You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2007.

All the leaves are brown
And the sky is gray …

That song has been going through my head for part of the afternoon, along with certain other songs, but mostly “California Dreamin'” because that’s the kind of day it is. And I (briefly) considered driving out to the lake and seeing what kinds of leaves I could find out there, what colors, but then I remembered I had something I needed to do — something I needed to get rid of — before I did anything else.

See, I’m in the process of Kiddle-proofing my house. Not saying I’m gonna bring her home with me or that I’m even anywhere close to “committing” to another pet, but … there is something about her, and I really do adore her. Plus, the colder it gets outside, the more I’m thinking, Maybe I really should bring her inside.

She’s wild, though. Not so wild that she won’t spend several minutes (hours, if I’d let her) lying on my lap, purring and kneading and burrowing, but wild enough that I know she will probably knock off or rip up or bat around anything in my house that’s not secured prior to her arrival.

(I’m using this, too, as the perfect opportunity to finish — and by “finish,” I pretty much mean “start” — my, uhm, Spring Cleaning for the year!)

I’ve also decided to sort through my mostly worthless possessions and see if I have anything that might fetch a few dollars on eBay.

I mainly dread this process because, let’s be honest, I’m a slacker and I really don’t want to be organized, and also because every time I even think about sorting and cleaning and rearranging and organizing, I almost immediately think of something else I’d rather be doing.

Like right now. I could be doing any of those activities, yet here I sit, writing about what I could or should or would be doing, if I weren’t, instead, writing about it. (Such a conundrum!)

And even with all that in mind, I’m compelled to mention that the 2007-08 Indoor Tennis Season began — albeit unofficially — last night at the (almost) brand-spankin’ new RLC indoor tennis court. And how glad I am that, instead of having to drive (at least) 45 minutes to play at the Carbondale sports center (along with paying an outrageous annual fee for what amounts to only five months of indoor tennis, plus court fees), I can now play on a court that’s 15 minutes from my house and requires no yearly fee. And I’m playing tennis again tonight!

In the meantime, though: While I was cleaning/organizing — or, rather, thinking about cleaning/organizing — I realized there was something I was going to run across that I needed to get rid of. It could have been a picture or a piece of jewelry or maybe even a journal entry; it actually wasn’t any of those things, and what it is isn’t important, anyway — it’s the fact that I still had it, and occasionally (but not very often, at all), I would think about it and know, if I ever wanted or needed to, I could look at it and remember.

And it wasn’t as if I’ve ever wanted OR needed to, really, for quite some time now, but it was the knowing that I could. And like anything that reminds us of the past, in any way, this could pretty much immerse me … if I allowed it to.

For quite a while, I allowed it to. And then I stopped allowing it to, but even then, I knew it still could, if I let myself spend any time at all looking at it.

So, earlier this afternoon, I got rid of it. Right before I did, though, I allowed myself to take a long, last hard look at it, and remember … and smile … and shake my head and ask myself (for the 1,000th time, prolly), “What on earth were you thinking?” … and wonder.

And suddenly, I have these lyrics from “The End of the Innocence” running through my head:

I need to remember this
So, baby, give me just one kiss
And let me take a long last look
Before we say good-bye …

I admit I’ve been inspired, writing-wise, over the past few days by bloggie posts by Danny and Jane. Danny wrote a killer entry here about letting go; Jane wrote one that you can’t read unless you’re one of her MySpace friends, but it’s about how, basically, we remain pretty much the same.

I agree with Jane, essentially, but when I think about myself over the last — oh, let’s say 7 years, I feel as if I have undergone some pretty big changes. What’s funny, though — funny-strange as opposed to funny-haha (or, truthfully, maybe it’s not funny at all) — is that the changes have mostly been all on the inside. Certainly, there have been some obvious changes in my life during that time — most notably, in my job(s) — but the ones that seem/feel the most important to me have been the changes in me.

So, ultimately and once again, it’s all about me!

(I need to remember this.)

