially prolonged when I’m no longer functional or there.



Calling It May

The calendar may still say “no-mow-April”, but we declared it May for practical purposes; it was like a tall meadow out there, and Kashti likes money!  He didn’t even have to be asked.  We agreed I’d do the edges this first time to clarify the outline, and he’s do the rest and get paid for all of it.  It’s a gorgeous day out, and we like mowing.

Here are scenes from sundown yesterday, and this morning.  Which, I just found out, was when my mother died.  I’ve talked to both brothers, and need to go process now.



Killing IT, Garden Variety

Disregard the previous whining and digressing [sigh of relief].  I am now at Avdi’s, killing it instead of time.  I’ll be here overnight.  My to-do list was so long, I haven’t had a moment edgewise to get angsty or bored.

I watered the downstairs seedlings, and did several loads of laundry (theirs and mine).  I gave Percy his salad, as promised!  I watered the whole garden.  I took photos, while beady-eyed rabbits watched.  I picked a new Shabbat bouquet.  I started the chicken (a Mediterranean theme with fresh herbs from the garden, marsala wine, tomatoes, balsamic, honey, onions, garlic, etc. etc….).  I harvested a pile of assorted radishes, and sliced them thin to go on fresh bread and butter.  I picked more garden greens for dinner.  I started the challah, and baked it.  I did routine chores around the house, getting it ready for Shabbat.

It’s always easy for me to keep busy here, while also enjoying the outdoors, which keeps me from being as annoying, let’s hope!

Meanwhile, Avdi and Jess worked in the office (with the usual colorful emoting), and Avdi unveiled his latest bread, a dark rye!  It was spectacular!  Fluffy and flavorful, especially with butter (and radishes!).

It’s still a little too early to plant the tomato, pepper, and basil seedlings, according to MO almanacs and fluctuating weather, which is a little annoying, but better to be patient and not kill them with over-enthusiasm.  I have plenty of other things here to keep me busy and out of trouble.

Avdi concocted this very nice drink featuring fancy mezcal, Suze French liqueur, sparkling water, and a lime.




Digressions {Not a Rant}

I had a dream that my mother, after this latest hospitalization and “rehab”, suddenly made this amazing recovery back to being a sentient being, dressed and in her right mind.  It was such a shock and relief to see her that way.  (In reality, she’s a demented zombie who can only howl like an alley cat, can’t attend to her own basic hygiene, and qualifies for hospice.)  Just thought I’d throw that in there.  If only “modern” science could do that.

While I’m digressing, I find it so absurd and ironic that all the books that were required reading in high school back in the last century(!) are now on the banned list.  How is it our country can regress to such a terrifying degree?  We were encouraged to read whatever was available in those conservative days on racism, women’s rights and sexuality, homophobia, native genocide, environmental issues, evolution and science, and all the “controversial” anti-establishment books.  (OK, maybe not “Lolita”, but it wasn’t that hard to come by!)  How have we even progressed at all?

My trans ex in Ohio grew up with extreme transphobia and ignorance, and her grandchildren whom she loves are being brainwashed by Trump-supporting families to hate and shun her and all trans people.  She worked in the schools until the transphobic church-goers among them ganged up and forced her out.  I’d like to think that there have to be some reasonable, educated parents, teachers, and trans/non-binary students there who could somehow influence those grandkids and others like them to open their minds, but I’m not optimistic.  It’s a vicious generational noose.

And that’s just bland Ohio; I’ve lived in Tennessee, and now Missouri, and have seen how pervasive and insidious this “virus” can be in the highest levels of government, where you’d think people would have to be more educated just to qualify for those positions, but apparently not.  This is how fascism gets started; it’s eerily familiar.  I fear the only hope is for all the irrational old haters to die off, and allow all the Black, gender-queer, informed kids to take over.

Well.  This is what happens when I’m left alone in my apartment for too long…I get to thinking, not a good sign!  Soon I’ll be over Avdi’s watering, cooking, baking, and puttering, a more productive use of what brain I have left.  To be continued…



Need Blahg Fodder

It’s getting desperate!  Absolutely nothing to write about!  I’m reduced to a photo of the salad I ate.

And waiting for rain.  I even did some apt. laps, I was that desperate!

It’s fine, tomorrow I’ll go to Avdi’s and do the garden and Shabbat things.  When the Gkids descend, I’ll look back in disbelief at all the time-killing I could do.

Killing time is the enemy, when there’s so little of it left to kill.  It saps your soul and leaves you feeling empty and purposeless.  At least doing busywork for others makes you imagine you’re useful to someone, or forget you’re a thing of their past.

Too much?  I rest my case!


A Quiet Day at the Office

I spent the night and day at my apartment, which is like my office, where I take care of business but mostly just try to think of useful things to do.  I’m not sure I succeeded, but I kept myself occupied.  I filled out some medical forms, and did other busywork.

The photos are a dead giveaway.  My new “salad bar” is more productive than I am.  I did make a stir-fry of my cut of yesterday’s garden greens.  I hung up my pride flag.

I haven’t even been outside all day–nowhere to go and no money to spend.  Not complaining, just a fact.  If it rains tomorrow as predicted, I won’t have an excuse to go water Avdi’s garden.  “I know, wretched, isn’t it?”  (Marvin)


Free Radishes Not Radicals

As foretold, I got back to work this morning, watering, resowing some seeds, cleaning up the piles of tree limbs I cut yesterday, and harvesting greens and the first radishes, which I divided between Avdi and myself.  Percy got his salad, as usual (minus the radishes).

Then I walked back to my apartment.  (I was going to say home, but I live in two places right now.)  I had the freshest (and free-est) salad you can get for lunch.

Nature’s Prozac

I walked to Avdi’s this morning, and headed you know where.  First up was watering the garden, which took a while.

Then I set up a large planter with okra seeds, which solves the problem of where to put okra.  I added some butternut squash seeds to their row.  Then I started pruning and lopping dead branches, of which there were many.

I feel much healthier and saner after getting back to my “mission”.  I’ll spend the night here, and then start back up in the garden in the morning.



I know “sanguinity” is not a word, but it should be, combining optimism and sanity to describe my garden therapy.  Not just a hobby.  Plus it’s free and it pays.

Sorry about that yesterday.  Too much time to think.  Once I get back into the garden, things get a little more upbeat and positive.

In the meantime, I eke out some growing things wherever I can.  Just a couple of days ago I started these lettuces and greens for a mini-salad bar, and look at them already!  I won’t even have to fend off rabid rabbits.

Same with this little Thai basil I started hydroponically–it didn’t waste any time.

My orchid is still happily showing off its colors.  Orchids are in it for the long term.

And even though I didn’t grow this butternut squash (which I yummily roasted), of course I saved the seeds to add to the row in Avdi’s garden.  (Also, baking it helped warm up my chilly apartment.  I had turned the heat off, but it really chilled down outside, into the 30s at night.  I’m glad I held off moving the tomato and pepper plants outside.)


It’s pretty obvious where I’d rather be right now, is it not?