So, during our weekend visit to Chicago — known as the Windy City, we explained to Kameron, as gusty winds threatened to lift him off the ground whilst walking along State Street! — we also had an opportunity for a “Brush with Fame” when we happened upon a film crew just a block from our hotel.

Not that seeing a film crew is all that out of the ordinary in Chicago. A few years ago, we saw Bruce Willis on Wacker Drive, shooting a scene from Mercury Rising (I never saw the actual movie.) A year or two after that, we saw a bunch of trailers, some cameras and lights, and Sherry asked one of the guys wearing a “Security” shirt what was going on.

“He told me they’re shooting a film with Edward Asner in it,” Sherry said. “And Jason Alexander … whoever that is.”

Whoever THAT is?

“That’s George Costanza!” I squealed.

We waited around for a few minutes, but no George. No Lou Grant, either. (I just checked IMDB: The name of the movie they were filming is The Man Who Saved Christmas. I’ve never seen it, either.)

I’ve seen a few other actors in ChiTown, too: James Kiberd (Trevor Dillon from All My Children) and his wife, Susan Keith (Shana Sloane from Loving — which I only watched for a season or two), strolling arm-in-arm down Michigan Avenue (I suspect Diane and I were the only ones in the city who would have recognized them), and, during that same trip, Brendan Fraser, shopping at Niketown. (Coincidentally, we had just recently seen him in the film School Ties … and, is it just me, or would it be MUCH easier if his name were Brandon Frazier?) Plus, one other time at Niketown, I’m pretty sure I saw Christina Ricci.

Then there was the random celebrity sighting in Daytona Beach, Fla., when my traveling companions and I saw the cast of Revenge of the Nerds as we were leaving our hotel; apparently, they were there filming the Nerds in Paradise sequel. I, of course, had not seen Revenge of the Nerds, so I was completely unfazed — yet willing to walk up to a man my cohorts knew only as “Booger” and ask him for his autograph. (His real name is Curtis Armstrong. I had him address the autograph “To Betty” — Patti’s mom; Betty saved it all this time and, after her death, it was among her belongings and Patti sent it to me.)

I’ve also met John Malkovich (mainly because I’ve worked in the same office with his mom, older brother and youngest sister) and Michelle Pfeiffer (she is more beautiful in person than onscreen, even). I’ve gotten autographs from a few random sports stars, most of them tennis players whose names are unpronounceable (is that even a word). I’ve also had some “Could it be …?” brushes with fame, like the time Sherry was convinced the guy sitting in the bar of the restaurant in Cancun was Tom Arnold (he looked NOTHING like Tom Arnold, I discovered during a walk-by), or when Patti used to come up with these celebrity look-alikes — e.g. “Don’t look now, but it’s former child actor Immanuel Lewis,” she’d say in a conspiratorial whisper when a somewhat short black man walked past our table at Marty’s.

Anyhoo, on Saturday, we saw this guy:

Timothy Hutton

And that’s pretty much what Diane said when she saw him standing across the street from all the cameras and lights and soundboards.

“There’s that guy!” Diane said. “I don’t know who he is, but he’s an actor!”

I glanced over to where she was pointing. “Wow! That’s Timothy Hutton,” I said. “I love him.”

Well, OK, love might be an exaggeration; however, I do love the film Ordinary People, and I do love Timothy Hutton in it, so … yeah, maybe I do love him. Just a little, anyway.

I started snapping away. Meanwhile, members of the film crew kept telling us we couldn’t take pictures, couldn’t use flash, couldn’t take videos, blah blah blah. (If I were really techno-savvy, I would’ve filmed a little snippet using my camera’s video feature and could’ve posted a YouTube clip … but nooooooo. All you get are pictures from me, baby!)

Timothy Hutton & Blurry Man

By the way, a few minutes later, Timothy Hutton was using that stick or club or telescope (?) to smash the windows out of three cars that were parked along Monroe Avenue.

We told Karl and Sherry about our “Brush with Fame” a few minutes later. They were visibly unimpressed because they assumed they had no idea who Timothy Hutton was.

“What’s he been in?” Karl asked.

Ordinary People,” I said. “The Falcon and the Snowman.”

Karl stared at me. “Anything else?”

“Uhhhh …”

I showed them the pictures I’d taken, and they realized that yes, they had, indeed, seen Timothy Hutton in something … they just couldn’t remember what.

Hours later, I would also think of Taps, but I didn’t even bother sharing that title. And, when we returned to Southern Illinois Sunday evening, guess what actor we ran across, starring in a movie called Beautiful Girls, on Lifetime?

That’s right: Timothy Hutton!

Begin 66

Dear Matthew,

Thought of you this weekend whilst wandering around the streets of Chicago. We were headed to the Art Institute when The Lovely said, “Oh, look: There’s the Route 66 sign!” So I snapped a couple of shots — one without flash, and one with (this is the one with). A few minutes later, we were standing in line and a guy selling Street-Wise was telling everyone with cameras to “get a picture of the Route 66 sign,” and I thought, You’re gonna have to give me a lot more information than that to get a dollar from me!

Anyhoo, when I was looking over my photos from the weekend, I remembered one I had taken earlier this year — a different highway, in a much different locale:

Begin 1

I also remembered that on the other side of the street was a sign that showed the end of Route 1, but the “END” part was missing from the sign. It occurred to me, this morning, that I should have taken a picture of the “END” of Route 66; after all, the sign would have been on the other side of the street, right? (I didn’t even think to look!)

All of which makes me wonder:

Are there highways on the moon?

Your pal,

P.S. We did, indeed, see the Richard Misrach “On the Beach” exhibit. I especially liked the photographs of the various people on the beach — reminded me of something by Norman Rockwell, a little — and the ones of individual people in the water.

On Saturday, whilst driving the tennis team to Principia College — a school that is located in The Actual Middle of Nowhere (part of it does overlook the Mississippi River, however) — I happened upon this tiny village called Elsah.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to wander all the way up and down Elsah’s few streets, but I did snap a few shots of a shed that caught my attention.

Shed in Elsah

Gourds in Elsah

Something about Elsah — the houses and other buildings, the flowers, even the weather (chilly and overcast, but not unpleasant) — reminded me of walking from Vernon to Giverny on the way to Monet’s house back in 2001.

Hawk Closeup 

Sunday morning, Diane looks out her living-room window and sees Kiddle getting ready to pounce on something. Diane takes a closer look and realizes it’s red-tailed HAWK that the energetic (if not necessarily the brightest) kitty-cat is fixin’ to attack. She calls to Kiddle and shoos the hawk away — with its prey, a squirrel.

(I might add here that Kiddle got HER first squirrel — that I know of — over the weekend. Last weekend, she got her first bird.)

Then Diane calls me, and I head over with camera in hand. Got within five or six feet of the hawk as it dined on its kill at the vacant house across the street before the bird flew up to a nearby tree. I walked over to the tree, and the hawk flew to another tree. I repeated this process two or three times, hoping to send the hawk on its way back to the wilderness and away from the animals in THIS neighborhood.

Hawk with Prey

Mittens Toonces Simon

Mittens Toonces Simon
a.k.a. Mitty

My kitty-cat died Friday morning.

She seemed a little “out of it” early Thursday morning, but mostly she wanted to lie around … which, honestly, wasn’t too different from her usual slackful routine, and with cooler weather arriving, I suspected she was going into “hibernation mode.” I thought perhaps she had an upset tummy or maybe needed to cough up a hairball, and that she’d be fine in a few hours. Late that night, though, she was barely moving; I knew something was seriously wrong because every time I’d check on her, she’d moved further under the twin bed back in her room.

As soon as the vet’s office opened Friday, I took her in.

Dr. Clark told me Mitty’s heart sounded OK and her tongue was good and pink. When he took her temperature, though, he found it was lower than normal. “That’s bad,” he told me, and then he checked her ears and her eyes. Her pupils were different sizes; she’d probably had a stroke, he said.

And: “She’s in some pain.”

I asked him if we could put her down. He said yes, if I was prepared to do so.

As suddenly as this all occurred, it was something I’d thought about, occasionally, now that Mitty was getting on in years. And especially a couple of years ago, right after Chico died.

I never wanted her to suffer. Ever.

Dr. Clark shaved Mitty’s left forearm (shank? forepaw?), wrapped some rubber tubing around her leg to bring up a vein and then injected her with … I think he said it was a sedative, I don’t remember, all I know is that I was rubbing her side and then, a few seconds later, I felt that her heart was no longer beating.

And immediately, I missed my kitty.

Eighteen years is a long time to spend with anyone. Or any cat. Actually, I’m not quite sure how long we were together because I can’t remember if she came to me — by way of Arkansas! — in 1989 or 1990. She was a “grown-up” kitten by then … her and her six-toed paws that resembled boxing gloves; hence the name she’d been given, Mittens. (I gave her the middle name “Toonces” as an homage to “Toonces: The Cat Who Could Drive a Car,” and “Simon” in honor of my first cat, a slightly psychotic Siamese who bit every one of my friends — except Patti — who ever came to visit!)

I had various nicknames for Mitty: Mittenski, Middon, Mitty-Mitty-Mitty-Mitty (said in a very high pitch, usually when I couldn’t find her), Middle.

She was always here with me, and she was always purring.

Unless, of course, she was sleeping.

She was a good cat.

I took that black-and-white photo of Mitty shortly after I moved into this house (October of 1990). She was sitting on the easy chair, cleaning herself, with some kind of satin-covered toy lying in front of her. I interrupted her and got what I consider to be one of my best animal portraits ever.

Here are a few more recent shots — including one of Debra, Mitty and me, taken using the self-timer on my camera (and, naturally, Mitty refused to look at the camera):

Mitty in the Window

Mitty Eating Sketti

Delra, Mitty & Me

(You might not know it to look at me, but I was COVERED by poison ivy when this picture was taken — I just didn’t know it yet!)

Needless to say, Friday was an almost unbearable day — in no small part because I had also planned to attend the visitation for Jennie Nimtz, a 34-year-old woman I met about seven years ago.

Back in 2000, I was working with Jennie’s mom, Lynn, up at RLC and found out that Jennie, who’d been born with cerebral palsy and had battled several medical issues throughout her life, had recently returned from a trip to California. She had gone out there hoping to see a taping of her favorite TV show, “ER,” and ended up getting to be ON the show!

I spent an evening with Jennie, talking about the trip and the show, and also learning about her life. She was so intelligent and enthusiastic, and I came away from that interview feeling as if I had just met someone who, despite any of the limitations she had been given, truly knew the meaning of enjoying every minute of her life.

I felt inspired, and I felt blessed to have gotten to spend time with her … and, on Friday, my eyes filled with tears when I walked into the funeral home and saw the article I’d written about her mounted and prominently displayed amongst the photos and other memorabilia.

In-between the visit to the vet’s office and work and the visitation, I had returned to my house. For the first time, ever, without my kitty being here. For some reason, I needed to hear “The Last Song” by Elton John … which, to me, is one of the saddest songs ever, but also one of the most uplifting, somehow:

The Last Song

Yesterday, you came to lift me up
As light as straw and brittle as a bird
Today, I weigh less than a shadow on the wall
Just one more whisper of a voice unheard.

Tomorrow, leave the windows open
As fear grows, please hold me in your arms
Won’t you help me if you can, to shake this anger
I need your gentle hands to keep me calm.

’Cause I never thought I’d lose
I only thought I’d win
I never dreamed I’d feel
This fire beneath my skin
I can’t believe you love me
I never thought you’d come
I guess I misjudged love
Between a father and his son.

Things we never said come together
The hidden truth no longer haunting me
Tonight, we touched on the things that were never spoken
That kind of understanding sets me free.

’Cause I never thought I’d lose
I only thought I’d win
I never dreamed I’d feel
This fire beneath my skin
I can’t believe you love me
I never thought you’d come
I guess I misjudged love
Between a father and his son.

— Elton John & Bernie Taupin

Between a father and his son … or a daughter and her mom … or parents and their child … or even a girl and her cat.

Speaking of cats:

I taught Kiddle to jump up onto my lap this morning. I think she would’ve stayed there all day if I’d let her.


Kiddle Comfort

The highlight of Friday was going back to the vet’s office to have Kiddle’s stitches removed. Dr. Clark said everything looked good.

And it’s 9:13 and I’m thinking about bed. Because I’m sleepy. And I’ve been sleepy almost all day.

The Cubs are done. Lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-1 to lose the division series 3-0. Swept.

I’m disappointed, but not overly so. Mostly because I have seen enough horrible seasons by the Cubs to appreciate one in which they go from worst to first. (Karl says, “It’s all about championships,” but I beg to differ. I want my team to win more of their 162 regular-season games than they lose, and then, if they can put together a postseason run, that’s even better.)

Mostly, I’m sad because Patti & Bob had tickets to tomorrow’s game. Plus Karl had gotten two tickets to the National League Championship Series. Oh, well.

I played tennis today. Not particularly well, but it felt good to get out on the court, even if it was surprisingly hot outside. I’m not going to complain, though: Soon enough, it will be annoyingly cold. (Sorry to keep bringing it up, but it’s true.)

[Just got a MySpace comment from Deb … and if that’s not enough to make a person smile, I don’t know what is!]

Speaking of MySpace: The Eurogliders FINALLY put the song “Heaven” on their site. Which just so happened to be one of the songs from that extra-cool mix tape I swiped from my sister sometime during the mid-1980s. (It also contained such songs as “Close to Me” by the Cure and “The Ghost in You” by the Psychedelic Furs … which reminds me: I STILL have no idea what happened to my Furs CD!) Anyhoo, I’m quite happy to be able to have “Heaven” playing on my site now that I’ve had to let “Go, Cubs, Go” go.

And I almost feel healthy. And, fortunately, I seem to have lost (or perhaps misplaced) that odd, overwhelming sense of dread I had been feeling.

Oh, and I’ve been having rather eventful dreams here lately. Sensual, even, plus the ever-present hint of adventure. (And no, I’m not taking any NyQuil or Benadryl prior to retiring for the evening. Like I’d even need it, sleepy as I’ve been.)

OK, I’m off to bed. After a few more minutes of TV. And a snack: 4 Hershey’s miniature candy bars and some skim milk. (I’m calci-loading.)

Do you ever forget what year it is? Right then, right when you’re right in the middle of it?

Ever feel like, right when you weren’t looking, someone pushed the Pause button on your life, and there you were, stuck?

Neither one of those “feelings” accurately describes what I have been feeling lately — and by “lately,” I mean, “oh, for the last three or four months (or longer)” — but, somehow, they both seem to apply. Mix in the fact that the change of seasons has already occurred (can’t you just feel the days getting shorter and shorter?) and the knowledge that winter is just around the corner (I’m sorry, Jane and Deb and everyone else with a disdain for cold weather, but it’s true!), and there you have it — and by “it” I mean “me.”

(It is all about me, still … right?!)

So, here I am, stuck in my lil’ time warp, convinced that, in the midst of it all, every once in a while, I am also experiencing something painfully similar to what my mother– and other mothers before her, and women in general long before (and after) all of them, and so on and etc., into infinity, more or less — would possibly refer to as a hot flash.

And I’m only 42.

Although, the other day (maybe yesterday?), I got to thinking about turning 43. And so far, my years as a fortysomething have never bothered me, but suddenly I was struck (stricken?) by the notion that, suddenly, 43 sounded very old. I mean, although I wouldn’t want to wish any of the years of my life away, there’s something that sounds so much better about 44 — mostly the fact that it’s a multiple of 11 — than 43.

I don’t know. I’m kinda cranky. Could be because I’m still dealing with my sinuses/allergies and my mostly screwed-up sleep patterns thanks to the congestion and the Benadryl or NyQuil or Claritin-wannabe that I’ve taken over the past two weeks. (No, I haven’t mixed or over-indulged in the medications, and I’m pretty sure I’m not dependent on any of them.) Meanwhile, I developed my mid-winter cough last week, about three months early, but I’m happy to report that it seems to be fading.

In fact, all in all, I’m happy overall … just a little out of it, I guess.

Other than that, what’s been going on?

Well, for starters, I’m looking quite forward to watching the Cubs play Arizona in the National League Division Series starting on Wednesday. Karl and I both attempted to get tickets — both of us spending 45 minutes or so in Virtual Waiting Rooms at our respective computers, hoping to get logged into the system — but we were denied. If I wanted to pony-up a couple hundred bucks, I could probably go on eBay or StubHub and get a seat for Saturday’s Game 3, which will be played at Wrigley Field, but to be perfectly honest, I can’t bear the idea of spending the weekend “on the road” (See? I told you I’ve been feeling old!) … especially when the idea of watching the game from the comfort of my couch or, better yet, viewing it on the 48-incher, sounds much more appealing.

I realize that not everyone likes baseball, but if you happen to be feeling the least bit ambivalent about which team to root for in the playoffs, I would encourage you to cheer for the Cubs. They could use all the positive energy we can muster because, let’s face it, 1908 was a long time ago … and, as I have become painfully aware, none of us is getting any younger!

In other medical news, I am pleased to report that Kiddle is doing amazingly well after having The Operation last week. I took her to Dr. Clark last Thursday — after needing three attempts to get her into the dreaded “pet taxi,” the final try leaving me with scratches all over my right forearm and a gash in my left palm — promptly at 7:30 a.m. The vet had originally said she would be ready to come home at 12:30 p.m. that day, but when we told him we also wanted to get her wormed and vaccinated, he told us he’d keep her there overnight.

Kiddle emitted a couple of mournful “meows” on the way there, but otherwise didn’t seem too upset. I picked her up at 9:30 a.m. the next day.

Diane had told me, going in, that Kiddle “might not like you anymore!” after I had crammed her into the carrier and taken her to the vet’s office (seems Patches turned against Kurt a few years back when he caught her, put her in a box and took her to the vet’s office to be treated for what turned out to be a sinus infection). However, not long after I had set the carrier on the ground and Kiddle had sprinted out of it, sure enough, she started rubbing against my legs like before.

My kitty still loves me!

(I’m supposed to take her back in a couple of weeks to have her stitches removed. We’ll see how much she loves me after that.)

In photography news, I’ve been shooting away, occasionally, but have been slacking about posting. Believe it or not, I’m still trying to get organized in ordering prints of photos from the past year or so (that’s sort of where my confusion over what year it is comes about) and am making a genuine effort to, at the very least, get some of my favorites into albums or frames.

Meanwhile, here are a few shots from the day I saw Peter Tork. I was en route to the tennis tournament later that afternoon, but a light rain was falling, so I figured the tournament was still in a weather delay. I swung by a road on the west edge of town where, the previous night, I had found some sunflowers. While I was shooting, my phone rang; it was Diane, asking me where I was (because, apparently, it wasn’t raining at the tennis courts and our match was getting ready to start) and what I was doing. I told her I was taking pictures of sunflowers, and she seemed neither impressed nor convinced that that was a very good reason to be late for a tennis match.

I, on the other hand, thought it was a perfectly understandable reason — and I’m pretty sure at least a few of you agree!

No Trespassing

3 Sunflowers

Red Ant

October 2007

My Shots on Flickr



Shed & Pump